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Cholon - Saigon's Chinatown

| 15 Nov 2011


Cholon - Saigon's Chinatown
District 5, Ho Chi Minh City - around 15 mins by cab from downtown

Our rating
15 Nov 2011

Cholon is Saigon’s Chinatown and it’s great place to spend at least half a day. It’s hard to believe but it’s even more chaotic than downtown Saigon - but with a distinctly Chinese character.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

The places we list here are all located close by one another and can easily reached on foot or cyclo once in Cholon. Make sure you also take some time to cruise the packed streets.

Binh Tay Market

Binh Tay market is the heaving wholesale market of Cholon. Food, clothing, pottery and plenty more are lined up in narrow corridors packed with stalls in this local institution dating back decades.

Watching the arrival of additional inventory on bicycles, motorcycles and an assortment of other curious road craft is part of the fun.

Thien Hau Pagoda

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

Nearby Quan Am Pagoda is another favourite. It was established by Cholon’s Fujianese community and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. 

Phuc An Hoi Quan Pagoda is also close by.

Cha Tam Church

Cha Tam Church’s significance lies mainly in its bit part in the demise of South Vietnamese President, Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963. It was here that the devoutly Catholic Diem was holed up having fled the coup from Gia Long Palace - now the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. His desperate prayers here came to nothing and he was captured and murdered by members of his own military in an event considered pivotal in the unravelling of South Vietnam and an increased US involvement in the war.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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