A Guest Post by Michał Jońca*, Community Manager,
As a digital nomad, you can work virtually from any place in the world. However, there are countries that especially attract expats and remote workers from every corner of the globe. Thailand is definitely such a place. The “Land of Smiles” provides extraordinary opportunities for connecting work and travel, and achieving synergy of professional and private joy.
Digital nomading in Thailand by numbers
Let’s start with some eye-opening stats.
Thailand is the third most popular destination for digital nomads preceded only by Indonesia and Mexico. According to the International Organization for Migration in the pre-pandemic year 2019, there were around 150,000 expats living more or less permanently in this country. It’s the size of Kansas City!
The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak drastically reduced the number of tourists visiting Thailand. Following almost two years of a hard lockdown, this wonderful country has started welcoming travelers again.
5 reasons why digital nomads love Thailand
Of course, each person has his own reasons and preferences, but there are some issues making Thailand one of the top destinations for digital nomads.
- Low costs of living. Living in Thailand is, on average, 40% lower than in the United States. By spending less money, you can live on a higher level than anywhere in the Western world.
- Great weather. One Thai I met in Bangkok told me that there are three types of weather in his country – hot, hot & wet, and warm. Putting jokes aside, Thailand is a land of neverending summer. The only thing you should be aware of is the wet season. Thankfully, it doesn’t apply to the whole country.
- Diversity. Until you look for snow, you will find everything you want in Thailand. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big city? Bangkok is the place for you. Are you a partygoer type? Visit Phuket or Pattaya. Chill and relax on a paradise island? Thailand has over 1,000 of them! Are you a mountain lover? Check the north of the country.
- Amazing food. Thai cuisine is one of the most popular globally for a reason. This country is a paradise for foodies! Based on local ingredients, seafood, rice, and unique spices should satisfy everyone. But if you’ll become tired of pad thai and mango sticky rice, you can easily find restaurants serving dishes from around the world.
- Great infrastructure for remote workers. Last but not least, Thailand’s got an exquisite infrastructure for digital nomads. Good internet connection, expats-oriented accommodation options, and convenient flight & railway connections around the country are just the iceberg tips.
Do you need a visa as a digital nomad?
The answer to whether you need a visa if you’d like to be a digital nomad in Thailand depends on the length of your stay
If you plan to spend a maximum of a month in the “Land of Smiles”, the so-called visa on arrival, which you will receive at the airport, will be enough. It is a free option, allowing you to stay up to 30 days.
If you are planning a 2 – 3 month stay, the best option is to get a visa through the embassy. Such a visa allows you to stay in the country for a maximum of 60 days. You can extend this visa for another 30 days, which gives a total of 90 days. The only thing you have to do is visit the Immigration Office in any city in Thailand.
If you’d like to stay for a longer period of time it is also possible to obtain a 6-month tourist visa. You have to provide the embassy with a large number of documents (e.g. confirmation from the bank that you have the required amount of money). Additionally, you have to leave Thailand twice for another country. You do not have to go back to your home country. A short trip to a neighboring country (e.g. Malaysia) for 1 or 2 days is enough.
Which place in Thailand is the best for a digital nomad?
According to my favorite expats community website, Nomadlist, there are four Thailand cities among the top 35 most digital-nomad-friendly locations in the world:
- Chiang Mai (9th)
- Phuket (23rd)
- Bangkok (25th)
- Ko Phan Ngan (33rd).
During my stay in Thailand, I spent most of my time in Chiang Mai. Thus, I will explain to you what is so special about this city from a digital nomad perspective.
Chiang Mai – the digital nomads’ Eldorado
Chiang Mai is considered the top digital nomad hotspot in Thailand. And I’m absolutely not surprised by that result! That’s the place I spent most of my time during my workation.
First of all, Chiang Mai is much cheaper than most cities in the “Land of Smiles”. According to the “How to be a Digital Nomad” stats, the average monthly cost of living in this north-western city in Thailand is 1,171 USD, making it almost 400 USD less than in hustling Bangkok.
Chiang Mai, also referred to as the “Rose of the North”, offers an exquisite infrastructure for digital nomads (even for Thailand). There are numerous coworking spaces, various accommodation options including popular condos, a wide choice of local and international food, exciting nightlife, and a prolific expats community organizing integrational events & meetings every week.
Besides, Chiang Mai is simply a beautiful city with a rich and diverse history. But what makes this city really special is the exciting neighborhood.
The Doi Suthep hill dominates the city, with a phenomenal Buddhist monastery. In addition to monk-owned buildings, the area offers many spectacular trekkings, a delightful botanical garden, and unique villages inhabited by several different ethnic minorities.
Just a 2-hour drive towards the west you can find breathtaking mountains, with Thailand’s highest peak – Doi Inthanon. If you choose to head north, only 1.5 hours drive from Chiang Mai you will find a hidden gem – the so-called Sticky Waterfall.
Not enough? So what would you say about spending a day in the elephants’ sanctuary? Remember to choose wisely as you can find many scam sanctuaries aimed just at making money on tourists. Personally, I recommend visiting the Elephant Nature Park. It’s a kind of elephant shelter rescuing those majestic animals from the hands of immoral people using them for their business goals.
*About the author:
Michal Jonca is passionate about travel and food experiences who visited 40+ countries on four continents. He is a Travel Leader at the largest Polish travelers club Soliści organizing adventurous trips worldwide and the Community Manager at PhotoAiD.
After spending a couple of months in Thailand, he currently enjoys a new workation adventure in Georgia and Armenia. You can follow his Instagram profile @opowiescipodrozne