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Chinatown

One of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia gives rise to San Fran's thriving Chinatown.

TravelCurious Tip

Be adventurous with your food choices. How about some jellyfish?

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the second-largest Asian community in North America and is as old as the city itself. But there are really two Chinatowns here, though: one for tourists centred on Grant Avenue and another for locals centred on Stockton Street. Dip in and out of both for wonderful dining options and a unique glimpse of a world within a world.


In Chinatown, it pays to wander off the beaten track and down the side alleys. There you will hear the muffled buzz of conversation and the clatter of game tiles, and you can see temples with wafting incense and hanging pieces of laundry flapping like flags overhead.


Cornucopia

The SF Chinatown is considered by many to be the birthplace of several Westernised Chinese dishes, such as Chop Suey, and also where delicacies such as Dim Sum were introduced to the United States. Even today its Dim Sum tea houses are still a major tourist attraction. But for the real deal, head to the Stockton Street markets. Here, between pull carts and dozens of stalls, you can find anything: dried mushrooms, sea cucumber, bundles of bok choy — you name it.


American Homeopath

Waverly Place is home to the district’s acupuncture and Chinese medicine shops. Also tucked away there is the Tin How Temple — the oldest Taoist temple in the city. Dozens of illuminated paper lanterns hover overhead and plates of orange and bread rest on an altar with a shrine of Buddha statues. Photography is not allowed, so you have to see it with your own eyes.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in San Francisco
Ghirardelli Chocolate
Started by an Italian confectioner in San Francisco during the gold rush, Ghirardelli chocolate is a San Francisco institution and a must for all travelers.
Old Saint Mary's Cathedral
Built in the heart of Chinatown, the historical landmark has served as a safe and holy place since the beginning of the Gold Rush.
Eastern Bakery
The Eastern Bakery is the oldest Chinese bakery in the City and is famous for traditional sweets served to go and shipped nationwide.
Open Air Product Markets
Stroll through the colorful produce and import goods market of Stockton street to experience bustling Chinatown.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Sample some fresh fortune cookies, learn about their history, and take some home with you, directly from this landmark factory.
Jack Kerouac Alley
Learn about the literary movement developed in North Beach in the 50's and the legendary City Lights Bookstore.

Related Tours

Private Full Day Highlights with Alcatraz Island Tickets
Immerse yourself in the highlights of San Francisco, the city on the Bay, and uncover the secrets of Alcatraz – the infamous island prison. On your private tour of San Francisco, you will:

  • Enjoy the personal attention of your private guide.
  • Explore Union Square— San Francisco's bustling shopping area.
  • Learn the history of its famous neighbourhoods, including Chinatown, Nob Hill, and North Beach.
  • Take a cable car across town for fantastic cityscapes and soak up the San Francisco skyline from the top of iconic Nob Hill.
  • Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine, and curiosities of Chinatown.
  • Visit Ghirardelli Square, with breathtaking views, fantastic shopping, dining options, and of course - world-famous chocolate!
  • Enjoy striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge from atmospheric Fisherman's Wharf. 
  • Walk around the historic Pier 39, and see the famous seals basking in the sun.
  • Dig into some of San Francisco's famous seafood - like clam chowder soup in a sourdough bread bowl (price not included).
  • Finally, take a ferry to visit the world’s most notorious island penitentiary: Alcatraz, where you will enjoy a self-guided audio tour of the island or join one of its small ranger-led tours when you disembark.

On this Private Full-Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights, you will learn about the city’s founding when Spanish colonists settled the area during gold-rush fever. See first-hand San Francisco’s colourful mix of quaint buildings and modern architecture in a stunning ocean-facing city. Home of the flower power movement, San Francisco is famous for its social conscience, political activism and is now a thriving digital hub. 

Your Private Full-Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights will take you through an urban landscape, set on the northern tip of a peninsula, shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and the Pacific’s rolling waves. At the top of Nob Hill, soak up an extraordinary cityscape at cable car height. Set on San Francisco's picturesque steep slopes, enjoy a stunning skyline across streets crisscrossed by streetcars, yellow taxis, and jogging trails. 

Wander through some world-class shopping malls in Union Square, where big-name brands and local stores nestle amongst chic boutiques. Lastly, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, lined with seafood cafés, are home to basking sea lions, jugglers, and mime artists, with striking views across the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. Enjoy lunch at one of the many eateries on Pier 39 before your guide takes you to Pier 33, where you will board a pre-booked ferry ride to Alcatraz Island. Please note: your guide will not be joining you on the island, as private guides are not permitted to operate on the island. On arrival at Alcatraz, take an audio tour at a leisurely pace to hear tales of notorious felons such as Al Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud in this former fort, a military prison and maximum-security federal penitentiary. Once you are finished exploring Alcatraz Island (most people spend about 2 hours), you can hop any return ferry to San Francisco, where you will be dropped off at Pier 33. 

