Bangkok is a friendly, buzzing city visited by millions of people each year. The low prices and abundance of great food also make it a popular base for Digital Nomads to live and work remotely from.
We spent 2 months living as Digital Nomads in the north of Bangkok and found it to be a fantastic city to base ourselves. We’ve written this guide to help you if you’re planning to travel and work remotely in Thailand’s capital.
Living the laptop lifestyle obviously means you need a fast and reliable internet connection wherever you decide to pitch up. So, it’s fantastic to know that the Nomad List website scores Bangkok as ‘good’ when it comes to internet speed and ‘great’ for the availability of free wifi across the city.
This rings true with our experience of working from the condo we rented where the speeds averaged between 10 and 15 Mbps. There was only 1 time in 2 months that the internet was cut off, but this was due to an upgrade for the entire building and lasted less than 24 hours. It was a welcome excuse to trot off and explore the local area.
Pretty much all of the coffee shops and restaurants we visited in our local area and downtown offered free wifi. Obviously you’ll need to be careful when using these open public connections as with anywhere, so read up on staying safe while using your laptop or smartphone when out and about.
Which Bangkok district should you live in?
Coming back to Bangkok with the intention of staying there for a few months, we started to research areas of the city we might like to live in. We wanted somewhere away from the expensive touristy or business areas but with good transport links into the centre and decent food options.
We would recommend getting a day ticket for the BTS Skytrain (Green Lines) or the MRT (Blue Line) and jump off at stations as you head out from the downtown area. This way you quickly get a feel for the different areas of the city and can see what local amenities are close by.
The area north of the Victory Monument is popular with local hipsters and expats alike, getting cheaper the further north you go. Heading southeast or southwest (across the Chao Phraya River) from the centre you’ll also find plenty of great areas including the popular On Nut and Bang Chak areas.
Accommodation options and costs
Once you’ve sourced out the area you’d like to live in, it’s time to find yourself a room, apartment or house. In recent years there has been an explosion of condo (large serviced apartment buildings), being built across Bangkok alongside the older ‘low rise’ apartments.
These both make a great option for renting and we found the best line of enquiry was to simply chat to the receptionist or security guard and ask if there were any apartments for rent in the building. At some buildings they will show you around then and there, whilst others will give you the contact details of the local agents. Either way it won’t take long to build up a list of places to ponder over.
Most landlords will be looking for a minimum stay of 3 months plus a deposit or 2 months rent up front as insurance. If you are looking, as we were, for a shorter stay consider AirBnB or a similar letting site to avoid the hassle of deposits and contracts.
We paid around $430 per month for a 1 bedroom condo in the Bang Sue area in northern Bangkok with all bills included plus access to the onsite pool. Be aware that many condos are clamping down on short-term lettings so check with the owner that the listing is legitimate!
If renting directly, expect to pay from around $300 per month including bills for a basic apartment and a little more for somewhere newer with an onsite pool, gym, cafe and shop. Remember to check exactly what’s included before agreeing to rent anywhere. Electricity is cheap but the bills can soon mount up if you stay in all day working away with the aircon on full blast!
Food and Drink
One of the main reasons we chose Bangkok as our digital nomad base was the abundance of tasty yet cheap food. Even in the centre of the city it’s easy to find a delicious meal for less than $2 and the prices usually drop as you head away from downtown area.
Renting an apartment usually gives you a small kitchen area to prepare some basic dishes to keep costs down further. We lived on packet noodles mixed with a few veggies and treated ourselves to a meal out every few days. This kept our living expenses to below $300 a month which could be even less if we had shopped at the local fresh food market more.
There are various supermarkets scattered around Bangkok including Tesco Lotus and our favorite, Big C, useful for grabbing the essentials. Also you never seem to be more than 100 meters away from a 7-Eleven convenience store, handy for a quick snack or emergency toiletries.
Coffee, the fuel of many laptop folk, is also easy to come by anywhere in Bangkok. A cup of joe costs under $1 from most street vendors and from $1.50 in coffee shops. The famous Thai iced tea is a few cents cheaper and makes a nice alternative refreshment, available on nearly ever street in the city.
At the time of writing the ruling party of Thailand seems keen to cut down on the so called ‘visa runs’ where visitors take a day trip over the nearest border and back to extend their stay. So our advice would be to get a 2 month Thai Visa in advance from an embassy which should cost around $55.
This can then be extended in Bangkok for 1 more month for an additional fee, giving you a 90 day stay in total. Contact your local embassy for longer stays and be aware that the rules and requirements are changing all the time.
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