New York has thousands of stories to tell; about the remarkable people, the art, the boroughs, and the buildings. The best way to understand these stories is by walking its streets with a New Yorker. You do more than just learn the history when you take a Chinatown tour with someone who lives in the neighborhood–you experience the culture.
Chinatown’s story goes back to the late 19th century when the Chinese population in New York grew as the Gold Rush subsided in the West. Soon after its establishment, tourism became one of the primary industries for the neighborhood. It’s where chop suey was invented to introduce Americans to Chinese cuisine.
Walking tours have been a part of Chinatown’s history almost since the beginning. Chinatown residents capitalized on exaggerated stories about opium dens by taking other New Yorkers on walking tours of forbidden places.
In the mid-19th-century, chop suey took on a life of its own, spurring Chinese food’s popularity across America. The beating heart of this culinary revolution was right here in New York - in Chinatown - where every restaurant advertised either chop suey or chow mein.
But restaurants in Chinatown provided more than Americanized cuisine; they were hotspots of nightlife, where New Yorkers from all walks of life came together. Chop suey nightclubs would have full jazz bands, white-tablecloth dinner service, and raucous dance floors.
During our Chinatown tour, we make stops at historic Prohibition-era speakeasies and dig into the history of the places that safeguarded New York nightlife during the first half of the 20th century.
Isle of New York tours aren't just about a single facet of New York. During our Chinatown tour, you’ll learn the history of the area and get to know the neighborhood as it is today, with stops at the favorite places of people who are in-the-know. We cover the best shopping, hidden-gem restaurants, and hang-out spots where you can easily spend a few hours or an entire afternoon.
Chinatown offers something for everyone, from shopping for high-end cosmetics and handbags to discovering unique souvenirs and snacks. If you have a particular interest or goal for your time in Chinatown, a private tour is a perfect opportunity to get expert guidance for your trip. We even provide an optional tour-ending on a rooftop bar overlooking the neighborhood.
At Isle of New York, we offer group and private walking tours. They each have their advantages, but if you’ve never taken a private tour, it’s an alternative way to explore a city when you’re traveling. Our guides will cater their stops to focus on your interests for a personalized experience you wouldn’t normally get on a group tour.
Following our private Chinatown tour, you’ll walk through the neighborhood as if you live there, able to return to your favorite spots whenever you visit. Private walking tours reveal the city’s history in ways you’d never encounter otherwise–whether you’re in town for a week or have lived in NYC for your entire life.
From Central Park to Greenwich and Fort Tryon, the Isle of New York’s Chinatown tour is just one of our many expert-guided trans-isle tour experiences.
Isle of New York walking tours are unlike any other New York tour offered. You traverse New York as a city of isles, following the city’s history, culture, or natural wonder across boroughs via the city’s waterways.
Book a tour today, or get in touch to learn more about our private and group tour experiences.