A GUIDE TO THE BEST COWORKING SPOTS IN BALI
When people picture Bali, chances are they cue imagery of lush jungle, monkey swinging from trees, sweeping ocean vistas, coconuts beachside, emerald rice terraces, gushing waterfalls, and vibrant smoothie bowls.
The average visitor to this island likely wouldn’t tell you Bali is a haven for coworking.
When I arrived, I, too, was surprised by the rich coworking community.
Prior to coming to Bali, I’d been all over SE Asia, New Zealand, and Australia, and was left continually frustrated by the lack of cafes or spaces with wifi. In most cities, it seemed like there were only a handful of options, if that.
Of the places I visited, Chiang Mai, Penang, Da Nang, Hanoi, Sai Gon, Kuala Lumpar, and Siem Reap had the best situations for working remotely.
Australia’s complete and total absence of guest wifi in cafes left me shocked, and don’t get me started on New Zealand’s minuscule and extremely expensive data allowances. In other Asian cities, like Seoul, Manila, and Taipei, I was grateful anytime I came across a place with available (and working) wifi.
Needless to say, I’d given up hope on a coworking scene in SE Asia.
Though, I should note, when visiting Chiang Mai, I wasn’t working much. I have heard great things about several co-working spaces in the city, in addition to its plethora of cafes with high-speed internet.
When I arrived in Bali the first time, I didn’t even bother looking up coworking spaces. Instead, I spent my first few days in Canggu and Ubud working from home and trying to find cafes with decent internet.
My first weekend in Ubud, I went to a gettogether a friend threw, where a few people recommend checking out Hubud, one of the island’s coworking communities.
I dropped by the next day to see the space, and was so impressed, I signed up for a membership on the spot.
Since then, on return visits to Bali, I’ve continued my membership at Hubud and also checked out a few of the island’s other co-working hotspots.
Whether you’re coming here to give the digital nomad life a go, or an established entrepreneur rolling through, or need to handle a few work things while on holiday, there’s no shortage of coworking spots to plug in and get down to work with the fastest WiFi you’ll find in Bali.
Why Join a Coworking Space?
Prior to Bali, I was in the habit of trying to find places to stay with decent wifi, not expecting much by way of cafe or co-working amenities.
The outright problem with this approach, is that most places charge a premium for high-speed wifi.
By means of example, in Ubud a villa with high speed wifi for short term rentals may run you $22-35+ a night, in comparison to a homestay with basic wifi at $10-20 a night. And, as you’d expect, spots with great wifi on the lower end of the budget tend to book quickly. Specific to Ubud, you can find decent wifi speed on a budget, but it usually requires committing to a long stay via lease or booking well in advance.
The other issue with working from home, of course, is the isolation aspect of it.
Co-working isn’t just ‘working’ together. It’s having a group of people to bounce ideas off of, share successes with, or lean on for troubleshooting.
In short, it’s a community.
In my experience, people come to get shit done (GSD), but are always open to conversations as well. These conversations facilitate connections which lead to help in the form of joint brainstorming, problem solving assistance, business deals and partnerships.
Speaking from experience, Hubud has been instrumental in connecting me to people who either need my digital consulting expertise, or know people who could benefit from my service.
In addition to the community, the space benefits at Bali’s top coworking spaces are also pretty great. Usually, you can expect to find-
- High speed internet
- Communal spaces with plenty of of tables, benches, chairs, standing desks or bean bags to work from
- Air-conditioned silent rooms and/or conference rooms
- Private Skype booths for 1:1 calls
- An onsite cafe
- Discounts to other local businesses (see: H-Pass at Hubud)
- Solutions for short term storage (think: expensive gear you may not want to leave at a homestay)
- A solid address for mail
- ‘Soft landing’ packages, which offer to take care of booking everything you’d need if you’re not a seasoned traveller (accom, coworking access, airport pick-up, SIM card, etc.)
- New member orientation and a roster of events ranging from skill-shares to group dinners or trips
- Flexible hours to work, most are 24 hours with the understanding it’s not unusual for digital nomads to work across time zones
One last thing to consider: Accomodation with high speed wifi in Bali isn’t immune to the island’s unstable internet infrastructure. It’s getting better, but you should still expect throttling, instability and outright blackouts at certain times of day. Same goes for using mobile phones as back-up hotspots- even with the island’s best providers.
Coworking spots tend to have several business-grade fibre optic lines and a backup solution in case of power outage. If you work on a schedule (teaching English online), or need wifi for video calls (digital consulting), as I do in both cases, then you’ll understand how important the guarantee of a solid connection is.
For me, having a coworking space to turn to if the wifi at my accomodation isn’t working is worth the cost, say nothing for all the other benefits of a community. After all, I’m running a business and take what I do seriously.
The Best Coworking Spots in Bali: Four Coworking Communities to Help You GSD
The OG of coworking in Bali, its often considered the benchmark digital nomad coworking space on the island. That said, it is the one of the most expensive.
If you’re working full-time hours like I am, usually 30-40 a week, and making decent pay, you’ll likely be able to afford it and reap the benefits.
