The 5 Best Places to Live and Work Remotely in Thailand

You probably already know that Thailand is the best country in the world to live and work remotely. If you have doubts, check out any online list of the top destinations for digital professionals and you will find that the “Land of Smiles” ranks #1 more frequently than any other country.

Thailand is the country for location-independent professionals, plain and simple.

It’s not hard to see why. With Thailand’s famously low cost of living, fast internet, amazing food, and year-round balmy weather—not to mention the natural beauty and world-renowned friendliness of Thai people—it is an obvious choice for many digital nomads.

However, if you have never visited the country, you might be wondering where to call home in such a diverse country with many interesting destinations. 

The good news is, there is somewhere for everyone, and it is usually quite easy to determine which city suits your personality best. Whether you prefer to work from a tropical beach in the shade of palm trees, a cozy cafe in the mountains, or a bustling metropolis, you are bound to find something to your taste.

Without further ado, here are the top 5 places to live and work remotely in Thailand.

Original Source: https://shelter.global/the-5-best-places-to-live-and-work-remotely-in-thailand/

Chiang Mai

The 5 Best Places to Live and Work Remotely in Thailand
  • NomadList.com score: 4.5 out of 5
  • Internet speed: 24 Mbps
  • Population: 127,240
  • Cost of living: $773 to $1,108 per month
  • Hospitals: Great
  • Places to work: Great
  • Walkability: Great
  • Safety: Great
  • Friendly to foreigners: Good
  • Fun activities: Good
  • Nightlife: Okay

Nestled between mountains in the northern region of Thailand, Chiang Mai is the second largest city in the Kingdom and home to some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the country—just a few kilometers outside the city. Unlike busy Bangkok further south, the cultural capital of Chiang Mai has a small-town feel and is the perfect place for those who wish to escape the noise and bustle of the rat race to get down to work.

Interesting fact: Chiang Mai building code stipulates a height restriction of 23 meters, ensuring that the city retains its local charm and that Doi Suthep, the mountain to the west of the city, is visible from nearly everywhere.

Some boast that Chiang Mai is where the digital nomad culture began. True or not, Chiang Mai is most certainly the headquarters of the remote work movement in Thailand, which is why there are dozens of coworking spaces around town and hundreds of nomads who choose to call the northern capital their home. For those who tire easily of coworking spaces, there are hundreds of cafes with fast wifi (serving coffee grown in the mountains just outside the city) where you can settle down to work for a few hours.

While the Old City is the geographic and touristic center of the city, the trendy Nimman area near Chiang Mai University is where the digital professional community is concentrated. Other interesting neighborhoods to live include Santhitam, Chang Phuak, Jed Yod, and the Night Market area. No matter where you choose, there is no shortage of affordable apartments, houses, and townhouses available in every price range.

For those who wish to live outside the city, Hang Dong and San Sai—a few kilometers to the southwest and northeast of the city, respectively—are popular expat areas with a wide range of cheap and comfortable houses for rent and sale.

The biggest downside of living in Chiang Mai is the crop-burning season from March to May, when the air quality in Chiang Mai is at an all time low and even Doi Suthep cannot be seen through the haze. These are the months during which many digital nomads migrate down south to one of the other destinations on our list.

Pros: Low cost of living, great coworking spaces, fast internet, active digital professional community, mountains and nature nearby, cooler weather, laid-back vibe, great hospitals

Cons: Smoky season

Bangkok

The 5 Best Places to Live and Work Remotely in Thailand
  • NomadList.com score: 4.5 out of 5
  • Internet speed: 25 Mbps
  • Population density: 8.28 million
  • Cost of living: $1,200 to $1,463 per month
  • Hospitals: Great
  • Places to work: Great
  • Walkability: Great
  • Safety: Great
  • Friendly to foreigners: Great
  • Fun activities: Good
  • Nightlife: Great

Compared to Chiang Mai, you might not realize that Bangkok belongs to the same country. Like any major metropolis in Asia, Thailand’s capital city is boisterous, noisy, pungent, and jam-packed with traffic at most hours of the day. For this same reason, there is a tremendous amount of fun to be had in Bangkok for the nightlife warrior and serious professional alike.

Since Bangkok is the geographic hub of Thailand, there are numerous interesting destinations available just a short drive or flight away.

Although the capital city has a higher cost of living than Chiang Mai, it is still affordable and offers a lot of perks for digital professionals. The wifi speed is generally higher, there are more coworking spaces and networking opportunities, and the startup scene is more active as would be expected in a large and growing city.

Since Bangkok is huge and distributed over a large area, it does take considerable time to get to know the city well and the culture shock from its sheer size can be overwhelming for some. Additionally, getting around the city can take time especially when the traffic is bad.

While the famous Khaosan Road is the seedy tourist center, most Westerners living in Bangkok are concentrated in the Sukhumvit area with the BTS Skytrain as its central nervous system. There are thousands of condos available in up-and-coming neighborhoods like Thonglor and Ekkamai, and for those who prefer a bit more quiet and affordability, the On Nut area (outside Sukhumvit but still accessible via BTS) is an increasingly popular choice.

