The Digital Nomad Guide Phuket

17 May 2022

Digital nomads work remotely utilizing digital telecommunications technology. Such people have little belongings and operate remotely from transitory homes, motels, cafes, libraries, co-working spaces, or vehicles using WiFi, smartphones, or mobile hotspots.

Do you dream of being a digital nomad and working wherever and whenever you choose? To decide on any given day that it's your day off because you feel like drinking a fresh coconut while lounging on the beach. Or, perhaps, you already live this way and wonder where to go next. Well, we recommend Phuket, Thailand.

If you're a solitary traveller, countries like Thailand are better for you than others because there's a solid community of digital nomads in several places. Therefore, you'll have a network of like-minded people nearby, which is comforting. Phuket is one such location.

Being a Digital Nomad in Phuket

Digital nomads choose to become location independent in the home of pad thai noodles for various reasons, not just because it has the world's best food. The country also has a rich culture, hospitable people, and technological innovations. To top it off, its affordable living costs, dependable infrastructure, fast internet, and postcard-worthy destinations like Phuket make Thailand a digital nomad's dream.

Phuket is a Southeast Asian paradise located in the Andaman Sea. So, obviously, it has become a magnet for digital nomads. It's Thailand's largest island, boasting beautiful mountainous terrains, scenic beaches, historical landmarks, and lively attractions. You can see stunning sunsets from the famed Laem Phromthep viewpoint or pick from 30 beaches (including the famous ones: Patong, Kata Yai, Mai Khao, and Karon) to sunbathe, scuba dive, parasail and much more. Phuket even has extensive golf courses, which have held international championships!

The island's multiculturalism adds to its appeal, from ancient architecture to traditional foods and many hiking trails. Work-wise, there are many networking and collaboration options for digital nomads.

And when you want a change of scenery, it's super easy to explore other Thai provinces from Phuket. For example, a one-hour flight will take you to the bustling city of Bangkok, four hours to Chiang Mai, and Pattaya is one and a half hours away. Flights during the low season can cost as little as 2,000 baht round-trip. It's also lovely to hire a boat taxi from Phuket and go island hopping. Maiton, Racha, Phi-Phi, and Khai are conveniently accessible and offer various new activities to switch things up for the weekend.

Internet Availability

When digital nomads move, they first hunt for a solid and reliable internet connection. Phuket has fast Internet and WIFI, decent enough for most people. In addition, several eateries throughout the island provide an excellent and secure connection.  

You can get internet at your rental with a WiFi router or on your phone with a sim card. In Thailand, getting online is quick and easy. Internet packages are monthly. 10 GB of data is cheap, as long as you maintain within your data limit.

Ask your landlord for service recommendations once you've selected a residence place. In addition, m Most stores have English-speaking employees, and most providers will give you a free ADSL modem after you're joined.

 

Legality and Visas

Many digital nomads come from more developed countries with passports that offer more travel flexibility. As a result, many opt for a tourist visa, which is technically unlawful and controversial.

Fortunately, digital nomads can apply for a SMART visa in Thailand. It's a relatively new type of visa that permits digital nomads to live and work in the country legally. Another option is to get a Non-B visa and work permit through your Thailand-registered company.

Smart Visa holders can stay for four years, while Non-B visa holders with a work permit can stay indefinitely, renewing the visa every three months or every year, depending on the company status registered.

A couple of other choices include the elite visa and retirement visa. The Thailand Elite Visa gives nomads five years in the Kingdom. This multiple entrance visa is beneficial but costly at THB 600,000. On the other hand, an elite Ultimate Privilege visa costs THB 1,000,000 and provides you with twenty years, spa treatments, limousine airport pickups, and an immigration concierge.

It's possible to transition from a tourist visa to one of these visas. So, you can come and see if you like it here first before deciding to stay a while longer. For more information, the immigration website contains updates on all these visa types.

 

Where to Work in Phuket

Phuket is a popular location for people working from their computers because of its vibrant café scene, numerous co-working spaces, and fast internet. If you want to explore between Zoom meetings, you can here. Hop from a co-work space to a work-friendly cafe for the meetings, and sightsee during the breaks.

Some lovely co-working places include:

BAYACO Coworking Space Phuket: This company offers a shared working place with fast WiFi for THB 150 per day, the cheapest on the island. Plus, you get a free hot drink. If you need to host a meeting, you can book a conference room with a capacity for 30 - 120 people.

CocoVille Phuket: With a 200 baht per day pass (or 1,300 per week), you will have access to the resort amenities, common co-working areas, on-site fitness and wellness facilities, printer, scanner, high-speed WiFi and complimentary tea or coffee.

