History of China Town Saigon (Cholon)
Coming Ho Chi Minh City, you may be mentioned about Cholon or Saigon China Town. Cholon area covers an area consisting of District 5, District 6, District 10 and a part of District 11 of Ho Chi Minh City. Many Chinese and China-Vietnamese live for ages. Most of them are from Quang Dong, Trieu Chau, and Phuc Kien.
Cholon area has many ancient pagodas, temples, markets, and houses built in Chinese style. Thien Hau temple where Thanh Mau Thien Hau is worshiped is worth visiting for special architecture and interesting stories. Hotels, restaurants, food stalls and cafes serving Chinese foods and drinks are popular in the area. Lantern stores next to each other on a part of Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street are call lantern market. The smell of Chinese herbs spread over the air from Chinese medicine stores in an area of China Town. Houses with boards written in Chinese are everywhere in the city. People talk to each other in their language. Generally, this area has its own character different from other parts of the city.
Thien Hau temple in China Town
Chinese medicine street in China Town
Binh Tay Market is considered as the symbol of Saigon China Town. It’s one of the oldest and biggest wholesale markets in Ho Chi Minh city. Located in District 6, this market was built by a Chinese businessman named Quach Dam (or Thong Hiep) in 1928. He asked for building some rows of town around the market and putting his statue in the middle of the market when dying. Binh Tay market’s architecture is a perfect mix of Eastern Asian architectural styles.
There was an old market which was called Cholon (Big Market). It was built near the Post Office of District 5 in 1778.
Before that time, in 1698, in De Ngan (afterward called Cholon area) there was the village of Chinese people who had not acknowledged allegiance to Ch’ing dynasty in China and had moved to Saigon, Vietnam. At that time, the area was covered by paddy fields, the land was still low; the roads were narrow. There were many small irrigation canals with lots of shrimps and fishes.
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In 1782, when the war between Nguyen Anh and Tay Son ended, Cholon area, including Cholon market was damaged heavily. Sometime later, Chinese from Pho Islet (Bien Hoa City now), My Tho, Ha Tien (South Vietnam) came and lived with the Chinese in Cholon area.
In 1879, the South Vietnam government made the decree for setting the area as Cholon city. Since then the Cholon area has had an official name.
In 1880, South Vietnam governor made the decree for joining Saigon city and Cholon city into the Saigon-Cholon region.
In 1882, the first railway with a length of 5 km and the width of 1 m connected Saigon, Cholon and My Tho was started.
In 1888, two cities Saigon and Cholon were divided as before.
In 1916, people started building some laterite roads including Galliéni road (Tran Hung Dao today).
In 1931, Saigon-Cholon region was given the name in France presidential decree.
In 1956, the name of Saigon-Cholon region changed into Saigon Capital.
The population in Cholon before was very sparse.
In 1901, there were over 60,000 people.
In 1920, there were about 94,000 people.
In 1940, there were about 200,000 people.
Cholon has changed official name many times, but the common name is still preserved.
You can join the Saigon Sightseeing Tour by motorbike tour to explore more China Town Saigon.