Best City for Digital Nomads in Thailand – Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai

There are unlimited reasons why people from all over the world choose to relocate to Thailand. Affordable lifestyle, warm climate, stunning beaches, incredible cuisine, modern cities, and welcoming people await you.

And for digital nomads in Thailand, this country is a productivity paradise; internet speeds are lightning fast!

Best City for Digital Nomads in Thailand – Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai

There are unlimited reasons why people from all over the world choose to relocate to Thailand. Affordable lifestyle, warm climate, stunning beaches, incredible cuisine, modern cities, and welcoming people await you.

And for digital nomads in Thailand, this country is a productivity paradise; internet speeds are lightning fast!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

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Digital Nomads in Thailand girl on mac

But where is the best city for digital nomads in Thailand? There are many to choose from; however, two cities in Thailand’s northern region are top-rated.

This guide covers information about both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which city offers remote and digital workers the best lifestyle. 

Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai – Digital Nomads in Thailand 

Chiang Mai – Digital Nomads in Thailand Popular Hub 

Chiang Mai has been popular as a digital nomad hotspot for many years, with an excellent infrastructure for working remotely. 

You can find many fantastic coworking spaces and coffee shops with reliable wifi everywhere. And if you need to take a break from work, there are plenty of temples to explore, night markets to wander, and delicious Thai food to eat.

Another reason why Chiang Mai is popular among digital nomads is it’s easy to access the international airport. This allows you to take direct flights to Bangkok, Singapore, & Hanoi at very affordable prices. 

Plus, Chiang Mai’s living cost is incredibly affordable compared to many other digital nomad hubs in Thailand. So you can stretch your budget further and have more money to spend on experiences or treating yourself.

Digital Nomads in Thailand pool laptop

Lifestyle in Chiang Mai

One of the best things about Chiang Mai is its rich cultural heritage. Explore the ancient city walls in your leisure time, or head into the stunning countryside. Chiang Mai is surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush countryside, making it a paradise for nature lovers.

Go hiking, visit Hill Tribes deep into the mountain, admire the incredible views from Doi Suthep or enjoy the fresh air and feeling of zen that Chiang Mai seems to give. 

Furthermore, you can rent a motorbike from around 2900 THB (126 AUD / 85 USD) monthly. It’s good value to enable digital nomads to get around in Chiang Mai.

Once the sun begins to set, this city comes to life! You could spend hours wandering through the maze of stalls at the famous Night Bazaar, listen to live music at one of the many bars or taste local street food in the evening. 

Or if you prefer something a bit more low-key, you can spend an afternoon at one of the city’s many parks, like Buak Hat Park or Nong Buak Haad Public Park.

Of course, no discussion of Chiang Mai’s lifestyle would be complete without mentioning the food. Whether you’re a fan of spicy curries or sweet mango sticky rice, there’s something for everyone in this foodie paradise.

With so many affordable restaurants and street vendors, you can sample various dishes at an affordable price. We list 15 of our favourite places in Chiang Mai here

Honestly, the lifestyle of a digital nomad in Chiang Mai is pretty hard to beat. The coffee is fantastic, the internet speeds are impressive, the weather’s nice, and you’ll find an active community of other digital nomads to connect with.

Best Area to Live for Digital Nomads in Chiang Mai

Several areas in Chiang Mai are popular places to live for digital nomads. Here are some of the most popular spots for digital nomads to live and why they are so awesome:

Nimmanhaemin: This trendy neighbourhood, known as “Nimman,” is a popular digital nomad hub. With its abundance of cafes, restaurants, and best coworking spaces, Nimman offers the perfect blend of work and play. Plus, it’s home to the Maya shopping mall, which boasts an impressive cinema, grocery store, and fantastic gym.

Old City: If you’re looking for a more authentic Thai experience, Old City is the place to be. With its ancient temples, street markets, and traditional architecture, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. But don’t worry; there are still plenty of cafes and coworking spaces to keep you connected.

Santitham: This up-and-coming neighbourhood is popular with digital nomads thanks to its affordable rents and laid-back vibe. Santitham is also home to great restaurants, cafes, and the Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall.

Chang Phueak: If you’re keen to keep up with your fitness, Chang Phueak is the place for you. This neighbourhood is home to several gyms and yoga studios. Furthermore, it’s not far from Chiang Mai University, which means you can find some cheap and delicious street food in abundance.

No matter where you live in Chiang Mai, you will have a great time. We cover a little more information about different areas to stay in Chiang Mai in this accommodation guide for Chiang Mai.

