The ultimate digital nomad guide for Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a really chill place, famous for the lantern festival once a year around November, mountains, temples, elephants sanctuaries and known for nature.
Chiang Mai is one of the biggest cities in the North of Thailand. Now I think about it, It might be the biggest in the North. Chiang Mai Is really poplar for nomads. Probably the cheap living standards, big community and the nature around it?
This is going to be a big blog post full of my best tips about living and working as a digital nomad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Enjoy!

About Chiang Mai:

If you’re planning to go to Chiang Mai, make sure to think about the seasons.
The dry one (November till May) and the wet one (October till April) and the burning season(Febr-April).
The best time (my opinion) would be in November during the Loy Krathong festival, a lantern festival that they celebrate big and because of that they decorate all the little streets in the town and it looks really cosy. Especially during the burning season, I wouldn’t recommend going to Chiang Mai. But, you can check out Koh Lanta?

Nomad guide of Koh Lanta

In this guide, I will tell you more about the (work) lifestyle in Chiang Mai with tips I collected.

Why you should go to Chiang Mai?

  • To experience the lantern festival once in your life. Definitely the highlight of my trip to Chiang Mai.
  • The living is pretty cheap
  • There is a big nomad community.
  • There is  a lot to discover from hikes in nature until a lot of temples

 

Because this review is an honest one, I also will give some reasons why Chiang Mai is maybe not your place to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love this place, but there are some things worth to consider if you are going.

Why you shouldn’t go to Chiang Mai.

  • I didn’t felt the city, some nomads told me that they had to live in it for 3 months to like it, some told me they loved it straight away. I’m still adapting I think. Don’t dislike it, but I’m also not really a big fan of this city.
  • There is no beach, this was something I really missed.
  • It can be a bit overcrowded by all the backpackers, especially in the old town.
  • After 12 in the night, most of the bars close, so if you’re searching for a place to party on the weekends or in general, there aren’t so many options.

Getting to know Thailand:

Visa’s

First of all, you need a valid passport for a visit to Thailand. Most of the countries have a visa on arrival for one month, but it’s also possible to get a 2-month tourist visa. You have to arrange the 2-month visa at your Ambassade in your home country or you extend your visa at the embassy in Thailand.  Make sure you have a return ticket when you’re coming to Thailand.
A little tip, bring some visa photos with you when you travel, it makes the progress faster.

How to go to Chiang Mai?

1. The easiest way is flying to Chiang Mai from Bangkok.
2. There are night buses going from Bangkok.
2. Take the minivan, that will take a long time, but it’s the most budget proof option.

Accommodations

There are a lot of places you can stay, guesthouses, hostel, hotels or Airbnb. It totally depends on the kind of budget you have and how you would like to travel. Overall, the prices online are quite high, definitely in high season. It helps if you book something for a couple of nights and talk with the owner if you can make a cheaper deal if you stay long term.

Monthly rental places:

Cheapest (2000-5000 bath)

  • The Sirriruk (aka the Siri)
  • Huay Kawe residence at home

Average: (+- 10.000 baths)

  • Baan Thai
  • PT Residence
  • HimNimman

Luxury (13.000 baths and more)

  • Pansook
  • Luxury Huay Kaew
  • The mirror
  • Patitta
  • The Siri condo

Glur Chiang Mai.

If you wanna book a place for the first days to find a rental for a month, those I can recommend:
– Glur Chiang Mai (hostel dorms and private rooms)
– Mojo house (private room, basic)

If you want to book something with Airbnb? Use this code and you will get a 25 euro discount (To give more information about the link, it’s an affiliate link, I will get 15,- for booking and you will help yourself with 25 euro)

DISCOUNT LINK

ATM’s  

There are a lot of different ATM’s. Didn’t find one with the best rates, there are pretty much the same for my dutch card (ING). But make sure you take out as much as possible because there is always a couple of dollars fee when you take out money. Also, make sure to take out a lot. All the time when you have to take out money it costs you 220 bath extra.

Transport:

Public transport:

  • Red minibuses
    They are driving around everywhere, costs only 30 baths, but you mostly have to wait for others on the bus as well so it can take a bit longer.
  • Grab taxi app (recommendable)
    This app I use a lot. Just download the app and use it as a taxi (You do need internet for this).  I mostly use the bike taxi’s, but there are also cars available. You pay in cash.
  • Normal taxi’s. 
  • Walking 😉 

Renting a scooter or bike:

The most common transport is renting a scooter. There are so many rental points, but I only have experience with AYA rental. They are really good. And they also have a shop in Pai.
Make sure you have your internal driving licence with you if you rent a scooter

Scooter rent in bath: daily (150-250 a day), weekly (+/- 1.000 ), monthly (3.000-5.000).
Of course, the amount of money depends on the kind of motor, but also on the scooter rentals. There are a couple of places that don’t ask fair prices, so make sure you don’t pay to much.

   

Hospitals

I really hope you don’t need this information, but this one if one fo the best around. (tested by me, unfortunately, haha, but good for the article)
Sriphat Medical Center.

Internet & Simcards

Most cafes and accommodations have good wifi. It can be handy to buy a sim card for data. I highly recommend buying a sim card. You can do this in Bangkok or Chang Mai. I would recommend going to the AIS shop. It will cost you around 6 euros for unlimited internet for a whole month! I paid 650 baths (6 euro) for unlimited data.

Coworking Cafes:

If I’m working in cafes, I mostly do that in the mornings. So based on the mornings i made this list. (Not sure if it’s crowded in the afternoon or not). And I’m probably gonna regret sharing my cafes because now they are mostly empty haha. So here they are.

1) Buristra Coworking. (200 bath  a day, included a free drink and you can use the pool)

2) Atmira garden *not the best chairs, but love to work in the garden for a couple of hours)

3) Artisan coffee, quiet cafe, really good coffee and good wifi.

 

Other nice places to work/eat:

Hangout Cafe, Secret cafe in town, 1989 cosy cafe, Rustic and blue, Aka Ama coffee, Ombra coffee. 

 

Co-working places:

In Chiang Mai, you have different coworking spaces. You can buy a day pass, weekly or monthly passes.

The most popular ones:

  1. Startwork Chiang Mai
  2. Mana Coworking
  3. Wake up coffee
  4. Camp
  5. Punspace (3 different locations)
    –  Nimman
    –  Thae Pae gate
    – Wiang Kaew

Punspace Nimman

Nightlife & beach bars

  • Chill”:
  • Fancy; rooftop hotel.
  • Popular food markets:  Wat Sam Phao, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Chang Pheuak Gate (North Gate), Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Foodmarket (south gate)
    Every Saturday there is food market at the south gate and every Sunday the streetfood Sunday market (Old Town).

 

Day/weekend trips from Chiang Mai:

  • Visit Pai (Blog with tips coming soon)
  • Visit the grand canyon.
  • Visit the  Chiang Rai and the white temple
  • Hiking in the national park
  • Do a cooking course.
  • Elephant sanctuary visit.

 

My conclusion:

Chiang Mai, Thailand as a digital nomad place: 7/10
Based on:
+ High-quality food places, cheap living standards, nature (PAI!) and a really good nomad community.
+ Cheapest place I’ve had as a nomad place so far.
–  No beach, island vibes and I didn’t like the city that much. (personal opinion, because most people I met they do like it)

I hope this guide will make living a Chiang Mai bit easier. Let me know if you have some tips for me of places I missed and have to discover.

Suzanne Schuringa

Author Suzanne Schuringa

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