Please note: Alcatraz tickets are in high demand during the summer and tickets cannot be guaranteed at the time of booking. We will contact you soonest should we are unable to obtain tickets.
Additionally, please note that if you wish to spend more than 2 hours exploring Alcatraz, you should book the 8 AM tour time, rather than the 9 AM time. 
Lastly, please note that bags larger than a standard backpack are not allowed on Alcatraz Island. Over-sized packs and luggage are not permitted. No exceptions. There are also no storage lockers at Pier 33. 
Half Day Highlights of San Francisco Private Tour
Dating back to 1776 and considered by many to be the USA’s most beautiful city, San Francisco - a.k.a. The City by the Bay - is a vibrant mix of exotic cultures, and is renowned worldwide for its liberal free-thinking ideals. On your private half-day tour of San Francisco, you will:

  • Enjoy the personal attention and expertise of your private guide.
  • Learn the history of its famous neighbourhoods, including downtown, the Financial District, Nob Hill, Chinatown, and Little Italy.
  • Explore Union Square, San Francisco's bustling shopping area.
  • Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine, and curiosities of Chinatown.
  • Take a cable car to the top of Nob Hill for spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.
  • Venture through North Beach to absorb the community’s Italian heritage.
  • Enjoy striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Angel Island from atmospheric Fisherman's Wharf – and glimpse the basking seals!
On this Private Half-Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights, you will learn about the city’s founding in 1776, when Spanish colonists settled the area during the gold-rush fever, to the city in the modern era, famous for its political activism and social inclusivity the world over. See first-hand San Francisco’s colourful mix of quaint buildings and modern architecture in a stunning ocean-facing city.

San Francisco’s strong historical bonds with Spanish America and Mexico are evident all over the city and reflected in its Hispanic population, vibrant arts, music, and festival scene. San Francisco is famous for its long-standing progressive stance on activism: the city is credited with trailblazing the “Flower Power” peace movement, and powering the gay rights movement as one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world.

On your private tour, you will explore this fascinating urban landscape, set on the northern tip of a peninsula, shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and the Pacific’s rolling waves. Set on San Francisco's picturesque steep slopes, enjoy a stunning skyline across streets crisscrossed by streetcars, yellow taxis and jogging trails. Wander through some world-class shopping in Union Square, where big-name brands and local stores nestle amongst chic boutiques. Enjoy a historic cable car ride from one part of the city, over Nob Hill to the waterfront. At beautiful North Beach, known colloquially as Little Italy, soak up the ambience of the city’s lively historic Italian-American community. Lastly, Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with seafood cafes, is home to basking sea lions, jugglers and mime artists and enjoys striking views across the Golden Gate Bridge, the infamous island prison on the sea, Alcatraz, and Angel Island.

Please note: Historic cable cars cannot run in adverse weather conditions, so on days with inclement weather you will take an Uber or taxi instead.
Private Walking Food Tour of Chinatown and North Beach
Explore two of San Francisco’s beloved neighbourhoods with a foodie extravaganza tour. With an eclectic array of food from Chinatown and Little Italy, be sure to arrive hungry for this experience. On your private food tour, you will: 

  • Learn about the histories and the food cultures around two of the city's well-known neighbourhoods. 
  • Walk under the Dragon's Gate and enter San Francisco's world-famous Chinatown. 
  • Visit a fortune cookie making factory, where you will not only get to try these pastries when fresh but also learn the history of the factory and its' local influence. 
  • Stop at a Catholic Cathedral, which has been continuously active since the California Gold Rush. 
  • Enjoy a seated tasting in Little Italy, indulging in the best place for calzones and pizzas. 
  • Comb Stockton Street and North Beach's wealth of street markets, bakeries, restaurants and pavement cafés. 
  • Finish off with Italian dessert - tasting a cannoli or having an espresso to lift the inevitable food coma from the preceding four hours.
San Francisco's international influences are so diverse that locals are constantly discovering foodie spots that have existed for decades. Don’t miss the chance to try fresh-baked fortune cookies - before they're wrapped in the crinkly plastic and served to you at restaurants. On your private tour your guide will not only take you to the  best places to try new desserts and espresso,  but also equip you with their insider's knowledge, so you can continue exploring  the city's diverse food scene long after your tour has ended.   Your tour ends in Washington Square Park, where you can continue on with your day, or take time to digest your food extravaganza by lounging in the grass amongst the locals who congregate in the area every day. 
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