* We now offer walking tours of Chinatown every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 10:30 am. Click here for info.
Visitors and school groups are welcome to select from two 2-hour walks:
a) The Tale of Two Chinatowns focuses on the daily life, history and culture of Chinatown throughout the years. Highlights include the fresh food markets, old telephone exchange, the oldest Buddhist temple in San Francisco, the site of the first American flag in California, and the “outdoor living room” of Chinatown.
b) From Dynasty to Democracy combines the color of Chinatown with the inspiring history of the community’s struggle against discrimination starting in the 1800’s, and how that struggle shaped America’s understanding of human rights and the Constitution. This tour specifically addresses California Dept of Education Social Science and History Standards for grades 4 through 12 (View the addressed standards below). It’s also great for the visitor who is looking for a more unique introduction to Chinatown. Highlights include the Goddess of Democracy, the doors to nowhere, family associations, the bank in a “temple”, the beautiful Chinatown 6 Companies, and Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.
Outreach and Scholarship by:
“I’ve lived in San Francisco all my life and have never learned so much in one tour. Lois was a great tour guide. She was full of knowledge and really helped me understand not only where I came from but, where my parents came from and how they grew up in Chinatown. I would highly recommend booking a tour with Lois. You won’t be disappointed! ” —Alycia M.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the quality of the trip and our four fantastic docents. Thank you for making our field work so meaningful. Esther I want to thank you again for a meaningful and fun-filled day of fieldwork with my students! The kids and parents RAVED about your tour.”
— Katherine Henries, Vallejo Charter School
“Thanks to Anita and Pat for making the field trip possible for our students. We learned about buildings we had never contemplated, discovered some places in Chinatown we had never seen, like the hidden doorways, and began to understand the history and politics of the SF Chinese community. We came away with a deeper respect for the Chinese community and their struggle and successes in San Francisco.”
— Sara Oser, College of Marin
For all inquiries or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If emailing or leaving a message, please include your contact name, phone number, and email.
Comments from docents and visitors
Groups of 4 to 9
$20 children 15 and under
Free 5 and under
Groups of 10 or more
$15 children 15 and under
Free 5 and under
School groups of 20 or more students
Two adults acting as chaperones per 20 students are free, thereafter $18 per adult
Private Tours Available
**Please fill out a form if you are booking for a tour group of 10 or more, or booking for a school, non-profit, or company
Book early for best available dates and time. All tours require a reservation. If you have not received a confirmation, you do not have a tour scheduled.
Tours are available:
10am, 10:30am, 12pm, 2pm
Private tours and tours in Cantonese available by request and subject to availability. Private tours do not have a minimum person requirement.
You will meet your tour at the Chinese Culture Center Gallery (750 Kearny St, 3rd floor, inside the Hilton across from Portsmouth Square). Please arrive 10-15 minutes before your tour time to check-in. The tour is approximately 2 hours long.
Dress warmly, in layers, and wear comfortable walking shoes. San Francisco weather can be quite unpredictable and Chinatown is hilly. Expect uphill walking and stair-climbing.
An Invitation to Educators
Are you looking for an educational destination that addresses civil rights, cultural diversity, and state social science standards for grades 4 thru 12…all in a uniquely fascinating setting?
If so, please consider bringing your students on our new tour of Chinatown, “Dynasty to Democracy.” The Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco is proud to unveil this inspiring tour that combines the color Chinatown with the untold history of the community’s struggle against discrimination, and how that struggle shaped America’s understanding of human rights, the Constitution and the relationships of the three branches of government. Highlights include:
- Confucian and Greek philosophy: Nearly 2,500 years ago, Confucius was the first person to put into writing that government should operate for the well-being of all, while virtually at the same time the Greeks started their first experiments with democracy.
- The important role of Chinese in early California: In California, Chinese helped build the first transcontinental railroad, the farming industry, and many of the trans-Sierra roads. Taxes on Chinese miners even provided 50% of early California’s government budgets!
- Chinese and the Supreme Court: Dozens of anti-Chinese laws were enacted in the mid-1800’s. Chinese fought many of these laws all the way to the US Supreme Court.
