Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam




Located on the west bank of the Saigon River is Cholon, a Chinese-influenced section of Ho Chi Minh City and the largest Chinatown in Vietnam. Cholon occupies the western half of District 5 as well as several adjoining neighborhoods in District 6. The Vietnamese name Cholon literally means "big" (lon) "market" (cho). During the Vietnam War, soldiers and deserters from the United States Army maintained a thriving black market in Cholon, trading in various American and especially U.S Army-issue items.
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Cholon is predominantly occupied by the city's ethnic Chinese community, who are a minority in Vietnam. It is a short taxi ride from District 1, which is the main destination for many tourists to the city. However, Western tourists tend to bypass Cholon as a tourist destination. Foreign visitors here are generally Asians, mainly from Mainland China and Taiwan. However, Western tourists tend to stick to the main attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, but Cholon is often bypassed. Foreign visitors here are generally Asians, mainly from Mainland China and Taiwan.

A popular destination in Cholon is the two-storey Binh Tay Market, the largest market in Ho Chi Minh City. Not a market catering to tourists, so don't expect to find souvenir items here to take back home. Binh Tay Market is a Vietnamese wholesale market, though you can still find items selling on retail. It is a bustling market with its narrow alleys and crowded stalls selling a variety of items such as clothes, embroidery, lacquerware, foodstuff and other household items. If you get tired after a long walk in the market, there is a courtyard in the centre to rest your feet.

binh Tay Market by Lerdsuwa

While there are plenty of pagodas to see in Ho Chi Minh City, the Thien Hau Pagoda is among the more impressive. The pagoda was constructed in the mid-18th century and dedicated to Thien Hau, the Chinese Goddess of the Sea. The pagoda is one of the most richly ornamented in the city. Another favourite is the Quan Am Pagoda, built by the Chinese Fujian community in Cholon and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. It is believed to be the oldest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City and noted for its red frontal gate and lacquer painted walls.

Quan Am Pagoda by Lerdsuwa

Cholon doesn't offer much in terms of nightlife but there are plenty of local restaurants and cheap street food. Like many other Chinatowns, you can find plenty of Chinese food in Cholon. A good way to get around Cholon, besides walking, is to hire a three-wheel pedicab called cyclo. To find one, go to the area around the Binh Tay Market where you can find several. Remember to negotiate and agree on the price with the cyclo driver before riding on one. 
Guide to
Ho Chi Minh City
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