Friday, December 29, 2017

Coworking Spaces in Siem Reap

Are you a digital nomad headed to Cambodia? Are you looking for a coworking space for work in Siem Reap?

My girlfriend Stacy and I spent a month working remotely from Cambodia. Lots of travelers will stop in Siem Reap to see the famous Angkor ruins, so I am sharing our experiences with the coworking spaces available in town.

Coworking Spaces in Siem Reap

I looked for information before heading to Cambodia and found a decent blog by Chris the Freelancer about his week as a "digital nomad" in Siem Reap in 2016. Using his post as a starting point, we spent a week visiting coworking spaces and then worked happily the rest of the month. For those who only have a few days to get into town, work their hours, and see some sights, I hope this helps you out.

Work Space Requirements

Everyone's needs are different. Here is a quick breakdown of what we were looking for, so you can compare.

  • teaches English online for a Chinese company with a hefty teaching platform
  • required by contract to have min. 10 MBPS upload & download speeds
  • stable connection--no dropping student calls or power outages allowed
  • private room--it's rude to talk out loud, repetitively in a common space
  • works in 5-hour shifts so time limits on private rooms aren't cool

Alison (me):
  • writes web content for a software development company 
  • no speed requirements; cloud-based EMS
  • Skype for short phone calls & some light screen sharing
  • writes for 4+ hours at a time so a busy place with time limits is bad
  • prefers ambient noise so phone calls aren't intrusive to other workers

Stacy is the one who needed a dedicated work space. I was fine anyplace that had decent wifi. In fact, I ended up working from various locations throughout the month.

These are the four dedicated coworking spaces in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

BioLAB Coffee & Office
location in town on Wat Bo Road on the east side of the river
Hours: 7am - 10pm daily
Cost: free!
Private Room: $15/day
2nd floor work space, glass doors go out onto the terrace

BioLAB is a coworking space upstairs and cafe downstairs. This means that to work in the common space, there is no fee or membership required. The second floor is a huge area with booths, plants, large coworking tables, and plenty of power sockets. I never saw it full.

BioLAB also has a private "VIP" room. You can use it for a whole day with a minimum food or drink purchase of $15 (per day). They seem open to negotiating this price, but they don't really offer half-day prices. If you want the room, it's blocked off for you alone. If somebody else has the room, there isn't really a calendar or schedule in place for sharing hours.

I worked at BioLAB for a few days straight. The staff are super friendly. Even after you drink your coffee, they will continuously refill your water for hours without any rush to leave or purchase more.

Since it was created for working, there is minimal talking and no music. The space is quiet and safe. I left my computer out on the table to take a smoke break or go to the restroom without a problem.

They serve decent Khmer and Western food if you get hungry, and of course all the cafe drinks you can imagine. BioLAB is also 100% Khmer owned by a man named Samnang. Samnang told me they have a happy hour called "Craft Beer Time" from 6-10pm daily, although I never knew about it at the time so I didn't partake.

Overall it was my favorite coworking space for my needs.

2nd floor work space

1st floor cafe area
coffee + free water


me, working long hours at BioLAB

view from the 2nd floor terrace, good spot to take a cigarette break + people watch

Garage Society Coworking Space
location in town 2 blocks east of the river behind the King's Road restaurant complex
Hours: 9am - 6pm Monday through Saturday for daily use; 24/7 for members
Cost: $5/day (discounted for less hours), $25/week, $40+/monthly membership
Private Room: $5-8/hour daily rate with 3- and 5-month discount bundles
common work space

Garage Society is a newer coworking space located above the Lub*D hostel. It runs on high-speed wifi which is piped in via fiber optic cable.

The common room has large tables with plenty of power sockets for laptop work.

Garage Society also has a private meeting room that is well-equipped with a smart board and projector for presentations. You can reserve it ahead of time for presentations or personal use. In November they were open to negotiating the price, but I imagine this will change as the space becomes more popular and gets booked up.

Stacy worked at Garage Society exclusively because it was the only space that met all her needs. She loved the location close to town. The staff were nice and friendly. The Lub*D staff also remembered her and did helpful things like open the doors early before she arrived on Sundays.

