Beautiful Southeast Asia has long been a hotspot for remote workers. It doesn't matter what sort of backdrop you'd prefer for your Zoom meetings when you’re in this part of the world because thriving cities sit alongside peaceful beach towns, mountainside communities, and tiny islands. Of course, like anywhere in the world, prices vary throughout Southeast Asia. While Singapore may be known as one of the most built-up spots in the region, it's also one of the most expensive. In contrast, you can head to parts of Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, or Vietnam to find budget-friendly spots with fast WiFi, huge remote working communities, and plenty of incredible places to explore.
It's worth noting that many of these places are only budget-friendly from a western perspective and visitors should be aware the rising cost of living can be much higher for locals. It’s important to consider this perspective when navigating Southest Asia’s digital nomad hotspots and support local communities wherever possible.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand was one of the first popular countries for remote workers and has kept its reputation for fun ever since. Chiang Mai in particular is well-equipped for nomads looking to live a fulfilling life without spending too much. Here, you can rent a decent apartment for between $200 to $300 per month and, with most restaurants costing less than $5 per meal, you're free to eat, drink and enjoy yourself as much as you like.
The Land of Smiles, a.k.a. Thailand, has a lot to offer for those living a remote lifestyle, like entrepreneurial workshops, coworking spots with fast WiFi, and frequent social get-togethers. Transportation from Chiang Mai, both regional and national, is fast and cheap, so you've got no excuse not to head to Bangkok for a weekend in the city or venture down to the southern islands for vacation.
Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and its second largest city (beaten only by Ho Chi Minh) which means it's got a little of everything for remote workers. This previously-underrated remote worker hotspot has risen up the ranks in recent years and now comes full to the brim with coworking spaces, a delicious coffee scene, and a large network of fellow remote workers to surround yourself with.
Accommodation is among the most affordable in Southeast Asian cities, with studio apartments in the center of the city available to rent for around $300 per month. It goes without saying that Hanoi has lots to explore, from its incredible food scene to the picturesque towns and villages just outside of the city as well as historical, natural, and cultural attractions.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
Koh Phangan is one of the most relaxing spots for a digital nomad and, with its backdrop of ocean blues and waving palm trees, it brings all of those "remote working from paradise" dreams to life. Despite its smaller size, Koh Phangan is home to a few coworking spots. You'll also find plenty of cafes and work spots dotted throughout the island.
Activities here mostly focus around the outdoors, with scuba diving, kiteboarding, surfing, and snorkeling all being popular choices. There are waterfalls to climb, yoga centers to check out, and cooking classes to try. Accommodation prices start at around $300 to $400 per month and, as long as you're not living a life of luxury, you can easily live here on less than $800 per month.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Remote workers in Vietnam looking for a slightly slower pace of life should head to Da Nang. It's possible to find accommodation here for around $200 a month. Da Nang's oceanside location comes supplemented with mountains to climb, hills to wander through, museums to explore and, of course, the famous Dragon Bridge to cross, so you’ll probably spend most of your time outside of your apartment.
When you're getting into work mode though, you'll find a stream of coworking spaces dotted throughout the city with more of that excellent Vietnamese coffee and extensive, varied menus to match. Fast internet and wide, uncongested roads make Da Nang a popular spot for those looking for a gentle introduction to the country.
Penang is famed for its food and drink scene so if you're someone who loves to try local dishes wherever you travel, you'll never find yourself bored here. This beautiful city is a UNESCO heritage spot and comes complete with strong WiFi throughout, a laid back island lifestyle and, of course, an incredible range of restaurants.
Penang is a popular spot for nomads thanks to its brilliant mix of cultural highlights and remote-worker essentials. There are plenty of coworking spaces in the city and lots to keep you entertained during downtime. Rent tends to start around $450 per month, but it can be much cheaper if you choose to live outside of George Town. Cafe culture is huge here, so you'll always find people to chat to who can give you new ideas of where to explore next.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia is often ranked as one of the best countries in the world for remote workers, thanks to its relatively low cost of living, fascinating cities and ever-so friendly locals. Siem Reap brings together a little of everything the country is loved best for, from its brilliant variety of restaurants, bars and clubs right through to its picturesque streets, number of places to work, and large remote worker community.
You can easily spend a month in Siem Reap and spend less than $1,000, including accommodation, transport, coworking fees, and general living costs. You can also expect a fairly high quality of life for that sum, making good use of the city's fitness facilities, spas, theater shows, and more. And, of course, you're close to one of the world's most impressive sights, Angkor Wat.
Bali may be a small island but there's a landscape for every kind of nomad here, ranging from surfer-friendly beach paradise to deep jungles filled with spiritual escapes, mountainous climates with a sparser number of visitors and everything in between. Your cost of living varies throughout Bali but, with accommodation coming in at around $300 per month for a one bedroom villa (or less for a shared apartment), it's easy to soak up everything the island is known best for without scrimping away.
Bali's cafes, coworking spaces, restaurants, and constant cycle of events ensures it's easy for remote workers here to make friends, too. Sure, if you want to live an overly fancy lifestyle you can easily spend thousands per month but its cheaper options mean there's an experience for everyone.
Georgie is a triple-accredited journalist (NCTJ, BJTC, PPA) and freelance travel copywriter and content writer from London, UK. She has written for publications including The Guardian, ELLE...
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