Binh Tay Market © Gerry Popplestone
Cholon, the Chinese district of Saigon, is comprised of a dense network of vibrant streets and alleyways. It was first settled by the Chinese Hoa merchants at the end of the 18th century, and is now the home of Vietnam's biggest ethnic minority community. There is no Hollywood style Chinatown main street here and in fact, Cholon's size sets it apart from the concept almost altogether.
The difference in environment is immediately noticeable. The cluster of Madarin signposts lead into a fascinating labyrinth of temples, restaurants, exotic stores, medicine shops and markets. The best place to experience the bustle of trade is at the crowded Binh Tay Market where the corridors are filled with stalls offering a variety of exotic produce, from live tethered ducks to nuts and seeds, as well as other household items.
There are several temples of interest in Cholon, including the colourful Jade Emperor Pagoda, the Quan Am Pagoda with its ornate exterior, Phuoc An Hoi Quan Temple, its roof exquisitely ornamented with dragons and sea monsters, and the Thien Hau Pagoda dedicated to the goddess of the sea.
Address: Corner of Tran Binh and Thap Muoi in Ho Chi Minh City.
Transport: From the city centre take bus number 62 enroute to Ben xe Quan 8 and get off at the 13C-13D stop in Thap Muoi street.