Cholon: exploring ho chi minh city"s chinatown

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Ho đưa ra Minh City"s cho Lon, the world"s largest china Town, is a bustling district just west of District 1. With its storied history, markets, pagodas, và restaurants, it is a quality mix of Chinese and Vietnamese influences. If you"re visiting Ho chi Minh City, cho Lon is a must. Read on to lớn find out more about this fascinating area!

History Of CholonWhere Is Cholon Located?Things khổng lồ DoEat The Local FoodShop Till You Drop!Explore Cholon"s Hidden AlleysVisit Traditional Medicine ShopsCheck Out Cholon"s Religious SitesTake A Guided Tour

History Of Cholon

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Old traditonal Binh Tay market in đài loan trung quốc town // Photo on Shutterstock

Cho Lon"s emergence was heavily linked lớn the Hoa (overseas Chinese) people, whose historical migration khổng lồ Vietnam dates back to the 1644 collapse of the Ming dynasty. Subsequent political crises in trung quốc over the years meant the numbers of Hoa people steadily grew in Vietnam into a fully-fledged diaspora, which today is made up of five different groups: the Cantonese and the Hakka, from Guangdong province; the Chaozhou, from eastern Guangdong province; the Fujianese, from Fujian; và the Hainanese are from the southernmost island.

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Cho Lon itself first emerged in 1779 around the time of the Tay Son rebellion, which was a massive peasant revolt against the ruling Nguyen dynasty in Southern Vietnam. Ethnic Chinese, who were supporters of the Nguyen dynasty, feared reprisals & were forced khổng lồ flee Bien Hoa & the surrounding towns where they lived. They settled in mang đến Lon (which means big market), which remained a đô thị in its own right and a major business hub until 1932 when it morphed into the rapidly urbanising Saigon in 1932.

During the Vietnam War, mang đến Lon became notorious as a đen market for US soldiers selling American Army issue supplies, và it also suffered bombings during the first days of the Tet offensive. Fortunately, most of the famous pagodas and traditional Chinese architecture survived. The late 1970s saw an exodus of Hoa people in the wake of the Sino-Vietnamese war and resulting anti-Chinese backlash. Despite its topsy-turvy past, đến Lon"s businesses and traditions have stood the chạy thử of time và it remains a thriving district.

Where is cho Lon located?

Cho Lon is primarily located in District 5, on the west ngân hàng of the Saigon River, but it also spills over into the eastern over of District 6 and parts of District 10 và 11.

Getting to mang đến Lon by yourself is easy enough - it is only a 10-minute drive from most hotels in District 1. Take a taxi - we recommend Grab or Go Jek (on-demand transport apps) because you can put your address in before travelling. If you"re hailing a taxi from the street, have your desired address written in Vietnamese before travelling & make sure the meter is on.

Things To vì In mang đến Lon

Eat The Local Food
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Hủ tiếu cá (fish noodle soup) // Photo on expatolife.com

Over the years, Hoa people have brought over countless delicious dishes, making cho Lon a foodie"s paradise. Much of the food in đến Lon is distinct from or fused with Vietnamese cuisine, and for this reason, it makes a great spot khổng lồ try out some new grub.

Chinese restaurants pack the streets, giving you an amazing array of choices to sample the local fare. Make sure you try out some of the following dishes:

Hủ tiếu cá (fish noodle soup): thinly sliced snakehead fish is added to thick Chinese style noodles và a pork broth and topped with traditional Chinese spices, giving this dish a succulent and sweet flavour.Hủ tiếu sa tế (Chili paste noodle soup): this noodle dish, which originated from Teochew, China, combines đôi mươi different herbs and spices with beef strips. Well worth a try if you lượt thích a good kick of chili!Sủi cảo (dumplings): If you want lớn start your day like the Hoa Chinese, grab yourself a steaming hot plate of dumplings in đến Lon. These Chinese-style dumplings are usually made with pork or crab, và you can enjoy them fried, steamed or boiled.

Aside from the restaurants, kiểm tra out the Chinese bakeries, which sell both traditional Chinese pastries & seasonal mooncakes alongside western-style bread & sandwich loaves. Whatever you do, just don"t leave đến Lon without eating - it is one of the best things to bởi in the area.

Shop Till You Drop!
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Soai khiếp Lam fabric market // Photo on kenh14

Move over Ben Thanh - Binh Tay market may be the number 1 market in town! Packed full of fresh produce và food stalls, this is where locals come to bởi vì their shopping. As a tourist, you"re unlikely khổng lồ be hassled like in D1, meaning you can slip under the radar.

Goods come from all over Vietnam & Asia, from silk & lanterns khổng lồ tropical fruit from the Mekong delta. So, if you"re interested in a change of scene from your local Vinmart or Coopmart, make a trip to lớn the busy Binh Tay market khổng lồ see what bargains you can find.

Other markets worth a visit include An Dong and Soai tởm Lam markets, which specialise in fabric, clothes, và traditional crafts. Perfect if you"re in the market for a new suit or dress!

Addresses in Ho chi Minh City:

Binh Tay Market: 57A Tháp Mười, Phường 2, Quận 6,An Dong Market: công trường thi công An Đông, Phường 9, Quận 5Soai tởm Lam Market: 545 Đ. è Hưng Đạo, Phường 14, Quận 5Explore cho Lon"s Hidden Alleyways
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Hao Sy Phuong alley // Photo on expatolife.com

Part of the charm of cho Lon is getting lost in its hidden alleys. Head lớn Hao Sy Phuong alley, which has become one of cho Lon"s most popular tourist attractions in recent years. Located just off Tran Hung Dao street, the alley has many colourful houses & buildings built in a different style to lớn the rest of Ho đưa ra Minh City.

