This blog post was updated on July 16, 2019.
When you think of America’s Chinatowns, your mind probably wanders to New York City and San Francisco. While these two cities have the oldest Chinatowns in the US, (San Francisco being the oldest and New York City the second oldest) there are plenty of other Asian-American enclaves that are smaller in size and less popular but are relatively similar. From authentic cuisines, shopping and unique experiences, you can’t go wrong by checking out these ethnic towns in these US cities.
Read on to see which Little neighborhood you can grab cheap flights to and explore!
Little Cambodia in Lowell, Massachusetts
Just about 30-miles north of Boston is where you’ll find Lowell, Massachusetts’ very own Little Cambodia. This town has developed over recent years due to the high population of Cambodian residents. For an authentic experience of Cambodia (without going there), we suggest you take a trip to Lowell. Other than Long Beach, California, Lowell has the second largest Cambodian population in the US. Here, you’ll get to taste authentic Cambodian cuisine, or commonly called Khmer food. Once you fulfill your appetite at one of the many restaurants around town, check out some of the shops where you’ll find an array of jewelry, fabrics, handbags, and more! Little Cambodia has a great market place named Pailin Rose Market where locals go to grab samples of food and shop for imported spices and more exotic foods like pig snouts! Even if you’re not looking to purchase any exotic foods at the market, walking around and learning of the different foods is an experience in itself!
Hmong Community in St. Paul, Minneapolis
St. Paul, Minneapolis is where you’ll find a large Hmong community filled with tradition, food, culture, and fun! If you’re searching for some Hmong history, head to the Hmong Cultural Center. Here, you’ll get to learn about traditional Hmong music, dance and art. The Hmongtown Marketplace is another must-see while you’re in town. South East Asian culture radiates from the streets from the food to the different vendors selling all sorts of items like clothing, plants, food (the street food is the main attraction) and more. If you happen to be in town on June 29-30th, 2019 attend the Annual Hmongtown Festival. It’s free and you’ll get to enjoy live entertainment, food and activities to learn more about the Hmong culture!
Ready for an adventure? Find cheap flights to get you there!
Little India on Devon Avenue, Chicago
You may be on Devon Avenue, but you will surely feel as if you’ve landed in a small town in India; hence the neighborhood name — Little India. As you walk along the streets you’ll admire the gorgeous saris in the windows of storefronts, posters promoting the newest Bollywood films, and of course, smell the spices and Indian cuisine that fills the air almost everywhere you go. The stores here sell authentic and traditional items such as furniture, clothing, jewelry and food. You may be in Chicago, but Little India has a lot more to offer than the usual deep-dish pizza, in fact, the Indian cuisine here is DELISH!
Little Sri Lanka on Staten Island, New York
If you haven’t taken a trip to Sri Lanka just yet, head over to Staten Island, NY to get a peek of Sri Lankan culture and history. With a population of over 5,000 Sri Lankans, Tompkinsville, Staten Island holds the largest community of this South Asian population outside of Sri Lanka. The NYC borough has its very own Sri Lankan neighborhood. Little Sri Lanka is made up of a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple, plenty of restaurants (that will not disappoint), shopping, and the Sri Lankan Museum – the only one outside of Sri Lanka itself founded by 18-year old, Julia Wijesinghe. So if you’re in the tri-state area, stop by Staten Island to see Little Sri Lanka for yourself!
Little India in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York
If you’re in New York City and in the mood for delicious Indian food, head to Little India in Jackson Heights, Queens. You can find this little neighborhood on 74th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 37th Avenue. Here you’ll find Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis who reside in the area along with Indian shops and restaurants. Like other Little India neighborhoods in the US, there are stores selling merchandise from jewelry to clothes, music and food. If you’re searching for some Bollywood films you’ve come to the right place. Walking around this neighborhood you’ll learn and observe the South Asian culture and try some delicious food!
Know of any other Asian Pacific enclaves in the US? Tell us about your favorite in the comments below!