- Chinatown and the revolution in China: While fighting for civil rights in America, Chinatown supported the 1911 revolution by Dr. Sun Yat Sen that ended thousands of years of Imperial rule in China. Dr. Sun’s headquarters are in Chinatown!
The tour also often includes visits to one or more of the following:
- Fortune cookie factory / Fresh food markets / San Francisco’s oldest Buddhist temple
School Group Guidelines:
On the Chinatown Heritage Walking tour, teachers and parent chaperones are responsible for group management of the tour. CCC will provide docent to deliver information and guide the group through Chinatown. We waive 2 adults per 20 for group management purposes.
Janice Hom: Janice Hom, a native San Franciscan and has been a community volunteer for many years. Involved with the Asian Art Museum, Chinese Culture Center, Asian Business League, and the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, she has an extensive knowledge of Chinese culture, Chinese art and Chinatown. Janice speaks English & Cantonese.
Lynn Eichinger: Lynn’s interest in the Chinese in America goes back decades, inspiring her to lead tours of Chinatown and Angel Island State Park, where she is a docent. Previous professions include working for IBM and McKesson Corporation as an information technology manager, as well as having taught in public schools for 9 years.
Shelly Ginenthal: Shelly has been a resident of San Francisco for 38 years. She’s been a docent for about 5 years, and is also a long time volunteer for SF Jazz, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (deYoung, Legion of Honor). In her free time, Shelly enjoys spending her time oil painting, drawing, and doing yoga. Shelly is bilingual in English & Portuguese.
Important Information “The Fine Print”
Tours depart rain or shine. No refunds are given. We reserve the right to cancel a tour. In the instance that the Chinese Culture Center needs to cancel a tour, a refund/credit will be given or the tour will be arranged for another date.
Reservation and Cancellation Policy (revised April 2012, effective for all tours booked after April 16, 2012):
To better serve our customers, we adhere to the following reservation and cancellation policy:
Small groups of less than 10 are reserved at least 3 business days in advance. For a notice that is shorter than 3 business days, a tour cannot be guaranteed; if tour date is available, an extra $10 per person will be charged a late booking fee. No fee will be charged for tour cancelled with more than 48 hours notice.
Cancellations: If a tour is cancelled within 48 hours of the tour time, the CCC will retain 25% of the total fee. If a tour is cancelled within 24 hours, we will retain 50% of the total fee. No shows are charged the full fee and no refunds will be given. No refunds are given after the tour has taken place.
A credit card number is required to reserve your booking. Your credit card will not be charged unless you do not show up for your tour or cancel within 48 hours. A confirmation will be sent out and balances are due at the time of the tour.
Group Reservations and Cancellation/Change Policy:
Group tours of 10 to 59 are booked at least 10 business days in advance. For a notice that is shorter than 10 business days, a tour cannot be guaranteed; if tour date is available, an extra $2 fee per person will be charged a late booking fee. For groups over 60, a tour cannot be guaranteed without 15 business days notice. No fee will be charged for tour cancelled with more than 5 business days notice.
Cancellations: If a tour is cancelled within 5 business days of the tour, the CCC will retain 25% of the total fee, with a minimum of $60 cancellation fee. If a tour is cancelled within 48 hours, we will retain 50% of the total fee. No shows are charged the full fee and no refunds will be given. No refunds are given after the tour has taken place.
Change Policy: Changing the date of tour will be treated as a cancellation and rebooking. For the same date, but other changes made, a change fee will be charged for following: a $60 fee within 10 days of the tour for a decreased number of every 5 persons to your group and subject to price changes if you were given a group discount; for increased numbers to your group, no change fee will be charged. All tour requests must be made at the time of booking or 2 weeks in advance. A $25 fee will be charged for last minute accommodations (within 48 hours of tour) in the tour and meal. Extra docents for your group cannot be guaranteed after the 10-day period.
A credit card number is required to reserve your booking. Your credit card will not be charged unless you do not show up for your tour or cancel within 48 hours. An invoice will be sent out and balances are due on the tour date.