The UK is home to not one, two or even three Chinatowns but a total of 5 areas in five major cities designated as the Chinese quarter or Chinatown. Each with their own unique characters, family run restaurants and businesses such as supermarkets, Chinese herbal shops and acupuncture clinics to name but a few, these areas are ripe for exploring to discover new tastes, sounds, smells and experiences.

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It wouldn't be too far-fetched to say that almost every town, village and city in the UK has at least one Chinese restaurant to serve the community. With the explosion in popularity of Chinese food after the second world war when many migrants from Hong Kong set up restaurants in the UK, the British love affair with Chinese food was born and has not waned in almost one hundred years.

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However, to taste a slightly more authentic Chinese cuisine in a more authentic setting your options are to take the long flight to China or visit one of the 5 Chinatowns located in the UK. Read on to find out more about each.

1) London Chinatown

Located on Gerrard Street, London's Chinatown is unsurprisingly the largest in the UK though perhaps surprisingly not the oldest. That accolade goes to the Liverpool Chinatown dating back to the 1890s. At the start of the 20th century the main Chinese community in London was centered around the East End of London at Limehouse with businesses set up to cater to the Chinese sailors who frequently docked in the Docklands. However, the area was heavily damaged during the Blitz paving the way for its relocation to its current central London location just off Shaftesbury Avenue.

With over 80 restaurants, independent shops and businesses, this is a vibrant area where you will find a mix of local Chinese as well as a daily influx of tourists and visitors from other areas. The Chinese supermarkets are particularly popular with Chinese nationals living in London who may not have access to the varied Chinese foods and products in their own local areas. They come up on the weekends and pile up their cars with goodies to take back home. Much like all expats across the world do when they want to get a taste of home.

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2) Liverpool Chinatown

The docks in Liverpool ensured that the accolade of the oldest Chinatown in the UK goes to the one in Liverpool. The arrival of trading vessels directly from China in the early 19th century saw the gradual establishment of a Chinese community which has endured to this day. Liverpool's Chinatown sits on Lord Nelson Street, just off Great George Street and offers locals and tourists a small enclave of Chinese cuisine, culture and products. An elaborately decorated gateway, which was refurbished in 2000, welcomes you to the area and sets the tone for a full on Chinese experience which will not disappoint. Take in the sights and sounds before choosing from one of the many restaurants to have a traditional, or as traditional as we can get here in the UK, Chinese meal.

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3) Chinese Quarter Birmingham

The mainly Chinese area of Birmingham is known as the Chinese Quarter by locals. A small enclave of restaurants, shops and local businesses serving up delicacies and products from China that you would not find elsewhere. The Chinese aesthetics are enhanced by an impressive Chinese pagoda which was donated by a local businessman who founded the Wing Yip Group, a chain of Chinese supermarkets. Beyond the Chinese Quarter there is plenty to see and so, with the location being between the Bullring Shopping Complex in the north, the Irish Quarter in Digbeth to the east, the Arcadian Centre and Gay Village to the south and the Theatre District to the west.

There is a large event here each year to mark the Chinese New Year with impressive dancing dragons and streets adorned with Chinese lanterns and decorations with a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the spectacles and festivities.

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4) Manchester Chinatown

With one of the most impressive gateways into the area, the Manchester Chinatown is the second largest in the UK and home to many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Nepali, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants and businesses. As such, this is a very vibrant and busy part of town with plenty to see, do and experience.

Once you have taken in the cuisine and the culture of the local area you may be also interested to see some of the many listed buildings in the area. Buildings such as 55 Faulkner Street, an impressive red brick block built in 1870 and now a Grade II listed building.

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5) Newcastle Chinatown

The brightly coloured and decorated archway welcomes you to Newcastle's Chinatown district which lies within the historic heart of Newcastle. Over the years this fairly small area of Newcastle grew into what is now known as the city's Chinatown. It all started with the opening of a Chinese supermarket in the area which grew into more businesses over the years before it was officially named as Newcastle's Chinatown.

These days this part of Newcastle is popular with locals and visitors alike, whether looking to take in a slap up Chinese meal or buy Chinese products now available elsewhere.

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And there you have it, Chinatowns around the country where you can get a taste of the exotic, a state of the Far East and enjoy the sounds, smells and tastes of the Orient. For more of a taste, why not see our listings of delicious Asian escorts just waiting to meet you!