With its friendly locals, delicious food, and beautiful scenery, it’s no wonder that Chiang Mai has become such a popular destination for digital nomads!

chiang mai temples
Many beautiful temples are scattered around the Old City, Chiang Mai

Coworking Spaces & Best Cafes to Work in Chiang Mai

For digital nomads in Chiang Mai to be as productive as possible at all times, fast internet speed is vital. There are plenty of excellent coworking spaces and cafes where you can settle in with your laptop.

  1. Yellow Coworking Space: This place has it all! Yellow Connect offers high-speed internet, and the space is designed to be comfortable and conducive to work. The area has ergonomic chairs, spacious work desks, and plenty of natural light, making it comfortable for digital nomads to focus and be productive. The coworking space is also air-conditioned and located in the heart of Chiang Mai, in the Nimman neighbourhood (the trendy part). The space is close to the best restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it easy for digital nomads to socialise outside work hours. This is the top choice for workplaces for digital nomads in Chiang Mai. Check out the Pricing List here.
  2. PunSpace: Offers two locations in Chiang Mai for coworking spaces for digital nomads. One location is Wiang Kaew, and the other is Tha Phae Gate. Both places offer a calm, cool, lively work environment with full facilities and 24/7 access.
  3. CAMP WorkSpace (Maya Mall, Nimman): This place is handy. They’ve created this large, quiet working space on the top floor of Maya Mall in the Nimman neighbourhood where you can come to get things done. It’s open 24 hours; there are many areas to find a nook to sit and do work. It’s a cafe, too, so you can drink coffee or grab a bite to eat at the same time.
  1. Alt_Chiangmai: Offers coliving space and coworking space for digital nomads. Here for a week, a month, or even longer? Alt_ChiangMai is a well-equipped, friendly living space for remote workers and digital nomads in the heart of Chiang Mai. View the Alt_Chiangmai website.
  2. Colab Cowork & Cafe: This great coworking spot offers flexible and comfortable seating and the fastest internet speeds in Chiang Mai. It’s the ideal place for remote workers and digital nomads to be as productive as possible. View Colab’s monthly pricing list here.
  3. Hub53: This is your all-in-one digital nomads in Thailand Chiang Mai package! The coworking space here is fantastic. they offer comfortable chairs to work long hours, very spacious areas, and a great place to network with others. Hub53 offers co-living too, so you can rent long-term rooms here too. Check out the Hub53 website for pricing and details on accommodation. Hub53 has a great location – less than a 10-minute walk from the popular Nimman neighbourhood with cool bars, restaurants, and Maya Mall. 
  4. Akha Ama PhrasinghThis cafe serves fantastic coffee. Plus, it’s a handy spot to work for an hour or two. Internet speeds are awesome here, so take advantage of that if you come by for your daily caffeine hit.
Digital Nomads in Thailand Akha Ama Phrasingh

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the most affordable places for digital nomads, so you can stretch your budget pretty far here. Let’s break down some of the living in Thailand, Chiang Mai expected costs:

Accommodation: Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay anywhere from 6,000 baht (USD 190) to 20,000 baht (USD 630) monthly for a one-bedroom apartment or studio. If you’re looking for a shared apartment or co-living space, you can expect to pay around 5,000 baht (USD 160) to 10,000 baht (USD 315) monthly.

Food and drink: One of the best things about Chiang Mai is the fantastic food, and it’s also incredibly affordable! You can get a delicious street food meal for as little as 40 baht (USD 1.25), a local meal in a family-run restaurant from 60 – 100 THB, or you can splurge on a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant for around 350 – 500 baht ($10 – 16 USD).

In addition, a beer at a local bar will set you back around 60 baht (USD 1.90), while a fresh coconut from a street vendor is just 20 baht (USD 0.60).

Transportation: Chiang Mai is a fairly compact city, so you can easily get around on foot, by bicycle (50 THB per day), or by motorbike, (daily rates start from 150 THB).

If you are uncomfortable driving a motorbike, you can take a tuk-tuk or songthaew (a shared taxi) for a few dollars. Grab Ride App is also very handy, and you can ride on the back of a motorbike with a driver or in a car. 

A one-month motorbike rental will cost you around 2,900 baht (USD 85), while a one-way songthaew ride is usually around 30 baht (USD 0.95).

Internet: High-speed internet is available in most areas of Chiang Mai. To connect, buy a local SIM card or a 15-day Thailand eSIM for USD 19.95, including UNLIMITED data.

Activities: There are plenty of things to do in Chiang Mai, from exploring ancient temples, and wandering through countless markets to hiking in the mountains. Admission to most temples is free, although some may ask for a small donation.

