Amid the modern city of Ho Chi Minh, you can still find a quaint old town with charisma in Chinatown, or locally known as Cho Lon. The Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh, with its majestic temples and appealing residences, is definitely worth a visit.
Getting around the city on wheels can challenging, so walking is ideal for discovering the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City. In this 1-day walking itinerary in Cho Lon, we dedicate the morning to religious sites and unique Chinese residential buildings. The afternoon and the evening are for exploring local markets and the food paradise of Saigon’s Chinatown.
Introductory to the Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
The history of Cho Lon Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City goes back to the early 18th century. Residents from China’s big provinces like Guangdong, Chaozhou, and Fujian came to Vietnam to seek refuge. Nowadays, its area spreads across District 5, District 11, and a part of District 6 in Ho Chi Minh City. Upon visiting, you’ll get fascinating Chinese vibes in the residential buildings of the Chinese Vietnamese here. This tour will help you learn their traditions through the beautiful temples and sample the Chinese-adapted cuisine in dumplings and dessert restaurants.
Morning of 1 day walking itinerary in Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
8 AM: Breakfast with dumplings in Nguyen Trai Street, District 5
Enjoy mouthwatering dumplings in Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
Dumplings are a typical, delectable breakfast of Chinese Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City. Since our next stop would be Thien Hau Temple on Nguyen Trai Street, we picked a dumpling restaurant on the same street. The restaurant Quan Sam – Mi Vit Tiem Sui Cao at 409/12 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, features many Chinese foods. The dumplings are called Jiaozi (“sui cao” in Vietnamese), with prices between US$2 and US$3 for a generous serving.
9 AM: Thien Hau Temple (or Ba Thien Hau Temple) at 710 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5
At the beginning of their new life in Vietnam, the first Chinese decided to stay loyal to their long-standing customs. They built temples and kongsis (“Hội quán” in Vietnamese, meaning an organization by Chinese people from the same hometown to help each other in many aspects of life). The temple also acts as a place to pray to the gods of their hometown and maintain the bond in the local Chinese community.
Thien Hau is the respected Chinese Sea Goddess known by the English name Mazu. Thien Hau Temple at 710 Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 11, District 5. It is an alluring cultural site where you can admire the charming, sophisticated Chinese-style architecture in the primary theme colors of red and gray.
Read the myth of Thien Hau Goddess.
Thien Hau Temple (or Chua Ba Thien Hau) is a must-visit cultural site in Cho Lon – Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
From the dumpling restaurant, continue on Nguyen Trai Street for about 1.4 km (0.8 miles, around a 17-minute walk) to Thien Hau Temple. Don’t be overwhelmed by the walk. It’s getting more accessible since Thien Hau Temple is near other cultural attractions of Cho Lon Chinatown.
10 AM: Quan Am Pagoda at 12 Lao Tu Street, District 5
Just a 4-minute walk (300m) from Thien Hau Temple is another solemn religious site dedicated to Buddhism – Quan Am Pagoda at 12 Lao Tu Street. To reach Quan Am Pagoda from Thien Hau Temple, follow Nguyen Trai Street, turn right onto Luong Nhu Hoc Street, and walk for a little while before turning left onto Lao Tu Street.
Noon of a 1-day walking itinerary in Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
11 AM: Lunch with Com Ga (Chinese chicken and rice) on Nguyen Trai Street
Another characteristic Chinese cuisine dish that all Ho Chi Minh City residents love is Com Ga (chicken and rice). The distinction that differentiates Vietnamese Com Ga from KFC’s is the rice. It is cooked with chicken broth or fried (with eggs added) to create a beautiful golden color and an aromatic flavor. Chicken in these dishes is cooked with expertise to create succulent and tender meat. Therefore, it’s a far cry from the industrial chicken meat at fast food restaurants.
From your last stop, Quan Am Pagoda, you only need to walk 5 minutes to Com Ga Dong Nguyen restaurant at 801 Nguyen Trai, Ward 14, District 5. Prices are around US$ 3 per serving (and it’s already an upscale restaurant from many customers’ perspective).
After lunch, you can stop at the many coffee shops around the corner for a wake-up drink.
1 PM: Nhi Phu Ong Bon Temple at 264 Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street, District 5
From Com Ga Dong Nguyen, it’s a 5-minute walk to 264 Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street to behold the breathtaking design of Nhi Phu Ong Bon Temple. Ong Bon is a benign man who aided his Chinese fellows in starting their businesses and collecting wealth. Besides Ong Bon, Nhi Phu Ong Bon Temple honors other important gods of China, like the Jade Emperor.
Nhi Phu Ong Bon Temple is another cultural site in Cho Lon you should not pass up
The afternoon of 1 day walking itinerary in Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
2 PM: Binh Tay Market at 57a Thap Muoi, Ward 2, District 6
Binh Tay Market, also known by its original name, Cho Lon, is the leading trading and commercial center of Cho Lon Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City.
From the chicken rice restaurant, walk 1 km (13 minutes) to Binh Tay Market at 57a Thap Muoi Street, Ward 2, District 6.
Inside Binh Tay Market sells many Chinese specialties
4 PM: Soai Kinh Lam, the largest fabric market in Saigon, at 465-473 Tran Hung Dao Street, District 5
Silk, cotton, wool, or velvet, high-end or budget, Soai Kinh Lam Fabric Market caters to all fabric needs. It’s where you find Vietnamese fabric and imported products from China, India, Thailand, or South Korea. Another name of Soai Kinh Lam Market is Dong Khanh Trading Center. An exciting experience is guaranteed!
From Binh Tay Market, walk for 800m (10 minutes) to Soai Kinh Lam Fabric Market at 465-473 Tran Hung Dao Street.
Soai Kinh Lam is the largest fabric market in Ho Chi Minh City
The evening of a 1-day walking itinerary in Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
5 PM: Taste “che” at a famed Chinese dessert restaurant, Che Ha Ky
Che Ha Ky at 138 Chau Van Liem, Ward 11, District 5 is a well-known Chinese dessert restaurant. There is an extensive menu of delectable sweet soup “Che”, such as sweet sesame seed soup and Chinese energy cocktail (Sam bo luong).
From Soai Kinh Lam Fabric Market, walk for 450m (5 minutes) to get to Che Ha Ky at 138 Chau Van Liem Street.
Tasting Chinese desserts in Cho Lon Chinatown should be on your checklist
6 PM: The Lantern Street of Luong Nhu Hoc
Lanterns are a beautiful creation of Chinese people. Children love them, and adults are mesmerized by them too. Once you’re in Saigon’s Chinatown on big occasions like Tet Holiday and Full Moon Festival, drop by Luong Nhu Hoc Street.
From Che Ha Ky, walk only 250 m to Luong Nhu Hoc lantern street.
How to get to Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City from Tan Son Nhat Airport
It’s an 8-km distance, a 30-minute drive from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Cho Lon Chinatown in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. A taxi would cost you around US$ 10, and a motorbike taxi would be under US$ 5. Taking a bus is another choice, but it would take over 1 hour since you must follow 2 bus routes to get to Cho Lon: Bus No.109 from Tan Son Nhat Airport and then Bus No.150 to District 5.
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Summary of 1-day walking itinerary in Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City
Cho Lon Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City is an intriguing place to visit and explore the culture and cuisine of the Chinese Vietnamese. Consider our suggested itinerary to make the best plan for yourself.