Stockton St Tunnel, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

There are several Chinatowns in the Bay Area, but this 24-block one is the oldest—not just in San Francisco, but in all of North America. The first record of Chinese settlers in San Francisco dates their arrival to 1848, but the gold rush a year later and the subsequent construction of transcontinental railroads led to dramatic leaps in immigration from China. San Francisco’s Chinatown has managed to keep its culture intact for more than a century, despite economic and at times political pressures on the community. Of the two main arteries of Chinatown, Grant Avenue is the more tourist-friendly, with noodle shops and stores selling Chinese curios. A stroll down Stockton Street, on the other hand, provides a glimpse of the more typical daily life of residents.

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Tea Shop Hop

Chinatown is a delicious place to spend an afternoon dinning on Dim Sum and washing it down with teas for any ailment or taste. It may feel slightly overwhelming among the crowded streets, unsure of what to do or see first, or where to go. I first stepped inside of a teashop just a couple doors down from Kerouac street. The woman who helped us was accommodating and warm and told us to sit to taste that day’s selections of tea. We sat and she chose 3-4 for us to try and we were able to choose a couple more for interest sake. The walls were lined with different types of teas and when we were walking out we saw one in particular high upon the shelf. We inquired about it and she said that it wasn’t for us and costs $90 US per ounce. I assumed it was a tea praised for its medicinal properties.

Wander Through Chinatown

San Francisco lays claim to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. A walk through the busy neighborhood bombards the senses with vibrant colors, fragrant smells, and loud chattering. Start your tour at the imposing Chinatown gates guarded by a pair of stone dragons. From there, get lost amid the crimson street lanterns, Mandarin characters, and constant hustle and bustle. Cheap trinket and souvenir stores abound, but you can also find traditional pastries, inexpensive fruits and vegetables, and tea and herb shops. Wander down Ross Alley and pop into the small Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory for a look at how the ubiquitous folded treats are made. You may even get to sample the final result.

Stroll through San Francisco's Chinatown

Dubbed the largest Chinatown outside Asia and the oldest in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is a lively and colorful neighborhood close to the Financial District and North Beach. Since the first Chinese immigrants arrived in San Francisco in 1848, Chinese culture has been an important element in the city’s history and evolution. That culture is still very much alive in Chinatown today—meander through the streets and alleys for shops, food, buildings, and other sights that will make you feel like you’re on a different continent. Enter the south side of Chinatown through the green Dragon’s Gate at Bush and Grant Streets, downtown.

Chinese New Year in Chinatown

The day after Chinese New Years in one of the historic alleys of China Town in SF... The red paper remains of fire crackers are everywhere! Red is good luck in Chinese culture....Chinatown in SF is primarily Cantonese...

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