Bonnie Tsui was born in Queens, New York, and raised on Long Island. She attended Harvard University, where she rowed novice crew, snowboarded, wrote essays, and graduated magna cum laude in English and American Literature and Language.
She also lived in Australia, studying at the University of Sydney and writing for The Sydney Morning Herald, and won a Radcliffe Traveling Fellowship to New Zealand. She has raced in two triathlons, climbed Australia's Mt. Arapiles, and nursed a mild obsession with girl soldiers who fought in the American Civil War culminating in her women's history book, She Went to the Field. Her next book, A Leaky Tent Is a Piece of Paradise, a collection of essays by writers 30 and under on finding a place in the natural world, was published in 2007. Her new book, American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, will be published by Simon & Schuster's Free Press in August 2009.
In 2007, she was a winner of the Lowell Thomas Award for travel journalism. In June 2009, she will receive the Jane Rainie Opel Young Alumna Award at Harvard University, for œoutstanding contribution to her profession.
Tsui has written for Let's Go travel guides, been a contributing editor to blue magazine, and worked as an editor at Travel + Leisure. She currently writes full-time and lives in San Francisco.