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Chinatown, Mauritius Overview

In the year 1940 a large number of Chinese immigrants set foot in Mauritius in search of trade business under the French and British rule. They started settling around Royal Road, in the heart of Mauritius' capital, Port Louis and this is how the Mauritian Chinatown's birth took place.

Chinatown
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This unique area is home to its local celebrities, famed all around the country. Speaking of few, Mrs Kwok, the most revered fortune teller in the country is a host of quite wise and traditional Chinese pharmacy owners, who have with them medicinal herbs, preserved insects, tea, spices, and other so-called "magical" supplies that are believed to cure incurable diseases.

According to the World Factbook by the Central Intelligence Agency, only about 3 per cent of the Mauritian population ethnic Chinese. However, it is interesting to know that Chinese-style dishes at restaurants and food stalls and Chinese products like home decoratives are immensely popular in the country.

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What to Expect – Shopping and Food

Chinatown is fascinating, as there's something for everyone here. Watches, clothes, shoes, home decor, second-hand goods, Chinese paintings, and much more are sold in small shops on the street.

Take the Win Tai Chong store, for example. When the Chinese New Year is around the corner– pyrotechnic enthusiasts are on their shopping spree to pick up their favourite items for celebrities.
Food in Chinatown
Chinese Cuisine in Chinatown
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This is also the time when the shop’s dried and pickled vegetables and a variety of sauces are placed on the shelves for display on the spices aisle. The store packs a crowd of shoppers which then spill on the street outside. It is chaos, but it is also fun at the same time.

The Atlantic store display eye-catching porcelain and musical instruments over its windows and shelves, there are other toys and firecrackers, vintage items, hand-held fans and other unexpected objects. There's a 'boulettes' (dim sum) vendor just beside the store where you could treat your taste buds with local Chinese cuisine.

Annual Chinatown Food and Cultural Festival

  • Chinatown, during the annual Chinatown Food and Cultural Festival, is a sight you wouldn't want to miss. The area morphs into a celebration ground, with the rhythmic drum beats and music in the background and a vibrant and colourful night sky with fireworks. You will also find beautiful Chinese lions dancing here and there.
  • The street turns into performing stages for artists – painters, dancers, musicians, acrobats, calligraphists, and many more who come from all over the country to participate in the celebrations and madness.
  • Food stalls brim with crowds. Varieties of dishes like the bol renverse, a fried-egg stir-fry that consists of chicken, carrots, broccoli with oyster and soy sauce, prepared in Chinese rice wine, and then textured and thickened by adding some amount of corn­starch.
  • Shops are brightly decorated with gold, and red Chinese lanterns and shopkeepers display their best products for this night. Later in the night, the streets are closed for vehicles and are open for dance performances.
Stores in Chinatown
Stores in Chinatown
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How Chinatown Evolved Over Years

The elderly say that there were times when neighbours – unlike in present time – maintained family-like relations with each other. Children at that time even shared the same school textbooks. They often played together and grew up to teach the younger generations the value of friendship and sharing.
Chinatown in Mauritius
Chinese New Year in Chinatown
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Traces of the past remain despite the economic progress and the shift of families from one area to another and breaking up of families from joint to nuclear. Mandarin is still actively taught in middle schools in the area, and the streets are marked with well-maintained pagodas.

The last few remaining old inhabitants of Chinatown take pride in their traditions and culture and strive to keep it alive. The younger generations – the Sino-Mauritians – too give out a helping hand in maintaining the culture

Best Time To Visit Chinatown

You can come anytime to find a large crowd in Chinatown as it is an ideal hangout place, offering excellent shopping and food options. The area is lively throughout the year. But the best time to come to Chinatown is in May when the Annual Chinatown Food and Cultural Festival is held.

How To Reach Chinatown, Mauritius

Chinatown is located in the capital city of Port Louis and can easily be accessed via a taxi, private vehicle or bus. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, located in Plaine Magnien is close to 50 km away from Chinatown. You can also catch a bus from the most popular bus stations in Port Louis – Immigration Square and Victoria Square Terminus.

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