Review: Ko Hub Co-Working Space in Ko Lanta, Thailand
Looking for some quiet island life that let’s you focus on work? This Ko Lanta coworking space fits the bill if you want to be a Ko Lanta digital nomad.
$200 for a Ko Hub membership ain’t cheap. But of all of the coworking places I’ve spent time at, I found Ko Hub to be one of the best designed (as well as one of the largest). Of course, you get super-fast internet, along with two large open-air decks that look out onto a very nice garden, three A/C rooms, seven Skype rooms, a walking path where you can stretch your legs, hammocks to catch a few zzzzzs, the Zen Zone — great for a chance to meditate or read for a bit — a pool table, and a peaceful outdoor waterfall. Ko Hub also has massages on site, plus free coffee, tea, and water. The staff is super-friendly and responsive.
One of the few places Ko Hub trips up on is the chairs, which definitely aren’t ergonomic. Most are plastic and not terribly comfortable, even with plenty of pads to cushion the hard plastic.
Monthly memberships for Ko Hub start off at $192 USD. You can get a discount of $65 per month if you pay in advance for two or three months. But Ko Hub also has a full service restaurant right on site, and many members also opt for one of the monthly Ko Hub packages, which is $225 USD per month for two meals a day.
The food is excellent, the menu is extensive, and the service is very convenient, but we found the meal package system kind of flawed. It worked out for us, because as a couple we were able to split one package and eat both our lunches there almost every day. But literally every non-couple person we know became very frustrated having to eat all their meals at Ko Hub, or forgoing them and raising the per-meal cost (uneaten meals can’t be carried over to the next day). If you’re single, consider forgoing the package and using the “a la carte option,” even if the food is about twice as expensive as the local restaurants. Because when you throw in the cost of uneaten meals, the cost of the package will end up being about the same anyway.
Is Ko Lanta cheap? Well, it is a tourist area, so housing costs more than other places in Thailand (like Chiang Mai). We were there during high season, and spent one month at Casa Dreamy, which was $550 USD for a pretty comfortable room. For our last month, we decided to splurge on a bungalow on the beach which ran us $1450 USD. Even at that price, there were definitely places you could spend more.
Food seemed cheaper than lodging, with lots of delicious options. Check out the Mr. Pad Thai food cart near the Aleena Minimart for some of the best pad Thai imaginable ($2.50 USD), and eat it on the nearby beach. The roads aren’t made for bikes, but scooters are cheap to rent. We went most places via tuk tuk, which is shockingly reasonable — even more so if you barter.
We were on Koh Lanta during high season, which meant it was very busy. Normally, you’d think that would foster a strong sense of community. But in our experience, it actually worked against it. At Ko Hub, there were so many people coming and going, you often didn’t see the same people day after day, the way you do at a smaller places. That meant less opportunity to have the sorts of interactions that lead to actual friendships.
There were community-building events like movie nights (held in one of the A/C rooms and not exactly comfortable), some group excursions, and drinks every Friday night on the beach. And once a week there was a community lunch that drew a decent crowd, though it often was different people each time.
We’ve been told by other folks that during low-season, the smaller number of people does lead to a stronger sense of community.
Koh Lanta is actually one of the more difficult to reach spots that we’ve visited — especially if you’re coming from the U.S. The closest major airport is Krabi, but unless you’re coming from Copenhagen, Stockholm, or Oslo, there are no flights that don’t connect through Bangkok. (Even those direct flights are seasonal.) And once you arrive in Krabi, you have to take a shuttle or a ferry to reach Koh Lanta itself. Either way, the trip is a couple of hours.
If you’re a regular tourist only visiting for a couple of weeks, there’s probably enough to keep you busy on Koh Lanta. But if you’re a digital nomad staying three months, it’s more problematic.
There are a number of day trips available, especially if you’re a diver. (We aren’t.) The best non-diving trip is probably taking a longtail boat to see the Emerald Cave. I also did a snorkeling trip to Koh Rok, which wasn’t bad. Saladan, the largest town on the island, is an interesting place to walk around for a few hours. Old Town, on the opposite side of the island, is also worth a visit with lots of shops and restaurants, as is a trip to the night market. There is a small national park on the tip of the island, but no one seemed overly impressed by it. There’s also one hike up to the Tiger Caves. But don’t go if you’re afraid of bats and spiders.
There’s also loads of beaches. Too many to list them all. Bur for our money the best beach on Koh Lanta was Secret Beach. Nestled between two bluffs, Secret Beach has a sheltered cove that's perfect for swimming in the blue waters of the Andaman Sea.
We were lucky enough to be in Thailand during Songkran, the Thai New Year holiday that involves hurling water at everyone (except for the Muslim community, which makes it known that they’re exempt). And we have to mention how gracious the Thai folks are! Honestly, some of the friendliest people we’ve ever encountered — but they will expect you to make at least a little effort to learn a few words of Thai.
One note: while Thailand is mostly Buddhist, Koh Lanta has a large Muslim population, which means you’re probably going to hear the call to prayer starting around six AM. We were located unfortunately close to a very screechy loudspeaker that made it hard to sleep during the first call to prayer.
Other than that, there isn’t much to do besides hang out on the admittedly beautiful beaches, where you can catch a stunning sunset almost every night. But after three months, we found ourselves hankering for a place that was a bit more lively. Especially as the high season wound down, and a lot of places started to close up for the summer.
You can do visa-on-arrival pretty easily in Thailand, but that will hold you up in the airport, especially if the line is as long as it was on the day we arrived. Plus, visa-on-arrival is also only good for thirty days. You can extend that once, but it means an all-day trip to the local immigration office back in Krabi.
If you are near a Thai embassy or consulate, you can make your life a little easier by getting a visa before you land in Thailand. This lets you avoid the visa-on-arrival line at the Bangkok airport. It’s also good for sixty days instead of thirty, and you can extend it once with a trip to the immigration office, rather than having to do a visa run across the border.
The average high ranges from 31 to 34 Celsius (88 to 93 Fahrenheit) and the average low is from 24 to 25 Celsius (74 to 75 Fahrenheit). That being said, it can get very hot—up to 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). We were there from mid-January through mid-April, and by the time we left, I’d stopped using the outdoor work space because it was just too darned steamy sitting out there.
Koh Lanta also has a dry season and a rainy season, the latter of which starts in June and runs through October. The heaviest rains fall during September and October, otherwise it mostly rains for an hour or two. One other note of caution: Dengue fever is an issue in this part of the world, so use your mosquito repellent! A handful of folks got sick while we were there, and dengue is not a fun diseases to contract.
So should you come to Ko Hub?
BRENT AND MICHAEL SAY:
Sure! It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good! Ko Hub itself is an outstanding place to get a lot of work done, even if the community isn’t everything it could be. And the island’s beautiful beaches and sunsets, the plethora of restaurants to choose from, and the Thai people make Koh Lanta a good spot to do some digital nomading.