The steadily increasing pervasiveness of the Internet has radically changed our lives, not least in the way we work. A new phenomenon has been spawned – digital nomads.
There are a growing number of people who are taking their online jobs ‘to go’, fulfilling their wanderlust and funding it at the same time. Others have manoeuvred their work so that their traditional office jobs can be completed at home or away.
Hoi An is host to many of these digital nomads, and establishments are springing up or adapting their offers in order to cater to these travelling workers, be they software developers, writers, or stock brokers.
Below are some of the most comfortable and best-equipped places in Hoi An to drink some good strong coffee, stay focused, and type happily.
*Note: Internet speed was gauged by speedtest.net – an ‘excellent’ score denotes speeds of 30 Mbps or higher; a ‘good’ score is defined by speeds of 10 Mbps or higher; and a ‘decent’ score refers to speeds of 8 to 10 Mbps.
The Main Players
The Hub Hoi An is the only co-working space of its kind in the city, but likely won’t be for long. Located in Cam Chau, it features a meeting room, air-conditioned quiet room, casual lounge, a kitchen that serves drinks, snacks and cakes, and a shaded garden.
Friendly and relaxed, with amiable staff, the Hub also offers such ergonomically-imbued extras as laptop holders and keyboards, as well as printing and scanning services.
Hosting weekly events and workshops, such as Community Lunches and meetups for digital nomads, the space is good for fostering relationships, as well as getting some work done.
The basic day passes (60,000 VND (2.60 USD) for a half day [3 hours] and 140,000 VND (6 USD) for a full day) include free tea and water, five printouts (color or B&W), and 2 hours in the meeting room.
The 7-day pass (7 days over a month @ 850,000 VND (36.60 USD) adds on a free daily drink.
The 1-month pass for ‘Digital Jedis’ (1 month over 3 months @ 2,800,000 VND (120.60 USD) matches that and also features a free meal at any meet-up.
Located on the main drag towards Cua Dai Beach, Dingo Deli has been an institution for expats in its seven years here. Featuring Lavazza coffee and many home-style favorites not often seen in Vietnam, such as sausage rolls and roast dinners, it also offers an air-conditioned, quiet work and meeting space, equipped with multiple outlets.
Its amenities include free water, a garden playground to keep the kids busy while you work, and bottomless drip coffee for those tight deadlines.
Importantly, it is equipped with a generator. So if power cuts affect your hotel or neighborhood, the fans and Wifi will still be running at Dingo Deli.
Hoi An Roastery Espresso & Coffee House
The original location of the now-ubiquitous Hoi An Roastery establishments that have sprung up in the Old Town (135 Tran Phu), is spacious and comfortable. With an upstairs that opens on to ancient rooftops, comfortable seats and outlets near almost every table, it is an optimal (if pricier) option for cyber workers.
The beans are roasted in Hoi An, and it offers a wide selection of teas, juices, and breakfast and lunch options (both Vietnamese and Western).
There are numerous locations around the Old Town, see below for some of them
A serene gem tucked into an alley on the quiet side of the Japanese covered bridge, Rosie’s Cafe offers traditional and cold-brew coffee, a variety of juices, and light snacks.
The back room is a white-washed working oasis, with multiple outlets and the requisite fans for digital nomads. The flower-covered, sun-swept atrium is a good place for co-working or going sans power, and the front room features loungers for a quick break.
This Westerner-frequented café offers several different styles of coffee, made with Dalat Arabica beans roasted on the premises, and friendly staff ensure your cup never goes empty.
Try Mia Coffee‘s baked goods (such as the moist banana oatmeal bread) to keep the fire lit.
Tips and Tricks for Savvy Hoi An Digital Nomads
Be prepared: bring or buy an adapter (60,000 VND, 2.60 USD), even if you have a Western-style plug that fits most Vietnamese outlets (some outlets only have two prongs).
Power cut or lack of Wifi getting you down? Any unlocked phone can use a Vietnamese SIM card and become a handy Wifi hotspot. SIM cards with 4G Wifi and 3 GB of data, with networks such as Vinaphone, cost roughly 200,000 VND (8.60 USD) and last for one month (with highly affordable top-ups). A portable battery pack (kept constantly full) can help with power cut panic.
Wireless mouse: a cheap and easy option to mitigate wrist pain often caused by laptop keyboards.
Take breaks: working in a breezy café in a tropical location may seem relaxing for digital nomads, but the same problems exist as when you are trapped in a cubicle. Get up and take a stroll every hour or so.
Be nice to your spine: bring a cushion, or some other kind of back support. This can be surprisingly helpful, especially since most of the chairs on offer are wooden with rigid backs.
Stay hydrated: although sitting in an air-conditioned room seems like a reprieve from the heat (and fluid loss) of the day for the dedicated digital nomad, your body still needs to keep hydrated to function well and meet that deadline.
Off the Beaten Track
K’Noy Café & Bar
A casual café featuring repurposed gas cylinders, Singer sewing machines, and pallets as tables and chairs, K’Noy Café & Bar is a great place to achieve some tranquility on Cam Nam Island.
Facing onto sunny Nguyen Tri Phuong, there are several tables at optimal working height, or more comfortable loungers for taking breaks.
Coffee is 20,000 VND (0.85 USD), and the café also offers smoothies, fruit juices, and the harder stuff to keep you going.
Friendly dogs included.
Sound of Silence
Situated at the front of a beachside homestay, Sound of Silence is true to its name.
Housed in a red brick building, with large chestnut-colored lacquered rafters, it has a misty, vibrant garden area, and sun-dappled corners. It is a serene place to buy a strong coffee and sit for the afternoon.
For digital nomads this space has the added pleasure of being close to the beach, so one can nip off for a quick swim and a mental break.
Other Beachside Venues
Interested in other beachside nomad getaways? Try Dolphin Restaurant and Bar on An Bang, which has comfortable gazebo style lounging areas, complete with plugs and a full food and drink menu. Soul Beach, just next door, is another chilled-out place to work during the day and enjoy music on Monday and Wednesday evenings.