Thursday, February 06, 2014

Binondo, Manila: Where to Go? What to Do? and Where to Eat?

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A very rich culture, decades-old Chinese restaurants, and having historical churches and temples...
Well having said that, it is not surprising why Binondo, Manila is now becoming a popular destination for travel bloggers, food bloggers and even to History Buffs (and Historians). People who'll visit the place will not only be feed on the visuals they may see in this place but they'll also make their stomachs full with all the restaurants and food stalls Binondo has to offer. Plus, roaming and eating around Binondo is affordable and budget friendly!

Note: This Binondo tour will require you lots of walking so you better prepare yourself. :)

How to get there?
There are so many ways to reach Binondo or the Chinatown. One way I know is by riding LRT-1. From Taft-Edsa Station, buy a ticket going to Carriedo Station. Ticket costs 15 pesos. From Carriedo Station, walk from Isetan Mall until you reach the old building of BPI. Just across the old BPI building is the Sta. Cruz Church which is one of the places this blog will feature. This also denotes the start of Binondo tour!

Start of our Binondo Tour!
One of the transportation you can choose on exploring Binondo

I visited Binondo last week and it was Chinese New Year. I don't recommend doing tour during this season because hundreds to thousands of people are visiting Binondo and most of the place are crowded. Most of your time will be spent falling in line just to experience and try a certain place. Take this advise from me. That's what happened to us.

Lucky shot! 
Selfie mode! Full arms extended!

Nevertheless, here's my list of places one must try during their visit in Binondo!

1) Santa Cruz Church

The church was named after the Holy Cross and has been founded by Gov. Alfonso Fajardo de la Tenza on January 9,1724. Later on, the Church of Santa Cruz was re-built and managed by the Jesuits until 1768. The patron saint of Sta. Cruz Church is the miraculous Nuestra Senora del Pilar (or the Our Lady of the Pillar) in which its statue was brought from Spain prior to 1763.

Sta. Cruz Church
Those candles represent prayers from the people who visited Sta Cruz Church

Today, Sta. Cruz Church is fenced by three wide spaces, namely: Plaza Lacson, Plaza Santa Cruz (it is where the Carriedo Fountain is situated) and lastly, an open street going to Santa Cruz Bridge.

2) Ho-Land Chinese Delicacies

Next stop, Holand Chinese Delicacies. A family owned business, Ho-Land is known for their varieties of hopia. Some of their hopia flavors are Hopia Mongo, Hopia Baboy, Hopia Waxgourd, Hopia Ube, Hopia Ube-Langka, Hopia Ube Macapuno, Hopia Pandan-Macapuno, Hopia Pineapple, Hopia Kondol, and a lot more! A pack of Holand's hopia costs 40 pesos which contains 5 to 6 pieces of hopia depending on the flavor.

Hopia PiƱa

One of the unique food items they sold here are "Tikoy" shaped in a cute Coy fish. Unfortunately, it was out of stock during our visit. Argh!

3) Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant

It was passed lunch time and we haven't ate something heavy yet. So the group decided to look for a place or restaurant that serves heavy meals but it should also be budget friendly. Then our feet brought us to Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant which is one of the famous destination in Binondo in terms of food hopping. It has been featured many times on television shows, magazines, food blogs and celebrities. Pia Arcangel and her family was actually in Sincerity the day we visited it.

I believe he's the big boss of Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant

Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant is well known for their home-style fried chicken. They take pride of it that they served it to customers without any sauce because they say it don't need one. Just the chicken alone will satisfy customers' taste buds.

The famous "Sincerity Chicken"!
Sincerity's version of Patatim 
Sincerity Spinach for vegetarians!

However, it was a struggle for us to eat in Sincerity. Since it is a well-known restaurant in Binondo, plus, adding the fact that it was Chinese New Year that day, there were lots of customers wait listed just to have a taste of it. We actually waited and fall in line for 2 hours. But all the wait were worth it. They serve really great food at affordable prices. We paid 1,300 pesos for our group of nine persons which means 144 pesos per pax. We bid our farewell to Sincerity Restaurant with full and happy tummies.

Its really worth to wait

4) This unknown temple

I totally forgot the name of this temple. Sorry. If it happens that you know the name of this place, please use the comment section below. Thanks in advance! It is near Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant.

No entrance fee but you can donate on their donation box

5) Binondo Church

Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, was founded in 1596 by Dominican priests. This church is iconic as it stands and witnessed the dark years of the country. Binondo Church was destroyed during a British onslaught in 1762. And on the same site, it was rebuilt in 1852. However it was extremely damaged again during the Second World War, leaving its octagonal bell tower untouched. Its renovation lasted from 1946 until 1971.

