The north of Vietnam has two main seasons: cold/dry and warm/wet. During my first visit in February, I was unlucky enough to be in the cold season but with the added bonus of rain. It really was cold. I had to buy more clothes and could barely sleep the first night (I then moved hotels and got two heaters). As a result, I left sooner than planned. However, I went back for over two weeks in November and absolutely loved it!
The north/south divide is really noticeable and there are lots of differences between Hanoi and Saigon. I first noticed the street drinking and crazier roads (despite having less traffic less Saigon), but the culture, history, people, food and even language are all fairly unique here.
Most tourists stay in the Old Quarter which is a nice area packed with bars and restaurants. There's a massive weekend market which you can't really miss. Most of the popular restaurants in the Old Quarter are westernised (flavour and price) but there are some gems to be found still.
Nightlife, bars & cafés
Egg Coffee (and egg chocolate) for 20,000d. I also had the egg beer for 50,000d (due to having much more of the egg mixture) which wasn't as bad as it sounds.
Don't worry, it's not a boiled or fried egg; it's egg yolk mixed with condensed milk and whisked in to a foam and then added on top of the coffee. It's delicious! Recommended, especially as it's not really served in the rest of the country!
> "Egg beer"
> — Photo 1
Tạ Hiện Bia Hoi corner
Very very popular crossroads for nighttime street drinking (and snacking), especially busy at the weekends. Amazing atmosphere. The streets are filled with little seats but there are many different bars/vendors, so try to find one with cheap drinks. Bia Hoi should be 5,000d per glass but some places will run out later in the evening so check they have some before you sit down.
Ask for a food menu and dine like a local! Recommended.
Craft Beer Pub
Not much craft beer other than Pasteur Street IPA but they have 2 for 1 happy hour on Larue draft (25k) and it's a nice place. Their food isn't bad either. I had the BBQ pork burger with fries for 99k.
Furbrew Craft Beer
I wasn't keen on the beers here but they're ok.
The Hill Station
Another branch of The Hill Station. They do 2 for 1 happy hour (2pm - 6pm) on craft beer (Pasteur Street IPA & Heart of Darkness pilsner).
Sights & Activities
Thang Loi Resort Hotel - Swimming Pool
80,000d for a relaxing day by the pool with an excellent view of the West Lake.