A half-day cooking class will cost around 50 AUD/ 35 USD, while a day trip to nearby attractions like Doi Inthanon National Park or the Elephant Nature Park will cost around 1,500 to 2,000 baht (USD 44 – 63).

Digital Nomads in Thailand accommodation chiang mai

You can expect to live comfortably in Chiang Mai as a digital nomad for around 25,000 to 30,000 baht per month.

That’s approximately $1090 – 1300 AUD / $750 to 900 USD monthly, although you can certainly live on a tighter budget if you’re willing to make some sacrifices or live simply.

And with all the amazing food, stunning scenery, and friendly locals, it’s definitely worth every penny!

Chiang Rai – Increasing in popularity for Digital Nomads in Thailand 

Chiang Rai, located 3 hours drive northeast of Chiang Mai is becoming an increasingly popular destination for digital nomads and remote workers.

Digital nomads can find affordable accommodation, food, and transportation in Chiang Rai, making it easier to stretch their budgets and live comfortably.

RELATED POST: 15 Amazing Things to do in Thailand

Digital Nomads in Thailand Blue temple
Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai? Both cities have fascinating Thai cultures to explore! Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

Lifestyle in Chiang Rai

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Thai culture and explore the natural beauty of Northern Thailand, then Chiang Rai is an ideal place. 

Chiang Rai is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, including mountains, waterfalls, and rice paddies. The city is an excellent base for outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

Chiang Rai has a small but active digital nomad community.

Best Area To Live for Digital Nomads

Chiang Rai is only half the size of Chiang Mai, so it’s quite a compact city. Regarding accommodation options for digital nomads here, many live in Central Chiang Rai as the location is closest to the best amenities for remote workers, cafes to work, etc. 

But depending on your preferences and requirements, we’ve listed two options for the best area to live in Chiang Rai.

Central Chiang Rai: This area is the heart of Chiang Rai and is popular among digital nomads and expats because of its proximity to many amenities. It has various accommodation options, including budget guesthouses and luxury hotels. 

Central Chiang Rai is also home to many restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it an excellent place to socialise and network with other digital nomads. The area is also known for its night bazaar, where you can find local handicrafts and great local food.

For more details on long-term accommodation in Chiang Rai, check, Airbnb or join Facebook Groups online. 

Mae Fah Luang: This area is located outside the city centre but is still popular among digital nomads because of its natural beauty and quiet atmosphere. 

Mountains surround Mae Fah Luang and is home to many outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and nature walks. The area is also known for its coffee shops and cafes, perfect for working remotely while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Coworking Spaces & Best Cafes to Work 

Currently, Chiang Mai takes the cake with an abundance of coworking spaces. We couldn’t find dedicated coworking spaces to join in Chiang Rai – but we feel this will rapidly change soon. 

Chiang Rai has the infrastructure, top internet speeds, and the potential to provide digital nomads with dedicated workspaces, so watch this space! 

It’s still a very affordable and friendly city to live in for remote workers, so you may need to rely on your home office/accommodation or the cafes below to work from while you’re here.

Kalae Cafe Nangnon Coffee: If you’re looking for breakneck internet speeds (like 450mbs), this excellent little cafe has it! Better yet, the coffee and food are terrific, and there’s an area upstairs where digital nomads can work.

This was our favourite spot in Chiang Rai, and the location is ideal – right in the city’s heart.

Digital Nomads in Thailand Nangnon coffee Chiang Rai
Digital Nomads in Thailand – Working upstairs at Nangnon Coffee in Chiang Rai

22 Grams Espresso Bar: The coffee is fantastic here. It’s a lovely space, but quite a small space. Convenient to stop by to enjoy a great coffee while you get some work out of the way.

Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House, Bistro & BarThis is a beautiful place to come and enjoy a meal or coffee. It is near the Blue Temple and more expensive than other places, but it is also a friendly and enjoyable workplace.

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Cost of Living in Chiang Rai

The cost of living as a digital nomad or remote worker in Chiang Rai can vary depending on your lifestyle and spending habits. 

However, here’s a rough estimate of the monthly expenses you can expect:

Accommodation: There are several options for accommodation in Chiang Rai, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Budget guesthouses start at around 300 baht (15 AUD / 10 USD) per night. More upscale options start from 2000 baht (88 AUD / 60 USD) per night.

For long-term stays, it’s possible to find furnished apartments starting from around 5,000 baht (218 AUD / 150 USD) monthly. After that, expect to spend about 10,000 baht (AUD 440 / USD 295) or more each month for something more modern and comfortable.

