China Town – Cholon (big market) - Asia Travel & Leisure

Asia Travel & Leisure

China Town – Cholon (big market)

The largest Chinatown in Vietnam is Cholon which is located in Ho Chi Minh, former Saigon. Cholon, meaning “big market”, is the Vietnamese name for the area but the Chinese refer to it as ti-an, 堤岸, meaning an embankment. Cholon’s current status was the result of political developments in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Back in the old days, the place where China Town now sits was regarded as the city’s center of commerce, in comparison with District 1 – the center of administration. Today, it consists of the western half of District 5 as well as several adjoining neighborhoods in District 6.

The central market in Cholon is the Binh Tay market offering a wide range of products from food to clothing to daily necessities. It is also a wholesaler market and a tourist attraction. There are streets which concentrate on selling unicorn head and royal costumes like Luong Nhu Hoc Street, gems like Ham Tu – An Binh Street, rice in Tran Chanh Chieu Street, etc. Especially on Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street, there are many stores selling Chinese medicines, where people get the chance to see how Chinese medicine is made and used.

Tourist attractions in the area are also indispensable, such as Thien Hau Pagoda on Nguyen Trai Street (the oldest Chinese-built pagoda in the city), the old buildings built based on Chinese structure on Trieu Quang Phuc Street, Minh Huong Temple, Quan De Temple on Nguyen Trai Street or Leizhou guild house on Tran Hung Dao B Street. Binh Tay Market on Thap Muoi Street is always an attractive destination for foreigners, thanks to its special structure, long-standing history and a well-preserved exciting and lively atmosphere.

Cho Lon is crowded and busy all the times thus tourists don’t have to worry about the suitable time to travel there. Even at night, there are still food stalls serving till midnight.

On special occasions like Lunar New Year, the town is spectacularly hectic and adorned with Chinese features. Specifically, on Mid-Autumn Festival, Luong Nhu Hoc Street becomes “Lantern Street” with shops selling this product and attracts thousands of people coming to enjoy the atmospheric scene of colorful lanterns at night. If visitors happen to be in Ho Chi Minh City at these times, don’t hesitate to join the crowd of people.

Notes:
Address: District 5 and a part of District 6.

Location: 10km from Ho Chi Minh center. You might spend around 2 hour to visit this area.

Open daily, all year around. Just close for 3-4 days at Lunar New Year.

Entrance fee: No.

Highlights:

  • Thien Hau Temple: The most popular and one of the impressive of Cholon’s Chinese pagodas for visitors, the temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, Goddess of the Sea. When the temple was established in mid eighteenth century, the Chinese community tended to be made up of merchants and seafarers who were grateful for the Goddesses protection of their ocean voyages. The temple’s significance was reinforced again the in late 1970s when many from Cholon’s Chinese community fled Vietnam in small boats following China’s invasion of northern Vietnam.
  • Quan Am Pagoda is a Chinese style Buddhist pagoda located on Lao Tu Street in Cho Lon, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Founded in the 19th century, it is dedicated to the bodhisattva Quan Am (Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit, Guan Yin in Chinese). The pagoda is very popular among both Vietnamese and Chinese Buddhists. Most of the inscriptions are in Chinese characters, but some labels have been added in Vietnamese. The spirituality of the pagoda is a mixture of Pure Land Buddhism centered on the figure of Amitabha Buddha, special veneration of the female bodhisattva Quan Am, Taoism, and traditional Chinese religion, the latter including the devotion to Thien Hau (the Lady of the Sea) that is so typical of traditionally seafaring Chinese communities of Fukien, Canton, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.