Whether you’re an entrepreneur building your company from the ground up or a digital nomad working remotely while traveling the World, Asia is a land of wonders you really need to visit. With endless clear blue water beaches, co-working spaces and conferences focused on the tech industry, Asia is a great place to be. So here’s a list of the best digital nomad hubs in Asia.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is one of the best places for digital nomads in Southeast Asia. Not exactly your typical Asian city Instead of chaos, pollution, and insane traffic, you will find in Chiang Mai a more relaxed vibe and a host of cool places to work from. One of the biggest draws of Chiang Mai is the wide range of amazing Western and Thai food that can be found at markets, food carts, and restaurants for only a few dollars: the perfect fuel for a hardworking digital nomad.
Considering its small population of less than 400,000, it’s incredible to think that there are over ten co-working spaces to choose from such PunSpace, not to mention innumerable cafes with fast Wi-Fi. It pays to mix it up and try out as many places as possible – each will have a unique vibe and a different crowd for you to meet.
Canggu is a small beachside town in South Bali where local Balinese and Australian and European expats live together in harmony. The Balinese economy depends largely on tourism to keep local businesses running – not to mention the exuberant friendliness of the Balinese people, which makes it a really nice place for anyone looking for a small-town for you digital nomad life.
There will be people working alongside you that are experts in their own fields – be that in web design, e-commerce, or photography, all mainly attracted by the amazing cost of living. For 400 USD per month, expect to find yourself living in a fully furnished apartment and an incredible view of the rice fields! WiFi, and private parking.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Great for long term travelers and digital nomads, Da Nang offers a good combination of coworking spaces, many workable cafes, and plenty of things to do to keep you busy. A rapidly changing place, Da Nang offers really good internet, and more expats are arriving each day. The laid back beach-city vibe is a real draw for people who aren’t into the high-speed life of Hanoi or Saigon and the inexpensive local foods will keep your belly full on a budget.
Vietnams third largest city, Da Nang is set in the center of the country, right on the sea, it’s home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and clean waters. If you wanna get some work done, a good alternative is IoT Coworking Space. And once you’re done with work and want to do some sightseeing, make sure to visit Cau Vang, a pair of giant, weathered stone hands – holding up a gleaming golden bridge
Located on the tropical island of Bali, this picturesque village is notoriously famous for its rapidly growing start-up scene – Ubud has quickly become a top choice for digital nomads on a budget. Popular with yogis and health food enthusiasts, this little village has blossomed into a hub for entrepreneurs since nomad living in Ubud is extremely easy. Apartments can be found for as little as $300 per month while a humble room in a homestay will only set you back $12 per day including breakfast.
Ubud is also a culturally rich city, with an array of possible experiences you can only find in a tropical island. Take a trip to a morning market that looks like you’ve stepped into an Indiana Jones movie, participate in a Balinese cooking class, walk through the rice fields or attend a fire-breathing Kekak show.
If you’re looking to get some work done grab an artisanal coffee at Seniman and get cracking on those emails. But if you still need an office you can check out great co-working spaces such as The Onion Collective and The Outpost.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
Chiang Mai offers everything a digital nomad could wish for, except for one thing: there’s no beach. You’d be crazy not to use the beach as your office for at least some of your time in Thailand – a country famous for its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters – which is why I spent nearly four months working from Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand.
If you look past the buckets of cheap cocktails and parties, you will find a beautiful island with a laid-back vibe that is fast becoming a magnet for digital nomads. The island is quickly learning to cater to its freelancer community, with a growing number of hostels and cafes offering fast Wi-Fi, plus two co-working spaces. But if what you need is a bit of inspiration, then what could be better than a hammock on the beach. Koh Phangan is just a weekend trip away from the amazing islands of Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea.
This is one of the best places digital nomads who also have a deep love of good food. Located just south of the Thailand-Malaysian border, Penang Island is a former British colony and multicultural hub. George Town, its charming capital, is packed with history and crumbling colonial architecture.
But the biggest draw of Penang is its culinary diversity. Foodies will be really happy as the range of incredible food is mind-blowing: Indian, Malay, Chinese and Thai cuisines have influenced Penang’s food culture. Quirky cafes are dotted around town offering free wifi and freshly brewed coffee to boost productivity. And if you are one of those who really need an office to work, make sure to check out some of the cool co-working spaces in Penang, such as MSOGO or Scoopoint.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Although more and more Western-style buildings are appearing throughout Cambodia’s capital city, it is still rather underdeveloped compared to other Southeast Asian cities. For this very reason, Phnom Penh holds so much charm and allure. Numerous temples, markets, and the Royal Palace all transport you to the past while new architecture and modern restaurants and cafes seem to be opening daily.
Phnom Penh has come to the forefront for young entrepreneurs in recent years because of its extremely low-income tax rate. Starting a business there could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the years and the cost of living is also very low with an entire apartment costing approximately 400 USD per month. Phnom Penh is also perfect for someone looking for a new job, as modern Cambodia is quite a new country, they are actively seeking skilled expatriates from other countries to come and work. The expat and digital nomad community is thriving, and the possibility for networking is ever present.
Admittedly, living in Japan as a digital nomad isn’t going to be as cheap as going to Thailand, Cambodia or Indonesia, but with careful planning, it is still possible. And if Tokyo always had a reputation for being an expensive city to live in, the good news is: this is just a reputation. If you look closely, a digital nomad dream in Japan is something very possible and here are some tips!
The cheapest, most convenient, and basic go-to option for those who want to stay a couple of months are share house. It also happens to be a really good way to meet locals and fellow travelers, and you won’t be annoyed by paperwork. However, Transportation in Tokyo is not cheap. That makes the choice of your home + base co-working combo very strategic: you basically want to be able to get to work by bicycle every day. And if you still need to fit in the cost of a co-working, there are some really good options like The Hive Jinnan and Yahoo! Lodge (top tip: day passes are free!).
Those looking for perfect, always on and high-speed internet shouldn’t consider Mandalay for a few years yet. Those with a little more freedom to choose, however, should consider. The city has much lower rental costs than in Yangon and it is in the heart of some of the most unspoiled territory in Asia.
Since Myanmar has only recently opened up (around 5 years ago), you’ll be among the first long-term visitors to Mandalay which means getting the “real vibe” before it’s overrun by tourists.