Pros: Great coworking spaces, fast internet, active digital professional community, great nightlife, great hospitals

Cons: Air pollution, noisy, bad traffic

Phuket

The 5 Best Places to Live and Work Remotely in Thailand
  • NomadList.com score: 3.99 out of 5
  • Internet speed: 27 Mbps
  • Population: 416,582
  • Cost of living: $1,160 to $1,618 per month
  • Hospitals: Good
  • Places to work: Great
  • Walkability: Okay
  • Safety: Great
  • Friendly to foreigners: Okay
  • Fun activities: Bad
  • Nightlife: Good

Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, which is why it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There are more than 30 white-sand beaches all around the island, each with its own character, making it the perfect location for the digital nomad who dreams of being able to work from a different beach every day of the month.

For remote workers, the main draws of Phuket are the fast internet speed and the wide variety of coworking spaces across the island. 

As Phuket is quite large (543 km²), there are actually a number of cities on the island which are all within a short drive of each other. The most population-dense area is Phuket Town, on the east side of the island, with its streets lined with colorful 19th-century shophouses and Sino-Portuguese buildings. Patong, a bustling beach resort, is home to one of the most famous red-light districts in the world.

Phuket also has several smaller towns scattered across the west side of the island, such as Bangtao, Surin, Kamala and Karon, where the vibe is more laid-back and the streets less rife with tourist gimmicks. Additionally, there are a number of smaller islands accessible from Phuket, like Koh Phi Phi, where the beaches are even more beautiful.

With so many world-class attractions, it is no wonder that Phuket is the most expensive place to live on our list. If affordability is an important factor for you, Phuket is probably not the place to hang your hat in Thailand as a digital professional.

Pros: Great coworking spaces, fast internet, beautiful beaches

Cons: Touristy, expensive

Koh Pha Ngan

The 5 Best Places to Live and Work Remotely in Thailand
  • NomadList.com score: 4.36 out of 5
  • Internet speed: 18 Mbps
  • Population: 11,846
  • Cost of living: $906 to $1,360 per month
  • Hospitals: Good
  • Places to work: Great
  • Walkability: Bad
  • Safety: Great
  • Friendly to foreigners: Good
  • Fun activities: Good
  • Nightlife: Good

Koh Pha Ngan, an island off Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand, is a growing favorite among digital nomads in Thailand for a variety of reasons. 

Especially for New Age types, it offers a surprising number of attractions and conveniences in a relatively small space (125 km²). With amazing beaches, yoga and meditation retreats, plentiful vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and neon-lit full moon and half moon parties, Koh Pha Ngan is considered by many the gem of the south.

With a small but growing nomad community and a decent number of coworking spaces, Koh PhaNgan is the up-and-coming digital nomad destination in Thailand. The internet speed is a bit slower than the first 3 destinations on our list, but at 18 Mbps it certainly gets the job done. Since the island is quite mellow and relaxed, it’s a great place to focus on your work if the noise and bustle of the city is too much for you.

There are a number of different neighborhoods on the island, each with a different vibe. Haad Rin, on the southern tip, is the nightlife area with red-light streets and beach parties. To the west, Sri Thanu is the place to go for the more spiritually-minded, as it has plentiful opportunities for yoga, meditation, and mindful eating. For an even more relaxed atmosphere, Chaloklum and Haad Yang are the places to escape the beaten path and get even more peace and quiet (although the commute into town can take quite a while).

Compared to Phuket and Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan is less touristy and significantly cheaper. The hospitals are also better than in Koh Samui.

Pros: Low cost of living, great coworking spaces, active digital nomad community, beautiful beaches, laid-back vibe

Cons: Not for everyone, 18 Mbps internet speed

Koh Samui

The 5 Best Places to Live and Work Remotely in Thailand
  • NomadList.com score: 3.75 out of 5
  • Internet speed: 18 Mbps
  • Population: 67,265
  • Cost of living: $1,389 to $1,753 per month
  • Hospitals: Bad
  • Places to work: Great
  • Walkability: Bad
  • Safety: Great
  • Friendly to foreigners: Good
  • Fun activities: Good
  • Nightlife: Good

Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and, like Phuket and Koh Pha Ngan, offers a variety of stunning beaches from which to sip a coconut (or Chang beer) and listen to the relaxing sound of the waves. It is second only to Phuket in the number of tourists it attracts each year, with over two and half million visitors in 2018 alone—many of them backpackers coming for the famous Full Moon Party. So if your idea of paradise is working from the beach and enjoying the occasional neon rave, Koh Samui is the perfect place for you.

Koh Samui beautiful island is well-suited for digital professionals with a decent number of workspaces where you can rent a desk by the month. The Content Castle, the best coworking space on the island, is essentially a digital nomad retreat with everything a remote worker could want: fast internet, comfortable hammocks, beach access, and co-living rooms available for rent.

While Koh Samui does not have as many accommodation options as Chiang Mai, Bangkok, or Phuket, finding a place to live is not difficult especially if you use an agent. However Koh Samui does have a higher cost of living than the other destinations on our list, with a low end of $1,389 per month.

If walkability, access to good hospitals, and affordability are important considerations, then Koh Samui is probably not the right choice for you.

Pros: Great coworking spaces, beautiful beaches, laid-back vibe, 

Cons: Expensive, touristy, bad hospitals, 18 Mbps internet speed

How can I relocate to Thailand?

Are you a digital professional? Do you want to learn more about how you can relocate to Thailand with Shelter?

If you have 2 or more years’ experience providing digital services, then you may be eligible for a Thai Business Visa and Digital Work Permit through Shelter.

Read more about our requirements and application process here.

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