I explore the backstreets of Cholon in Saigon in this photo essay, bringing you images from the dynamic street scene and old colonial buildings.
To me Saigon or Ho Chi Minh evoked images of a bustling metropolis with old french colonial architecture, quaint backstreets and busy streets. So to my disappointment this mental picture didn’t fully translate to reality as Ho Chi Minh today is an ultra-modern city replete with glass and chrome high rises and ultra modern expressways. But as I explored the city, I came to realize that in spite of the modernity, Ho Chi Minh still retained a lot of it’s yesteryears charm.
One early morning, I joined a trip with Arnaud Foucard (from Vietnam Photo Adventures) to explore the backstreets of Cholon. The Cholon neighborhood is Vietnam’s oldest Chinatown and dates back to 1778. It has an interesting mix of Chinese and French inspired architecture, atmospheric pagodas and a bustling and colorful street scene. The subsequent photographs explore the streets of Cholon.
Cholon is located in District 5, on the west bank of the Ho Chi Minh river. You can easily get to Cholon using a cab from District 1. However, Cholon is best explored by a guided tour. Vespa Adventures and XO Tours both conduct off-beat motorbike tours that include Cholon. For those that are more photographically inclined, join the excellent “Cholon Backstreets” tour with Vietnam Photo Adventures and Arnaud Foucard. The tour will take you through the by lanes of Cholon to truly experience street photography and is highly recommended. For the more adventurous discover Cholon through a scripted murder mystery with Urban tales.
What to Do
In Cholon, besides wandering around in the backstreets, there are a numerous other places to explore. Cholon is home to the crowded Bin Thay Market, many old pagodas like the Thien Hau Temple and bustling markets to explore. If you are interested in exploring a slightly off-beat section of Ho Chi Minh, Cholon sure delivers !!