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January 15, 2013
Vietnam travel guide

Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh city

Chinatown is one of the most attractive destinations for tourist when coming to Ho Chi Minh City due to its unique culture, architecture and cuisine.

Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh has a center area which is popularly known under the name Cho Lon. With a large site which covers entire District 5, parts of District 6, 8, 11, Chinatown becomes very famous because of its special character and its cultural heritage.

Being the main street leading into the area of Cho Lon or Chinatown, Tran Hung Dao Street is seen as a “reception road” welcoming visitors to the town. Along this crowded street, there are many people passing by and many Chinese style shops. Within a short section between the District 5 Cultural House and the intersection with Chau Van Liem Street, there are more than 30 eye ware shops whose names mostly end with the word quang (i.e. sight), such as Dai Quang, Tan Quang, Nghe Quang, Sanh Quang, Ai Quang, among others. “Every time I visit Vietnam, I like to walk on this street, especially at night,” says Peter, a British visitor. “Apart from seeing the busy traffic, I go shopping here because shops run by people of Chinese origin try to keep up their shop’s prestige and give us feelings of friendliness and safety.”

The most crowded tourist area is Binh Tay Marketplace, said tour guides. This famous market was built about 70 years ago, which is located on Thap Muoi Street. Binh Tay Market was believed to be established by Kook Tan, a Chinese man well known for his prosperity.

Chinatown also attracts tourists due to its traditional medical herbs street, which was officially located on Hai Thuong Lang Ong Street in District 5. Passing along this street, people can smell the strong odors of different types of medicinal herbs coming from traditional pharmacies such as Van Hoa, Loc Sanh, Vinh Thanh, Nam Xuong and Quang An Phat. Morover, on such streets as Tran Hung Dao, Trieu Quang Phuc, Chau Van Liem and Luong Nhu Hoc, visitors can have a look at blocks of houses built by Chinese people a century ago, combining Chinese and French architectural designs.

If you want to learn more about the Chinese culture, you are recommended to visits temples and clubhouses in this area. There are many ancient pagodas located in Cho Lon area. Of those the most famous pagoda is T’ian Hou (Thien Hau) Pagoda on Nguyen Trai Street. Going there on Madam T’ian Hou’s birthday, which falls on the 23rd day of the third month in the lunar calendar, visitors can see rounds of incense with a diameter of one meter hanging. They carry pieces of paper with the names of worshippers. Also on Nguyen Trai Street and as famous as T’ian Hou Pagoda is the pagoda honoring Guan Kung, a Chinese figure well known for his loyalty and nobility. Many visitors who are businesspeople go there seeking Mr. Guan’s support in order to remain strong in business.

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