While the French Quarter was built in the colonial period and Cho Lon Chinatown has a long history dating back to the feudal era, Japanese Towns in Saigon only appeared in the 1990s after the Economic Reform. These days, there are two popular Japanese Towns: the Little Tokyo located in the heart of Saigon and the New Japanese Town situated in Binh Thanh District.
Little Tokyo in The Heart of Saigon
Address: 15B Le Thanh Ton Street and 8A Thai Van Lung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.
Things to try: Japanese cuisine, massage service, café, hotel, bar and lounge
Opening hours: all day
How to get there: From Ben Thanh Market, it only takes you 14 minutes to reach this place if you go on foot and 10 minutes if you travel by car, taxi or motorbike.
The 8A Thai Van Lung entrance
Of all Japanese Towns in Saigon, Little Tokyo is the most famous one
Of all Japanese Towns in Saigon, Little Tokyo is the most famous one. You can choose either the entrance on Le Thanh Ton Street or the one on Thai Van Lung Street to get in this town. From the outset, you already feel a Japanese vibe in the wooden doors, chôchin paper lanterns, and bilingual (Vietnamese and Japanese) publications. Being the connection of small alleys, Little Tokyo brings you a sense of discovery as each turn will lead you to another hidden gem. Some alleys focus on massage service while others bring you Japanese cuisine or bar and lounge. In case you are looking for the original taste of sushi or ramen, this is exactly where you should be.
In the morning, the town seems quiet and lonely since there are only a few opened restaurants. But when the sun goes down, and the lights go up, this is when the merchandises start their workday. In every corner, you can see not only Japanese but also Vietnamese and Westerners enjoying various services. If you happen to see many women wearing colorful ao dai, there is a high chance that they are massage ladies. Somehow, this town is also known as a red-light area that is comparable to Kabukichô district in Japan.
The chôchin lanterns appear everywhere in the alleys
If it is your first time visiting Little Tokyo, take a look at this map before you start
Have no idea what to do and where to go? These name boards might help
Though this is Little Tokyo, you can still find a Vietnamese restaurant
A Japanese-style bar is an ideal choice to chill out with your friends
Must-try activities in Little Tokyo:
Enjoy Tomidaya Ramen
Address: 8A/1C1 Thai Van Lung Street, Ward Ben Nghe, District 1
Opening Hours: 11:30 AM – 2 PM, 6 PM – 12 AM every day (10 PM on Sunday)
Price: from 80,000 VND
The look of Tomidaya Ramen from the outside
The captivating cherry blossoms will help you identify this ramen restaurant. Even though the price of its dishes is quite high, the excellent service and exquisite cuisine will satisfy your stomach. The “very Japanese” decoration from the outside and the staff’s uniform will make you feel like you are surrounded by Japanese culture.
Spend one night at the Lief Mojo
Address: 8A3C1 Thai Van Lung, Ben Nghe ward, District 1
The bright appearance with two green statues will impress you right at first glance
The bright appearance with two green statues of Lief Mojo will impress you right at first glance. Since the hotel aims to promote a “more meaningful, more mindful, and more memorable vacation lifestyle”, it has a new approach compared to the traditional hotel format. The hotel’s designs are of high aesthetic value but still bring comfort and friendliness to the customers. Besides, what makes it more worth trying is that it takes part in the mission to reduce single-use plastic waste enthusiastically. It is now offering free water refills to the public and promote the RefillMyBottle campaign on its page.
Take a sip of coffee at Tokyo Moon café
Address: 8A/1C2 Thai Van Lung, Ben Nghe ward, District 1
Price: VND 50,000 – VND 100,000
Tokyo Moon is next to a range of Japanese restaurants and massage shops
The name Tokyo Moon might misguide you with its real meaning. In fact, the owner of this place is Japanese-Korean, and Moon is his family name. When entering the café, you will awe at the meticulous handmade items hanging on the wall and be surprised at the colorful decor. Tokyo Moon’s menu offers diverse dishes and beverages in Korea, from familiar ones like sweet potato pastry or pumpkin coffee to the distinctive one called Ssanghwacha.
The New Japanese Town in Binh Thanh District
Address: Pham Viet Chanh Street, Ward 19, Binh Thanh District
Things to try: Japanese cuisine, café, homestay
Opening hours: all day
How to get there: From Ben Thanh Market, it takes you 14 minutes to reach this place if you travel by car, taxi or motorbike. But from Vinhomes Central Park, it only takes you 8 minutes using the mentioned vehicles.
Only established about five years ago, the Japanese neighborhood in Binh Thanh’s mysterious alleys has contributed to the cultural diversity in Saigon. It is called Little Japan 2 or The New Japanese Town. The entrance is not particularly noticeable since it is located behind apartments and high buildings. However, once you are there, you will be amazed at a series of Japanese restaurant signs interspersed with Vietnamese shops.
Unlike the Little Tokyo in District 1, which is home to hundreds of businesses, this new town only consists of 14 restaurants, eateries and accompanying services for the local community. If you are traveling on a budget but still want to immerse yourself in this Japanese atmosphere, you are highly recommended to give this place a try. The price here is only half of that in Little Tokyo but it is clear that the experience is still worthwhile.
Summary of Japanese Towns in Saigon
Apart from these aforementioned Japanese Towns in Saigon, you can consider Oishi Town in District 2 or come to places near Little Tokyo (such as Ngo Van Nam and Thi Sach Street).
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