Repainting of Binondo Church
It reminded me of Basilica de Sto Nino of Cebu

Today, the church remains standing and strong. It is also being well-maintained for its old and future parishioners. Binondo Church was actually being repainted when we visited it. With that, I know that Binondo church will surely lasts long and more generations will be able to see it.

6) Lucky Chinatown Mall

Located in the heart of Binondo and behind 168 Mall of Divisoria is the Lucky Chinatown Mall. The 108,000 sqm development from Megaworld Lifestyle Malls brings a top-class shopping, entertainment and dining in this Filipino-Chinese heritage of Binondo. One of the highlight in Lucky Chinatown Mall is its so called "Chinatown Walk". An exciting concept street that recreates the famous old Chinatown with pre-Spanish inspired architecture.

I believe the tree behind us is a money tree...
Who's the fairest of them all? Hehe
Date Date din pag may time... eh may time po kami :)

7) Eng Bee Tin

Owned by Chua Chiu, Eng Bee Tin was established in 1912 in the street of Ongpin, Binondo, Manila. Known for its hopia, tikoy and glutinous balls, Eng Bee Tin has became a reputable stalls that sells traditional Chinese delicacies.

Tikoy! tikoy! tikoy!

The group has decided to buy tikoy at Eng Bee Tin as they have a huge varieties of tikoy. Eng Bee Tin is not only a perfect place to eat Chinese delicacies but also a place where you should buy "pasalubong" for your family and friends. Aside from that, they also sell Fortune Cookies. A crisp cookie and inside of it is a piece of paper with words of wisdom or a vague prophecy. Its kind of fun thing to do as you uncover what's inside your fortune cookie.

8) Dong Bei Dumplings

Our next and last destination during this visit in Binondo received a high praise on Trip Advisor and a well known Hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Binondo -- the Dong Bei Dumplings. The place is quite small and hard to find. It is just around 10-15 sqm of dining place but since it is a very known place in the neighborhood of Yuchengco Street, Binondo, just ask the locals for easy direction.

Dong Bei Dumplings' offers homemade chinese-style dumplings at affordable prices. You can actually see how these dumplings were done since they prepare their foods in one of the dining table in the restaurant. Some of their best-sellers are kuchay dumplings and xiao long bao (soup-filled with pork dumpling).

Scene you can expect at Dong Bei Dumplings

Overall, I had a great time roaming and exploring around the streets of Binondo. There are still lots of spots that I missed so a chance of another blog post about this place is possible. I'll definitely visit this place some time and hopefully soon. I am very much excited to see more spots and restaurants that Binondo has to offer!

18 comments:

  1. Thumbs up for food trips in Binondo! Yum!

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  2. wooohh san yung dragon dance? hahaha

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    1. Sa streets po ng chinatown. Paikot ikot. Pero that was during Chinese New Year po.

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  3. makabalik nga ng binondo para sa foodtrip! jampack talaga tong dong bei, ifranchise na kaya natin hahaha!

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    1. hahahaha... tama ka dun, blockbuster sa pila eh... mga magkanu kaya un? pagambag ambagan nating mga bloggers hahahahah

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  4. Mag-tagalog ka na lang. Writing in English is obviously not your forte.

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    1. Aware and aminado naman po ako dun... nailagay ko din yun sa about me section ko:
      http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/p/whos-geejay-travel-log.html

      Pasensya na po ah :)

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    2. Talangka! I find the write up clear, direct and simple. Understandable. Ang mahirap lang kasi feeling nung iba na kapwa Pinoy pa na kailangan na perfect ang grammar! Naah! We have encounter the same dude but what matter is we continue doing what we love and mind not the critics might as well use them as a challenge. Mapapagod din yan! Keep it up Geejay! See you around!

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    3. Salamat sa pag boost! :) tinatry ko talaga ayusin kahit papaano english ko. bwahahahaha :P

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  5. I find this helpful. Never mind if writing in English is your forte or not as long as you communicated clearly enough. Pero kung sabagay depende naman sa audience mo kung magtatagalog ka. Take Anyway, nice way to handle such a critique.

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  6. thanks po sa blog nyo :) very helpful po samin para sa food documentary namin at sa binondo ang na-assign samen :) from arellano university :)

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    1. Glad to know na nakakatulong ako sa ganyang paraan. Goodluck on your studies and thanks sa pag visit! :)

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  7. great blog :) Very annoying to see your fellow Filipino commenting on how you use english on your write up. Here in US we don't fucking care. And also, how do you market this to foreigners if he is to write in Filipino ? :) will go there soon!

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    1. Well, I can't please everyone :) Thanks for dropping by. I really appreciate it!

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  8. I want to get married in that Binondo Church. Planning to visit the place soon. Thanks for sharing! :

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