Lubd CoWork Phuket Patong: The perk of this place is that it's open 24/7.

Regus – Phuket, Royal Phuket Marina: This company organizes events to let you enjoy Phuket to the fullest. For example, the firm arranges a Ladies' Night at the Tropics Beach Club every Friday night so its members can connect with other travellers.

The Garage Society: This company also regularly offers educational and community activities, and it is located near the lovely Patong Beach. In addition, it's near many spas, so you can have a massage during your break!

Some nice work-friendly spots include:

Co-working spaces aren't everyone's scene. If that's you, and you prefer a café or something like that, the following places are great places to work from in Phuket. 

Coffee Brick: This Chalong coffee shop is quietest in the morning or late afternoon. Popular among travellers, it's a great place to meet other nomads.

Gallery Cafe by Pinky, Cherngtalay: Once inside, it's easy to imagine you're at a Parisian café, a very cosy spot indeed.

Myth Coffee Bar & Hangout Space: This Chalong coffee shop's simple décor and garden seating will win you over. This café appears more like a modern library with private or shared tables for mingling.

Spoonful of Sugar: This lovely spot is a classic wooden Thai building with a white picket fence and elegant Asian furnishings. It also features a deck overlooking Nai Harn Beach.

 

Best Neighborhoods to Live in Phuket

Phuket may seem noisy, busy, and dirty at first. However, the sheer number of ex-pats that relocate to the island annually shows that the location still has many peaceful, picturesque neighbourhoods. We advise spending a few days exploring them all before settling down because each region has something unique to offer.

Chalong Bay

Chalong Bay on the southeast coast is another favourite. It's the island's largest harbour, thus ideal for digital nomads who enjoy sailing. It also offers scuba diving, boating, boat rental, and catamaran tours. In addition, this town has a robust digital nomad community thanks to its many sea-facing cafes and strong fitness culture. There are many healthy restaurants and gyms with Muay Thai sessions.

 

Kathu

The small town of Kathu in the island's centre could be ideal if you seek peace (there's hardly any nightlife here) and quiet or enjoy golfing (it has some of Thailand's top golf courses). And since it's far from the ocean, it offers affordable real estate.

 

Phuket Town

Phuket Town on the east shore is family-friendly with various local and international schools. It's an excellent place for nomads to meet locals and find affordable housing. Furthermore, it is one of the cleanest neighbourhoods on the island despite its density.

 

Finding an Apartment in Phuket

Phuket's startling number of rental homes can make it challenging to choose. If you have money to spare, rent a long-term apartment via Thai Residential, Phuket Property, or Pulse. These organizations will undoubtedly charge a high commission, but they will handle everything for you. 

Otherwise, you can browse Facebook groups like rent Property Phuket, Phuket-Buy/Sell/Rent, Phuket Property For Rent or Sell, and Buy/Sell/Rent Phuket. These groups offer excellent pricing because you can contact the owner personally and negotiate.

In Phuket, the cost of living is higher. One-bedroom apartments start at 13,000 baht per month in Phuket Town. A luxury condo with a pool and close to retail centres will cost between 14,000 and 17,000 baht per month. You can find rentals with two or three bedrooms for 30,000 to 40,000 baht per month - ideal for groups or families.

Touristy areas, especially on the west coast, can be pricey, with modest studios costing between 16,000 to 25,000 baht per month; if you want a one-bedroom apartment right by the sea, that'll cost you at least 50,000 baht per month.

Rawai, in the south, is an excellent alternative to touristy regions for digital nomads. You can find a studio with a shared pool for 8,000 baht per month; a one-bedroom for 10,000 to 18,000 baht. However, Rawai is a secluded neighbourhood far from the best shopping centres, pharmacies, nightclubs, and hospitals. But it does have fantastic seafood restaurants.

 

Other Accommodation Options in Phuket

Couch surfing isn't common in Thailand, but you'll still find around 1,000 hosts in Phuket.

Booking.com has hostels with mixed dorm beds for 200 baht per night.

Expats.com can help you find digital nomads or ex-pat flatmates.

PhuketSpace and House Buddy also offer economical solutions, including flat sharing.

Airbnb enables you to rent a room in someone's residence for about 500 baht per night, WiFi included.

Cost of Living Phuket

While Phuket has a high cost of living by Thailand standards, you can still live comfortably on the island on a small budget. We've already gone over the cost of accommodation. But what about everything else?

