Working in Vietnam as a digital nomad
Vietnam is emerging as a new popular destination for digital nomads and downshifters. As the prices in most Asian countries are slowly rising, Vietnam remains in the favourable low-cost niche while offering all the needed facilities for working remotely.
Having stayed off the nomad radar until quite recently, Vietnam has managed to preserve its rather non-touristic character allowing its visitors to stay in a less-crowded setting for longer and on a smaller budget.
Another thing that makes Vietnam stand out among its Asian neighbours is its burgeoning coffee culture. Introduced to the country by the French in the 19th century, coffee is now one of Vietnam’s main exports and the reason behind an abundance of coffee shops throughout its big cities. One of the country’s most popular coffee chains is Trung Nguyen, which, with its 5-page coffee beverage menu and comfortable low-slung sofas provides a convenient and affordable work setting.
Best cities to work from
Commonly known as Saigon and often abbreviated as HCMC, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is the former capital with the population of over 8.4 million people. The city is becoming a popular destination among digital nomads because of its affordability, good Internet speeds and the ease of setting up camp.
The city is often praised for its entrepreneurial spirit and an aggressive start up scene. Ho Chi Minh manages to combine all the benefits of residing in an exotic destination with the motivation and drive of a big city. There is no shortage of places to work from and, while the nomad community is still in the budding stage, the young business crowd provides plenty of networking opportunities.
Hanoi is the second largest city and Vietnam’s capital. Ranked as one of the world’s top 10 destinations, it is frequently visited and offers lots of attractions as well as a developed business environment. The city is a mix of Asian traditions and Western influence and, thus, provides a comfortable work setting with the necessary amenities and at a reasonable price.
There are plenty of coffee shops and coworking spaces to choose from and, with growing tourism, you will also have a wide range of options when it comes to accommodation. Hanoi is quieter than Ho Chi Minh when it comes to the nightlife, but offers many historical and natural attractions to explore like Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Vietnam Military History Museum and others.
For those looking for a more laid back lifestyle and access to some of the country’s best beaches, Da Nang may be the best stop. It is the third largest city in Vietnam located right between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh on the Eastern Sea coast. The coastline is the main attraction ‘ look for My Khe Beach, the Son Tra peninsula, and the Red Beach. Finding a place to work from is not a problem, and you will have a nice selection of local and western coffee shops at your disposal.
Another coastal destination on the list is Hoi An. Just south of Da Nang, the city is home to beautiful beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Known as Vietnam’s most atmospheric city, Hoi An offers more of a small town feel with An Bang and Cua Dai beaches just a short drive from the city centre.
The Internet and coworking spaces
Vietnam’s average Internet speed is clocked at 9.5Mbps and is one of the slowest in Asia, ranking just above Philippines and India. Wi-Fi access is relatively easy to find ‘ most coffee shops, hotels, and office buildings will offer free Wi-Fi connection. However, do not expect complimentary Wi-Fi near all tourist attractions.
Big cities boast a large number of coworking spaces. Plus, the region’s pronounced coffee culture has ensured an abundance of coffee shops, both local and western, which offer a nice setting for work and rest.
Coworking spaces in Ho Chi Minh
Spiced, 18/14 Nguyen Thai Minh Khai, Äa Kao, Quán 1
BIGWork Ho Chi Minh, 83 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Ward 6, District 3,
Fablab Saigon, 44/10 Nguyễn Văn Đậu, Phường 6, Bình Thạnh
The Hive Saigon, 94 Xuân Thủy, Thảo Điền, Quận
The HiPB, 1A Truong Quoc Dung street, 8 ward, Phu Nhuan district
Coworking spaces in Hanoi
UP Coworking Space, Tầng 8, tòa nhà Hanoi Creative City, 1 Lương Yên
HanoiHub Coworking Space, 2nd Floor, No 2 Alley 59, Láng Hạ, Chợ Dừa, Ba Đình
iHouse Coworking Space, 131 Yên Hòa, Yên Hoà, Cầu Giấy
Coworking spaces in Da Nang
Enouvo Space, 15 Tạ Mỹ Duật, An Hải Bắc, Sơn Trà
The Hub Da Nang, 9 Trần Quốc Toản, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu
Hexagon Danang Startup Center, 10F, 255-257 Hung Vuong
Coworking spaces in Hoi An
Hub Hoi An Coworking, 105 Lê Thánh Tông, Cẩm Sơn
Leisure in Vietnam
With its rich historical background and diverse landscapes, Vietnam has plenty of destinations within its borders to explore when work is over ‘ from touring the war memorials of Saigon to discovering the rocky islands of Ha Long Bay and beach resorts on Phú Quá»c. The food is an attraction in itself, and Vietnamese cuisine is regarded as one of the healthiest in Asia. Taking a cooking class is a popular and practical pastime. Big cities offer a vibrant nightlife with an excellent choice of bars and clubs while smaller towns charm with their laid back lifestyle and lush greenery.
What to know before arriving
Citizens of most Asian and European countries can travel to Vietnam visa-free for a period of up to 15 days (non-extendable). Of course, if you plan to work remotely from the country, you will want to apply for a visa in advance. You can do that at a Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in your country or online. Once you get a letter of approval, you will need to print it out and present at the Immigration to receive your visa on arrival. You can apply for a one month or three months visa with single or multiple entries.
To officially rent an apartment in the city you will need to have a three-month visa.
Good to know:
Before choosing Vietnam as a long term nomadic destination consider the traffic. The country’s bigger cities will require you to be extra vigilant when crossing the road because of the large number of motorbikes rushing through the city’s streets day and night.
Vietnam National Administration of Tourism
Map of free Wi-Fi hotspots in Vietnam