Remote Working in Vietnam on a Budget

I’ve now spent 2.5 months travelling and working remotely in Vietnam and am recording some of my experiences and lessons learned.

Overall my experience has been amazingly positive and I’ve proved the case for being location independent a lot more!   

View from my “office” in Nah Trang

Connectivity

This is SE Asia and so my expectations were pretty low, however I have been very pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find good Internet connection in Vietnam.  In fact I have found that many more of the hotels, restaurants and coffee shops have free WIFI than in Europe or Japan (can’t comment on N America)!

Hotels

Almost every hotel has wifi of varying degrees of quality. First thing I do when arriving somewhere new is find a cheap hotel (for me it’s somewhere between US$6 and US$60). Make sure you scout out the rooms before committing. I always take my HTC phone with me and check the upload and download speed in the hotel room. It’s no good doing this from reception as it often varies floor to floor and room to room. If the connection’s not good enough in one room I ask where the wifi router is situated and hopefully there’ll be a room closer, usually meaning a better connection.

I use the SpeedTest.net app for this; of course this will not tell you anything about reliability or contention issues during busy times, but it is generally an excellent indicator.

My favourite (and the cheapest)
place to stay in Mui Ne.

Surprisingly enough, the hotel with the worst internet connection I stayed in was the $60 one. Although it had a really nice garden for working in. This was in Mui Ne and there was a problem with the whole town’s internet connection while we were there. The $6 hotel was across the road and, bizarrely, that side of the street was still working and had some of the fastest speeds tested in Vietnam.

Working in a hotel room is much more relaxed than working at an office. Even if the room has a desk, I tend to get a sore back from the poor quality chairs so I don’t use them. You’ll usually find me kicking back on the bed with my laptop and pillow (one for me to lounge against, one under the laptop for heat). So my only real requirements in a hotel are a bed, good air conditioning (if it is hot and humid), and wifi for, preferably, under $15. You can usually get that and more in Vietnam.

Coffee Shops & Restaurants

Coffee Shop working

Vietnam has a great café culture. Most cafes have wifi and noboby minds if you buy one coffee and spend the next four or five hours working on your laptop in their establishment. This has worked well in some of the places I’ve been where the temperatures haven’t been too high but restaurant/café air conditioning is not really the norm in Vietnam so I’m a bit picky about the places outside the hotel where I can comfortably work for extended periods. If there is a lot of shade, some fans or a cool coastal breeze, then I can usually sit happily for hours.

Connection Outages

Power cuts and internet outages can’t be anticipated so I take a Viettel mobile internet dongle with me; more on that, the locations I have found best and whatever else I can think of in future posts…