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Thailand has long earned the title of a digital nomad mecca — it is the country most often associated with the working traveller lifestyle and has lured visitors and adventurers for decades with the promise of freedom garnished with the beauty of blissful islands and the enigma of glittering temples.

Why Thailand?

Friendly climate, affordability, fast Internet speeds and the ever-growing international community — all make a setting that is considered ideal for a digital nomad. Once a utopian backpacker's paradise, popularised even more by the 1996 novel and later a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio “The Beach”, Thailand is no stranger to foreign visitors and boasts a tourist-friendly infrastructure: from the widespread use of English to easy transportation within and between its cities, villages, and islands. Today, the country provides most of the amenities on a freelancer's checklist, and offers a mix of locations to settle in — from the urban rush of the busy Bangkok to the quieter forested setting of Chiang Mai, and the idyllic atmosphere of remote sandy islands.

Best cities to work from

Working remotely from Thailand conjures images of rolling waves, beach cafes and reggae parties after work hours. Yet, it’s not Thailand’s south that has earned the title of a digital nomad haven but the northern city of Chiang Mai. Thailand’s fifth largest city also known as the “Rose of the North” is the country’s number one nomad destination, and ranks one of the best cities for freelancers worldwide.

A well-balanced mix of affordability, development and quality of life makes Chiang Mai a contender that is hard to beat. Unlike the urban Bangkok, the city is submerged in lush greenery and forests, and offers a more laid back setting for those wishing to escape the stress of a big city. With that, it has all the needed infrastructure for organising your work and much fewer distractions than Thailand’s coastal cities and paradise islands.

One of the main things that now attracts budding perpetual travellers to the city is the result of its own success: a vibrant and supportive digital nomad community. Here, you will find a wide range of clubs, societies, and regular gatherings, and even coworking spaces tend to come with their own crowd, offering great opportunities for networking as well as guidance and advice for those just exploring the lifestyle.

Bangkok is a natural choice for first-time travellers to Thailand. The country’s capital is home to over ten million people and a large number of expats. A humming mix of old traditions, modern lifestyle, and international crowds make the city a unique space that both inspires and motivates. Needless to say, Bangkok has everything you might possibly need to work remotely including lots of coworking spaces and 24-hour coffee shops.

For those searching for a classic escape, there are the islands. From the large easily-accessible party island of Phuket to the smaller islands in the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, KohTao, Ko Chang) and in the Andaman Sea (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Yao Yai, Koh Lipe) there is no shortage of choice.

Depending how far you are willing to travel, the level of comfort you are looking for, and whether you enjoy the presence of other nomads, your selection will narrow down. Small islands offer the idyllic “palm trees and coconut shakes” setting, but will lack some of the amenities of bigger places. Another thing to consider is the quality of Internet connection — in small remote locations the connection may be spotty.

 Good to know: A larger island in the province of Krabi, Koh Lanta, is emerging as a digital nomad hub thanks to its “unexplored” character and a popular coworking hub (KoHub).

The Internet and coworking spaces

The Internet in Thailand is the eighth fastest in Asia. With the average speed across the country estimated at 19.9Mbps, the country comes ahead of Vietnam and Cambodia but lags behind Asian web speed leaders Hong Kong and Singapore.

Coworking spaces are aplenty. You are sure to find dozens of choices when settling in Chiang Mai or Bangkok and even some remote islands often offer at least one coworking space for setting up camp.

Coworking spaces in Bangkok

Launchpad, 139 Pan Road, Sethiwan Tower, Silom, Bangrak

The Hive Thonglor, 46/9 Soi Sukhumvit 49, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon

HUBBA Thailand, 19 Soi Ekkamai 4, Sukumvit 63 Rd., Prakanong Nua

Paperwork, K.S.Building Soi Sathorn 9, Sathorntai Rd, Yannawa Sathorn

The Work Loft, 1, 281/19-23 Si Lom, Silom, Bang Rak

Coworking spaces in Chiangmai

Punspace Nimman, 14 Siri Mangkalajarn Lane 11, Muang

StarWork Chiangmai, Wat Ket, Mueang

CAMP at MAYA, Chang Phueak, Mueang

Wake Up, 30/1-3 Nimmanahaeminda Rd, Su Thep, Muang, Muang

Coworking spaces in Phuket

Garage Society, 5/5, Lub d Phuket Patong 2nd floor, Sawatdirak road, Patong, Kathu

CocoWorking Space, 23 Soi Ta-iad, Chalong, Muang Phuket

Coworking spaces on the islands:

Koh Space, 136/1 Moo 1, Ban Tai, Ko Phangan

KoHub, 224/1, Pra Ae, Ko Lanta District

TAOHUB, 8/80 moo.2 Maehaad, K Tao

Leisure in Thailand

One of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Thailand has plenty to offer in the after-work hours — from discovering the culture and history of Bangkok and Chiang Mai to idling away on one of the many paradise islands. Seeing Thailand’s 40,717 Buddhist temples is a formidable task by itself. The country’s south offers beautiful coastal views and famous get-away islands from the moon party famous Ko Phangan to the heavenly Ko Phi Phi and beyond.

What to know before arriving

If you are planning to settle in Thailand as a digital nomad, first consider your visa options. Residents of most countries can enter the country visa-free for up to 30 days. If you plan to stay longer than that, you may decide to apply for a visa or leave Thailand every 30 days and then re-enter the country. If you go with the latter option, a good idea may be to settle close to border controls so that the road does not steal too much of your Thailand time.

If you go with the visa option, the type of visa you may want to apply for depends on your plans, age, and free time. A Tourist Visa will get you a stay of 60 days in Thailand (single or multiple entry) which can then be extended for 15-30 days for an additional fee of 1900 baht. Alternatively, if you want to stay for a period of six months or even a year, consider an Education Visa. Signing up for a Thai language course, cooking classes or even Thai massage training with an accredited establishment will allow you to stay in the country longer but you will need to combine your online work with some class time (you can choose a course with the minimum number of hours). Finally, there is the Retirement Visa that will let you stay in the country for the long term provided you meet the needed requirements (applicants must be over 50 years of age and provide proof of financial well-being).

 Useful links:

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Map of Wi-Fi hotspots in Thailand

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