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 and time you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased with a Visa, Amex or MasterCard. Cash is not accepted. To purchase tickets by phone, please call Zerve at 212-209-3370 or 617-379-3602.
If a tour is sold out can I get on a waiting list?
We do not provide a waiting list. Please contact us via e-mail at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com or call us at 617-523-6032 with questions.
Do you offer custom private group tours?
We welcome small custom group tours from 10-22 people. Please look at Chinatown Private Group Tour information page and let us know how we can best accommodate your group. Please e-mail us at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com or call us at 617-523-6032 and let us know the details of your request. A Boston Food Tour representative will return your call.
Does the tour leader accept gratuities?
Most of our tour guides are professional chefs and ambassadors of our neighborhoods. A gratuity for their exceptional service, while not mandatory, is very appreciated. The standard gratuity in the service industry is 15%.
Does the tour include lunch?
Yes, the classic tour includes a dim sum lunch.
What if I have dietary restrictions?
We will be tasting specific foods so that you learn benchmark flavors. We have had guests with shrimp allergy, nut allergy, gluten intolerance and guests that keep Kosher – all have enjoyed the tour. What you can taste at various stops may be limited, however. Although we are very mindful of dietary restrictions, we cannot guarantee that there might be some cross-contamination of products. The dimsum lunch offers a variety of substitutions for many dietary restrictions. Please let us know ahead of time so we can do our best to accommodate your needs.
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 fabulous food ingredients and enjoying the tastes we have arranged. Hopefully, you will allow yourselves some extra time at the end of the tour to return to your favorite stores.
What is the maximum number of people on a tour?
Since the shops are very small, we limit the regular tour to 10.
Do you require a minimum number of tickets for the tour to take place?
Yes, we only run our tours with at least 3 people. Since this is a very popular tour, this is not usually an issue. In the rare situation where we cancel a tour, we will contact you ahead of time to reschedule your tickets or issue a full refund, whichever you prefer.
What if it rains or the weather is inclement?
The tour is held rain or shine. If the weather is very inclement, 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? Can I register for a tour that Michele will be conducting?
All Chinatown Tours are led a professionally trained guide. Rest assured that Michele’s standards are very high — her assistants are terrific, they speak some Chinese (she does not) and each one brings his or her own special style.
Where do the tours start?
Upon registration you will receive a confirmation indicating where you are to meet the tour group.
What if I don’t live in Boston, why would I want to take the tour?
To learn about one of the most vibrant ethnic neighborhoods in this country. Since the tour is like a walking cooking class, you will learn about how Chinese eat, the best ingredients and how to buy them, special cooking tips, and what a feast for the senses! Most importantly, you will be able to take your new information about Asian ingredients and food culture and apply it to shopping in any Asian market.
I took the tour a couple of years ago. Has anything changed?
Although we occasionally change shop venues, the discussion of the most important ingredients remains the same. However, new shops provide opportunities for our guides to discuss new or different products. Some ingredients change according to the seasons, especially during the Lunar New Year and the Autumn Moon Festival, when the neighborhood is most festive. And, of course, as we learn more, and as new dietary information becomes available, we do our best to improve upon and enhance the tour.
Will there be any place to sit during the tour? Is it a fast paced tour?
The tour involves standing and walking as we wind our way through the neighborhood, visiting about 7 stores. The stores are too tiny for seating. You should plan to be on your feet for the length of the tour, so wear your comfortable walking shoes. We do walk at a relatively quick pace.
Can you accommodate people with disabilities?
Some of the stores have several steps up to enter and are not wheelchair accessible. Most of the stores are also very tiny. If you are able to leave the wheelchair outside of the store and enter with a cane, the tour can accommodate you.
What about taking children on the tour?
We love introducing children to Chinese food and culture. The age of the child and their interest level and attention span will help you decide. Will they be bored over several hours with adults? Will they impact the other guests’ enjoyment? Please consider the tiny congested stores, the amount of standing in place while listening to the guide, and the other participants on tour. You know your child and can help us ensure everyone has a great tour. Also, keep in mind that some of the tastes will be acquired tastes, even for adults.
Do you visit restaurants on the tour?
We visit one restaurant where we have Dim Sum at the end of the tour. We also provide a handout of our favorite restaurants and we point out favorites as we pass by. Remember, this is a very subjective commentary.
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 at 617-523-6032 or e-mail us at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com.
Are gift certificates available?
Yes, what better gift than the gift of food (except for maybe a few shiny baubles). A Chinatown Market Tour is a unique way to say Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Holidays or just Thank You. Gift Certificates can be easily purchased online. Please see our Chinatown Gift Certificate page.
Can we take photos during the tour?
Still camera shots are welcomed and with the characters in the neighborhood, you could find yourself with some memorable photos. Video cameras are not allowed.
Are bathrooms available during the tour?
Except for emergencies, bathroom stops are not available during the tour until we reach the restaurant.
What is your cancellation policy?
All tickets sold are non-refundable and may not be exchanged or rescheduled. In the rare situation where we cancel a tour that fails to attract minimum enrollment, we will contact you ahead of time to reschedule your tickets, issue a gift certificate to use at a later date or issue a full refund, whichever you prefer. We reserve the right to limit the number of participants and to cancel a tour that fails to attract minimum enrollment. The tour is held rain or shine.
Do you offer discounts for travel agents?
The standard travel agent discount is 10% for up to 4 people. This discount is valid only 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 us at 617-523-6032 or email Michele@BostonFoodTours.com.