Thailand for Digital Nomads
For me, Thailand is simply the best country for digital nomads. Why? Because for me here is the ideal relationship between all the factors I take into consideration when I choose a place: Internet, location, community, cost of living, infrastructure, Kizomba.
Facts About Thailand
Once known as Siam, the Kingdom of Thailand is a long, skinny country running over 1,400 miles in length from top to toe. It shares borders with Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. The capital is Bangkok.
The official language is Thai. Most professionals speak English, and most expats who live in recognized expat and tourist areas don’t bother to learn the language. However, don’t expect to find too many English speakers if you go “up country” into rural regions such as Isaan.
Thailand has the last decades become a very popular tourist destination. A country that you just ‘have to’ visit if you enjoy traveling. The tourism has increased, but it is not hard at all to find a beach or a park where you can relax without crowds of people. As a matter of fact, it is still possible to find a beach where you can be on your own!
In Thailand you will find some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world. Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Krabi and Hua Hin are destinations that we have to mention. The scuba diving on Koh Tao and Similan island is simply world class and sports as golf, tennis, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing etc. will help You to stay in great shape, if You get bored at beach activities.
Information About Entry and Departure
Your tourist visa options when visiting Thailand by air are as follows:
- Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver Entry
- Visa on Arrival
- Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV) aka “60 day tourist visa”
- Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV) aka “6 month multi entry visa”
Which visa is the right one for you depends on your nationality and on your needs. Most countries in Europe and the US are visa exempt and only get a stamp in their passport. This is free of charge. If you want to stay longer than 30 days though you have to get a paid visa.
Thailand is generally a safe country to visit, but it’s smart to exercise caution, especially when it comes to dealing with strangers (both Thai and foreigners) and travelling alone.
International hotels and larger businesses in Thailand accept major credit cards. Despite protest from credit card companies, many establishments, such as supermarkets and department stores, add a 3% to 5% surcharge for payment by credit card (this is above and beyond any fees levied by your credit card company). Be sure to ask before handing over your card, and keep all receipts.
Some travelers like to change a little money before leaving home, though it is not really necessary. You can sometimes buy Thai Baht at your local American Express or Thomas Cook office or order Baht at your bank; however, it is much easier to visit an airport exchange booth or ATM on arrival in Thailand. There are exchange kiosks at most international airport arrival halls in Thailand, which are generally open when flights arrive, but don’t rely on them being open 24 hours.
But to be honest, I always simply withdraw money at the ATM and never had a problem in Thailand. Be aware though that most ATMs have a 200 Baht service fee.
Internet access is good in Bangkok and Chiang Mai but can be slow in other parts.
Wifi is available in most cafés, restaurants, malls and hotels and also the Internet speed is OK. There are several cellular companies operating in Thailand and they also give you good wireless Internet access.
If speed is important for you, use the free wifi networks of the cellular companies. Also the cellular Internet itself is pretty fast, as long as you are within your Data usage.
Wi-Fi speed in cafés and hotels varies from place to place.
In Thailand, it’s easy and cheap to get a SIM card with data. When arriving, you will most likely find yourself in Bangkok’s international airport Suvarnabhumi. I would strongly advise you to buy your SIM as soon as you exit Arrivals. If you don’t exit in Bangkok just get one at the airport in Chiang Mai.
There are three main operators:
I always recommend to get AIS. They have great coverage and you can add the so called Super Wi-Fi to your normal data plan (if you’re getting unlimited data; Super Wi-Fi is included with limited data plans). The Super Wi-Fi allows you to get high speed internet all over Thailand through the AIS hotspots.
Another possibility for mobile internet access is a MiFi device, which creates a WiFi network for you. I have tested the GlocalMe device and think it’s a really useful addition of my travel equipment. You can either use it as an ordinary wireless router with up to two SIM cards (very useful if you work with mobile TANs, you want to be available on your local number or if you want to use the social networks with a 2-factor authentication) but you can also use it without a physical SIM card but with the built in cloudSIM technology (which is of course more expensive) in over 100 countries worldwide. Apart from that it’s also a 6000 mAh powerbank, which is never bad to have with you.
Living in Thailand as a Digital Nomad
The cost of living in Thailand is cheap when compared with many other countries throughout the world. When it comes to property, location is the key and the cost of property will vary enormously according to where you wish to live. Despite this, rent is generally cheap when compared with western nations.
Expatriates observe a big difference in the price of Thai and western food here. The local restaurants are extremely cheap and the majority of local people eat out on a daily basis because it is cheaper than cooking at home. The price of western food, however, will largely be on a par with the price of food in the west. Wine is very expensive here but beer and local spirits can be purchased at a very low price.
The principal language spoken in Thailand is Thai, with significant minorities speaking Chinese, Lao, Khmer and Malay. A large percentage of the Thai population speaks English.
The transport network in Thailand is quite dense and can take you almost anywhere in the country at least by bus. Bus is the most popular mean of transport and the most used by Thai people. The train serves the four cardinal points but not all major cities. There are no train to popular tourist destinations such as Phuket and Sukhothai.
If you like working from coworking spaces, you will have no problems in Thailand. There are almost everywhere and the prices are relatively humane.
Here, for example, are two coworking spaces in the nomadic hubs Koh Lanta, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai.
Kohub is situated on the beautiful tropical island of Koh Lanta in southern Thailand and only a 40-minute speedboat trip from the popular Phi Phi Islands. Beautiful white sand beaches offer great snorkeling, diving and many other great local activities, such as Maui Thai and yoga. There’s also an abundance of local bars and events, it’s the perfect place to get some work done and enjoy the tropical lifestyle.
CAMP is my favorite coworking space in Chiang Mai. Located directly in Maya Mall, it is in the heart of the digital nomad center. So if you’re in the popular Nimman or Santhitam neighborhoods, you can even walk there at best. There are no memberships here. You simply order your drink or lunch at the bar and get a code for the Internet that is valid for two hours. However, if you can use the Wi-Fi hotspot of your mobile phone operator: This is much faster and unlimited.
The Hive / Hubba
I’m a fan of the coworking space chain The Hive. Already in Saigon and Singapore, I have been working from there. I like the cozy atmosphere and the many activities. But if you want to use your free days of the Nomad List Membership when in Bangkok, you can do it in the Coworking Space Hubba.
20 important words/sentences in Thai:
|Excuse me…||chan khothot khrup…|
|Where is …?||yùu tîi-nǎi|
|My name is …?||pŏm chêu|
|I don’t speak Thai||phoot Thai mai dai|
|Do you speak English?||Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai|
|I’m from Germany||C̄hạn mā cāk pratheṣ̄ yexrmạn|
|Could you help me?||Choo-ay dai ma|
|I need …||Toi can.|
|How much is this?||Taorai|
|Shopping Center||H̄̂āng s̄rrph s̄inkĥā|
The Numbers in Thai