There are hundreds of shops in San Francisco's Chinatown District. This makes it a popular stop for those looking for some bargains.
You will find Chinatown shopping options throughout the neighborhood. However, let me help you find the three areas that offer the best selections.
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Grant Avenue is the main street that cuts through this district. Along this street, you will find dozens of places to shop for bargains.
The shopping on this street is between Bush Street and Columbus Avenue. You will find everything from luggage and San Francisco souvenirs to decorative pieces of art.
Grant Avenue is PACKED with shoppers all day long. It's the most touristy of the three areas I'll mention here, but offers many shoppers the bargains. they seek while in San Francisco.
My recommendation is to take some time to look around before buying anything. You might find the same item for a better price at a shop down the block.
If you want to head off the beaten path a little, head over to Waverly Place. This two block long street offers a calmer, more serene place to shop.
You will only find a handful of shops here, but it's a lot less chaotic than Grant Avenue. There are gift shops, clothing stores and a few jewelry shops.
On the corner of Waverly Place and Sacramento Street, you will also find one of the best music stores in the city, the Clarion Music Company.
You can also grab a bite to eat at the Utopia Cafe where they serve up amazing clay pot dishes. You should also head to the top floor of 125 Waverly Place to check out the historic Tin How Temple.
Where do the locals shop? They shop on Stockton Street.
Stockton Street is where you will find the fresh fish markets and other items targeted toward the local Chinese population in San Francisco. This street has everything from teas to Chinese books and magazines.
It's another great place to check out during your visit here. Since the shops on this street target the locals, you will find almost all signs in Chinese.
Many shop owners along this street also mainly speak Chinese. However, they are more than willing to help you out if you find something you want. You will find more authentic items on Stockton Street compared to Grant Avenue.I recommend walking into some of the live animal and fish markets along Stockton (between Jackson and Pacific). They have long hallways that showcase everything on sale. It's a fascinating peak into another culture and animals on display include birds, turtles and frogs.
Keep in mind that these live animals are being sold for food. Not as pets. I don't recommend this for those that have children, weak stomachs or are vegetarian/vegan. Out of respect for the local shoppers and shop owners, refrain from taking any pictures while inside.
I also recommend stepping inside one of the fresh fruit and vegetable markets. There are several along Stockton Street that offer a variety of unique options. They are near the fish and animal markets between Jackson and Pacific. Everything is in Chinese, but it's fun to look around at the different items available.
Here is a map showing all three locations within Chinatown.
Red Stars: The red stars highlight the shopping along Grant Avenue. The bottom star is the start of the shopping at the Dragon Gate. The star on the top of the map shows the end of the Chinatown shopping area along Grant Avenue.
Green Stars: The two green stars show the location of the two blocks of Waverly Place.
Blue Star: The blue star shows where you will find the most interesting local Chinatown stores on Stockton Street.
Do you want to take a copy of this map along with you? Download this .pdf file that contains the map above and other information on the best places to shop in Chinatown in San Francisco.
Chinatown Temples: A fun thing to do here is the visit the local temples. On this page, you will find three temples that welcome visitors. You get the chance to see a few pictures and select one or two to visit during your stay.
Dim Sum Recommendations: Dim Sum is a fun way to sample the local Chinese cuisines. This page offers a number of places to check out in Chinatown and throughout the city.
Chinese Historical Society: Stop by the Chinese Historical Society for a look into the history of the Chinese Americans in the US. You get the chance to see the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act, see artifacts from immigrants and more. It's a fun way to learn more about the people in this interesting district.
A Perfect Day in Chinatown: Are you trying to figure out how to see it all? If so, then check out my "Perfect Day" itinerary for Chinatown. In one day, you will get the chance to see all the major attractions and sample some of this districts amazing food!