Cho Lon: The Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City

Cho Lon: The Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon's Chinatown

Rachel Tran Rachel Tran | Published Feb 17, 2020

Whoever staying in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam often pays a visit to Chợ Lớn (or Sai Gon’s China Town), a super vast market town, to be attached to a crowded space of Sai Gon life.

Whenever Chợ Lớn (or Cholon in some documents) is referred to, everyone may immediately think of a Cholon – China Town inside Ho Chi Minh City. It is the name of the Chinese district in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), the largest Chinatown district in Vietnam. It lies at the West bank of the Saigon River, Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, comprising several markets, in which Binh Tay Market is the central one. Today, Cholon has become part and parcel of every itinerary to this significant city and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Saigon. Cholon now covers a vast area from the residential quarters in Districts 5 and 10 to the vicinity of Districts 6 & 11. The Hoa people living there still preserve their age-old cultural, architectural, and religious values. The classical beauty of their architectural style finds expressions in rows of tile-roofed houses, which seem to be caught forever in a brownish gray color.History

History of Cho Lon Chinatown

Chợ Lớn literally means “big” (lớn) “market” (chợ). In 1778, the Hoa (Chinese minority of Vietnam) living in Bien Hoa had to take refuge in what is now Cholon because they were retaliated against by the Tay Son forces for their support of the Nguyen lords. In 1782, they were again massacred by the Tay Son and had to rebuild. They built high embankments against the flows of the river, and called their new settlement Tai-Ngon (meaning “embankment” in Cantonese). Incorporated in 1879 as a city which was 11 kilometers from Saigon, it had expanded and became coterminous with Saigon by the 1930s. On April 27th, 1931, the two cities were merged to form Saigon-Cholon by the French colonial government. By 1956, the name Cholon was dropped from the city name. These days, Cholon attracts a number of tourists, especially those from Mainland China and Taiwan. Aso, it is known as a scenario of Marguerite Duras’s autobiographical novel The Lover (1984), where the young French girl fell in love for the first time with her Chinese lover.

Daily Life in Cho Lon Chinatown

During daylight, Cholon is bustling with buyers and sellers trading goods. Binh Tay Market, one of the most important markets of Ho Chi Minh City, is located inside Cholon. It can be said that nothing is not sold here. Three or four-star hotels, restaurants, including Aquatria, Dong Khanh, Bat Dat, Ngoc Lan Dinh, Soai Kinh Lam, Ai Hue, Thien Hong, and A Dong, the fairly popular names in Sai Gon. Tourists getting around this famous market town mostly can find here anything they may think in mind!

When night falls – What to Do at Night in Cho Lon Market

In the evening, Cholon seems to rejuvernate. From distance, one can see neon signs of various sizes, shapes, and colours. Tourists flock into this area not only for purchasing goods but tasting the gastronomy of the Hoa as well.

In this lively area, visitors can enjoy mouth-watering dishes, such as dumplings, Duong Chau fried rice, Tu Xuyen tofu, and so forth.

The majority of tourists to Sai Gon and Cholon are lured by this vast goods-covering market town, glistening when night lights are turned on. This is the panoramic picture of Saigon-Cholon, please come and explore! 

With its popularity among visitors in Ho Chi Minh city, Cho Lon is also included in a lot of itineraries for Ho Chi Minh city tours, especially one day or half a day tours.  

Ho Chi Minh is known as an immigration city so you can easily experience Chinese life in the middle of the city by booking HCM Cultural city tours. These day trips give you a fun and fascinating insight into the culture and the daily life of the locals in Ho Chi Minh City as well as a chance to visit Chinese market with its array of colorful products.


Where Do You Want to Go?