Shopping Guide: Honolulu’s Chinatown

By Olena Heu
shopping on oahu

Shopping at Owens & Co. Photo: Napua Heen.

Nestled just beyond Honolulu’s busy financial district, Chinatown is bursting at the seams with reinvigorated storefronts, shops, galleries and various ethnic markets.

Dress Me Up

shopping on oahu

Shopping at Owens & Co. Photo: Napua Heen.

From chic to modern, an array of boutiques will tickle your fancy when shopping for clothing, vintage knick knacks, home décor and gifts in Chinatown. Homecoming Honolulu is best known for its line of wearable women’s clothing, various street-inspired accessories and fashionable footwear. Barrio Vintage is an eclectic collection of delicately worn apparel and home offerings available by consignment. Meanwhile, Roberta Oaks is redefining the new standard in aloha shirts — expertly designed, hand-crafted and boldly creative, while balancing old Hawai‘i with new. For the skate/surf/sport lifestyle In4mation offers an addictive collection of locally branded logo wear, sneakers, designer t-shirts and snapback caps.

Down to a Fine Art

Now you can’t go to Chinatown without browsing through the various art galleries and installations in the neighborhood. The ARTS at Mark’s Garage serves as a notable transformative corner within the community. Mark’s offers a space for all types of local artists with gallery showings, performances and constantly evolving exhibitions viewable from the street. Famed Pegge Hopper also curates an art space on Nu‘uanu Avenue, which displays her own work along with featuring other notable artists in Hawai‘i. Louis Pohl Gallery is also a popular stopover, especially while parading along the streets of Chinatown during First Friday night celebrations.

Get Lei’d

Haku lei. Photo: Joel.

In Hawai‘i, special occasions are celebrated by presenting and wearing a freshly strung and vibrantly colored flower lei. From fragrant tuberose to the hardy kukui nut, you can find a lei for anyone while shopping in Chinatown. If you start along Beretania Street and head along Mauna Kea Street, then down to King Street and zig zag your way up Smith Street, the number of lei shops will be overwhelming. And you aren’t just limited to lei, you can also find potted plants, haku (flower crowns) and fresh cut flowers.

Going to the Market

From farm straight to market, the abundance of produce and ethnic meats, treats and other delicacies are at your fingertips. From Vietnamese noodles to Filipino spring rolls, and roast pork to Chinese dumplings, the markets in Chinatown are often a sight to see when looking for something direct from the source.

Shopping in Chinatown is an experience all its own. You never know what you’ll find, but it surely will be unique, affordable and a memorable experience.

See also:  The Chinatown Culinary Scene.

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