Things to Do in Chinatown: Exploring Best Saigon’s Herbal Tea Places

When the sweltering heat of Ho Chi Minh City’s afternoons becomes too much to bear, the locals have a delightful remedy: pulling over to a roadside stall for a refreshing bottle of herbal tea. This traditional drink not only satisfies with its delicious and nutritious qualities but also embodies a nostalgic flavor unique to Saigon’s rich culinary culture.

As a foreign tourist, you have a unique opportunity to dive into this fascinating aspect of Saigonese life. In this blog post, we’ll explore the vibrant herbal tea scene of Saigon, specifically focusing on Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City, and how you can experience it all on a cycling tour with Jackfruit Adventure.

Things to do in Chinatown
Herbal tea not only satisfies with its delicious and nutritious qualities but also embodies a nostalgic flavor unique to Saigon’s rich culinary culture.

The Unique Culture of Herbal Tea in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown

Ho Chi Minh City offers a variety of refreshing drinks to combat the heat, including sugarcane juice, pennywort juice, bubble tea, and the ubiquitous iced tea. However, herbal tea, known locally as “nuoc sam,” and its more bitter counterpart “nuoc dang” (cooling tea), hold a special place in the hearts of Saigonese, particularly among the residents of Chinatown, known as Cholon.

Imagine cycling through the narrow streets of Cholon, with the sun blazing overhead. Suddenly, you spot a bustling herbal tea stall. You park your bike, walk over, and order a glass of herbal tea. The first sip is an explosion of flavors—sweet, slightly bitter, and incredibly refreshing. The vendor smiles, sharing a piece of history with every cup served, making this moment not just a refreshment but a journey back in time. These experiences, brimming with local charm and authenticity, make exploring Saigon’s Chinatown truly unforgettable.

The History of Herbal Tea in Ho Chi Minh City

Chinatown (Cholon) in Ho Chi Minh City has a rich history intertwined with the tradition of herbal tea. Known locally as “lòng tá” (涼茶) or “hà fỏ tá” (下火茶), these teas have been a beloved fixture for decades. Picture generations of Chinese families, their recipes passed down through time, brewing these teas to perfection. The city’s hot and humid climate naturally led to the popularity of this cooling beverage. Iconic herbal tea stalls have become ingrained in the memories of Saigonese, symbolizing both comfort and heritage. These stalls, often simple and unassuming, tell tales of endurance and community, providing not just a drink but a comforting embrace in the hustle of city life.

Things to do in Chinatown
Iconic herbal tea stalls have become ingrained in the memories of Saigonese, symbolizing both comfort and heritage. Source: Do Buon Beer and Wine

Ingredients of Herbal Tea

The ingredients for brewing herbal tea are simple yet profound in their impact. Common components include sugarcane, Imperata cylindrica root, corn silk, and sometimes artichokes, plantain leaves, chrysanthemums, coriander, or wormwood. Imagine visiting a local market, the vibrant chaos, and earthy aromas. These ingredients, easily accessible and rich in tradition, transform into a pot of herbal tea that cools the body and soothes the soul. Each sip offers a connection to nature and an age-old understanding of wellness that has been cherished by Saigonese families for generations.

Things to do in Chinatown
The ingredients for brewing herbal tea are simple yet profound in their impact.

The Evolution of Herbal Tea Stalls

Initially, herbal tea was sold from tin barrels with small ice cubes to keep it cool. Later, the design evolved to aluminum containers that held ice to maintain the tea’s coolness. Sellers would ladle the tea into glasses for customers to drink on the spot. The clinking of spoons against the glass became a familiar sound at these stalls, a symphony of everyday life.

Today, herbal tea is often bottled and refrigerated for easy consumption by passersby. Some stalls have even started providing seating for those who wish to take a moment to enjoy their drink. Despite these changes, the essence of the herbal tea culture in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown remains the same: a quick, refreshing, and nostalgic experience that connects people to their roots.

The 3 Best Places to Try Herbal Tea in Chinatown

1. Chau Ma Son Herbal Tea

  • Address: 840 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours: 6 AM – 11 PM (Mon – Sun) 

things to do in Chinatown

At Chau Ma Son Herbal Tea, you’re greeted by the charming Chinese script adorning the cart. Here, the unique “nuoc sam mai rua” (turtle plum herbal tea) is a recipe passed down for over 100 years. The moment you take a sip, you’re not just tasting tea; you’re experiencing a legacy. Other popular options include bitter tea, 24-flavor herbal tea, chrysanthemum, seaweed, and sugarcane. Each type offers distinct health benefits, such as improving eyesight or cooling the lungs, inviting you to explore a world of flavors deeply rooted in cultural wisdom.

Things to do in Chinatown
Source: Kenh 14

2. Huu Duyen Herbal Tea

  • Address: 47 Ngo Quyen Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hours: 6:30 AM – 9:30 PM (Mon – Sun) 

things to do in Chinatown

Tucked away at the entrance of a small alley, Huu Duyen Herbal Tea quietly holds countless memories for generations of locals. The handwritten Chinese signs and vintage decor evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of old films. As you savor the wide variety of herbal teas, each with its own unique story and health benefits, you become part of a living tradition, a silent witness to the passage of time.

3. Jackfruit Adventure’s Chinatown Discovery Tour

  • Service: Trails of Quach Dam: Chinatown Discovery
  • Hours: Flexible, based on booking
things to do in Chinatown
Jackfruit Adventure takes you through the heart of Cholon, guiding you to the most authentic and cherished herbal tea stall

To truly experience the best herbal tea spots in Chinatown, join Jackfruit Adventure’s Trails of Quach Dam: Chinatown Discovery tour. This unique cycling tour takes you through the heart of Cholon, guiding you to the most authentic and cherished herbal tea stalls. The journey is not just about tasting teas but about understanding their history and significance from knowledgeable guides. This tour combines the thrill of cycling with the delight of discovering hidden tea gems, making your visit to Ho Chi Minh City an unforgettable cultural immersion.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Ho Chi Minh City’s herbal tea culture is a fascinating blend of history, tradition, and daily life. By exploring it on a cycling tour with Jackfruit Adventure, you not only get to taste a variety of refreshing beverages but also immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of the city. So, next time you find yourself in Saigon, hop on a bike, take a refreshing sip of herbal tea, and let the city reveal its charming secrets to you.

Experience the best of Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown and discover the hidden delights of Saigon’s herbal tea culture with Jackfruit Adventure. Book your cycling tour today and embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Vietnam’s most vibrant city.

Related News

Discover Amazing Street Food at Nguyen Canh Chan Street in District 1

Nguyen Canh Chan Street, nestled in the heart of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, is a culinary haven for street food lovers. This vibrant street is teeming with food stalls

Read more
26 Highlights in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown: A Journey Through Cholon with Jackfruit Adventure

Things to do in Chinatown Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown, known as Cholon, is a vibrant and bustling area rich in culture, history, and culinary delights. Whether you’re a history buff,

Read more
Top 5 Wonderful Benefits of a Weekend Group Ho Chi Minh Bicycle Tour

Ho Chi Minh Bicycle Tour – The Perfect City for Your Group City Cycling   Weekends are the ideal time to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend quality

Read more

We're All Ears: Connect with Us Today

Slide into our DMs or drop us an email, we're here to make it easy for you to reach out and start the conversation

×

Hello!

Welcome to Jackfruit Adventure home ! How can we help you?

× How can I help you?