Daily life as main attraction
I explained in an earlier post that Saigon is not a city of gobsmacking sights or museums. So why visit Ho Chi Minh then?, you may wonder.
In my opinion, Saigon is best enjoyed by simply strolling around town or by cruising it’s streets on a Vespa, being amazed and entertained by local daily life.
There is a lot of activity going on on the streets. Street vendors, people sipping a coffee on a mini plastic stool on the sidewalk, others transporting the weirdest, most unbelievable cargo on their motorbikes… Enjoy the couleur locale, especially in the many narrow alleyways.
THAT, to me, is Ho Chi Minh’s biggest attraction.
Best districts to explore
Saigon’s more known neighbourhoods (for explorations) are District 1 (=the centre, the most expensive, nightlife), 3 (where our hotel was, attractions, museums), 5 (=ChoLon or Chinatown), and district 7 (expats, expensive, remote).
Today I’m taking you to Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown in District 5.
What to see in ChoLon Saigon
We loved our walk through Saigon’s Chinatown, named ChoLon. We were caught by the rain, otherwise we would have walked longer.
We visited three gorgeous temples, but ChoLon has many, many more temples.
We went to:
The temples we visited were all very colourful, abundant and there were a lot of praying people in all of them at the time we were there.
The smell of incense was everywhere.
Over the years I have seen many fine examples of the cut-and-glue (jian nian) dioramas and decorations on temples and houses and I absolutely adore this style and technique.
In Cholon’s temples not all decorations were preserved as well (understatement), but the ones that were, are quite interesting and different.
Festive temple merchandise
All around were streets with vendors selling temple items which were colourful and fascinating.
It’s a demonstration of enormous restraint that I came home with just one fat doll Chinese New Year mask;-)
By accident we stumbled upon an accessory market (Dai Quang Minh Market and Duong Tong Duy Tan alley), although we only walked through the narrow alley on the outside of the market.
A-MA-ZING! So much stuff that’s totally up my alley! (pun intended).
But hey -take note please…. drumroll….- I DID NOT BUY A THING! Not even one tiny bead. NO-THING! So proud of myself.
I have to control myself, folks.
Because back home, in Haarlem, I have a (very small, but still) room that I call my studio. It is literally stuffed to the ceiling with beading materials and other art stocks. Enough is enough, right?! At least that’s what I tell myself.
The neighbourhood is full of specialty streets. There is the street of chinese medicines, spices and herbs, the street of paper wares, the one with hardwares, and so on and so forth.
Really fun to explore.
Lots of people in Cholon seem to have dogs, since they roam around everywhere.
There were chickens in wire cages and song-birds in bamboo cages.
We saw several people sitting on the pavement, delicing each other. (No pictures, sorry. You cannot just photograph everything and everybody.)
All in all a colourful neighbourhood, messy, rowdy and gaudy; loved it!
Would you enjoy a neighbourhood like this?