Food: Food is very affordable in Chiang Rai, and you can find plenty of cheap street food options starting at around 30 baht ($1) per meal. A mid-range restaurant meal can cost about 150 baht (4.50 USD), while a meal at a high-end restaurant can cost up to 500 baht (15 USD).

Transportation: It’s easy to get around Chiang Mai on foot, motorbike, or by bicycle. The most affordable and convenient option for digital nomads is to hire a motorbike monthly. The monthly rental price is around 2800 baht (120 AUD / 85 USD). If you hire a motorbike daily, expect to pay around 200 baht (6 USD). 

Taxis and tuk-tuks are also available, with prices starting at around 30 baht ($1) for a short ride. You can also use Grab Ride Sharing App. It’s like Uber, but you can order a ride in a car with a driver or on the back of a motorbike.

Activities: There are plenty of affordable activities to do in Chiang Rai. Visiting temples and historical sites, such as the White Temple and the Black House Museum, usually costs around 50-100 baht entrance fee ($1.50-$3). Outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and motorbiking are also popular, and equipment rental costs around 200-300 baht ($6-$9) per day.

Internet: High-speed internet can be found in most areas of Ko Samui. To get connected, either buy a local SIM card or a 15-day Thailand eSIM for $19.95, which includes UNLIMITED data.

You can expect to spend around 25,000-32,000 baht (AUD 1100 – 1400 or USD 745 – 950) per month as a digital nomad in Chiang Rai, depending on your lifestyle and spending habits. 

This is significantly lower than the cost of living in many Western countries, making Chiang Rai an affordable and attractive destination for remote workers and digital nomads.

Digital Nomad in Thailand Visa Options 

Australian passport holders, US citizens, Europeans, and many other nationalities can enter Thailand for up to 45 days on a tourist visa

However, the Smart Visa may work for you if you plan to stay long-term. Smart Visa holders will be granted a maximum of 4-year permission to stay, exemption from the work permit requirement, and entitled to additional privileges

There is also a Long-Term Residents Visa which offers ten years of residency and a range of other benefits for digital nomads in Thailand.

View the complete list of Thailand Visas here.

Off to Thailand for vacation? Take advantage of these basic Thai phrases! Make your travels smoother and connect better with the locals. 

For more information about being a Digital Nomad in Thailand or learning more about your prospective new home in the land of smiles – head to the Tourism Authority Thailand.

So, if you’re a digital nomad looking to soak up the stunning nature and relocate to the northern region of Thailand, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai are both excellent choices. 

Travel Tips for Thailand

We have many travel guides and tips for Thailand—what a delicious country!

Our 26 helpful tips for travel in Thailand are good to know before you arrive.

Start by tasting these top 12 Thai dishes and then explore more of this incredible cuisine. We love to eat here, and Thailand is featured in our top 10 best countries for food lovers. 

There are many reasons why it’s the perfect destination, and here are 15 amazing things to do in Thailand to help plan your next trip.

Our ultimate Southeast Asia packing list covers what to take (and what to leave at home). Learn a few basic Thai expressions to impress the locals!

If you plan on travelling to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand (which I highly recommend), our post about where to stay in Chiang Mai—our accommodation guide will be helpful to you.

Chiang Mai is a food lover’s paradise, our food guide on its best restaurants and places to eat is essential reading!

For those looking to stay a little longer in Thailand, this country is a digital nomad & remote workers’ heaven! Read our detailed digital nomads guide to both Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai and Ko Samui vs Ko Phangan for remote workers.

Some of our favourite places include Kata Beach, on the island of Phuket – here are ten awesome things to do in Kata Beach, and of course we put together this ultimate food guide for Phuket Town.

We recommend visiting Lampang, a lesser-known (but fantastic) city – here are 11 reasons to visit Lampang! 

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Thailand. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View options for eSIM in Thailand or the regional Asialink eSIM (which covers 13 countries).

If your travels in Thailand are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text eSIM. The Global eSIM has been a game-changer; we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

Want to travel in Thailand with like-minded travellers? View the best deals on group adventures in Thailand.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for recommendations! There is more interesting coworking spaces and cafes in Chiang Mai:

    The Story 106 – my favourite coworking cafe (on the Tha Phae Road), super nice interior!
    One Workspace – nice coworking space & cafe in Santitham (probably the highest ranked in Chiang Mai)
    The Social Club – coliving and coworking space in the Old Town (just opened, not far from Alt, it has a nicer vibe and is cheaper)

    • Hi James,
      Thanks so much for your additions to our list. These places sound great – we’ll have to stop by and check them out ourselves.


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