Top choice in Melbourne

For more than 150 years this section of central Melbourne, now flanked by five traditional arches, has been the focal point for the city's Chinese community. It remains a vibrant neighbourhood of historic buildings filled with Chinese and other restaurants. A must-visit for foodies, come here for yum cha (dim sum) or to explore the attendant laneways for late-night dumplings and cocktails. Some restaurants stay open until the wee hours. Chinatown also hosts the city’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

Chinese miners arrived in Victoria in search of the ‘new gold mountain’ in the 1850s and started to settle in this strip of Little Bourke St from the 1860s. To learn more about the Chinese-Australian story, visit the excellent Chinese Museum.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Melbourne attractions

1. West Space


One of Melbourne’s oldest nonprofit, artist-run galleries, West Space has a varied exhibition schedule featuring young and emerging artists. Expect a…

2. Chinese Museum

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The fascinating and often fraught history of Chinese people in Australia is showcased in this wonderful little museum in the heart of Chinatown. Start on…

3. State Library of Victoria

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This grand neoclassical building has been at the forefront of Melbourne's literary scene since 1856. When its central La Trobe Reading Room was completed…

4. Century Building

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Built between 1939 and 1940, this Streamline Moderne high-rise is an important Melbourne landmark. It was the first office block in the city to have air…

5. Tolarno Galleries

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Tolarno was an integral player in Melbourne’s most famous midcentury artistic marriage: that between Georges and Mirka Mora. The gallery was once…

6. Melbourne Town Hall

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Since opening in 1870, this grand neoclassical civic building has welcomed everyone from Queen Elizabeth II, who took tea here in 1954, to the Beatles,…

7. Collins Street

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The eastern end of Collins St is lined with plane trees, grand buildings and luxe boutiques (hence its ‘Paris End’ moniker). Ornate arcades also lead off…

8. Manchester Unity Building

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Built in 1932, this honey-coloured art-deco skyscraper brings a slice of Chicago (or possibly Gotham City) to Swanston St. It's worth popping into the…