This is Part 3 of our Digital Nomad Guide to Southeast Asia. If you aren't caught up, checked out our past posts:
You can follow our guide for Ho Chi Minh in this post or check out the full e-book linked at the end of this article.
Ho Chi Minh City has a few coworking offices to choose from. I only went to the spaces that offered an overnight access, so those are the ones you will find in this review.
First I went to BigWork which is part of a parent company, BigHotels. They have very affordable membership options that range at about $80-$90 per month for the full membership. The space itself is 5 levels, however, it is a small building and most of the space is dedicated towards start up offices, a cafe, or seminar and workshop rooms.
The actual coworking space is rather small and lacks standard desks. Rather, it has more unusual seating arrangements and options that are not very functional for longer periods of time. BigWork would be a good place if you are looking for a place to chill and do some creative work while sipping good coffee. However if you are looking for serious office space that you can spend a lot of time working, it might behest to look elsewhere.
Where exactly should you look? DreamPlex.
DreamPlex is biggest coworking space in Ho Chi Minh City, occupying three big floors and offering plenty of very well designed working spaces. They also have offices and meeting rooms depending on what you are looking for. This space was designed with productive work environment in mind! When I first took a tour it was so organized I thought this must be some international chain of coworking space. To my surprise, it was not! Having said that they are opening their second location in the city in November and it is supposed to be much bigger and nicer than the current one.
BigWork is in District 3 and DreamPlex is in District 1, which are both central to Ho Chi Minh city. Finding good serviced apartments there is not very difficult.
While it would be much cheaper to find apartments outside of these two central districts , with traffic you do not want to do that. There is no good public transport and traffic there is rather extreme. For this reason, I suggest you pay the premium of getting a central apartment rather than spending time and money on taxis.
Even when you are trying to find a central apartment downtown it can be rather cheap if you live in a room in a 2 bedroom or a 3 bedroom apartment. You can get a really nice furnished apartment if you are willing to share it with someone. You can expect these apartments to be modern and nice however do not expect them to be big in size. Space is at a premium in such crowded cities.
COST OF LIVING
Vietnam in general is very cheap. The most expensive thing there is housing which is true for most of Asia. Random fact: in Hong Kong people spend about 55% of their income on housing expenses!
Here are some prices I paid while there (again I was not looking for bargains):
Ride from the Airport to city center: $8.04
Nice western breakfast: $5.59
Coffee in a very nice western coffee shop: $2.46 Lunch at a good eastern restaurant: $5.56Taxi (10 minutes): $1.56
Uber (10 minutes): $.89
Uber Moto where they pick you on a motorbike (10 minutes): $.45
DIGITAL NOMAD COMMUNITY
Ho Chi Minh City in particular has a healthy balance between foreigners and locals in the coworking spaces, which is rather unusual. Most coworking spaces I went to in Southeast Asia were always full of westerners. I found that there was a good amount of local startup crowds that worked out of the coworking space, which is a thing you will only find in big Asian cities.
The fact that these coworking spaces have more local talent than foreigners makes these places perfect for meeting and connecting with like-minded locals. However at the same time you do not find the Digital Nomad close knit community you usually see in smaller cities.
OUTDOORS AND THINGS TO DO
Ho Chi Minh’s beauty does not come from its nature. It is a busy city with not much nature to see really. However, I think Ho Chi Minh City offers a place where you can be living in a proper Asian city and it is an incredible experience from a cultural perspective. You can eat noodles for $.10 on the street then go home, dress up, and go to a fancy rooftop bar on the 30th floor and party the night away in style.
Most Digital Nomads I talked to in Ho Chi Minh City told me they are to experience the pace of living in a bustling Asian city. They get into the local rhythm and live that specific experience. So far, everyone I have spoken to absolutely loves Ho Chi Minh City. And since it is a city there are always things taking place, from events, to parties, to conventions, etc.
Plus, there are still plenty of touristic options. You can check out the War Museum, Mekong Delta, Bến Thành Market and the Cu Chi Tunnels.