With the rising trend of coworking, remote work, and “workation” retreats, entrepreneurial Millennials from around the world are quickly adopting the location-independent entrepreneurship lifestyle because of the prospect of reduced living costs, exciting new environments, and access to a network of other motivated and interesting creatives and entrepreneurs.
For example, Workaway, the travel agency for entrepreneurs, offers trips for 7-14 days around the world, including retreats in Italy, Spain, Morocco, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Kenya, and Russia; we heard they will be launching to Asia soon. First-time entrepreneurs intent on launching an online business see Southeast Asia as an ideal place because of the warm climates and extensive network of expatriates already living the region.
Fast growing technology startups are starting to see the benefit of remote work arrangements too. For example, the entire team at Buffer works remotely, and the team goes on annual trips to interesting locations for team building activities. For Team Treehouse, founded by entrepreneur Ryan Carson to teach people to code software and learn modern technology skills, working remotely is just one of the techniques they use to be more productive.
Alternatively, startups conducting overseas go-to-market research in Southeast Asia may need to find ways to support their employees as they work outside of the office, and require a “soft landing” base while they are expanding operations. Coworking spaces may be the best place to get things done and saves time on signing a lease for a new office, and saves money for when the company hasn’t yet dedicated budget to leasing an individual office. Coworking spaces are ideal also because they often provide a community network of local service providers.
In the following modified book excerpts from Digital Nomad Guide to Asia – researched and published by GoToLaunch – we explore the best places to work in 4 locales in Southeast Asia: Bangkok and Chiang Mai of Thailand, Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, and the beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia. Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City are hubs for the urban explorer who thrives in chaos and variety, while Chiang Mai and Bali are serene retreats for the mind and spirit.
The following includes the top coworking spaces for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Why Ho Chi Minh City?
The city is a beautifully organized chaos, with diverse neighborhoods, each bringing a unique charm and lifestyle shared amicably among the Vietnamese, Chinese, Europeans, Australians, and Americans. Pessimistic tourists will complain about congested streets, smoggy air, and undrinkable water. Experienced travelers and digital nomads will celebrate this city for its range of lifestyles, from budget to five-star, its diversity of mixed cultures, and the ingenuity Vietnam seems to buzz with.
Vietnam’s quality of life comes in a range: Comfortable on a budget or extravagant. No matter your spending power, you’ll still be subject to smoggy air and crowded streets, though a motorbike or living space close to District 1 will alleviate both pressures, even if only by reducing time of commutes. Air quality eases up a bit during the wet season, but smoke from crop burning during harvest season will make Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) an uncomfortable place to stay during summer months.
The climate of Vietnam is warm and wet, especially during July-August. Unfortunately, nothing reduces the seemingly endless amount of traffic. Rather, the heat and humidity simply makes it more erratic, so always wear your helmet. Road rules are suggestions at best, right of way is an ongoing negotiation, and some taxi drivers seem like they are out for blood. If you’re getting on a moped in HCMC, understand these are some of the most challenging road conditions in the world.
The digital tribe is alive and well in HCMC, with a strong concentration of foreign and local entrepreneurs and technologists working out of apartments, plentiful WiFi cafes, and coworking spaces. The pace of meetups and events in HCMC is plentiful, offering lots of opportunities to jump into the local scene quickly.
What: WORK Saigon is one of the most attractive and successful coworking spaces in HCMC, and for good reason. It offers a quiet space to work, best-of-the-city cafe, swimming pool, and space for unique creativity and marketing workshops with the likes of world leading design/branding agencies like BBDO and TBWA. Your membership will come with a locker, food and drink discount, a reserved seat in the coworking area, and free use of the large open studio room for creative work. The coffee is sourced from Dalat and roasted in-house, while the food dishes are crafted by local chefs. Phuc and Teddy use mostly local ingredients, some of which are from WORK Saigon’s organic garden.
- Free drop-in with food or drink purchase
- Monthly Unlimited + Events (2M VND/mo)
Where: 267/2 Dien Bien Phu, Ward 7, District 3
￼What: A spacious 24/7 coworking space that has additional business services available to its members, Saigon Coworking is the top stop in HCMC, after WORK Saigon. The space partners with a network of local professionals to help with legal, financial and IT consulting. The local kitchen and green rooftop garden are great for views and free caffeine. Last, the space can match you with a personal secretary at 2.25M VND for 25 hours of work.
- 10 Days/mo (962,000 VND/mo)
- Monthly Unlimited + 6h Secretary Help (2M VND/mo)
Where: 101 Cu Lao, Phu Nhuan, Ho Chi Minh City
Start Saigon – Best Value
￼What: Start Saigon is a startup space specifically designed for technology entrepreneurs and design professionals. It is one of the best values in the city and also hosts workshops and social events for members. It offers individual seat, desk, or office rentals with 24/7 access to the office. Perks include storage lockers, free parking, free drinks, and basic printing and scanning services. It tends to be more popular among local Vietnamese entrepreneurs than established foreign business owners.
- Hot Desk (1M VND/mo)
- Dedicated Desk (2M VND/mo)
- Dedicated Office (12M VND/mo)
Where: 18bis/14 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
The author Janet Chang is VP of Marketing at GoToLaunch. She is currently taking a 3-month work vacation retreat in Bali to focus on passion projects and business ideas related to health, fitness, and biohacking, while learning to surf. Janet can be found on the web atJanetChang.com and on Twitter @JanetLChang.