Join us as we step through the Chinatown Gate on a walking tour through one of the oldest Chinese communities in America. Our Boston Chinatown Market Tour offers a glimpse into the daily routines of a Chinatown that, unlike many, has never been extensively developed for tourism. We'll explore a thriving ethnic enclave rife with colorful immigrant history and undiscovered "hidden gems".
The traditional Asian diet is believed to be one of the world's healthiest. Hippocrates said "Let food be your medicine, and medicine your food". Here in the West, this has largely been forgotten. To the Chinese however, there is a thin line between the two.
Follow your guide on this 3.5 hour tour of some of the best Chinese markets this side of Hong Kong.
• Slip inside a Cantonese barbecue shop and savor the
tastes and aromas of roasted and braised meats
• Check out the oldest traditional pastry shop and discover
the origin of moon cakes
• Visit an herbal pharmacy and explore the concepts of
Yin/Yang, the five elements , the twelve organs, and "qi".
Learn why some foods are "hot" while others are "cold"
• Experience the textural curiosity of bubble tea
• Find out what the chefs are buying at a 70 year old family
run grocery overflowing with exotic produce, the freshest
fish, and an endless array of spices and seasonings
• Learn the hallmarks of regional styles of Chinese
cooking and discover which "Chinese" dishes are of
American origin and unknown in China
Complete your stroll with a delicious Dim Sum lunch hosted by your guide, where you'll be shown the ins and outs of ordering from the roaming carts, as well as the unique rules of dining etiquette.
"Its like visiting Hong Kong...no passport required!" Your world and dinner will never be the same.
- Do I have to purchase tickets in advance? Can I pay cash?
- Tickets must be purchased in advance, and tours often sell out quickly. To maximize your chances of getting the day you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Cash is not accepted.
- Do you require a minimum number of tickets for the tour to take place?
- Yes, we only run our tours with at least 6 people. Though this is not usually an issue, during the winter months it may happen a bit more frequently. If you would like to go on a tour that has not yet met the minimum, and you do not wish to purchase 6 tickets, you may place yourself on the waitlsit by clicking the "place your group on the waitlist" link on the purchase page. We will then contact you if the tour opens up so that you can purchase your tickets.
- Does the tour include lunch?
- Yes! The tour concludes with a leisurely Dim Sum lunch. A variety of steamed dumplings and other "small plates" will be selected. The cost of the lunch is included in the price of the tour.
- What if I have dietary restrictions?
- We will be tasting specific Chinese food items so that you have benchmark flavors. If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian, diabetic, kosher), or specific allergies, you could just simply refrain from those particular tastings.
- Can I shop on the tour?
- We ask that you wait to shop until after the tour so that we can spend more time learning about the fascinating Asian food ingredients and enjoying the tastes we have arranged. Hopefully, you will allow yourself some extra time after the tour to return to your favorite shops.
- What is the maximum number of people on the tour?
- Since the shops are very small, we limit the number to 10 people.
- What if it rains or the weather is inclement?
- The tour is held rain or shine. While we go inside most of the establishments that make up the tour, getting to and from each stop requires beng outside in the elements. Appropriate outerware and comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended (as is bringing an umbrella, if necessary). If the weather is extreme, e.g. heavy snow or hurricane, the tour may be canceled. Refunds will be offered in the extremely rare event that the company cancels the tour, but in all other situations, no refunds will be provided.
- Who will be leading the tour?
- Jim Becker, who has been working as a tour guide for Michele Topor's North End Market Tours, was originally an Asian Studies/Chinese Language major. Jim has a vast background in Asian cuisine, taught English as a Second Language in Chinatown for 11 years, and knows the neighborhood inside and out. On occasion, when Jim is unavailable, the tour will be led by one of his personally trained assistant guides. Since our standards are very high, all of the guides are terrific, all speak Chinese, and each one brings a unique personality and perspective to the tour experience.
- Are gratuities for the tour guide included in the ticket price?
- Gratuities (tips) for your tour guide are not included in the ticket price. If you enjoyed your tour, tipping your guide is acceptable, optional, and always appreciated.
- Where do the tours start?
- Upon registration you will receive a confirmation indicating where you are to meet the tour group.
- Where do the tours end?
- The tours will end at 88 Beach Street, just outside the Chinatown gate. This is where we will be having lunch.
- I'm Asian-American and have shopped in Chinatown for years- will the tour offer me anything new?
