Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown, Oahu
Name: Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown
What: Oahu’s historic centre for government, business and the arts
Where: Roughly 15 minutes west of Waikiki
Downtown Honolulu is home to some of Oahu’s most historic places. Next to the skyscrapers of the island’s main business district you’ll find important landmarks like the Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha I statue, the Kawaiahao Church and the Aloha Tower. This area is also the seat of Hawaii’s government, home to the Hawaii State Capitol, Washington Place (the governor’s mansion) and Honolulu Hale (Honolulu’s City Hall). Clustered within blocks of each other, it’s easy to take a walking tour of these important cultural landmarks and architectural wonders.
Located on the western hem of Honolulu’s financial district, Chinatown’s historic buildings are home to a hodgepodge of shops, herbalists, lei makers, antique dealers, temples, bars and restaurants. By day, explore Chinatown’s bustling markets like the Maunakea Marketplace or the Oahu Market. Here you’ll find exotic fruits, seafood and curiosities like the “thousand-year old egg”. Incredible temples like the Izumo Taishakyo Mission Shrine and the Kuan Yin Temple transport you to historic Japan and China. And when you’re hungry, Chinatown’s eclectic restaurants serve everything from dim sum (Chinese dumplings) to Eurasian, Vietnamese, Malaysian and even Cuban and French fare.
This is also the epicentre of Oahu’s arts scene. Take the Chinatown art walk along and around Nuuanu and Bethel Street during the monthly First Friday festivities, the best time to experience all the area has to offer. In fact, Chinatown is a hot spot for Oahu nightlife. Home to the historic Hawaii Theatre for live music and shows, you can find some of Hawaii’s hottest underground bars, clubs and restaurants in the weathered lofts and buildings of urban Chinatown after dark.