I love a London afternoon. A couple of hours strolling, maybe a spot of shopping, definitely a coffee stop and maybe a little something to go with it.

Time spent in the capital doesn’t have to be a full day, a mad rush of sight-seeing or involve covering multiple neighbourhoods. It’s perfectly possible to do London, bite sized.

Here’s some inspiration for a colourful afternoon wander exploring Chinatown.

Things Helen Loves, colourful image of gate at entrance to Chinatown London
Gate to Chinatown, Wardour St.

The Chinatown Gate

A London Chinatown icon. Bold, beautiful and unmissable.

Point of interest about the gate; for all it looks like it’s been there forever, it’s a fairly recent addition. The area was redesigned in the 1980’s to incorporate pedestrianised streets and the iconic gate. The history of Chinatown is rich. More here if that’s your thing.

Things Helen Loves, image of colourful window display of pokemon themed drinks cans
How many Pokemon can you name? I got two.

These historic streets are full of colour and fun, bakeries and bars side-by-side with souvenir shops and traditional health clinics. Go for a stroll and a browse and see what fun you can find.

Fizzy drinks in a pokemon themed can, anyone? Yes, I did. I bought a Pikachu.

Don’t Forget to Look Up

The colour and creativity isn’t confined to street level. These streets are famous for the red lanterns strung overhead but you might also spot one of Chinatowns temporary installations.

For example, Summer of 2021 saw the space above the streets transformed into a floating garden with seven different types of flower are represented. Each chosen for it’s meaning.

The Pink Chinese Peony represents prosperity and wealth while Peach Blossom speaks of vitality and fertility. Isn’t the language of flowers fascinating?

The hanging installations are seasonal and changing, follow Chinatown London for details of upcoming events.

Things Helen Loves image of street in Chinatown London with traditional lanterns and flowers hung overhead between buildings
Traditional Lanterns & Summer Blooms

Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream

One of my favourite places to stop in Chinatown. I love the coffee, the ice cream and the cool branding. It’s a massive thumbs up from me.

I’m apparently not alone in this, the Chinatown branch is one of their smaller stores with limited seating and lines that often stretch out the door.

Mamasons is London’s first Filipino ice cream shop. The ‘dirty’ refers to the nick name for traditional ice cream sold on the streets of Manila, produced old school style using salt, ice and a steel pot.

Mamasons brings together simple goodness with some exciting flavours , creating a fun and delicious experience.

The menu includes toasted ice cream sandwiches made with pandesal, a small bread roll. Ice cream piled high in cones, iced drinks loaded with toppings and ice cream topped brownies. The flavours include black coconut, purple yam and lime.

So, what do I recommend? From personal and delicious experience, the Ube brownie with queso ice cream. The brownie is made with the purple yam that is much loved in Filipino cuisine, the ice cream a caramel-y delight.

Very sweet, very nice. The Teenagers went for Iced Coffees with coconut milk and ube syrup. The syrup gives the flash of purple, making it a very Insta-friendly ice drink.

Sweet food, sweet service. Before I sign off can we just take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous decor ? Love the doll logo. Kind of sweet, kind of fierce. Loved it.

Things Helen Loves, image of branding and interior inside Mamasons Ice cream shop.
Interior of Mamasons, Chinatown

Getting to Chinatown

Nearest underground stations are Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road and Piccadilly Circus.

If you like this post you might also enjoy reading about how to explore London on a budget.

Helen x

13 thoughts

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I think it’s just temporary Marion, but it’s lovely. And timely, it does feel like London is starting to bloom again after a long, tough spell.

  1. There are so many Chinatowns! A favourite was in Newcastle, up on the Tyne, but I very much enjoyed the one in Bristol, several years ago now. Happy days!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Oh I’ll have to check out Bristol, I’m headed that way soon. Do you know I grew up not far rom Newcastle Chinatown and never really bothered to venture into the area. I think I neglected my own city when I lived there. I’ll go and be a tourist next time I’m up

  2. Nostalgia time again. I love London’s Chinatown but when I first came to London s..ooo many years ago, Gerrard Street was my haunt for cellar jazz clubs where my nights were spent listening to Ken Collyer, Archie Semple, Chris Barber and the great British Jazz singer, Beryl Bryden. Ah! Those nights in steamy, foetid, cellars before The 100 Club arrived!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      What a brilliant time to be out and about in London though! It’s a little corner of the city that has real character…more then than now I suspect. Still a fun place to spend some time though.

  3. I haven’t visited this Chinatown in maybe – oh – sixty years. It’s clearly changed hugely. I need to revisit … but I may pass on the ice cream if it’s super-sweet,

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Plenty of other foodie delights on offer Margaret, you wouldn’t go hungry.

  4. I’m trying to remember if I had ice-cream in the Philippines. I don’t think I did, so it might be time to revisit China Town 😊

  5. It’s been many years since I went to China Town, I just remember there being lots of good places to choose from to eat, thanks for sharing this 😊

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s one of those places i think you could go to over and over and find something new. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, appreciated!

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