Need a work retreat with good internet & food, anywhere
April 13, 2013 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I want to hole up in a place that has good internet and delicious food, so I can work and eat and relax away from the hassles of home. I'm willing to go almost anywhere in the world. Ideas?

I want to take a working retreat for which I'll need reliable internet. I did this once before in Thailand: I rented a modern serviced apartment in Chiang Mai, ate extremely well, and got a ton of work done.

My ideal situation would be this:
- Short-term serviced apartment with rock-solid internet and helpful staff who speak English or Spanish
- Flavorful food (favorites are Thai and Indian but I'm open to others)
- Restaurants and cafes within walking distance, preferably some with wifi
- Cool things to see and photograph when I'm not working
- Not a lot of hassling of women

I'd go in June or later and would probably stay a month. Currently on the short list are Kuala Lumpur and other places in Malaysia; Hong Kong; Kerala (how bad is the hassling?); and Lima, Peru. These places have serviced short-term apartments for $500-900 or so.

I currently live in Mexico and would like a different country for my retreat. The US, Europe, Australia, and Buenos Aires are off the list (been there already).

I'm sure I'm missing a ton of places and would love to hear your ideas. Thanks!
posted by ceiba to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
How about Canada?
Vancouver (Kitsilano, Commercial Drive), Victoria (downtown, James Bay) These will all likely reach the high end of your apartment price range, though.
posted by Snazzy67 at 3:34 PM on April 13, 2013

Within Malaysia, I would definitely suggest Penang (Georgetown, specifically, since the driving in the island is horrendous anyway so might as well be central) as well - other parts of Malaysia would do as well, but Penang, like KL, would be very traveller-friendly in the sense of having a vibrant delicious street food scene (other places would be quieter and/or need a local friend to point you to where the really good food is located - East Coast Peninsula can be quite notorious for this to the point there's this unfair assumption that there is no worthwhile local cuisine to be had.)
posted by cendawanita at 4:18 PM on April 13, 2013

Is Guatemala too close? I think Xela, Antigua and Lago Atitlan could all make excellent places for this, depending on what you want (Antigua is lovely but quite touristy, Xela's a bit rougher around the edges but has a nice vibe and is in the mountains, and Atitlan is one of the nicest places in the world, very quiet).

Nepal could also be nice. Some of the towns in the Kathmandu Valley are really great (Patan especially), the food is excellent, and there is MUCH less harassment than in India. I've heard of writers renting houses or apartments complete with a cook and a maid for next to nothing and getting a lot of work done there - the whole valley has a very creative, culturally exciting atmosphere. And so very colorful (great for photography). Kathmandu itself is also really cool, but might be a bit too interesting/distracting.
posted by lunasol at 4:20 PM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Don't know what the apartment or internet situation is like (I was there in 2000) but Ubud, Bali is to Bali rather what Chiang Mai is to Thailand. It's a big artisan community and has historically, I think, been used by artists as a retreat. Seemed hassle-free to me (though I'm male) and the food is decent. Picturesque, too.
posted by seemoreglass at 5:13 PM on April 13, 2013

Vancouverite here, you will NOT be able to get a fully serviced apartment for your budget, and in fact you'd be hard-pressed to get anything but a moldy basement for under $1,000 CDN unless you have some sort of housesitting connection. The rental market is bonkers.

Have you considered Turkey? Istanbul has amazing (very flavourful and diverse) food, all the amenities of a modern city, and beautiful architecture and sights. There are active rentals on AirBnB and Craigslist that meet your criteria, in very central Istanbul. The Mediterranean coast would also fit the bill, it's laid back, gorgeous, with super super cheap rents. Less wifi cafes on the coast, but in the tourist towns I'm sure you could find them.

In Turkey I'd say the levels of hassle for women are on par with or less than Mexico, though it makes a huge difference if you are perceived as touristy & European (less hassling) or mistaken for a Turkish woman (way more hassling) or off the beaten path in tiny villages (less hassling, more just openly shocked staring). 99% of Turks are super friendly though, they really believe in hospitality, and lots of people under 40 speak English. But seriously, the food... it's worth it just for that.
posted by 100kb at 6:04 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, the wifi/internet in Ubud is horrendously slow and unreliable.

What about Singapore?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:07 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been to many of the places you've listed.

Hong Kong: fits the bill on delicious, endless food choices (including good thai) and wifi availability. Tremendous amounts of photography pleasure. Very easy getaway city to Thailand as well. English spoken in most places.

Philippines: Manila, Cebu, etc. Many international food choices, pretty good wifi, much cheaper living compared to hong Kong. English is spoken and widespread. Great amounts of natural beauty in province areas.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:29 PM on April 13, 2013

Bali is NOT hassle-free for women. It is the opposite. Don't go there if this is something you want to avoid. (Even Ubud).
posted by lollusc at 7:41 PM on April 13, 2013

Bali is NOT hassle-free for women.

It is possible to have bad experiences anywhere, but respectfully, I do not think this is an accurate description of Bali, quite the opposite.

Now, as I said, in Ubud the wifi sucks, especially compared with Chiang Mai. I just did a speed test: my download speed is .55 Mb/s and upload speed is .36 Mb/s. (Global grade: F-) But you know, the food is fantastic, every kind of restaurant imaginable, the people are lovely, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world but you really need to rent a motorbike to get around.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:32 PM on April 13, 2013

Marfa, TX. Every time I think about a retreat to get some work done, it's at the top of my list. Doesn't have the allure of a sexy international destination like Singapore, but it is a very unique and interesting place, nonetheless.
posted by conradjones at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

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