Chiang Mai, Thailand is easily one of the most popular cities in the world for Digital Nomads to call home, or at least spend a few months in. For some, Chiang Mai is the total package. It certainly is a unique town, busting at the seems with culture and a thriving nomad scene.
So what makes Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads and remote workers the best? Check it out!
Chiang Mai is a cafe capitol of the world, that’s for sure. I lived in the trendy Nimman area of town near Doi Suthep and there was no shortage of cozy spots to work for creatives like myself. Strong coffee paired with strong internet connection is just one of the reasons why I had such a successful and productive couple months in Thailand.
I had internet access my entire time I was in Chiang Mai, although that changed dramatically when I spent a weekend in rural Pai.
A Strong Nomad Community
One of the perks that drew me to Chiang Mai was the already established group of Digital Nomads that inhabit the city. Especially in the neighborhood of Nimman, where I resided. Because of the strong ties between Chiang Mai and remote workers, you can easily make friends from all over the globe and bounce your business ideas off people who understand and “get it.”
To meet fellow nomads and get work done in a productive environment, definitely think about joining a Coworking Office. A few of the most popular and recommended include:
For weekly organized presentations on a variety of different business, nomad, skillshares themes, join the Digital Nomad Coffee Club.
Access to Western Culture
Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads is the best of both worlds. I was surprised at how modern parts of the city are and the western influences you can find throughout the city. KFC is huge in Thailand, and there’s also your typical fast food restaurants like Pizza Hut and McDonalds – both of which deliver 😉
The cafes are also modern and luxe, featuring brews from all over the world and tea served in glass decanters. And if you’d rather get your fast wifi and coffee in a more familiar setting, Starbucks is conveniently located throughout the city as well. But be warned, the Thai Starbucks locations are western priced. Meaning, you’re still going to pay about $5-$6 USD for a coffee, instead of the more typical $1.50 – $2.50 brew at a local cafe.
If you live in Nimman or Huay Kae, the MAYA Mall is a particular treat. You can walk to the mall and find 5 floors of tech, shopping, a food court, grocery store with western foods… basically anything you could ever need! My typical day included eating Pad See Ew in the “basement” of the mall at one of the food stalls, heading up a floor to Starbucks and working for several hours, then heading up another floor and getting a massage for about $5 USD. Ahhh, the life.
PS. If you tell your songtaew or Uber drive you want to go to MAYA, it’s pronounced “May-YAH” with an emphasis on that second syllable. You’d be surprised how often a driver didn’t know where the heck I wanted to go if I pronounced it like “May-a” or “My-ah”
Chiang Mai is Hella Affordable
OMG you guys. If you ever need a reason to pack up and move to Chiang Mai, this is it:
I SAVED money by living abroad.
Yep. MHMM. And I didn’t even penny-pinch. Actually, I lived like a damn Queen. Weekly massages, nice meals, lots of lattes, you name it – I did it. I liiiiiiived in Chiang Mai, and I was still able to put a few dollars in my savings account thanks to the low cost of living.
I lived in 2 adorable studio apartments that I rented on Airbnb that were about $400/month, however, if you don’t rent on Airbnb and just walk into apartment complexes in town, you can easily find studios for $250 to $300 USD. I did have to pay an electric bill at the second apartment I stayed at that was 600 baht which is a grand total of… $18.
In one sentece: Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads is an affordable alternative to paying rent and bills in your hometown.
Some of the most common expenditures in Chiang Mai and their prices include:
Massage: 250 Baht / $7 USD
Local Specialty Coffee: 50 baht / $1.40 USD
Songtaew Ride from Nimman to Tha Pae Gate: 30 baht / 0.86 cents
Street Cart Dinner: 40 baht / $1.15 USD
Large bottle of water at 7-11: 14 baht / 40 cents USD
Chang or Leo pint of beer at a restaurant: 60 baht / $1.70
Reputation for Friendliess Towards Expats
For the overwhemingly most part, Chiang Mai locals were extremely friendly and helpful to myself and my friends. There’s a reason Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles.” The Thai that I interacted with were always warm and inviting. I made friends with the schoolgirl baristas at my local Starbucks, sat in the front seat of a Songtaew and helped the driver practice his English, and practiced my Thai with anyone who was willing to listen.
I don’t know if I had a unique experience or not, but all I can say is that I always felt nothing but inclusiveness from those around me. I always felt safe, I never felt like I had to guard my personal belongings or walk faster in dark alleys.
Chiang Mai was the perfect home away from home and I can’t wait to return <3