The first dozen Chinese labourers arrived from Singapore in Adelaide in 1847 to work as indentured shepherds. Many Chinese people disembarked in the port towns of South Australia before travelling overland to the Victorian goldfields due to immigration restrictions in Victoria. Chinatown in Adelaide began to grow in the 1970s and 1980s with the influx of Asian migrants particularly from Vietnam. Produce was sold at the Central Market by market gardeners and this began the growth of the Asian food shops and cafés in the area. The pagoda style roofs, red lanterns, restaurants and grocery stores are found on Moonta street, which is the centre of Chinatown. Paifang, which is a type of traditional Chinese archway, are at the opposite entrances of Moonta street and are guarded by Chinese lion statues which were donated by the Adelaide city council and by the Chinese government.
Chinatown Adelaide has hosted the official Lunar New Year Celebrations in Moonta Street since 2003. In 2013 the celebrations were expanded with the assistance of the Adelaide City Council and major sponsors to also include Gouger Street. Gouger street was closed to accommodate a street party with traditional performances, market stalls and a pop-up street restaurant.