Fondest memory: Victoria's historic Chinatown serves as a visual reminder of Canada's first Chinese settlers. This Chinatown once had the largest Chinese community in Canada. Now it is a small and peaceful section of Victoria with old, interesting architecture. Many of the buildings are marked with their names and the year they were built. So I strongly recommend this architectural tour of Chinatown.
Chinatown in Victoria is not very big these days but it used to be much larger 100 years ago or so. It's in the older part of the city and it's the second oldest in North America and well worth a look around. You will find interesting shops and markets and very good restaurants here as well. I was particularly interested in Fan Tan Alley.
Victoria has a few small alleys that contain or lead to shops and courtyards. Fan Tan Alley used to contain gambling houses and opium dens 100 years ago. It's bordered by Fisgard Street on one side and Pandora Street on the other and is a narrow little alley with a few funky shops in it. One has a lot of neat import items and there's also a small second hand record and music shop. There was a restaurant and a music instrument place as well.
At the Fisgard end there is a huge Chinese emporium with lots of little alcoves and one that contains a reproduction of an old Chinese gambling counter. That was interesting but mostly the items in this store were cheesy tat. Go for the other import store at the back part of Fan Tan Alley!
Favorite thing: Visit Fan Tan Alley! Here's what it looks like at the entrance to this magical little alley. You walk down this narrow brick alley at first. In the middle of the alley it opens up and there are at least a dozen little shops. We looked at a wonderful music shop selling all kinds of instruments. We also looked through a store selling used records (of the 12' type). There were hippy stores, clothing stores among other cool shops. It's definitely one of Victoria's secrets! (No pun intended). ;)
Favorite thing: discover the famous Fan Tan Alley! Before I left for Victoria, my sister told me that I absolutely had to go to Fan Tan Alley. She said that it was a very tiny alley located in Chinatown. While in Chinatown, I walked past Fan Tan Alley and even took a picture of the sign pointing to the alley without even realising it! It has an extremely small entrance! Here's the sign pointing to Fan Tan Alley.