I spent six months of 2016 living in Thailand, two months each in Chiang Mai, on an island in the south, and in a mountain town in the north. As a result, I’m familiar with the perks of living in Thailand, both if you plan to travel and work remotely as a digital nomad or if you’re simply relaxing for a while. This list outlines eight of the unique perks I think are particularly relevant for a digital nomad considering Thailand as a potential temporary home.
There’s a landscape for everyone
One of my favorite things about Thailand, and Southeast Asia in general is the landscape diversity. Thanks to the infamous Full Moon Party, as well as features in James Bond and aptly-titled Leo DiCaprio movies, the world is familiar with Thailand’s world-class beaches. Yet for every white-sand beach you find in the south, you’ll find a largely untouched forest in the country’s western parts or a mountain range in the north. Thailand’s megalopolis capital, Bangkok, has everything you’d want from a major city and then some: floating markets, urban temples and enough delicious street food to last you a lifetime. If you prefer a mix of city and countryside, though, Phuket and Chiang Mai offer just that, being located next to the Andaman Sea and pristine mountains respectively.
Fast Internet and good co-working spaces
If you’ve been putting off moving to Thailand for fear of slow Internet, think again. Yes, the speeds aren’t as high as you’ll find in Hong Kong or South Korea, but assuming your work doesn’t heavily rely upon speedy data transfer, you’ll be completely fine.
Even on some of the islands like Koh Phangan or Koh Phi Phi, Internet speeds are more than enough. BeacHub on Koh Phangan has consistently excellent speeds and a relaxed, positive atmosphere for digital nomads, as does KoHub on Koh Lanta.
Moving from the US to Thailand is a treat in many ways, but few are as memorable as the costs of living. Chiang Mai is a popular destination for nomads, and it’s no wonder: when a well-located studio apartment costs $300/month, meals cost $2-4 apiece and you can rent a scooter for $70/month, it’s difficult to say no.
What’s better is that all of these items are exceptionally easy to acquire; renting an apartment is as simple as showing up in the building lobby and signing a one-page contract, and the same goes for the scooter. So if you’re just starting out and are worried about arriving with no plans, don’t be. The best way to do things here is on the ground, and if you need help, plenty of locals and nomads alike will be happy to step in and get you on your feet.
Easygoing, friendly locals
There are a lot of things Western society could learn from the Thai people, not the least of which is work-life balance. Put simply, the Thais know how to put their work away and enjoy their time with family and friends. Even when they are at work, though – the grandmother serving you hot noodles, the teenager working at 7/11, and everyone in between – they’re constantly smiling, laughing and brightening your day. It’s astounding how impactful a positive 5-second interaction with a stranger can be, and when you compound dozens of those interactions into a day, it’s no wonder people love living here.
Take this one with a grain of salt, because when I say the Thai locals are strong in English, I’m comparing them to their neighbors. Assuming you don’t speak Thai, just about everywhere you go in Thailand you’ll speak a Thai-English hybrid. Standard words like greetings, simple manners and common menu items will be spoken in Thai, while slightly more complex phrases may switch to English, given that their English is normally better than a visitor’s Thai. Of course, you may need to resort to some on-the-spot charades to get your point across, but that’s all part of the fun. If you’re really concerned about communicating, download the Thai dictionary on Google Translate on your phone so you can translate back and forth even when you’re offline.
Plenty of other nomads
This hasn’t always been the case, but at least in recent years, digital nomads have been flooding to Thailand for the reasons I’m listing here and others. That said, you can be sure that just about wherever you go, you’ll find like-minded people living a similar lifestyle to you. You can also join communities like Nomad List, which connect digital nomads both online and offline all around the world.
They take shopping seriously
Whether you’ve been to Thailand or not, you undoubtedly know about its markets. You can buy just about everything in there, from clothing to housewares to shoes, local and exotic foods, and tour packages and souvenirs. Still, the markets aren’t for everyone, so it’s nice to know that Bangkok has some of the largest, most ostentatious malls in the world, like CentralWorld and Siam Paragon. C
hiang Mai’s Maya Lifestyle Mall and recently-opened Central Festival are also good, albeit less grandiose, options for those in the north. If you still can’t find what you need, Amazon also ships to Thailand, though you’ll need to alter your search process a bit to filter only for those items eligible to be shipped to Thailand.
This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t say it: the weather in Thailand is remarkable. Though Thailand does experience seasonality, which you'll feel more strongly if you’re living somewhere like in the northern mountains or on one of the many islands, overall it’s sunny, warm, and quite simply beautiful. Even during the rainy season, which comes annually from about June to October, the showers are short and the sun often both precedes and succeeds the clouds. There's a reason Thailand comes to mind when you hear the word paradise.
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