San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest and most interesting Chinatown that I have been to, but if you go, you need to walk on some of the back streets, away from the tacky tourist-oriented shops that rope people in with cheesy roll-up calanders and faux-Oriental knick-knacks. The McDonald's shaped like a Pagoda is a new low in Sino-American relations. The "Chinese-style" streetlights look like something at Disneyland. In a word, the touristy sections of Chinatown are very, very boring.
Some of the backstreets of this district though, are fascinating, and the closest thing you'll get to a Chinese city in this hemisphere.
I was totally dissapointed by China Town. I thought it'd be great, but when I got there, all it consisted of was cheap electronics stores. Plus, I had the worst Chinese meal of my life there. If you'd like to eat out in the area, I'd advise you to look out for a restaurant with a line of people to get in. This will mean it's good quality, and it'll be worth the wait.
China Town seems to be over rated. Very tightly orgainzed within the city, not much to see. What we did see was not worth it, such as the 'lucky' gateway to the place. It is ok for bargain souveniers, not much else. Many Chinese food restaurants- the one we chose, Golden Dragon, had average food, nothing especially tastey.
Stay far away from Camara Express, 621 Grant Avenue, on Chinatown. I was just ripped off buying a camera and a lens and bargaining it down to a mere $3000. They were very adept at convincing me I was getting a great deal. I checked the price of this package when returning home to find the package is worth $1500. Shame on them for ripping off seniour tourists visiting the city. Have found out since that this is their usual business practices.
Robert MacFarlane, Canada
Grant Avenue in Chinatown has quite a few t-shirt shops. Stockton Street, one block to the west, has more stores of use to the everyday person. Butcher shops, vegetable stores, general stores, small grocery stores, etc. Some of the recent immigrants are liable to step on your foot and say nothing, so watch out!
CHINATOWN; if you feel that you MUST see chinese culture, go. Note that everything can be bargained down to 60% of stated price on sales tag. I should know since my folks run a chinatown shop.
UNION SQUARE is also another place where not a single local is to be found, except when crossing thru as a shortcut between the shops around it.
FISHERMANS WHARF same as union square
China Town was not so much as a 'trap' as it was a bit annoying with all of the vendors following us and pushing their goods and products in front of our path, so other than being a bit over promoting or insistent we were able to resist temptation when needed.
On the other hand, when I spied a 'women's boutique' crowned with my name, well, let's just say, an hours perusing, pawing and sampling had my daily allotment spent rather quickly!
Chinatown was fun, we had never been there. The shops all had the same stuff which pretty much consisted of junk. We felt like all the store owners thought we were going to shoplift. Bamboo plants are very cheap. If you go to Chinatown, you must go to a hole in the wall bar for a drink. It was fun because the locals where there. It was a fun experience.
Unique Suggestions: Bamboo plants are very cheap. If you go to Chinatown, you must go to a hole in the wall bar for a drink. It was fun because the locals where there. It was a fun experience.
Fun Alternatives: I would give Chinatown a try. You can walk through it in 15 minutes if you don't like it.
There are so many stores that sell horrible, tacky souvenirs to tourists along Grant Avenue in China town. Be careful what you buy!