Electricity, gas, and other utilities can cost around 3,000 baht per month, while 8mbps WiFi is a little over 500 baht. Public transit costs about 1,000 baht per day, a monthly car rental of 40,000 baht, or a monthly motorbike rental of 2,800 baht.  

For dining out, touring, attractions, and museums, 6,000 baht a month. Phuket has so many things to do and see that it's always a good idea to put aside a little extra.

 

Fitness and Health

Phuket's population is generally quite health-conscious. True, carbs are in almost every dish, but so are vegetables and fruits. And you'll notice locals often jog or do yoga on the beach first thing in the morning.

Because inhabitants are health-conscious, luxury Sports and Leisure clubs are prevalent in most residential areas. For example, the Thanyapura All-Inclusive Health Hub has personal trainers, gym equipment, an Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, and rugby and football pitches in the south. Extras like fitness camps or yoga courses are available too. However, these well-equipped health institutes are costly - from 4,500 baht per month/to 32,000 per year.

If that's too much, check out one of the island's cheaper gyms. If you work unusual hours, you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that numerous gyms are open 24/7. So, you can get a late-night workout in whenever. Sometimes, classes are included in the 1,500 to 2,000 baht monthly charge. You can get a day pass for about 250 to 300 baht to check out the place before committing.

Not a fan of the gym? Try Muay Thai. Several fitness centres offer Muay Thai lessons, but you may also register for a Muay Thai training camp. Muay Thai camps are often hosted by previous champions and include two sessions per day plus lodging.  

Safety

Thailand has the friendliest people - it is called the "Land of Smiles" after all. Life anywhere across the country is relatively safe, including Phuket. Nevertheless, be careful with your computer and papers (as you should be no matter where you are). If you need help, most locals understand and speak English, so you can easily communicate what you need.

 

Weather

Thailand follows Southeast Asia's rainy-day cycle. Hot, cold, and wet are the seasons. Southern Thailand's weather is mild and humid year-round. Aside from its wet (rainy) season from September to December, expect the most beautiful weather. Although, staying here in the rainy season is tolerable and frequently functions as a pleasant cooling down.

 

Other Digital Nomad Hotspots in Thailand

Bangkok

Bangkok has over 8.2 million people, monumental buildings, and plenty of entertainment. It may have surpassed Chiang Mai as the nation's nomadic capital. This is due to the affordability of urban condos and new neighbourhoods like Ekkamai and Thong Lor. The secret to a more genuine ex-pat life is to avoid the tourist hotspots like Khaosan Road and Banglamphu.

Bangkok's digital nomad situation has perks like ultra-fast WiFi, endless check-out cafés, and various luxurious condos. However, if you can handle the noisy environment and higher cost of living than the rest of the country, you should enjoy your time here.

 

Chiang Mai

Digital nomads revere Chiang Mai. Some say that's when online working and earning began. Overall, Chiang Mai is a sort of digital nomad mecca. It has countless lodging alternatives, and tasty veggie and vegan eateries tucked away in the city centre's cosy green streets. The nice part is that it isn't nearly as crowded as Bangkok, Thailand's other major digital nomad destination. Nomadic life in Chiang Mai also means easy access to other nomads and a thriving gastronomy scene.

Pai

Don't forget to pack that tie-dye shirt when heading to Pai! It's Hippy Central in these Thai hills. The main street is bustling with New Age bars, coffee roasteries, and health-food cafés. Then around 6 pm, it becomes a night bazaar - super fun. Plus, the hills provide cooler nights meaning less sweating while working. When you need a break from staring at the computer, hot springs, waterfalls, and mountain treks are nearby.

 

Koh Samui

Koh Samui's sun, sand, sea, and beach parties make it a favourite nomad destination in Thailand. Consider Mae Nam. There, empty beaches and coconut trees line the shore, and there are luxury bungalows with beachfront views. Alternatively, head east. There are fishing villages and a co-working space with breathtaking views of the tropical paradise between the larger resorts.

 

Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is surrounded by Koh Tao in the north and Koh Samui in the south, which is incredible for when you want to take a weekend vacation somewhere new. The island Koh Phangan is known for the original Full Moon Party, but it has a lot more to offer digital nomads - activities to please all interests. 

There are parties every day, lots of hiking paths and waterfalls, gorgeous secluded and busy beaches, yoga and meditation retreats, Muay Thai camps, a kiteboarding community, etc. Accommodation choices range from cheap mixed-dorm rooms at a hostel to luxury villas with beachfront views. Lastly, the WiFi is fast, and there are several co-working spaces and lovely working-friendly cafés all over the island.