Guide to Being a Digital Nomad in Thailand

by Diego Navarro | LAST UPDATED November 10, 2021

Digital Nomad in Thailand
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The digital nomad lifestyle is becoming quite a popular choice for many people worldwide, and for a good reason. You get to travel the world, meet a lot of interesting people, experience new cultures and foods, and make a bit of money while doing it.

Location-independent freelancers have many choices in terms of countries to visit, and they can go anywhere from Estonia to Hong Kong and find an active digital nomad community. But, some of the most popular destinations are the countries in Southeast Asia, and specifically Thailand.

Why Thailand?

Like many Asian countries like the Philippines or Vietnam, Thailand offers natural beauty and spectacular sights, so it’s worth visiting the country for the tourism aspect alone.

However, if you’re interested in the experience of working as a digital nomad in Thailand, then you won’t be disappointed.

One of the biggest advantages to this country is that you’ll get access to high-speed internet and a stable wifi signal regardless of the city you’re in.

Additionally, the cost of living is generally pretty manageable as long as you’re not located in the center of a large metropolis like Bangkok. You can also cut down on some costs like restaurant bills by simply taking advantage of the local street food stalls, which are definitely the best way to experience Thai cuisine.

Speaking of cutting costs, there is a thriving Uber industry in Thailand where travel costs will be minimal. You can easily find low-cost hostels and Airbnb condos in almost every city, and even the nightlife is pretty wallet-friendly.

Finally, starting out in Thailand is pretty simple once you know what you’re doing, and we believe we can help you with that.

Getting Into Thailand

Thailand has a pretty lenient policy regarding tourist visas, but it has certain restrictions in place for work permits.

For tourists, the standard short-term Thai visa runs for a month and can be extended by paying a fixed sum at the local embassy or by traveling out and back into the country. However, if you’re planning to work in Thailand, you’ll need to jump through a few more hoops.

First of all, you’re going to need a letter of employment, the address that you’ll be staying at, your college or high school certificate, and a few other documents.

After you’ve provided all that, your employer will have to show the government the employment agreement that includes your position and salary, an application for VAT, an office map, and a few other necessary documents.

Regardless of what sort of visa you’re applying for, you’ll also need to have a medical certificate for any chronic conditions you might have, a recent wallet-sized picture of yourself, and a valid passport. Keep in mind that the pandemic has caused some restrictions to change and new ones to be put into place, so make sure to get a hold of the latest info as these things change frequently.

Obtaining a standard work visa can be a bit of a pain, but we wouldn’t recommend working in Thailand under the guise of being a simple tourist since there are restrictions and laws that prohibit that sort of thing.

Luckily, there is something called a smart visa that a digital nomad in Thailand can obtain to make life much easier.

Smart Visa

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has developed a visa to attract skilled workers to their country.

The Smart visa will grant workers the option to stay up to 4 years in Thailand without having to leave and re-enter the country, as well as an exemption from the standard work permit documentation that needs to be submitted.

The visa encompasses a vast range of specialized fields from the medical and the agricultural all the way to automation and robotics.

The best part is that all you really need to get this visa is to put in a request at a Thai embassy, and they’ll do the rest. Keep in mind that every field you apply for will have a few minimum requirements like having a bachelor’s degree or needing to pay a few thousand baht (1,000 Baht is roughly 30 USD).

This is essentially a tailor-made digital nomad visa, and it’s a great way to allow startups and entrepreneurs to get a foothold in the local industries while also ensuring that they pay taxes and abide by the local laws.

Facebook Groups

Before taking a single step into Thailand, we’d recommend getting acquainted with a few Facebook groups that are targeted towards digital nomads in Thailand.

This is by far the best way to get an accurate picture of what things are like in certain cities without having to rely on hyperbolic tourism-oriented guide books.

Talking to actual expats is a great way to find out the best coworking spaces in the city that you’re planning to live in, the sort of rent or hotel prices that you might be faced with, etc. You could even find out about meetups for remote workers and maybe make some friends.

Adjusting to new surroundings is always tricky at first, but talking to the people who live there is a great way to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, and it makes the transition at least a bit easier.

Our List

Throw a dart at a map, and you’ll hit a great place where digital nomads in Thailand can live. Because of the abundance of such locations, our list is less focused on where the best place to live would be and more on where to go to see some of the beauty of this country while also making a living as a digital nomad.

Bangkok

Starting with the capital city, Bangkok is quite a popular tourist destination, so prices here will be a bit higher than the more rural locations that appear on our list.

As a trade-off to the higher cost of living, you have access to a plethora of different shopping malls, internet cafes, and nightlife locations. Furthermore, you’ll have many more choices in terms of renting a living space.

Additionally, as you might expect from the capital city, the internet speeds here are unmatched, which can really help speed up the workday if your job relies on a good wifi signal.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is located in northern Thailand, and it’s a lot more rural than the previous entry but no less attractive for remote workers.

The overall rent and food costs here are relatively low, whereas the internet speed and quality are excellent. We have to note that the local food is simply delicious.

These qualities, as well as the lush greenery, make Chiang Mai an ideal option for digital nomads who are looking to live somewhere a bit more out of the way while still having all the necessary tools to keep up with their work.

Koh Phangan

A list of great Thailand locations wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the best beaches and seaside cities you could take a trip to.

Koh Phangan is one such location that provides both vacation activities and places where remote workers can go to work on their projects, making it an excellentex-pats destination for both vacation goers and digital nomads alike.

You can do everything from kayaking to visiting some of the famous waterfalls that this location is known for. At night you can settle down and either visit a yoga studio to unwind or catch up on your work if you’re more of a night owl when it comes to your job.

Having said that, keep in mind that seaside locations in Thailand don’t have many apartment openings, and the hotels cost a bit more than they would in inland cities.

Phuket

Phuket is located to the south, and it’s the largest island in Thailand. The island itself is a great place to visit since it has a lot of grandiose shrines and local festivals to visit. It also has a large selection of traditional food and considering that Thailand is the land of exotic food stalls, that’s saying quite a lot.

On top of all of that, Phuket is also considered to be the best place to visit and work by almost all of the digital nomads that have ever stepped foot there, so it’s pretty easy to tell why it’s a must-visit location at some point during your stay in Thailand.

Koh Lanta

This island located on the west coast of Thailand might seem like your average tourist trap location, but it actually has a large number of coworking spaces. This means that you can work in the morning or at night and spend the rest of the day on the beach.

There aren’t any malls or nightlife locations, but the island is full of other activities like beach volleyball or scuba diving that would be perfect for anyone that wants to have a bit of fun in the sun.

Conclusion

Thailand beach

There are a few other things that you might want to brush up on before diving headfirst into being a digital nomad in Thailand, but all-in-all, we believe that the information that we provided in this article is at least enough to help you get started on your journey.

Diego Navarro
Diego became interested in a nomadic lifestyle during a semester abroad during college. He spends most of his time in central Europe and the American southwest (where his family is from). He loves exotic food and playing video games on his Nintendo Switch.

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