I’ve written previously about my quest to become location independent and posted Using Chiang Mai as a Remote Workplace last year after stopping temporarily to work there during my travels through Southeast Asia. I wanted to continue to write about places that are well suited for digital nomads to set up shop temporarily.
This time around I’m using Luang Prabang, Laos, as my workplace. Here’s how the ancient Lao capital stacks up as a remote office.
Almost every guesthouse in Luang Prabang has free WiFi, and there are plenty to choose from. If you feel like taking your laptop or Kindle Fire to a café or bar, many offer free wireless internet as well. The WiFi speeds throughout the city are acceptable to do most kinds of online work. The only thing that delayed me was uploading videos to YouTube. Luang Prabang is not as well wired as Chiang Mai, but it’s good enough that you won’t be left frustrated most of the time. Some of the cafes are situated along the rivers, so chances are you’ll have a nice view behind your laptop monitor.
I like to think of Luang Prabang as a big village. I wrote a recent piece about what it’s like in Luang Prabang. It’s quiet most of the year, but the high season (Nov-March) can be busy. Still, the majority of back streets are serene with palm trees high above. Monks are walking around at all times of day and the multitude of monasteries around town are the real working things. There are plenty of eateries (but most lack Lao food) and enough bars to keep a digital nomad at ease. Luang Prabang does lack an afterhours nightlife (except for the Bowling Alley) because of a city-wide midnight curfew.
I found Luang Prabang a suitable place to focus and accomplish my daily tasks. There were few distractions in my day-to-day routine. If you need to take a break, the city is excellent for walking. You can stroll through the temple grounds and hear monks chanting, get a coffee and read the Bangkok Post, walk along the riverside, stop at a chic wine bar for a happy hour tipple, watch the sun set over the Mekong. If you get hot, take a dip in the Nam Khan River.
Very basic double rooms in a Luang Prabang guesthouse start at around 40,000 kip ($5 US). Prices double in high season. Sandwiches and basic meals of fried rice and noodles can be bought for 15,000 kip ($2.15 US). A coffee usually goes for 10,000 kip ($1.25) and the same for a 640ml Beer Lao.
Amenities throughout Laos are minimum, but continue to grow as more and more backpackers pass through on the Banana Pancake Trail. Surrounding towns in northern Laos may be more remote and peaceful to get work done, but connections to the internet will be fewer and slower. Vang Vieng has decent connections and facilities but the backpacker self-indulgence and debauchery may be a distraction. Vientiane could make a nice base for a digital nomad.