Chinatown Ghost Tour in San Francisco

Chinatown Ghost Tour in San Francisco

Experience mentalism & magic as you walk through the passageways of Chinatown’s past on this small group night ghost tour in San Francisco!

During your mystical journey, you will visit a former gambling den where your guide will conjure the old spirit of Fu Ling Yu, a gambler who met his demise when he was caught cheating. You'll also hear the tales of Chinatown's supernatural past and present to life, keeping you on edge as you take in the chilling experiences of the area's current - and former - residents, and learn about the reverence still offered to the Goddess Kwan Yin and the hungry spirits, along with the secrets of the magic moon cake.

Although the area is the oldest Chinese community in the U.S. and has been a popular shopping, dining and sightseeing destination for well over 100 years, most outsiders have never experienced the extrasensory realm of vintage Chinatown after dark. Reserve your spot on this tour...if you dare!

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Tour/Activity Details


2 hours


7:30 pm Friday & Saturday

Tour does not include hotel pick-up. 2 hour validated parking is included. Child rate applies to ages 5-17. call to order or for more information.


Ghostly Chinese Beliefs

Many Chinese believe that when individuals pass away, their souls continue living in the world of darkness. If there are descendants to care for them they will live contentedly in the afterlife. If there are no living caretakers available to them, they turn into desperate ghosts. On one hand, there are venerated, loved souls; on the other, there are miserable, abandoned ghosts.

Dealing with these ghosts can be likened to dealing with bullies and thugs. These hapless souls include those who have nobody to care for them because they died without descendants, during childhood, or far away from their families. Scarier yet are the spiteful ghosts who died before their time either as murder victims or by suicide. They are said to haunt the scene of their death ready for revenge.

Ancestor Worship

Grave offerings and tomb arrangement are designed to keep ancestors content and happy. Ancestor worship is the belief system which is at the core of traditional Chinese religion and culture. In China, ancestor worship is an act of filial piety, honor and obligation. People honor their deceased relatives because they have an obligation to care for their souls who now live in the afterlife; neglecting to pay proper respect will displease an ancestor, who will then punish his descendants like naughty children.

Ancestor worship continues today, as younger generations show no indication of forsaking this practice. Even modern urbanites who have abandoned the belief that ancestors actually need the livings offerings continue the practice; abandoning these commemorative rites makes most Chinese families feel uncomfortable. After all, there is a sense of peace, continuity, and belonging when one remembers a favorite grandmother, a sympathetic aunt or uncle through family rituals.

Festival of the Hungry Ghosts - 15th day of the 7th moon, usually occurring in August

Desperate and angry ghosts must be placated and the only way to avoid their mischievous doings and hate is to offer sacrifices to them, essentially to buy them off. But just as families do not invite beggars and strangers inside the house, these souls are not encouraged to enter, and sacrifices to them are made outside the home; a Taoist temple or grave site is the norm.

The Ceremony

During the seventh lunar month the gates of the underworld are opened and all souls suffering are free to wander wherever they like. Throughout this period, families perform private rituals with offerings of gifts and food to placate these unfortunate souls. On the 15th day, a large community celebration takes place in which Buddhist and Taoist priests chant liturgies, perform rituals on an outdoor altar, offering incense, paper clothes and "spirit money" to the ghosts.

In China, people gather to watch as the priest tosses candy and buns to hungry ghosts. In some cases, the crowd can become unruly, and push-and-shove incidents occur as participants snatch the treats, behaving like the very ghosts whose violent behavior the rites were meant to assuage. At the end of the ceremony, the priest sends newly-reformed ghosts to the heavenly Buddhist Pure Land, where they are released from their ghostly status; the priest then returns the unreformed ghosts back to their sufferings in the underworld.

Festival of the Dead - Clear Brightness Festival - (Usually held in April)

Chingming ("Clear Brightness") starts two weeks after the vernal equinox, when the air and light become clear and pure. The chill of winter is over and people feel rejuvenated by the warmth of the sun and energy of spring. In ancient times, Chingming was a holiday celebrated by dancing, singing and picnicking.

Villagers would place pine branches symbolizing long life in front of their doors and hang sprigs of willow under the eaves of their homes as symbols of life and a talisman against the forces of darkness. The dead are believed to be responsible for ensuring fertility in the family. Sacrifices of food and spirit money are made at springtime to keep the ancestors in good humor so that the family will receive abundant blessings and good harvests, instead of sickness, misfortune and famine.

Worship at the Grave

On the day of Clear Brightness, everyone goes to family graves with hoes and brooms to cut down weeds and sweep away dirt. It is not a mournful day, but more like a picnic as families set out offerings of food and wine to share with their dead.

Descriptions and information taken from the book Mooncakes and Hungry Ghosts Festivals of China, by Carol Stepanchuk and Charles Wong.

Tour does not include hotel pick-up. 2 hour validated parking is included. Child rate applies to ages 5-17. call to order or for more information.

Cancellation Policy

There are no refunds. All sales are final.

Change policy

If changes are allowed on a tour or activity, a $20.00 per reservation change fee will be applied for any change to a reservation. Please note that some tours and activities do not allow any changes. Date changes can only be made only if we can confirm availability on the new date. While we cannot guarantee any changes can be made, all change requests must be submitted a minimum of 24 hours prior to the tour departure and must be handled on an individual basis through our Reservations Center.

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Use the form below to select the date for your reservation. Calendar defaults to first available date. Please verify your date selection prior to submitting your order.

<< March 2018 >>

If you are unable to select a date, it means the tour is unavailable on that date.

Calendar Key

Rates All rates are in US Dollars

Event Date:

March 23, 2018

Desired Time:

07:30 PM