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Tripping it to San Francisco, how to make it extra special

San Francisco is famously known for its scrumptious food, Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 and many more famous attractions.

However, if you want to make sure you enjoy your trip fully, the trick is to make sure you visit San Francisco’s Chinatown.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is a unique cultural adventure you will never forget.

It is the oldest and second largest Chinatown in North America. Once there travellers can get a taste of San Francisco’s Chinatown with this one-day itinerary filled with food, history, shopping and more.

Dragon's Gate: It is the landmark gateway arch marking the entrance to the city's iconic Chinatown neighborhood. Initially it was built in 1970 to anchor the neighbourhood’s southern entrance. This unique Dragon’s Gate was constructed in the proper Chinese style: out of stone, not wood. Both it and the golden dragon streetlights beyond draw visitors up to Grant Avenue’s shops.

Great Eastern Restaurant: Here you will find rolling carts of Shu-mai almost everywhere filling your sense and streets with delicious aromas. But while you are on your visit to this place do try their authentic dim sum at Great Eastern Restaurant. The restaurant is known for its affordable menu. They offer variety of dumplings and buns also which definitely fills your belly without burning a hole in your pocket.

Chinese Culture Center: The Chinese Culture Center is a major community-based, non-profit organization established in 1965 as the operations center of the Chinese Culture Foundation. What makes it an element of surprise is how Chinatown for past 50 years has been documenting the artistic endeavours of the immigrant populations who’ve made their lives there. Located on the third floor of the Hilton, the CCC’s visual exhibitions run the gamut from street art to avant-garde photography, and admission is free.

Young girls standing at a street corner in San Francisco's China Town

Historical Society of America: This museum accounts the experiences of Chinese immigrant in US through photos and artefacts. Housed in a Julia Morgan-designed landmark building, the Chinese Historical Society of America charges patrons a mere $5 to learn about Chinese-American contributions to culture and history beyond San Francisco, and you may see a wedding tea ceremony if you stop in on a weekend. Pro-tip: CHSA offers tours not only of the museum but of the larger neighborhood.

Chinatown Kite Shop: Grant Avenue is lined with herbal shops and trinket stores of all kinds, but the Chinatown Kite Shop stands out. This colourful landmark shop carries a range of kites, feng shui items and decorations in a festive setting. Yes, it’s the best place for dragon kites and handmade treasures, but you can also find iPad cases and random oddities. And they’re open until 8:30pm daily, so you can browse late.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory: Landmark bakery prepares homemade fortune cookies in a tiny open kitchen, with free tours available. This cookie factory is situated on a small narrow side street in Chinatown with no close parking. Smells wonderful inside when they are baking. So small that more than 10 people would jam the inside. Even locals who sneer at touristy activities confess to loving the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company, which has been cranking out these takeout staples since 1962. Take a tour, buy a bag to go, and satisfy your curiosity about how exactly they get those fortunes in there before the dough hardens.

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R & G Lounge: This celebrated Cantonese grub, dished out in a basic downstairs space and more formal upstairs room. As some of Chinatown’s grander banquet halls have shuttered, the three floors, 225-seat R&G Lounge chugs forward, serving lychee martinis and salt-and-pepper crab to the clamoring hordes. Hip but not slavishly trendy, R&G balances elaborate, traditional dishes with the cravings of even the most Americanised palates.

Li Po Cocktail Lounge: This is a 77-year-old watering hole named after an ancient poet is famous for its Chinese Mai Tai and for the golden Buddha behind the wraparound bar. Yes, it’s Orientalist kitsch, but also an institution that consistently ranks among San Francisco top dives.

Shu Mai's and dimsums are one of the most popular fares in the area. (Photo: Pixabay)

Yuet Lee: This late-night Cantonese seafood restaurant (open until 3am five nights a week) might be Chinatown’s nocturnal capital. Full of aunties and uncles by day, it transitions to a hangout for club kids and other night owls sharing a last Tsingtao over a plate of spare ribs. The green interior adds to the nourish thrill.

So do stop by San Francisco’s famous Chinatown and reward your curious soul with lip smacking dishes and great sightseeing.

Budget: Ideally a five day budget trip to San Francisco should cost you around $1700- $2000 (per person). This includes travel, stay and food.  On the higher spectrum, costing can go up to $4000- $500 per person.

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