Saigon China Town – Cho Lon

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Cho Lon, one of the world’s largest and oldest Chinatown with roots dating back to 1778. Located in District 5 and 6, this area has a unique atmosphere and should not be missed. It’s a small town in itself with its own character, very different from other areas of Saigon. If you want to get off of the tourist track and learn about Vietnamese and Chinese communities then Cho Lon is the place for you. Learn about the everyday life of the fruit and vegetable sellers. Then stopping for a glass of traditional Café Sua Da – Vietnamese iced coffee, and the chance to try some of Vietnam’s exotic fruits.

Dragon dance in Cho Lon
Dragon dance in Cho Lon

Start with a visit to the iconic Binh Tay Market, famed for its warren of food stands and grand Sino-French architecture.  Binh Tay Market occupies a two-stories building along Thap Muoi Street. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local with its extensive range of products from regions across Vietnam. You can also find an assortment of handicrafts, clothes and textiles that are sold in bulk.

Binh Tay market from above
Binh Tay market from above

Afterwards hop on a motorbike and pass through the chaotic backstreets where they have everything from spare motorbike parts to religious artifacts! Stop at historic Cha Tam church and hear about the city’s turbulent past before walking through the oldest streets of Cho Lon. Visit a traditional Chinese medicine shop and see how the locals make herbal tea, before arriving at the Minh Huong communal house – home to one of Cho Lon’s oldest Chinese communities.

Cho Lon in the 90s
Cho Lon in the 90s