Is Chinatown in Milan safe? – safety guide


Milan is one of Italy’s best cities to visit for those who like living the fast life. Far from the laid-back streets of Positano or Cinque Terre, Milan is fast-paced, with tons to see and do and even more cool outfits to check out. Things to do in Milan include visiting the Duomo, seeing the Teatro alla Scala, strolling down the canal-filled streets of Navigli, and grabbing a coffee in the Piazza del Duomo.

Is Chinatown in Milan safe
Is Chinatown in Milan safe? (Image source: Flickr)

It is Italy’s home of fashion, and it is also one of the best places to see world-famous art and explore renowned museums. But Milan has a secret. Unlike many other Italian cities that have quite a homogenous Italian culture, Milan is incredibly diverse not only in its population but in its culture, too. Rather than only eating pizza and pasta, Milan’s food scene boasts restaurants serving up dishes from all over the world, whether you are seeking Mexican food, Chinese, or Italian. 

There is nowhere this dedication to diversity is better displayed than Chinatown. Chinatown is a district in Milan that’s home to all things Chinese culture, with streets lined with Chinese eateries and shops. Wondering whether Chinatown is safe to visit during your trip to Milan? Let’s get into it.  

What is Chinatown?

Most major cities in the world have a Chinatown, and Milan is no exception. This district is filled with Chinese businesses, most of which are restaurants, and the streets are decorated with traditional Chinese decor, such as lanterns and dragons. While Chinatown is fully integrated into the culture of Milan, it still maintains its own culture that is distinct from the rest of the city.

Visitors to Chinatown are drawn in by the promise of experiencing authentic Chinese culture in the middle of one of Italy’s biggest cities. Food delicacies you will be able to get your hands on in this district include items such as dumplings, bubble tea, egg-fried rice, and more. Chinatown actually goes back to as early as the 1920s, when Chinese immigrants started arriving in Milan. The 1990s was probably Chinatown’s biggest boom, with the opening of thousands of retail spaces and restaurants transforming it into a thriving metropolis.

New Year in Chinatown
Chinese New Year in Milan (Image source: Flickr)

Over the years, it has transformed into what it is now, a haven of multiculturalism where visitors can enjoy the authentic Chinese experience without having to stray from Milan. If seeing Chinatown is one of your main priorities when coming to Milan, visit during Chinese New Year, when the area truly comes to life. During this period, there is a parade with paper lanterns and dragons that showcases the best in Chinese culture. 

Where is Chinatown located?

Chinatown is located in the 8th quarter of Milan and mainly centers around Via Paolo Sarpi. It is pedestrianized, so you can easily reach it on foot. It is known in Italian as Quartiere Cinese, so if you can’t see any signs in English for Chinatown, look out for signs in Italian instead. 

Is Chinatown in Milan safe?

Despite the interesting culture you will find in Chinatown, it is not the safest place in Milan. This district is perfectly safe to go for lunch or even dinner in the area, but when the sun goes down, there are some drug-related crimes as well as possible petty crimes like thefts. If searching for a hotel in Milan, look in other districts instead of Chinatown to avoid getting caught up in any unsavory scenarios. Two of the safest districts are Brera and Navigli, so it is best to seek accommodation in these spots when heading to Milan. 

Chinatown main street
Main street in Chinatown neighborhood

If you do decide to stroll around Chinatown during the day, you should take the same precautions you would in any city. Keep a close eye on your belongings, opting to keep them close to your body in a bum bag or money belt. Don’t take lots of cash or important documents out with you, as you risk them being stolen. When Chinatown is busy, it is a prime target for pickpockets, so hold your hand on your bag at all times and never leave your bag unattended. If you eat at a restaurant, don’t leave your phone or your wallet on the table next to you as this will leave you vulnerable to being snatched.  

Safety in Milan

You are probably wondering whether Milan, in general, is safe before you embark on a trip to this popular Italian city. In general, Milan is a pretty safe city. There are low rates of serious crime, but there are quite high rates of petty crime, such as pickpocketing, so like any European city, you should keep a close eye on your belongings, too. Drug-related crime can also be a small problem here. If somebody offers you illegal substances on the street, just politely turn them down and walk away, you shouldn’t have further problems. 

How to Stay Safe in Chinatown in Milan

If you plan on visiting Chinatown in Milan, the good news is that there are plenty of easy ways to ensure you stay safe. You don’t have to miss out on visiting somewhere you love. 

  • Keep an eye on your possessions. Pickpocketing and petty theft are some of the most common crimes in not just this area of Milan but Italy generally. Make sure you keep your possessions close to your person and keep a hand on your bag while you’re walking around. 
  • Avoid the area at night. Places that are safe during the day often have higher rates of crime in the evenings, and this is true in Chinatown. If you plan on visiting this part of the city, go for lunch or an afternoon stroll instead. 
  • Put your phone away. These days, most of us tend to walk with our phones held out in front of us, sending texts or using maps. This, however, leaves you vulnerable to having your phone snatched right out of your hand. Put your phone away while you’re not using it, and hold it close to your chest with two hands when you are. 

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