Workspaces in Kowloon, Hong Kong
January 11, 2017 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Hong Kong for the next three weeks. Where can I hunker down with a laptop and a pile of books and get some writing done?

I'll be in Hong Kong for the next several weeks doing research (think fieldwork and writing, not library/archival research), and I'm having trouble finding a place to work during the day. Cafes are okay some of the time, but wifi is often meted out per purchase and anyway they rarely seem like the place to hunker down with a laptop or notebook for more than an hour or so. I've also checked out the public library (too densely packed), and a couple coworking spaces, which would be okay if they didn't require longer-term memberships. There are tons of articles that recommend "startup-friendly cafes" and similar ilk, and I've gone to a few and found them hit-or-miss (no wifi, or super-cramped, with people eating lunch all around me and my lone laptop), so I'd rather get some recommendations from folks who aren't "content creators"!

I'd love to find a quiet spot with desks/tables where I can sit and focus for three or four hours at a stretch, ideally where it's safe to leave my stuff if I need to get up and go to the bathroom. Bonus points if the vibe is more academic or arts-friendly than startup-y. I'm in Tsim Sha Tsui, but willing to commute a bit if it's not too hectic. Are university libraries a decent option? What else am I forgetting?

[Bonus recommendations for other dreamy, off-the-beaten-path sights/sites or upcoming events also welcome!]
posted by tapir-whorf to Travel & Transportation around Hong Kong (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Holly Brown Coffee?
posted by Junocular at 7:26 AM on January 11, 2017

To build up on any personal recommendations you get here, check out the app Work Hard Anywhere. It's probably more "startup"-focused, but the reviews of spots are pretty comprehensive and include pictures so you should be able to get a good feel for what they're like. Also it looks like they have good coverage for Hong Kong.
posted by zsazsa at 11:17 AM on January 11, 2017

Hi, I live in Hong Kong - and you're right, we don't have enough places to do what you want here.

The university and public library system are quite overwhelmed and may not offer all-day booking of rooms. The public libraries, for example, only allow you to use a 'discussion room' for two-hour slots.

That said, joining the public library as a non-resident (details at the bottom of this page) will open up the opportunity to use the library as a quieter space for less-intense work and book rooms or use other facilities you might want access to, like photocopying. It's also far cheaper than joining, say, the Chinese University of Hong Kong's library, where they seem to want up to $4100/year for limited borrowing (and presumably limited booking of facilities).

You could try one or more of these things:

- check out the library at Chi Lin Nunnery - it's a gorgeous site but I'm not sure on public access; the website's in Chinese only but perhaps you can stop in and ask (you should visit anyway!)?

- get a pocket wifi/wifi egg/mifi device from one of the mobile network providers to solve your wifi issues so you can work anywhere; they are quite inexpensive compared to the cost of buying drinks to obtain wifi.

- using a mifi would also open options like working at the beach - renting an umbrella at a beach like Shek O on a sunny day would cost you around HK$100-200 for the day and it's very, very quiet on weekday mornings. Obviously not ideal, but a refreshing change of scenery, perhaps.

- check out agencies like Instant Offices - they seem to be advertising serviced offices in places like Kwun Tong (an industrial district about 30 minutes by MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui) for around HK$2000-HK$3000 HKD a month. Here's an example that's quite cheap in Diamond Hill near the MTR and a shopping mall; there are lots more. Given that you really only seem to need a desk, a door with a lock, access to a toilet and maybe a place to store things, this might work for you. Other industrial districts to consider which are 0-1 MTR changes from TST include Wong Chuk Hang (on the new South Island Line) and the districts out toward Kwai Fong/Kwai Chung/Tsuen Wan, but there are going to be tiny offices all over the city.

- Regus seems to do the same thing; Kwun Tong looks cheapest?

- if you are open to writing at home, you could change your accommodation setup if you're paying a lot (say, over $15,000/month) to be in Tsim Sha Tsui so you have an extra space to do your work in; month-to-month rentals on serviced apartments might have more of a space to work in than you do now, especially if you don't need a lift or a newer building.

Don't worry about commuting too much - from Tsim Sha Tsui, you're less than half an hour from all of Kowloon via MTR or bus, even at busy times. Don't hesitate to take an office that's, say, ten minutes' rather than five minutes' walk from an MTR station - you'll find the price might drop quite dramatically. Obviously, commuting at off-hours is quieter, so do that if you're flexible, but even at busy times and stations there's a way to get where you're going.

Good luck! It's hard to find a little peace and quiet here.
posted by mdonley at 4:47 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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