The infusion of Vietnam’s colorful history and the equally vibrant Chinese culture presents best in the country’s largest China Town: Cho Lon in District 5 of Sai Gon. Back in the old days, the area used to be Saigon’s center of commerce. Now, it is a mesmerizing cultural spot for tourists to explore with its Chinese-inspired architectures, handicraft factories, shops, and cafes, which could all be overwhelming if your visit to Cho Lon is short. Check out the itinerary below to explore Vietnam’s largest Chinatown in one morning. 

Start your visit to Cho Lon with breakfast in the Outdoor Wet Market (9 – 10 AM)

First, let’s get you charged up and ready for the itinerary. If you want to make your own meal, head to the outskirts of Binh Tay Market, a vibrant wet market that offers you probably the freshest of  local products to make a delicious Vietnam-inspired breakfast to start your day. But if cooking is not your forte, no worries! Walk around, explore the area and experience traditional customs embedded in the locals’ day-to-day living for a while, and find a food stall to grab your authentic local breakfast while basking in the beautifully organized chaos of this community.

Busy people in wet markets around Cholon
Traditional markets with fresh and vibrant ingredients for you to try out

Get lost in the authentic Binh Tay Market (10 – 11 AM)

After a hearty breakfast, soak into the rich Chinese culture right here in Vietnam with the locals’ morning routines as they bunch in and around the French-inspired architecture of Binh Tay Market. Unlike Ben Thanh, which feels very touristy, Binh Tay is as raw and organic as it can get. Though the main market is under improvement until the end of 2017, stalls and vendors are still around offering cheap finds, especially for wholesale items such as fresh produce, clothing, crafts, shirts, accessories, and toys.

Bình Tây Market – a signature landmark in Cho Lon area

Take in the peacefulness of Ba Thien Hau Temple after cruising Cho Lon (11 AM – 12 PM)

Though exploring the busy markets can be exciting, it can leave you feeling really exhausted. Take a step back and visit Thien Hau Temple on Nguyen Trai Street, probably one of the most beautiful and calming architectures you will find in the chaotic streets of Sai Gon.

Legend says that in the 1980s, Chinese boatmen from Vietnam built the temple to show their gratitude to Mazu, a Tao Chinese sea goddess, for helping them get to the United States. Another place you can stop by is Quan Am Temple on Lao Tu Street, which is dedicated to the Chinese god of Mercy Guanyin. Enjoy the tranquility as you light up your incense and watch the lines of smoke join together up the altar. 

Pay a visit to Thien Hau Temple in Cholon
Thien Hau Temple – a shrine dedicating to the Tao Chinese sea goddess Mazu

Awesome Dim Sums for lunch to end your visit to Cho Lon (12 PM -1 PM)

Why not end your trip to Cho Lon with some dim sums, a Chinese-originated treat that has become popular in Saigon? And where else to find this Chinese dish but in a China town? Head to An Duong Vuong street for an authentic and satisfying dim sum experience at Tân Nguyên Thái – a budget-friendly restaurant operated by a Chinese-Vietnamese family. Take your pick from the ten-page menu of delicious-looking dumplings, rolls, cakes, and soups. Finally, match your meal with its perfect companion: a refreshing choice of Jasmine, Oolong, Chrysanthemum, or Pu-erh tea to recharge after a long morning under the heat of Saigon. 

Tân Nguyên Thái dim sums in Cho Lon, Vietnam Chinatown
Many types of dim sums for you to choose from in Cho Lon.

Final Tips

Always be street-wise when visiting Cho Lon by taking good care of your belongings while roaming the area. And remember that people will always try to sell you things at an inflated price, so try to bargain your way to a fair deal. You’ll get to buy some of the coolest things that cost almost nothing.

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Minh Phạm

I'm Minh. 23 years old. I can speak both English and Japanese. I love meeting new friends, sharing my passion of traveling, daily stories as well as true local experiences.…Learn more