- Many people of Asian-American background have commented that it is educational to see things from a "Western" perspective. In addition, there are always new food finds to explore. Most importantly, people are able to relive memories of their childhood and learn more about how their food culture evolved.
- What if I don't live in Boston? Why would I want to take the tour?
- Most major cities have Chinatowns or Asian communities. Since the tour is like a walking cooking class, you will learn about some Asian eating practices, the best ingredients and how to buy them, special cooking tips, and how and what to order at Dim Sum. These skills can be applied in any Chinese neighborhood. Besides being educational, this tour is great fun and a real feast for the senses!
- Will there be any place to sit during the tour? Is it a fast-paced tour?
- It is likely, though not guaranteed, that we will be able to sit during the first half-hour of the tour. In addition, we will be having lunch for the last hour. The middle portion of the tour, however, is spent standing and walking as we wind our way through the neighborhood. Wear comfortable walking shoes, and keep in mind that we do walk at a relatively quick pace.
- Can you accommodate people with disabilities? What about strollers?
- Some of the shops require taking a step up to enter them, and one shop has several steps. As a result, not all of the shops on the tour are wheelchair accessible. In addition, sidewalks are narrow in this old section of the city. If you are able to leave your wheelchair outside of the shop and enter with a cane, the tour can accommodate you. Strollers may also have to be left outside the store.
- How about taking children on this tour?
- Since this tour is three and a half hours long, and involves a restaurant meal, the tour may not be appropriate for some children. We encourage parents, who know their children best, to assess the appropriateness for their children on a case-by-case basis. Please keep in mind there is a lot of standing and walking, and some tastes may be acquired tastes even for adults. Children must purchase a full-priced Standard ticket in order to attend.
- Are the tours offered only in English?
- Yes, we only offer tours in English. If you would like to make arrangements for your own interpreter to join the tour, please contact us by clicking “Contact MicheleTopor”, or e-mail us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can we take photos during the tour?
- Yes, we welcome you to take photos on the tour, and you are sure to find yourself with some memorable shots. Video cameras, however, are not allowed.
- Are bathrooms available during the tour?
- Except for emergencies, bathroom stops are not available during the walking portion of the tour. Those arriving by MBTA at South Station may take advantage of the facilities there. Prior to the tour, you may ask at any of the restaurants that are open for lunch if you may use the restrooms. There will be restrooms available during our lunch.
- Do you offer discounts for travel agents?
- The standard travel agent discount is 10% for up to 4 people. This discount is valid for travel agents who will be attending the tour, and requires the agent to provide a business card at the start of the tour. To use this discount, please contact North End Market Tours by clicking “Contact MicheleTopor” and providing your travel agency’s name and contact information.
- Do you offer custom private group tours?
- Yes! Please click “Contact MicheleTopor” to the left of the page and let us know the details of your request.
- Are gift certificates available for the Boston Chinatown Market Tour?
- Yes, gift certificates are available for the Boston Chinatown Market Tour, and they make a perfect gift for holidays, birthdays or any other occasion! To purchase a gift certificate for the Boston Chinatown Market Tour please click on the "Gift certificates: Purchase" link in the box above.
- How is my gift certificate delivered? Can I print it out now and give it to the recipient myself?
- Yes, you can! When you purchase your gift certificate online, you will be presented immediately with your gift certificate so that you can print it out and deliver it. If you buy it over the phone, a link to your gift certificate will be emailed to you as soon as your purchase is completed.
- What if I want the gift certificate emailed to the recipient instead?
- That's no problem, either! When you purchase your gift certificate, just select the option to have the certificate emailed directly to the recipient and provide their email address. You'll even be able to decide whether you want the email sent immediately or if you'd prefer to schedule it to be emailed on a future date. (For instance, if you want to buy it today so you don't forget, but you don't want it emailed to the recipient until their special day!)
Michele Topor, Inc.
In 2006, Jim Becker joined the Michele Topor team. Also trained as a professional chef, Jim speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese and developed the Asian component for a local professional Chef Degree Program. He has worked in many well known Boston restaurants, and was owner of Rauxa Restaurant and Cava Bar, featuring Catalan cuisine, for two years. Jim's knowledge and passion for Asian cuisine enabled the birth of this brand new Boston Chinatown Market Tour.
The tours offered by Michele Topor, Inc are designed to be like cooking classes on foot, helping our guests to discover a vibrant ethnic neighborhood, learn about an ethnic food culture, glean insider cooking tips, and gain the resources and knowledge necessary to identify the very best authentic ingredients!