Hubud was built with the dream of helping diversify the tourism-heavy economy and create opportunities where Balinese and the international community could engage with one another.
There’s no debating Hubud is a beautiful coworking space- constructed of sustainable bamboo and overlooking a rice field, you truly feel connected to Bali.
And, if that scenery doesn’t remind you that you’re in Bali, the monkey visitors likely will. Roaming the adjacent rice field throughout the day, you can expect to see monkeys swinging around Hubud or hear them trampling across the roof often.
Beyond its central location in Ubud as a huge perk, I also enjoy Hubud for their wide-ranging, jam-packed schedule of member events. From workshops for startups, to deep dives on topics like SEO, to guides on how to self-publish, and sessions that ground you in Balinese culture, the schedule is always changing and super interesting.
They also offer access to a weekly Mac Doctor, an in-house IT specialist, and have partnerships with other organisations in the area, like Toastmaster, to help members continue learning and growing while they develop their businesses.
Oh, and if you need more traditional office amenities, like a printer, scanner, whiteboards or sticky notes, they’ve got you covered too.
In short, there’s no question why Hubud is ranked as one of the world’s best coworking spots.
Located a one minute walk from Echo Beach, Dojo is uber popular with nomads based in Canggu.
I first heard about Dojo through my membership at Hubud- the two organisations recently merged, allowing members to access facilities at both. This is perfect for people like me, who usually split time in Bali between neighborhoods.
You’ll find many of the same perks at Dojo that you would at Hubud. And, because they’re sister organisations, it’s not uncommon for joint bbqs or meet and greets to be held every month to help connect the two communities.
From my experience working there, the vibe at Dojo is a bit rowdier than Hubud. That’s not to say you can’t be productive, it’s just a bit more casual social- likely because it’s a smaller space and often packed with people.
Whenever I’m at Dojo, I love dipping my feet in the pool surrounded by lush gardens while answering emails. And, having a Nalu Bowls operation onsite is reason enough to rave about working here. Nalu Bowls are lauded for serving up some of Bali’s best acai bowls.
Outpost (Ubud + Canggu)
Describing themselves as the ‘coworking space Google would open in Bali’, Outpost has got great amenities and an engaged community. As with Hubud and Dojo, you can expect to find indoor workspaces, outdoor gardens, Skype rooms and robust internet.
Plus, the bonus of an onsite masseuse.
I’ve only done a day pass to their location in Canggu to check it out, but I’ve liked what I saw. The reason I usually choose to work at Hubud instead of Outpost in Ubud (which is where I base myself) mostly has to do with location. Although, you have to admit- Hubud’s programming, activities, and facilities are better by comparison, too.
Location wise in Ubud, Hubud is central. Quick to get to and surrounded by plenty of restaurants and cafes. Outpost is a bit further away from city centre, but I’ve heard they’re opening a new location in November 2019 in Ubud’s Penestanan hood, an expat hotspot.
Like other coworking spots in Bali, their mission is to help you join the remote revolution and design your best life.
Tropical Nomad (Canggu)
One of Canggu’s newer coworking spots, I dropped in at Tropical Nomad for a day to check it out.
Cue: Love at first sight.
Situated on the famed Canggu shortcut, it’s tropical, Instagrammable and very Canggu.
I enjoyed dropping in for a day, but don’t think I’d do a full-on membership there unless it was the only option my budget allowed. Personally, I enjoy the more robust work and community perks of spots like Hubbud and Dojo.
What About Other Coworking Spaces in Bali?
There are loads of spots, with more popping up all the time. These four are ones I’ve worked at myself and enjoyed enough to recommend.
If you’re new to Bali, my advice would be to visit a few- many offer day passes so you can get a feel for what it’s like to work there before committing to membership.
In doing so, you’ll likely discover some ‘coworking’ spots are nothing more than cafes with high-speed wifi. If that’s what you’re looking for, cool.
But, if you’re looking for an actual coworking hub, visiting a few before you sign-up helps ensure you choose a place with the amenities and vibe you’re searching for.
And, one more recommendation for a great cafe to work from in Ubud.
Generally, you’ll find working wifi in cafes across Bali. However, the quality and stability of it will vary widely.
Full Circle is the exception in Ubud. Surrounded by rice fields, and boasting an all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, Full Circle is my favourite cafe to work from while in Bali.
Usually, I work from a co-working spot when I’ve got consulting work or need to teach a few classes. To help conserve my hours, when I’m doing blog work or general trip planning, I hit up Full Circle.
With air-conditioning, plenty of space to sit, numerous outlets and an ace coffee menu, it’s ‘work remotely’ heaven. It’s not a replacement for a coworking place though- because it’s a cafe first and foremost, you can expect solitude. That’s not to say the person working next to you wouldn’t be up for striking up conversation- it’s just not the reason people work from Full Circle.
Have you discovered any co-working communities in SE Asia or other parts of the world? Would you add any places in Bali to this list of the best coworking spots in Bali?
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