Oh, Thailand! Out of over 40 countries we’ve visited since we became digital nomads in 2018, Thailand is still our favorite. Beyond the natural beauty, Thailand draws its millions of yearly visitors with its ridiculously tasty food, rich culture, and budget-friendliness. But if you’ve ever considering the digital nomad lifestyle, you’ve probably heard of Thailand as a digital nomad hub. This is with good reason! Thailand is one of the most popular digital nomad hubs in the world, known for its low cost of living, easy accessibility to internet, and high quality of life. That’s why we are bringing you everything you want to know about Thailand as a Digital Nomad hub!
Why Choose Thailand as a Digital Nomad Hub?
Thailand is Very Affordable
One of the biggest factors why digital nomads flock to Thailand is how cheap it is! When you take into account that most remote workers and digital nomads are earning in Western currency, it’s a no brainer to be in Thailand! Everything you’re paying for is in Thai Baht, which is currently at $1 USD to 30 Baht. This means meals around between $1-$3, and nice studio apartments can be found for as cheap as $200 a month. When choosing Thailand as a digital nomad hub, expenses are kept at a minimum, which means profits can be maximized!
Related: Sri Lanka for Digital Nomads 2020
Cost of Living in Thailand as a Digital Nomad
The cost of living in Thailand as a Digital Nomad is one of the biggest drawing factors! Compared to living in your home country, Thailand is super cheap! During our month living in Chiang Mai, we spent about $2,000 on all of our expenses! This included our:
- Entertainment Costs
- A 3 day trip to Chiang Rai
- A 4 day trip to Pai
- New glasses and Contact Lenses
- All Necessities
- Endless trips to the coffee shop
In our Digital Nomad course Worker to Wanderer, we cover our expenses in remarkable detail and even show you how to budget the digital nomad lifestyle. If you want to learn more about becoming a digital nomad, click here!
Thailand has the Western Comforts you’re Looking For
Something I love about Thailand is that it feels different enough to be a foreign country, but has everything I miss from being back home. whether you’re looking for enormous super malls, or just simply a home with a nice hot shower, Thailand has it. If you pick developed cities like Chiang Mai or Bangkok, you even get the luxury of sidewalks, proper highways, and fancy coffee shops!
Thailand is Has Tons to See and Do
If you’re a digital nomad that’s hungry for adventure, Thailand has you covered. We’ve continued to come back to this country because we are enchanted by all that it has to offer. Whether you’re into mountains, cities or beaches, Thailand has something that will excite you. Bangkok has nightclubs and a vibrant city life that will never leave you bored. The southern Thai islands have a laid-back atmosphere that is hard to replicate anywhere else in the world. Pai has the mountain views and peace that people looking for solace, embrace. Needless to say, if you move to Thailand, you will always have something to see and do.
Thailand is Easy to Get Around
With massive highways, cheap flights, long-distance trains, buses, and ferries, getting around Thailand is very easy. Chances are, you’ve chosen the digital nomad lifestyle because you’re hungry for freedom and adventure. Easy transportation makes Thailand an amazing digital nomad hub because you never feel trapped in one place. Whether you decide you want to rent a scooter or train travel through the country, it’s never difficult to get around. Also, for intercity travel, Grab is Thailand’s version of Uber. It’s easy to use, and dirt cheap if you want to get around in short distances.
Thailand Has Better Internet Than Home
This was a shocker for me when I first got to Thailand. It is rare for you to enter any coffee shop in Thailand and there not be booming Wifi. When you first land in the airport, there are several SIM card providers that provide fast and inexpensive data plans that will take you around the country. I’ve even been able to use my phone’s data plan to get me Wifi when I’m traveling through remote islands and jungles in Thailand. The data plans range between $5-$20 USD per month but give you an obscene amount of GB, that will put your home country’s plans to shame.
Thailand Makes it Cheap to Travel to Nearby Countries
Bangkok Airport is considered the gateway to Asia. Because the airport is such a hub for this region, flights to other countries are dirt cheap! I’m talking $20 to get to Cambodia, and $100 to get to Tokyo! Using Thailand as a hub makes it very easy to tick off other countries in Asia while living and working in Thailand. Also, if flights aren’t up your alley, you can take trains or buses to neighboring countries like Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malaysia. If you’re on the hunt for adventure, and bucket list chasing, Thailand is an amazing digital nomad hub.
Best Places for Digital Nomads in Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand as a Digital Nomad Hub
Chiang Mai has been long touted as the most popular ex-pat hub in the world. With a low cost of living and high quality of life, it makes sense why people flock to this Northern Thai city. Chiang Mai is great because it has great internet speeds sitting around 15-30 MBPS. We’ve even found an amazing café called Same Same but Different in the trendy Nimman area that consistently gave us over 100 MBPS! As YouTubers, you can imagine that this was a dream come true! For just the price of a $4 coffee, we got to spend all day in a nice café, using their excellent internet. All for a fraction of the price of the neighboring co-working space.
Many digital nomads love coworking spaces because they feel the closest to a normal work environment. They let you work near other digital nomads and remote works which makes them a great place to network. With that said, co-working spaces in Chiang Mai don’t have the best internet. We went to CAMP inside of Maya Mall a couple of times and although the inside was nice, seating was limited, and internet was limited, too. To add insult to injury, it was more expensive to spend 4 hours there, than a full day at Same Same but different.
