Chinatown, also known as Cholon covers a broad area, including District 5, District 10, part of District 11 and District 6 in Ho Chi Minh City. Referring to Chinatown is immediately to mention the Chinese living region in the heart of Saigon. Back in the old days, the place where Chinatown now sits was regarded as the city’s center of commerce, in comparison with District 1 – the center of administration. Built in 1928, Chinatown is now a significant commercial center of the Chinese in Ho Chi Minh City. It is home to bustling handicraft factories, Chinese shops, and cafes bringing the Chinese style. Most Chinese people currently concentrate in District 5 - where has still preserved the precious values on culture, religion and architecture dating thousands of years. The pipe-shaped tiled roofs in Chinatown streets combine typical Chinese architectures featuring a unique classic beauty. Chinatown has become a famous and indispensable attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. Tourists to Cholon actually feel like to be presence in a certain old town of the Chinese some centuries ago.
Tran Hung Dao Boulevard has long been considered as the artery, the backbone of Chinatown, taking the role of welcoming tourists. It is truly prosperous place, crowded passersby with a series of luxury shophouses carrying the look of a modern Hong Kong. A typical shophouse is only 3-4m wide but 4-5 times more long, with an inside yard. Trading activities often take place in the front part of the house while daily activities occur inside. Especially, just over the road from The District 5 Cultural Center to the intersection with Chau Van Liem Street, there are over 30 eyeglass stores located close together. Most of which interestingly owns the same last name (as Dai Quang, Tan Quang, Nghe Quang, Sanh Quang, Ai Quang...). Strolling in the streets of Chinatown, especially at night is actually one of the enjoyable experiences when taking part in Ho Chi Minh City travel. Along with watching the convoy crossing, tourists also have a chance to comfortably shopping here. The Chinese's shops always retain their prestige and friendly sensation, which is actually safe for tourists.
Chinatown is extremely noisy and busy in daytime. Visiting Chinatown, beside sightseeing and shopping, tourists also witnessed the vibrant life of Chinese people who has migrated here for decades, and those who were born and grew up right on this land. This is one of the unique cultural features while participating in Ho Chi Minh City tour to Chinatown. In particular, it must be named Oriental Medicine drugstores here. Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street, Luong Nhu Hoc Street, Trieu Quang Phuc Street in District 5 are home to hundreds of ancient stores with countless fragrant smell herbs. Tourists also find easy to look for the rarest drugs here.
Notably, on the holidays, especially Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn, both roadsides are hung red lanterns, creating a fanciful and jubilantly space. Moreover, along streets of Tran Hung Dao, Trieu Quang Phuc, Chau Van Liem, and Luong Nhu Hoc..., tourists will also have the opportunity to admire the Chinese house fleets built 100 years ago with a unique characteristics and owning the harmonious combination of French and Chinese architecture. In addition, the temples and assembly halls are also appropriate place for tourists who would like to ascertain the identity of the Chinese culture. Indeed, Chinese pagodas in Chinatown have retained its ancient beauty for ages, attracting numerous tourists for generations. Among them, the most prominent and famous is Thien Hau Pagoda (the oldest Chinese-built pagoda in the city).
Referring Chinatown, it does not mean that tourists simply go to the market but can set foot in any restaurants and cafes. Here, tourists can catch the mold of the Chinese cafeteria bosses - that is a big belly man with his cheerful face and a towel squeezed his shoulder. When the city lights up, Chinatown is revealed more clearly and becomes much husling and bustling. Most of the shophouses are open to sale, business and services. Numerous signs are colorfully designed with breathtaking electronic lights and flashing in multi shapes and styles. The most delicious cuisines will be served at the famous restaurants and hotels, such as A Dong, Thien Hong and Ai Hue, Bat Dat, and Dong Khanh... Take a look to Chinatown to feel the characteristics of Chinese culture in particular and Ho Chi Minh City tourism in general.