Digital Nomad Guide for Koh Phangan

9 Nov 2020
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Koh Phangan is a paradise island with beaches and jungles in the heart of Thailand, Southeast Asia. It is rising to become one of the global hubs for digital nomads. 

There are many more reasons why Digital Nomads are choosing to become location independent in the home of pad thai noodles, including of course the tastiest cuisine in Asia and all over the globe. 

The country also has a rich culture with friendly people and technological innovations paving the way for the emergence of digital nomads who now call Thailand their ‘hub’.

Koh Phangan is always evolving, firstly it was a party island, then a spirituality centre, lately an eco-tourism destination, and of course now it is becoming a popular digital nomad heaven. 
Sunset on Koh Phangan

Internet Availability

When digital nomads decide to settle in another place, the first thing they look for is whether an internet connection is available, as well as whether it is stable and reliable.  The Internet and WIFI are readily available on Koh Phangan, where the average speed is sufficient for most people. There are several cafes all around the island which offer a decent and secure Wi-Fi connection. If you are looking for something specially made for remote workers then there are coworking spaces that not only provide you with a reliable internet connection but also offer different amenities if your job requires more focus and you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of cafes.

You can also get your own internet at your house rental or on your mobile. It is straightforward to get hooked up in Thailand, and there is very little waiting time. You can pay for an internet package on a monthly basis. For some packages, you need to have a work permit, however, some internet service providers do waive the work permit requirement, but it depends on the provider and in whose name the internet will be in. It is a good idea to ask your landlord what they advise once you have found a place to live for the best service in your area. 
The best way to get online in Thailand is to purchase a sim card and a WiFi router. Most stores will have very helpful English-speaking staff. It usually takes a few days until you are connected, and most providers will give you a free ADSL modem. 
WiFi and cellular speed have significantly improved over the years. Phone data can reach up to 10 GB for a low price. As long as you are within your data in your package, you get it at the maximum speed that the company can provide. 
Than Sadet Beach Koh Phangan

Cost of Living

Koh Phangan is extremely affordable, even on a low budget. Even before you get to Koh Phangan, you can choose to start with the cheap choices by traveling by bus or train down to Surat Thani and getting the ferry over instead of flying to Samui.
If you need the cheapest place to stay then the one thing the island has a lot of is hostels! Hostels can get crazy cheap during periods outside of peak times, particularly in the low season. You're looking at 250 Baht a night on average. 
If you would like your own house then these can be found from 6000 Baht up to luxury villas at 50,000 Baht plus. It all depends on your budget and how you want to live.

When it comes to food there are many nice 50 Baht Thai restaurants still to be found and wonderful food markets with affordable street food. 
Travel and transport to get around to go to coworking spaces and see the gorgeous island are usually done by scooter, this is about 250 Baht per day or cheaper for monthly rental.
If you have more disposable income there are also more comfortable options for you, Koh Phangan has it all for all budgets but to summarise, the cost of living is relatively cheap compared to the Western world.
Fresh food market Thong Sala

Safety

Thailand is host to the world's friendliest citizens, Bangkok is even referred to as the Land of Smiles. Koh Phangan gets even friendlier and retains its hippy island vibes from the relaxed locals.
It goes without saying that life as a digital nomad on Koh Phangan is reasonably safe. However, you should still be cautious, therefore, with your belongings, including your laptop and documents. Nevertheless, if you need some sort of assistance since most locals understand the English language, you would be able to express what you need effectively.
Event in Baan tai

Weather

Thailand has a rainy-dry pattern the same as the rest of Southeast Asia. The country has three seasons: hot, cool, and wet. 
In the southern part of Thailand, on Koh Phangan in the east (Gulf Coast) it’s important to be aware of the difference as the weather of these regions differs from other areas of the South.

Southeastern Thailand is an area that is warm and humid throughout the year. The best time to visit is practically every month except during its wet season from September to December however it is very manageable to live here in the rainy season of those months and also serves as a welcome cooling down. 
October to December is when it rains the most frequently and most heavily. The famous islands of Ang Thong Marine Park in the Gulf of Thailand are known for its untouched nature and offer an attractions for fun water activities. Apart from that, you can expect beautiful weather pretty much all the time.
Sramanora Waterfall

Where to stay

You will want to consider your lifestyle and what you like to do when considering where you will place yourself on Koh Phangan. Different areas of Phangan have different things and also very different feelings. 

Haad Rin - The home of Full Moon 
Famous of course, for the monthly full moon party, but it also has more to offer and it can be a nice place for ex-pats to live in the area just before it, on the hills. Outside of the parties it boasts the most beautiful beach and is quiet. 

Thong Nai Pan and the East - Nature 
The most quietest and sparsely populated side of Koh Phangan has some breathtaking views both on the coast and inland. 

