For those of you who didn’t know, digital nomad is a popularised name for digital professionals who live a nomadic lifestyle, much like myself. Some also call themselves location-independent entrepreneurs, but this post is not about terminology.
When you talk about digital nomads, you most likely also talk about Chiang Mai. For some reason it is probably the most popular location for digital nomads, while also being popular among tourists in general. Thailand remains one of my favorite Asian countries, and having traveled in the South already, North Thailand seemed the place to go for my next trip to Thailand. The timing was perfect, coming from two months on the island of Bali, Indonesia, the Thailand high season had just begun, and the infamous Chiang Mai burning seasons were still a few months away. Chiang Mai is located in a valley, and starting around some time in February the burning of trash and fields traps a lot of smoke in the city, making for unbearable air quality.
I stayed in Chiang Mai from early December until early February, which was a perfect time to be there. Being a few months into the high season meant that the hip living areas were already fully booked, but I found myself a customised Dcondo apartment with a huge TV and surround set, just a cheap taxi-ride from downtown, and a short walk to the huge Central Festival shopping mall where all kinds of food were available for cheap. This location was nice and quiet with a lot of ammenties like free on-site gym and swimming pool, all for just 10,000 THB per month.
Working from Chiang Mai
While I was really happy with my awesome Chiang Mai apartment, I like to get out of the apartment as well, when I have some work to do on my laptop. The pool area was really cosy as well, but depending on the time of day, not well suited for working with a computer screen. Starbucks in the nearby mall and the “co-working space” C.A.M.P. by AIS were my common go-to spots for tea and work.
Exploring the Chiang Mai area
My time in Chiang Mai has been really productive, but I have still had the time to explore the beautiful nature and culture that the city has to offer, including a trip to the top of nearby Doi Suthep.
Some of the best experiences actually came from a short trip out of Chiang Mai, to the nearby town of Pai. Tranquil life, lots of cheap food and beautiful nature makes this riverside village a must-see destination.
My verdict on Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai with its historic heritage is a quite unique city. It has all the comforts that you would expect from a big city, but manages to keep some kind of small-town vibe. Don’t get me wrong, the city center is a constant traffic chaos and the popular Sunday market by Tha Phae Gate is so crowded you can barely move nor breathe, but you can indeed balance big-city life with small-city life, to give you everything you need and want. Need a break from the hustle and bustle, there is beautiful nature and mountains all around you. Other than that I failed to see why Chiang Mai should be good for digital nomads in general, I suppose it’s popular because you have all the opportunities to meet and connect with likeminded people.
I already miss my comfortable life in Chiang Mai and can certainly understand why some people find it easy to stay there for years.