San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest
Chinese community outside Asia. Since its establishment in the 1840s, it has been
highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants
to the United States and North America. Popularly known as a “city-within-a-city”,
it has developed its own government, traditions, over 300 restaurants, and as
many shops. Visitors can easily become immersed in a microcosmic Asian world,
filled with herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs and dragon parades.
The reality of Chinatown is that there are two Chinatowns: One belongs to the locals, the
other charms the tourists. They overlap and dance with each other, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge. At Explore San Francisco, we show you the city as a
local, so we will indeed take you to the touristy area but we will also escort you into the alleys and side streets where the residents lead their lives, usually unseen by most tourists.
The whole district smells delightfully of incense and green tea, and one feels as if they
are in Asia. Street musicians will be encountered playing the erhu, a two string instrument
similar to a violin or fiddle. They often perform traditional American songs from the early
20th century or late 19th century, many are songs their forefathers learned while building the railroads. At Portsmouth square, groups of people practice tai chi, while elderly men play elephant chess sometimes attracting throngs of spectators. We are going to see the sights and enjoy delicious food, sip exotic teas in a gourmet tea shop and we’ll have dimsum at the oldest Chinese bakery in the U.S. We’ll watch cookies being made at a fortune cookie factory. We’ll even go to a Buddhist Temple. These are not things that you would find on your own.
Visitors to Chinatown expect something they won’t find anywhere else. They expect to be stunned and enchanted and stuffed with great food. And they will. Customers of Explore SF expect to see the city as locals. And they will. We will show you the Chinatown that tourists rarely see, the alleys and side streets of Chinatown, this is where the locals do their daily business, leading their daily lives, which is afterall, the real Chinatown.
We also offer:
Chinatown-North Beach at Night!