Thong Sala and Baan Tai - The Central Lifestyle 
Thong Sala, Koh Phangan's main centre, has grown into a thriving atmosphere full of wonderful bars and restaurants open both day and night, both western and local. Baan Tai, which hosts Jungle Experience, Waterfall Party, Half Moon, and Loi Lay Floating Bar, is now the main party area. If you fancy a dance, drink or a pub crawl, it is a great place to be in the evening. 

Chaloklum - Sea and Fishing 
This part of the island is famous for being the island's diving centre. Chaloklum is a beautiful community that blends well with the Thai people of the area. 

Sri Thanu and Hin Kong  - Yoga and wellness
Sri Thanu is renowned for its yoga and spiritual schools, and around this area, there is a certain 'calm' in the air. There is Hin Kong along the coastline, a really stunning coastline with views across the ocean to Samui and some of the island's best sunset spots. 

Yoga Sri Thanu
Most people who stay longer than a couple of weeks on the island like to rent a house or bungalow. Koh Phangan houses range from simple styles of bamboo and wood to luxury Western-style houses and villas like anywhere else in the world. So your budget is really going to play a role in what you can get. 
The best thing to do to find a place to live in the long term is to drive around yourself and look! Most free houses will have the Thai owner's sign and phone number, which means you cut out the agents and speak directly to the owner who will eventually be your landlord. You can also negotiate a long-term price, sometimes they are open for a 10-year deal or so, and the discount will be great compared to paying every month if you pay annually. 
You can, of course, use an agent or property company to look for you if you are looking for something specific or simply don't have the time to look for yourself. In doing this precise thing, many westerners have a business and so have many contacts and landlords who use their services. On the Facebook groups for Koh Phangan, you can find reputable companies.
Stylish island living

Visa

If you are a digital nomad for a company registered in Thailand then you will be able to get a Non-B visa and work permit through the company you work for. These can last for 3 months to one year depending on your status within the company.
You can also set up your own company in Thailand meaning you would be entitled to one work permit and Non-B Visa for one year at a time. Your lawyer will be able to organise and talk through these options with you. Being on a Non-B visa with a work permit means you can stay in Thailand for longer periods and be legal to work.

Immigration website has the latest updates and information

For tourists, Thailand has a 30 day visa exemption stamp on entry for up to 60 countries and also 60 day visas which can be obtained before you enter the kingdom. There are also elite visas and retirement visas for those with lots of money or who are over 50 years of age.
A popular option for a longer stay visa is an education visa. For this, you will need to enroll with a school on a course such as Thai language, massage, or cooking. Your education visa is then obtained through the school and you learn along with it.

See more about visas.
Thailand visa

Thailand’s other digital nomad hotspots

Bangkok
Bangkok is the home to over 8.2 million individuals, tall buildings, boisterous, traffic-filled, and overflowing with entertainment. Recently, it's kind of trumped Chiang Mai as the nation's nomadic centre. This is primarily because of the greater affordability of urban condos and upcoming communities such as Ekkamai and Thong Lor. 
The key is to skip the backpacker hubs of Khaosan Road and Banglamphu while settling in Bangkok. 
Upsides of Bangkok's nomadic life: ultra-quick wifi, unlimited check-out cafes, and an array of luxurious condominiums. Downsides: It's crazy busy, public transport is poor, and it's potentially the most costly area in the world. 
 

Chiang Mai 
In the realm of digital nomads, Chiang Mai is a holy land. Some claim this is when it all started; the online working and earning trend. Overall, Chiang Mai is indeed a DN-destination doozy. It's got an infinite supply of apartments and rentals for ex-pats. Tasteful veggie and vegan eats are tucked into the center's leafy streets. And nowhere is it as busy as Bangkok; a real second place. 
Upsides to a Chiang Mai nomadic life: it's easy to find other nomads, plenty of options for lodging, a strong foodie crowd. 
 

Pai 
Reach for a tie-dye shirt and let's go to Pai. Up in the lushess green hills of northern Thailand, Hippy Central is situated. It's a stomach-churning Chiang Mai bus trip, but it's worth it! 
On the main street, New Age bars meet coffee roasteries and health-food cafés, which transform into a fantastic night bazaar come 6 pm. In these hills, temperatures are a little lower, which implies colder evenings and less sweating when you work. Away from the desktop, the local area encourages hot springs, waterfalls, and mountain trekking on weekends. 
 

Koh Samui
Sun, sand, sea, and just a lace of beach parties render Koh Samui a top option in Thailand for modern nomads. Consider going up around Mae Nam. There, the shores are empty of sunbathing holidaymakers, and little pine forest trees cluster by the beach. It’s also an area with some luxurious bungalows with sea views. Alternatively, seek out the east coast. You can find little fishing villages between the big resorts there, and also a co-working space with views over the coconut trees.

Overall, Thailand is the perfect location for Digital Nomads, it keeps growing with entertainment and attractions. It is both unique and not overcrowded in places and offers culture as well as amenities.

For Koh Phangan, along with eco-tourism and wellness, yoga tourism, the digital nomad industry is set to be the next contender for the economy.

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