San Francisco Treasure Hunts


What: Teams will solve a series of clues or puzzles leading to unique locations in and around Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill, amid the excitement and spectacle of the annual  Chinese New Year Parade.

Details about the 2021 Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt (Year of the Ox) will be posted here later in 2020.

Partial proceeds benefit the San Francisco Circus Center. 

The hunt takes place rain or shine, and is conducted entirely on foot.

There are four levels of competition: “Beginner’s Hunt,” for first-timers; “Regular Hunt,” for those with sharper wits and some Hunt experience; “Thinks Faster Than Runs Hunt,” for folks whose legs are not as swift as their minds; and “Master’s Hunt,” for returning veterans and past winners of the Regular Hunt. Prizes are awarded to the winning teams in each division and to the teams with the most inventive names and costumes.

Each player will receive a detailed map of the playing area with an index of streets and landmarks, and a set of clues. Familiarity with San Francisco is not required; the ability to collaboratively solve a puzzle and work together as a team is more important.

Some items necessary for the Hunt are comfortable footwear, a flashlight (the brighter the better), and layered clothes. Other objects that could help, but are not essential to win, are snacks and drinks, a clipboard, a zip-lock bag or other waterproof cover for the clues and map (if it’s raining), a ruler, and a pen for marking your map.

​Costumes (possibly related to the Year of the Rat) are encouraged. Prizes will be awarded for best team name, best Noir-themed team name, and best team costumes.



The treasure hunt rules are designed to make this a fair and fun experience for everyone. Taking unfair advantage diminishes the experience for everyone else participating in the event. Any team violating the rules will be disqualified.

You must travel by foot. You cannot use cars, taxis, buses, ride-shares, scooters, bicycles, or any other wheeled transport

K.I.T. Keep It Together!


Your team must stay together and cannot split up.  Your entire team must be at the same clue site at the same time and must stay within sight and earshot of one another (generally within twenty to forty feet).

Part of your team cannot be around a corner or down the block, and one or two members cannot run ahead of the others. You cannot communicate with teammates electronically unless you become unintentionally separated. This also means that you cannot arrange to have someone at another location doing research for you.

On your marks...You can use resources that exist independently of the treasure hunt, such as libraries, bookstores or people on the street, but you cannot arrange ahead of time to have someone provide information to your team, because they would be functioning as a team member who was not physically present. If someone on your team becomes separated, has to leave early or to stop for health or personal reasons, they can rejoin you later but cannot participate in the hunt by working on clues while separated from the rest of your team.

You cannot guess or fill in something on the answer sheet without having visited the site. You must actually to go the clue site to correctly answer the question and will not receive credit for that clue if you don’t.

Experts demonstrate proper techniqueYou can use smartphones or tablets to help with solving clues, but you cannot obtain the answer to the question posed in the clue without visiting the clue location.

You cannot block, tamper with, destroy or interfere with the answers at clue locations. 

All team members must be present when you turn in your answer sheet. The only exception is if someone leaves early.

For non-ticketing questions please check our Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt FAQ page. For further questions, please email us at

“I highly recommend San Francisco Treasure Hunts to any manager looking to bring their team together over an afternoon of puzzles & fun.”

Mark Provost, Salesforce
“Our team loved the hunt. I loved how (Jayson) Wechter mixes in history. He’s a really fascinating guy. Sort of part historian part tour guide, part facilitator.”

John Ghasghai, TiVo Inc.
“It worked just as well for the participants from across the country as it did for the natives.  A great team-building event!”

Eric Schmautz, Wells Fargo
“Our customized Angel Island hunt was intellectually & physically stimulating. We enjoyed rising to the challenges and would do it again. We all had a great time."

Sara Ruiz, Genentech, Inc.