Krabi, Thailand as a Digital Nomad Hub
When people normally think of Krabi, Thailand, they aren’t thinking booming co-working space. They are more likely thinking about amazing islands like Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach, and Ao Nang. But what few people know is that Krabi is a popular ex-pat hub for English teachers. If you look for housing near the Krabi Town area, cost of living is cheap, and internet is available. Internet speeds here are also in the 15MBPS range, but have been enough for when I use WordPress, schedule Instagram posts, or working on Tailwind (our Pinterest scheduler).
Living out in Krabi town is nice because you feel like you’re living in a proper Thai city and not just a tourist hub. My husband and I personally love Krabi’s tourist center, but every time we go there to work, we struggle or end up using our hotspot. The nice thing about using Krabi as a digital nomad hub is that you are remarkably close to all of Thailand’s amazing islands! This makes weekends a great opportunity to escape into a tropical island.
Bangkok, Thailand as a Digital Nomad Hub
Bangkok is known for its wild party scenes, ping pong shows, and Khao San Road. But if you leave the backpacker strip, you’ll find the Bangkok is a booming metropolis great for business people, travelers, and digital nomads alike. Internet in Bangkok is widely available and about 30MBPS almost anywhere you go. We’ve even found that in most hostels we’ve gotten up to 50MBPS which is amazing you are heavily uploading or downloading things on the internet.
Bangkok is an easy city to get around with their awesome BTS Metro system, cheap Grabs (Thailand’s version of Uber), and widely available Tuk Tuks. Apartments in Thailand can be found as cheap as $250 a month and sometimes even have gyms within the complex. Bangkok is great for digital nomads because outside of a low cost of living, and having western comforts, it’s a great hub for traveling the rest of Asia. Flights from DMK to other parts of Asia can be found for as cheap as $20!
Do I need a Work Permit to be a Digital Nomad in Thailand?
So this is where things get dicey. In the past, digital nomads in Thailand didn’t have any clear law governing them. It was very much seen as, “if you don’t harm anyone or draw negative attention to yourself, you’re fine”. Since 2019, the Thai government has started to crack down on ex-pats and Digital Nomads. This is due to their lack of getting proper visas to enter the country. Why is this happening? Well, instead of getting non-migrant visas to get multiple entries into Thailand, ex-pats and digital nomads were doing visa runs instead.
For those of you new on your digital nomad journey who don’t know what all of this terminology even means:
Expat: A person who has left their home country and is living and working in another
Digital Nomad: A person who makes their money online or abroad, while they move from country to country (AKA: Location independent)
Visa Runs: Abusing a country’s free visa entries to stay for a longer period of time without getting a proper visa by leaving the country for a few days and entering again.
This crackdown included a whole new repertoire of laws aimed at reducing the number of people abusing visa regulations. Over the last year, they have reduced the number of Visa-on-Arrivals to only two 30-day entries per year. Most recently, the Thai Embassy has answered the Digital Nomad Work Permit question head-on. In short, if you are making money while in Thailand, you need a work permit. However, it’s only enforced if the job you are performing can be done by a Thai citizen, or you’re affecting Thai security.
You can read exactly what the Thai Embassy says regarding Digital Nomads and Work Permits by clicking here.
Thai Law versus Reality
Disclaimer: I do not condone, encourage, or recommend that you ever go against Thai laws. If you are looking at Thailand as a Digital Nomad Hub, it is imperative that you respect the laws of the country. Thailand is amazing and will provide you with unique and rewarding experiences. It is only fair to abide by their rules.
With that said, there is a big distinction between what’s in the law books and what’s enforced in Thailand. For example, Cannabis is technically illegal in Thailand. So much so, that it carries the death penalty if you’re caught. Sounds pretty serious, right? Well, the reality is that many Rasta Bars in Thailand sell cannabis straight from the bar! These bars pay off the police to sell weed at their bars, regardless of what the laws say. Furthermore, if a cop in Thailand were to catch you with cannabis, the chances of you going to jail are pretty slim. More likely than not they will ask you to pay a “respect and honor” fee (*cough cough* bribe *cough cough*). This is common in Thailand and is a perfect example of when the rules are “rules”.
What We’ve Done When we use Thailand as a Digital Nomad Hub
We’ve never applied for a Thai non-migrant visa, nor a Thai work permit. This is not because we are rebels or like to break the rules. Before December of 2019, there was no straight answer as to whether digital nomads required a Thai work permit. Furthermore, the type of work we do doesn’t take away jobs from Thai people. Our Thailand tour is organized and based in the USA. Also, our stays in Thailand are infrequent and about a month long. Because the services we provide cater to people in Western countries we also don’t fall under the work permit requirements. This allows us to use our Visa-on-Arrival entry, as long as we only come twice a year. You’ll have to evaluate your personal situation to decide your plan of action regarding Thai work permits.
So There You Have It!
Thailand is one of our favorite digital nomad hubs around the world for tons of reasons! Low cost of living, great internet connectivity, and amazing things to explore are just a few! If you liked this post, share the love with your friends by pinning your favorite image below!