Free Chinatown Tour

Chinatown Underground

Our San Francisco Free Chinatown Tour unearths the true story of a neighborhood often visited, but rarely understood.

We begin with a journey into an underground tunnel where the Barbary Coast met Chinatown, an area that thrived in lawlessness and debauchery. The next stops take us into a Taoist temple, Chinatown’s main square, past the tourist trap of Grant Ave, down architecturally stunning streets, and finally, paying a visit to America’s last fortune cookie factory producing by hand.

Why underground? The truth is, a complex network of tunnels did not really exist in Chinatown. Extravagant stories abound (and even some fake tunnels) created by enterprising tour guides in the early 1900’s, which exotified the neighborhood and Chinese residents.

When we say Chinatown underground, our intent is to show you the story of Chinatown no tourist will ever come across. Join us as we explore the living, breathing community that boldly remains to this day on this free SF tour into the real Chinatown!

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Free Chinatown Tour Highlights

What we see…

  • A relic of an “underground tunnel”
  • Taste samples from a Fortune Cookie factory
  • A Taoist temple
  • Stop at a local cafe
  • The old Great Star Theater
  • A Chinese herb shop
  • The plaza where the Gold Rush began
  • The birthplace of Bruce Lee
  • Portsmouth Square, Chinatown’s “living room”
  • Photogenic Chinatown alleys
    • (as seen in The Pursuit of Happyness)
  • Painted balconies of Waverly Place

What we experience…

  • Hear tales of revolutionary leaders
  • The dire journey from China to San Francisco
  • What it was like for women
  • Court rulings that changed America forever
  • Unique architecture, food, tea and fortune cookies

Answer questions like…

  • Were there actually underground tunnel systems?
  • What makes Chinatown so important today?
  • Why did the Chinese flee to San Francisco?

Hear the stories of…

  • Rose Pak –
    the legendary matriarch of modern day Chinatown
  • Look Tin Eli 
    the entrepreneur who rebuilt the neighborhood
  • Edsel Ford Fong –
    the ‘mean waiter’ who won the nation’s hearts
  • Willie ‘Woo Woo’ Wong –
    1st Chinese-American national basketball player
  • Supreme Court Heroes
    • Mary Tape
    • Sang Lee
    • Wong Kim Ark
  • Ma Tsu/Tin How –
    the goddess of the sea, eponym of countless temples
  • Brandon Jew –
    current day restaurant owner
  • Donaldina Cameron –
    who took 3,000 women out of indentured servitude

Your Guides
Fischer: Food Crawl + Free SF Tour

A screenwriter, director and educator, Andrew “Fischer” Wong’s craft has taken him far–including Cannes Film Festival, where he premiered one of his short films. He studied film and cinematography at SF State, leads filmmaking workshops for youth, and has his own production company called ReTold Productions. When not educating or directing, Fischer is a foodie with a knack for groan-inducing puns.

Mina: Food Crawl + Free SF Tour + Street Art

Artist and actress Mina can usually be found with a coffee in one hand and a drawing utensil in the other. With a passion for creating, she found her niche in technical theatre and moved to SF to study costume design. When she’s not creating costumes or building sets for the stage, she turns her focus to playwriting and improv to bring characters to life.

Wes Leslie: Co-Founder + Guide

Wes Leslie is a songwriter, tropical bartender, and almost-local, with a long family history in the Bay. He makes “bedroom soul” music which you can find on Spotify and his website. He has spent time backpacking through much of the world, including a year living in Madrid, Spain, where he dreamt up this walking tour company. Follow him on IG @wes.leslie