They have a free water cooler in the common room and a bathroom on-site. Downstairs you can order drinks from Little Red Fox Espresso (award-winning coffeeshop) or from the Lub*D bar.

Garage Society in Siem Reap is the second overseas location for a Hong Kong-based coworking company, with another location in Phuket, Thailand and a location in the Philippines is coming soon. Members at this coworking space get free use of the Lub*D swimming pool and discounts at local restaurants.

Stacy worked in the private meeting room at Garage Society.

private meeting room (available for a fee)

view from the landing in front of the work space

restroom for coworkers

perks: members get unlimited access to the pool at Lub*D hostel

AngkorHUB Coworking & Co-Living
location backpacker/night market neighborhood at the southern tip of town
Hours: 8am - 6pm Monday through Saturday for daily use; 24/7 for monthly members
Cost: $8/day,  $25/week, $89/monthly membership
Private Room: $5/hour, rotates use with other coworkers--no block bookings
indoor work space

Neither myself or my girlfriend spent time working at AngkorHUB. Coming into Siem Reap, it looked like AngkorHUB was the front runner. After the initial visit though, it dropped off our radar.

First of all, at USD 89/month it's the most expensive of all the coworking spaces in Siem Reap.

Second, everyone was seated outside on the patio (no air-conditioning) with extension cords for laptops and fans running all across the floor. I'd hate to think anyone paid to work outdoors in the Cambodian heat. One could argue that the patio is more welcoming than the drab indoor area though; this work space has all the charm of a college kid's first dorm room.

Finally, the staff was rude. We showed up asked about prices for the month. The main guy (owner?) was working on his computer and acted like we were interrupting him with our questions. He barely looked up to answer.

We explained that my girlfriend needed a private space with a specific internet speed in order to do her job. He scoffed at her, because "nobody actually needs that kind of speed". Another customer spoke up, saying he also needed over 20 mbps for what he was working on. The rude guy ignored the comment and without getting up or taking his eyes off his own screen, he told us to check the speed posted on the AngkorHUB website if we needed proof.

We pulled up the site, showing a screenshot of the upload/download speeds. So, not only was this "proof" not a live speed reading, but it could have been a screenshot from literally anywhere. Before you fork over $90, you'd want to see the real thing, right?

The woman on staff, meanwhile, was helpful by stopping her personal work and pulling up a speed test on her computer.

Note: the AngkorHUB website claims they have the fastest internet in Siem Reap, but every coworking space in town is using the same fiber optic technology. 

The staff lady also showed Stacy the a private "Skype room", which is not fully-enclosed due to design cut-outs in the wall. If you need privacy for work phone calls or online teaching lessons, it's not a good fit.

After that visit, we didn't bother working there. It wasn't anywhere I'd want to spend my time or money.

Just before leaving Siem Reap I stopped by and asked if I could photograph the space for a blog. The same rude guy asked me what I was going to write about ("I'm making a list of coworking spaces in Siem Reap"), wasn't at all interested in giving me information for my write-up (aren't I his target customer?), made a dry comment about "make sure it's a good picture," and that was that.

It may be a fit for a certain kind of person, but AngkorHUB was not a good choice for either of us.

indoor work space

outdoor work space as you approach from the road

The 1961 Coworking & Art Space 
location is on the western river road north of town just past Phum Trang Market

Although it was the nearest work space to my apartment, I was surprised to find The 1961 closed "for renovation" during the month I was in Siem Reap. I never actually saw any action or construction going on in November, so I'm not sure if it will re-open. I couldn't find information about the end of the closure from on-site staff. Their website has an expired domain.

So there you have it. Those are the four dedicated coworking spaces that I was able to check out in Siem Reap. Do you know of any others?

As mentioned, I didn't end up needing a dedicated work space, since I found strong wifi all over town. I spent most of my time working from BioLAB and coffee shops. Read my posts about my Top 3 Work Cafes in Siem Reap or More Work Cafes in Siem Reap for more info.

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