Becoming a Digital Nomad (Part 3 – Vietnam)

My first stop in Vietnam is the capital city Hanoi. After a rather energy consuming indirect flight via the Philippines, my arrival time into Vietnam was 1 am which was too early to check-in to my Airbnb so my first night was spent in an airport sleeper pod, convenient and surprisingly comfy but waking up and having breakfast in an airport was a strange experience. I could have flown direct from Dubai but it would have cost considerably more and I feel that living a nomadic lifestyle means that if required, you compromise on the journey to maximise the destination.

It’s hard to notice much else when entering Hanoi other than the sheer amount of scooters. All my concentration was focused on not getting knocked over whilst walking the streets. Not helped by congested footpath’s forcing you onto the roads. After a few days, I came to understand that if you wanted to cross the road you had to get comfortable with the idea of walking into direct traffic confident that the onslaught of vehicles would spot and navigate around you.

Hanoi
Thuy Ta Cafe, Hanoi

 

My first week was in an Airbnb apartment located on Hang Bo street, an area famous for street food. I knew before coming to Vietnam that street food was popular but they it’s not until you see the locals literally eating in the street on a tiny table and chairs that wouldn’t look out of place at a nursery school, can you fully comprehend what real street food is. There was a tremendous energy to the place which at first was a sensory overload but after a while, once calibrated, you grow to love.

Most people speak English here with varying abilities and they really make foreigners feel welcome. The customer service at restaurants, bars and hotels is incredible, almost too good by my western standards. There is a real sense of community – for example every weekend they close the main roundabout by the Ho Hoam Kiem lake and there is street entertainment and music. One night myself and another English guy went to play a Vietnamese game which basically consisted of keeping up a weighted shuttlecock with your feet. Before we knew it we were surrounded by around twenty locals who joined in without asking. The game went on for well over an hour; it was a very special multi-cultural moment.

With regards to my transformation into the Digital Nomadic lifestyle, I am personally adapting well but there are certain things which I think some people might find challenging, mainly having to be comfortable on your own for sometimes long periods, budget management and of course the moving around all the time. Personally, I think these points, although challenging, are fundamental in aiding personal growth and self-confidence. Importantly, with such great technology now at our fingertips the adaption is much easier, efficient and safer. There is a huge digital realm of people who have walked or are walking your path, so as long as you do your research and make educated decisions then everything should run smoothly.

Coworking

My working week in Hanoi was spent at the fantastic Toong coworking facility in central Hanoi. The location was perfect being only walking distance from my accommodation and the facility was a good blend of old and new.

Although not obvious from the outside the coworking space was over two large floors containing reception, several meeting rooms, two kitchen areas and two open-plan hot desk areas. In conclusion, I was never short of somewhere to park my laptop.

Toong Coworking
Toong Coworking, Trang Thi

The atmosphere is quiet and professional so very easy to get in the productive flow-state. Furthermore, the WiFi was fast and reliable. I needed to speak with a client in the UK at the time and the Skype calls worked without a problem. There was free Vietnamese coffee (very strong!) and water making facilities so you could easily stay appropriately stimulated. On one of the days, I visited a second Toong facility outside of central Hanoi Toong To Ngoc Van. Although the location felt rather remote the building was huge. The reception was very grand and the working space was big and open-plan. This one also benefited from a chill-out zone with loungers!

Accommodation

Not far from the coworking space in Hanoi, I found the Hanoi Art Residence, a traditional 7-bed property adjacent to the cathedral. It looks small from the outside but as soon as you enter you are met with a magnificent hall with a grand piano and traditional Vietnamese table and chairs. There are four floors with access to the roof, a perfect place to do morning meditation.

The owner ‘Lily’ owns several properties in Hanoi. Lily and her staff were so welcoming and helpful. The rooms were, air-conditioned with en-suite and plenty of space.

Hanoi Art Residence
Hanoi Art Residence

Da-Nang & Hoi An

It was November, so wet season and being further from the equator than Hanoi resulted in central and southern Vietnam having more rain. I was starting to realise why I was one of only a few foreigners in Da Nang and my hotel was empty. The result was great customer service, I felt like the whole of Da Nang was waiting for an influx of tourism and I was the only one who showed up. The negative was that I got starred at a lot, like I was some mythical creature which they have only read about and not seen until now.

I personally prefer beach destinations over cities, so I was really excited to visit the coastal region of Da Nang. When I arrived the weather was sunny and warm with only a few light showers. This was a relief, as I had been monitoring the weather forecast whilst in Hanoi and it didn’t look good. Sadly, the good weather did not last for long and after a couple of days, the rain came in the form of typhoon Damrey. So that Based members next year benefit from the best weather, I have decided the retreat will run from September which is the dry season.

In Da Nang I was working from coworking space called Enouvo. Considering where it was located (in a very local and residential part of town) it was surprisingly modern and reminiscent of many small hip coworking spaces I have seen in East London. It had a great layout with a roof terrace and games room.

Eneovo Coworking
Eneovo Coworking, Da Nang

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To find out details about next years Vietnam coworking retreat CLICK HERE

Also, happy to answer any questions or welcome any feedback just leave a comment below or contact me directly at [email protected]

Live your adventure!

Matt (Founder of Based)

CREDITS:

Matt Perkins (Founder and CEO of Based Coworking)

Peter Lilly from Code Word Zebra (Video director/producer)

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