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No visit to Chinatown is complete without a walk through one of the many flea markets and shopping centers.
Located on the Northeast corner of Alpine Street and North Broadway, the Dynasty Center, Saigon Plaza and Alpine Plaza are great places to find almost anything you're looking for. This shopping mecca, with its labyrinthine pathways, has vendors selling everything from DVDs and cell phone cases to shoes and street food, and haggling is very welcome.
If all this shopping is making you hungry, walk across the street and grab a bite at Yang Chow and try their Slippery Shrimp or Sizzling Rice Soup. If you're just looking for a snack, try Fusion Delight, a candy shop specializing in various Asian snacks, sweet and savory alike.
Considered the first ethnic shopping mall in America, Far East Plaza is a two story, open air shopping center with many vendors and restaurants. Upon entering the Plaza you are instantly hit with the intense aromas of the traditional Chinese herbs at Wing Hop Fung Ginseng Incorporated, and foods from many different styles of Chinese cooking. Try Kim Chuy, a restaurant specializing in Chiu Chow cuisine from the Guangdong province in China.
With its gift shops, eateries and other vendors, Far East Plaza has something for everyone.
If you decide to venture out of the Plaza and explore the neighborhood, check out the Far East Supermarket with fresh fish and produce for cheap, or head over to Phillipe on Alameda, one of the oldest restaurants in L.A. and (reputedly) the inventor of the French Dip Sandwich.
If you're looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of North Broadway, go for a walk around the neighborhood. On Hill Street between Alpine and College Streets, you'll see the Chinese United Methodist Church, which is the oldest Chinese Christian church in Los Angeles, having established in 1877. Or, take the kids to the Alpine Recreation Center, on the corner of Alpine Street and Yale Street, to run around on the playground or maybe for a quick game of basketball.
Walk up Ord Street towards Yale Street and visit the Thien Hau Temple, a Taoist temple dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of the sea. It includes shrines for Guan Yu, the Taoist god of war and a Bodhisattva in Buddhism, and Fu De, a local earth god worshiped in China.
If you're looking for some cheap shopping or a day out with the family, there's something for everybody here.
Photo by kimyidionne used under a Creative Commons license