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A Vanishing Craft: Saigon’s Last Broom Making Street

November 8, 2023
4 Min Read
Written by 
A broom maker twisting a broom on his hans

In the bustling Chinatown of Saigon lies Pham Phu Tu Street, a narrow alleyway dedicated to the art of broom-making. This century-old craft has been passed down for generations, and the workers display a high level of craftsmanship that is worth seeing in person.

A broom maker twisting a broom on his hands while smoking a cigarette

In a time when most jobs no longer require physical labor due to advanced technology, the detailed process of making brooms by hand is remarkable. Every broom is carefully crafted by skilled workers with precision and expertise that no machinery can match, resulting in brooms that fit every household.

It all starts with sourcing out the broom grass in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, specifically in Quang Ngai and Gia Lai Province. The grass is then dried under the sun for 3 to 4 hours, which is an essential step to ensure the broom's durability.

Bamboo stems tied together with a plastic straw on the floor.

From there, the meticulous work begins. Broom makers carefully tie the grass together using plastic wire to create uniform bristles, each of the same size and length. Some bristles even incorporate long, hard stems to add structure.

A broom maker  wearing a traditional Vietnamese hat and sitting on the groundas she tie together the broom grass to create the bristle.

The bristles are then combined to create the broom head using a plastic or metal wire. This wire is attached to the wall to ease the tying process. Broom makers diligently tie all the bristles together, ensuring they are secure as they pull the wire tighter and tighter.

A broom maker tying the broom together with a plastic wire attached to the wall.t

Once the broom head is fully assembled, the handle is securely tied using the same wire, adding an extra layer of durability. In some cases, hard stems are inserted into the broom's handle, providing additional volume and space.

The broom head is further strengthened by weaving more metal wire, connecting the bristles, and reinforcing the structure. For an experienced broom maker, this task only takes less than a minute, demonstrating expertise and efficiency.

Pair of hands weaving the broom head with metal wires.

After cutting the ends of the broom handles, the edges are trimmed to remove any sharp edges. Lastly, the broom bristles are trimmed to ensure a neat and uniform finish.

A close up of a broom being trimmed
A close up of a broom being trimmed

As a finishing touch, the metal wire attached to the broom head is hammered to increase its durability. On average, it takes just 5 minutes to complete a single broom.

A man hammering down the metal wires on the broom head on the ground to make it more durable

Though it has dwindled down through the years, Pham Phu Tu Street is still home to approximately six households crafting brooms. Each with around 3 to 5 broom makers who produce around 300 to 500 brooms by hand every day.

A woman wearing a Nonla hat squatting on the ground while holding brooms

The brooms are then transported to the local market and sold at a wholesale price of 100,000 VND (4 USD) for a bundle of 10 brooms. Depending on the materials used, each broom is resold for 20,000 to 50,000 VND (1 to 2 USD) apiece.

A woman wearing Nonla sitting behind a motorbike with brooms on hand

Despite the charm that fills the air on this unique street, there's a bittersweet reality that cannot be ignored. This broom-making street is the last of its kind in the city and is on the brink of extinction.

Meet Mr. Trung, a 50-year-old broom maker with three decades of experience. His family has been involved in this trade for three generations. However, he believes that in the next ten years, this street will vanish. Playfully, he asks me to get his portrait taken so he can be famous and find a wife.

A man smiling at the camera as he ties the broom together with a plastic wire

Many of the broom makers on Phu Thu Street share this sentiment. They are the last of their family with this occupation. Due to the low income of a broom maker their children seek better opportunities.

For a 10-hour workday, the average monthly salary in the village is around 4.000.000VND (162 USD), which amounts to approximately 5 USD per day. To earn extra income, some workers take on night time jobs like driving and serving.

Ms. Leng, who is originally from the Mekong Delta, began making brooms five years ago.

She also doesn't wish for her children to follow in her footsteps because of the dusty working conditions, which often lead to coughing and discomfort. Working in these conditions every day is far from ideal, she says.

A woman examining a broom on her hand.

Pham Phu Tu Street in Saigon is a unique blend of craftsmanship and cultural heritage. In addition to making useful equipment, the workers produce a piece that showcases their skills and experience.

A woman wearing a traditional hat as she squats on the ground while tying brooms together.

After visiting the broom-making street, it's difficult to look at a broom without considering the skill that goes into producing it.

Every piece of broom on Pham Phu Tu Street is a testament to the workers commitment and creativity, and that alone makes the village valuable and worth preserving.


A lover of nature and adventure whose main interests revolve around oceans and mountains.

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