Chinatown Underground 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!

Tour lasts 1:30-3:30pm (includes cafe break)

Reservations required, must book online
Meets near the Transamerica Pyramid

General Admission 11+ – $18
Youth 0-10 – $12
Locals/Students/Hostels – $14

Book now


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

A screenwriter and director, Fischer’s craft has taken him to Cannes Film Festival to premiere one of his short films. He studied film and cinematography at SF State, and when not directing, pursues photography and food (he’s obsessed with Anthony Bourdain). Armed with a sharp wit and a bag of knee-slapping jokes, Fischer leads epic journeys on our Rise SF route.


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. She can be found on the Rise SF route.

Wild Wes

Co-founder Wes is a third-generation San Francisco Bay native. He makes “bedroom soul” music as Wes Leslie, the Bedroom Player and fixes cocktails at Mrs. Jones on Market Street. He has spent time traveling, backpacking and/or hitchhiking through the US, Europe, Israel and Mexico, and spent a year living in Madrid, Spain. He is (slowly) reading Don Quixote in Spanish and English and could use your encouragement.