Saigon Hidden Alleys | Saigonwalks

Saigon Hidden Alleys | Saigonwalks

Saigon Hidden Alleys | Saigonwalks

Saigon boasts long-established alleys that can be found not only in Districts 4, 5, 8, Binh Thanh, Go Vap, and Cho Lon, but even in the upscale District 1 and bustling District 3. The characteristic of Saigon's alleys is their "crossroads, interlaced shortcuts." With so many long alleys, locals jokingly say that they could sing "Sad Street," a popular song by musician Pham Duy, hundreds of times and still not run out of alleyways to explore. Additionally, there are many "connected" alleys that weave through residential neighborhoods, resembling a bagua map. The people who reside in these alleys maintain a strong sense of community and still practice traditional customs, such as turning off the lights at night, reminiscent of the village and Hamlet era. This cultural foundation, rooted in Vietnamese countryside heritage, has been preserved and is now a defining feature of alley culture in Saigon.

Saigonwalks - alley
Saigonwalks - Saigon Hidden Alley

Residents living in alley houses exhibit a strong sense of community in their communication, behavior, and neighborly relations, particularly during marriage and funeral ceremonies. The alley is not just a place of residence, but also a social hub for meetings, exchanges, parties, and tea gatherings. Moreover, it serves as a playground and an entertainment space, as well as a location for small grocery stores, cafes, sugarcane juice and bread stalls, and even a spot for selling sticky rice and tea at the corner of the alley, near the electric pole. Although the exact number of houses in the alley can be confusing, they are usually occupied by people who are familiar with each other's backgrounds and family branches. The happy and sad stories that occur in the neighborhood are known by almost everyone. The entrance gate of the house and the corner of the alley serve as the quickest channels of information and word of mouth, conveying news and stories about big and small issues that are circulated "in the house, in the street.

saigonwalks - Saigon hidden alley
Saigonwalks - Saigon hidden Alley

Foreigners, particularly students studying abroad and researchers visiting Vietnam, often visit alleys to learn about the locals' lives, lifestyles, and cultures. The alleys not only house residents but also communal houses, pagodas, temples, and shrines. The customs, habits, beliefs, spirituality, spiritual life, and aesthetics of the alley can be studied, as well as the grandparents and grandchildren club, the chess club, and the don ca tai tu club. Additionally, many alleys are famous for their pho shops, noodle shops, and delicious coffee shops, providing an opportunity to explore the culinary culture from high-end restaurants to street vendors. Saigon Alley boasts a diverse and multidimensional regional cultural identity and is also a place where one can hear the voices of salespeople and other professionals selling food day and night, even in the wee hours of the morning. This includes buying broken copper bottles, sharpening scissors and knives, cupping massage, knocking noodles, banh chung, banh gio, tea, tofu, and even the rhythmic sounds, vibrant colors, and pulsating music of candy carts.

The alley culture in Saigon is a unique feature of a big city that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In Saigon, many alleys are home to people from different regions of Vietnam, including the North, Central, and South. Additionally, there are communities of Chinese, Indian, Cham, and Khmer people who live alongside each other as neighbors. The residents of these alleys follow various religions, including Buddhism, God, Cao Dai, and even Islam. Many alleys have religious structures such as pagodas, churches, Cao Dai shrines, and mosques. The whole community, regardless of religion or ethnicity, celebrates Buddha's Birthday and Christmas as shared festivities.

Visitors can explore the neighborhood and be amazed by the scenery, people, and life stories. Saigonwalks offers a tour program that explores Ho Chi Minh City through stories, walking, and listening to the city's history, lifestyle, and culture.