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As you explore, you"ll notice the fusion of French, Chinese, and Vietnamese architectural styles which have remained untouched amidst Saigon"s rampant urbanisation. But for the motorbikes và wiring, the quality style, the Chinese street signs and the Cantonese-speaking locals will make you feel as if you"ve stepped into early 20th century Shanghai or Hong Kong.Vis

Visit Traditional Medicine Shops
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Traditional medicine shops // Photo on expatolife.com

The most visible businesses in đến Lon beyond the obvious Chinese food are Traditional Chinese Medicine shops. Nearby Luang Nhu Hoc street, you can find an area dedicated to Chinese traditional medicine, which is especially popular amongst older Vietnamese. If you go on one of Saigon"s many tours, your guide should be able to lớn make sense of the wide range of dried herbs và plants on offer.

Check Out cho Lon"s Religious Sites

Cho Lon is home to some of the best-preserved Chinese architecture and pagodas in Southern Vietnam, và they make a great place khổng lồ rest from the hectic traffic. The different deities worshipped also showcase the distinct origins & provinces of the Hoa people.

Below are three of the best ones worth visiting:

Thien Hau Pagoda
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Thien Hau Pagoda is the most important pagoda in mang lại Lon // Photo on asiawebdirect.com

Thien Hau Pagoda is the most important pagoda in mang lại Lon. Built by Cantonese migrants at the beginning of the 19th century, Thien Hau Pagoda is mainly dedicated khổng lồ Mazu, a Chinese sea Goddess worshipped by the Fujianese community. As one of the most popular places of worship in mang lại Lon, the pagoda can get fairly busy và packed full of smoky incense.

As you stroll through the grounds of the pagoda, you"ll notice the hundreds of small paper strips which line the main walls. On each strip is a prayer, which worshippers traditionally believe the wind carries off lớn Mazu.

Address: 710 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường 11, Quận 5, tp.hồ chí minh 70000

Phuoc An Hoi quan Pagoda
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Phuoc An Hoi quan lại Pagoda // Photo on tripadvisor

Phuoc An Hoi quan lại Pagoda is unique in that it isn"t dedicated lớn a deity. Instead, it pays tribute lớn a military leader from imperial Chinese history, quan liêu Hong, who was known for his bravery and honesty. The fact that he never phối foot in Vietnam yet remains an important figure for the Hoa people reflects their enduring traditions.

Wonderfully gold-crusted Chinese characters and red paint cover the entrance và interior, where there are a range of offerings and altars lớn other deities such as the Taoist Jade Emperor & Buddha. Fun fact: this pagoda was President Obama"s first destination in HCMC during his 2016 Vietnam tour, where he paid tribute to the cultural traditions of Vietnam.

Address: 184 Hùng Vương, Phường 12, Quận 5, thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

Chua Ong Bon PagodaChua Ong Bon Pagoda // Photo on spectralcodex.com

Chua Ong Bon Pagoda is the oldest Chinese pagoda in Ho đưa ra Minh City, & it has played an important role in the community for hundreds of years. The pagoda is located inside a 2500 square metre complex, which contains a courtyard filled with walled paintings and religious tributes.

Built by Fujianese around 1730, colourful ceramics và ancient carvings surround the main shrine, which pays tribute lớn Ong Bon, the God of wealth and virtue. And judging by the bustling businesses và restaurants in the surrounding area, he"s not held back with his blessings.

Address: 264 Đ. Hải Thượng Lãn Ông, Phường 14, Quận 5, tp Hồ Chí Minh

Cha Tam (St Francis Xavier) Church
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Cha Tam (St Francis Xavier) Church // Photo on vietnamdiscovery.com

Vietnam is trang chủ to some 7 million Catholics, so it is perhaps unsurprising khổng lồ find a Catholic church in đến Lon. Dating back lớn the 19th century, phụ vương Tam Church lies at the end of Tran Hung Dao street, standing as a relic of the French colonial period và an important symbol of faith for Hoa Catholics.

Nestled in the middle of its peaceful grounds is Mother Mary like you"ve never seen her before - in a Chinese-style pagoda ornamented with a cross. During the 1963 South Vietnam coup d"état it was also the infamous site of refuge for disgraced South Vietnamese president, Ngo Dinh Diem. Any prayers he offered clearly went unanswered as he was assassinated the following day.

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Address: 25 học tập Lạc, Phường 14, Quận 5, tp Hồ Chí Minh

Take A Guided Tour
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Good shoes và light clothes will be needed lớn make your trip more enjoyable và comfortable // Photo on vietnam-guide.com

Saigon miễn phí Walking Tours, an NGO run by Hoa Sen University students, offer không tính phí tours (you just pay 70,000 VND lớn cover transport costs). This offers students the chance khổng lồ hone their skills as guides & in the English language. You will get great insight into daily life in đến Lon & the best eating spots và alleys. Plus, you"ll have all the help you need when negotiating in Binh Tay market. Vì chưng foot the bill for food and drinks - it"s a nice gesture for the students" time!

For a more professional & structured experience, book a tour with Back of the xe đạp Tours. Prices cost 1,145,000 per person, & you"ll get a comprehensive half-day tour of đến Lon and District 1 - including food, transport, all the sites, và more. It"s #4 on Tripadvisor Saigon for a reason!

Soak In The Atmosphere

From the food và architecture lớn its bustling businesses và turbulent history, đến Lon represents the Hoa people"s resilient và enterprising spirit. As one of Saigon"s most historic and diverse districts, it deserves its spot on your travel itinerary.

If you"re keen to lớn discover more of Ho chi Minh City,take a look at our 1-2 day itinerary guide