Chiang Mai really is a nomad hub

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My first week as digitalnomad in Chiang Mai

Beeing a digitalnomad, what a dream. But sometimes even i am able to let dreams become reality. So i packed my back, got vaccinated until i felt sick, created a travel insurance and went my way.

First stop: Chiang Mai. Obviously.

Why Chiang Mai

Reading into the digitalnomad thing i heard chiang mai oftener than anything else. There must be something magic about this place i thought and so the choice became obvious. It helps that thailand generally serves as hub for south east asia. It is easy and cheap to get anywhere from here.

Chiang Mai is a not so big city in the north of Thailand. Known for, well now mostly digital nomads.

Arriving in Chiang Mai

You land directly in the next to the city. A taxi drive should cost you more than a few dollars when you booked somewhere around the city. I booked in Nimmad (because thats where the nomads are, and the thai students for that matter) in a place called Sukkasem Homestay. I mention this because the guy owning this place was really helpful and nice. IMO it was the perfect spot to spend my first days while i look for a apartment.

Finding a apartment in Chiang Mai

Honestly after my first day searching i was pissed. Why would so many bloggers suggest they live in places for $120-200 a month when i can not even find one for $300 which has a room free while searching the whole day. Turns out, Loi Krathong is much more important than i thought and thats why everything was booked especially directly around Nimmad. Not to mention i forgot it was sunday, which may explains why in some places nobody was around to even ask. After asking on nomadlist i got suggested to check around huay kaew road and guess what. I found a place like instantly the next day, for about $180 a month. Huay Kaew Residence. Not to fancy, but not to shady ether. Plus the pool helps to get a cool head.

This site by someone from the nomad slack seems to have a good mix of monthly available apartments:

Getting around Chiang Mai

In my opinion you need a scooter. There is so much to see and you will not want to walk around in that heat for to long. TukTuks and red taxis are available too, but the first are known to overcharge and the second, i dont know, i just wanted my scooter :) Not sure if i always was a reckless driver or this traffic is just way less bad than i read.

People here seem to be rather respectful drivers. Cars seem to suspect a scooter shooting out of every corner every second, so cars seem really careful most of the time. And other scooter drivers are not to bad ether.

My scooter is 2300 baht a month (about $70 or something) from Mango Rentals because i read many good things about them. And so far i guess its true, they really are a relaxed nice place to get a scooter without having to fear getting scammed.

Things to do in Chiang Mai

There is SO MUCH TO SEE. Really so far driving around and stopping at places and temples that look interesting was more than enough. There are a few museums, especially those of the local culture, i want to check out soon. There are a lot of animal related things to see, but i have yet to find one that has more than 2 stars on TripAdvisor or Google because of animal cruelty. I would suggest avoiding any of these, including the zoo.

Nimmad is full of coffee places and bars. Seriously full of it, i have a harder time figuring out which i try today than finding one. Some coffee is really good, some coffee is just boring. Sometimes more expensive, sometimes cheaper. You really find it all.

Things to eat in Chiang Mai

If i want anything special i just check TripAdvisor or Google. Otherwise there is food everywhere. And i mean everywhere. There is barely a street without a small stand selling whatever they can fit on sticks. I try to remember places that look tasty all the time, but there are just so many of them. I’ve eaton full meals between 50 cents and $10. All of them tasty and non of them made me sick. And honestly, the expensive “foreign” places, are usually worse than the awesome street food on the corner.

If there is one thing you dont have to worry here, it is food. Even if you dont like seafood and fish like me, there is always something to eat. And if your budget is even to limited for street food there is always the awesome ramen noodle selection in every bigger supermarket.

Coworking in Chiang Mai

So many co working spaces. Seriously. I have not yet even checked the half, and those i’ve seen all have been nice. I realized its not really my style and i get distracted to easy so i just look for a little more remote coffee places. Most of which give you WiFi access for a drink. Otherwise i have my AIS card and 4GB wherever i go anyway.

I cant get over the fact that i cant smoke in C.A.M.P. even if they have a balcony. But C.A.M.P. is THE place to go to see other nomads. Or on the weekends in the nights when nomads are over a beer discussing their next projects camp is full of students it seems. Punspace also is super popular, but i have not been there yet.

(MY) Cost of living in Chiang Mai

This was something i googled more than once before i got here and i got very different results. I am to lazy to properly format this right now but here it goes (all monthly):

  • Apartment: 6500 baht
  • Scooter: 2300 baht
  • Morning coffee in my Fridge: ~900 baht (17 baht a can)
  • Smoking/cigs: 3500 baht (87 baht a pack)
  • Eating out 2 times a day: 12000 baht (i calculate with 400 baht, sometimes it way less, rarely more)
  • Fun activities: 2000 baht (Doing some paid stuff once a week)
  • Coffee for WiFi: 6000 baht (50-80 for a coffee usually)
  • That is: 33200 baht, so about $930

Note this is without electricity & water cost as i dont know that yet.

Honestly i am surprised it did not came out more, but obviously it is also missing some stuff like Visa runs, plane tickets to other places, even no idea how much i spent for my scooter fuel so far. But i can safely say, these $1000 can bring you really far here. I am not really trying to safe at all.

Written: 14.11.2016
Keywords: digitalnomad, chiang mai, thailand

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About me

My name is Roman Pramberger, i am a 20something years old developer from Austria, spending my youth in Bern, Switzerland. I spend my days creating *things.

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