700000 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Cholon/ Chinatown/ District 5
tel: +84 4 3942 3760(Tourist Information)
There are two cities in Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon and Cholon. Most visitors limit themselves to the former, but those intrepid souls who venture into Vietnam's largest Chinatown will be rewarded with a heady experience that is well worth the diversion. An independent city until the 1930s, Cholon became part of Saigon/Cholon in 1931 and was then subsumed by the former in 1956. The home of the Hoa – Chinese Vietnamese – for centuries, the area was once a hotbed for licit and illicit trading with huge, bustling markets rubbing shoulders with opium dens and brothels. The markets are still there, the more debauched aspects are gone (or better hidden at least) but the area still rewards exploration. The Binh Tay market is one of Saigon's best while the area's teeming streets hide a number of peaceful pagodas. Unsurprisingly it's also a prime place to chow down on favourites from the Middle Kingdom such as dim sum and Beijing Duck.