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Chinatown Guide – Spend Less, Do More

You might be able to find one in every city, but there is no denying that every city's Chinatown has a unique flavour that mirrors the city itself – and Melbourne's is no exception. Originating during the Australian Gold Rush of the 1850s, Chinatown Melbourne has a long and proud history – indeed, a fun fact for you, Chinatown Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western world. Let's take a deeper dive into an area that preserves Chinese traditions, albeit in a classic Melbournian-laneway manner!

The first stop on anyone's visit to Chinatown is of course…

The food! Who can resist the tasty morsel or two…dozen on offer. Far from us to restrict you to one restaurant, let's start at the iconic Little Bourke Street, between Swanston St and Spring St, as the centrepiece of Melbourne's Chinatown. A delicious Dim Sum spot is always in order so try Crystal Jade Restaurant for a stylish, simple ambience that helps you escape the busy, crowded laneways outside. Specializing in seafood, including a divine live lobster, you can scale up or scale down a meal to your heart's content (okay, we suggested the lobster, but you can play it traditional with dumplings, buns, and egg tarts).

And depending on the route you go, you will be inspired to extend your taste buds further. If opulent, live seafood was your shtick, then you can't go wrong with some authentic Cantonese cuisine from Shark Fin House (yes, the name does give it away a tad). This time you can go beyond lobsters and try crabs or abalone (we'd recommend the latter due to unique Tasmanian Green Lip Abalone on offer. If you prefer to keep things classic and casual, then you can't go wrong with Hu Tong Dumpling Bar, mimicking the look and feel of a customary Chinese dumpling house. As is expected in Australia's foodie capital, Hu Tong has cemented its place among epicureans, with legit hype surrounding its handmade Xiao Long Bao, spicy wonton and pan-fried dumplings.

You might not feel like doing much after all those gastronomic delights

And who could blame you – a food coma is a real thing! But if you can manage to drag yourself to your feet, there are plenty more destinations within Chinatown to explore! But to truly get a complete picture of what Melbourne's Chinatown means to the local community, and the city at large, you need to take a trip to the Chinese Museum. Five levels will greet you with some of the most comprehensive collections of Chinese culture, including folk tales, scrolls, and artworks. The Han Dynasty exhibition showcases the incredible strides in innovation made by the Chinese throughout history while more contemporary stories of recent arrivals can be viewed in the Australia's Chinese History section.

P.S. there's a special treat for the kids with an interactive gold prospecting experience. Who doesn't like looking for shiny objects.

When you saved so much on your studio accommodation…

You can afford to splurge and be a little adventurous with your final activity. So why not try a paranormal experience with a twist – Chinatown's Murder Tour. Wind your ways through the darkened alleyways, as you hear your guide regale you with stories of the former opium den, cocaine house and brothels – the history really does come alive as your hair stands on end. Be sure to ask about Melbourne Chinatown's connection to Jack the Ripper and the Eureka Stockade – that is if the stories of Squizzy Taylor don't scare you first. Just to give you a little teaser, Squizzy Taylor was a gangster who committed all manner of foul deeds including extortion, pickpockerting, assault, drug dealing, armed robbery and murder; only to later be immortalized by the TV series Underbelly: Squizzy (guess Aussies really can't help our fascination for criminals).

Spend Less, Do More

Your Cheaperthanhotels Team

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