Cholon, or big market is the area of Saigon where people of Chinese descent traditionally lived. It is know to them as Dī’àn – or embankment, due to the large embankment built next to the river to stop flooding.
Originally a separate City, it was merged with Saigon to form Saigon-Cholon – The Cholon part of the name being dropped in the 1950’s. Later many ethnic Chinese left Vietnam, changing the racial makeup of the area, though walking around you can get a feel for the heritage of the area.
The area is blessed with more temples than any other area of the city, dedicated to the many Gods of the Taoist and Buddhist traditions. Each one a place where someone can make an offering to hope that some wish will be fulfilled.
My favourite part of nearly all Vietnamese Chinese temples are the rockeries or Hòn Non Bô – little miniature worlds where the gods live in a kind of mountainous Island.
Worship is the main draw of these temples – they see many more worshippers than tourists.
And these aren’t the only places of worship.
The Religious sights might be the main draw, but commerce is the main reason the area came to be – Buying and selling is still the heart of the community.