Millions of workers have adapted to the idea of working from anywhere, anytime. That same study found that 1 in 2 workers will not return to workplaces that do not offer remote work after COVID-19.
It’s easy to see the attraction. Who doesn’t want to work from the white sandy beach?
With its turquoise waters, Southeast Asia is a haven for remote workers. Based on the coast of the region and in its charming cafes, you will find many digital nomads.
Who is a “digital nomad”?
Consisting of 15.5 million people from the US alone, “デジタルノマド” embrace the benefits of working remotely to the fullest. These people work a lot online to stay on the move, making the world their office. As long as there is Wi-Fi, these people will move to the good weather and the cheap beer.
For this reason, Southeast Asia is one of the best destinations for digital nomads.
What do digital nomads look for elsewhere?
Unlike tourists, digital nomads look beyond beaches and entertainment options.
Here are the requirements of the place where the digital nomad wants to go.
In the life of a digital nomad, an internet connection, is essential. While some can live with low network speeds, many cannot. If you are a digital nomad or plan to be one, quiet places may not be the best option for you if the Wi-Fi is weak or non-existent.
Life on the road can be lonely and like-minded people can help you feel at home. Coworking spaces are common and accepted in Southeast Asia. It is also a great opportunity to network and find powerful business connections.
Visa applications in Southeast Asia may not be that easy. Ultimately, dealing with these behaviours can make or break your decision. Make sure you do your research and apply well in advance. Also, keep your eyes open for digital nomad visas that are becoming more common.
Living and working on a remote island in Cambodia is ideal for some. However, if the nearest hospital is a three-hour boat ride away, you may want to reconsider. A large centre will provide a lot of health care in case of an emergency.
Best destinations for digital nomads in Southeast Asia
There are many cities that offer great working environments, along with beautiful brands and like-minded communities.
Here are the best places for freelancers in Southeast Asia.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Divided by canals, the colourful old town of Hoi An is a promising digital nomad hotspot. With cheap long-term rentals and a relaxed vibe, it’s no wonder this place is growing in popularity.
Countless cafes and restaurants abound in the port town, offering Wi-Fi hotspots for those who want to work. As a thriving digital nomad destination, there is currently only one dedicated coworking space.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Stay a while and it’s easy to see why Forbes points to Chiang Mai as the centre of the デジタル ノマド universe. Affordable co-working spaces and a large nomad network make many people call this city home.
The northern Thai city has no shortage of fast Wi-Fi, nomad-friendly cafes and neighbourhoods from all over the world. Plus, there are hundreds of Buddhist temples to explore at your leisure.
Singapore is where Southeast Asian culture meets western lifestyle. Although it is expensive, the island makes up for it with a small amount. The city has thousands of coworking spaces and business meetings.
If you don’t mind the high cost of living and accommodation, Singapore is your best choice. Modern hospitals, drinking water taps, and reliable Wi-Fi networks are available everywhere.
In the small spiritual heart of Bali, Ubud is the best choice for sophisticated digital nomads. Although it gets touristy in the peak season, this charming Indonesian town still has its own culture.
Located in the middle of rice fields, this Balinese town has many hipster cafes. Apart from work, Ubud keeps you busy with spiritual and social activities.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Home to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious structure, Siem Reap is an up-and-coming nomad hotspot. The city is bustling with life but is more laid-back than its sister city Phnom Penh.
Siem Reap has a strong nomad network and cooperative options. Street food is plentiful and accommodation is inexpensive. Cambodia’s cultural capital is the perfect choice for a digital nomad on a budget.
Colonial architecture and street art make up Malaysia’s second largest city. Penang has simple island vibes while maintaining the convenience of a big city.
The Wi-Fi in Penang is much slower than in other countries. But with the growing popularity and a booming economy, it’s easy to see how this will change in the coming years.
Davao City, Philippines
For those who love crystal clear water and tropical climate, Davao City is the right choice. Infrastructure is lacking and Wi-Fi can be slow. However, the locals are warm and living is affordable.
This commercial city on the island of Mindanao is perfect for all budgets. The Philippine peso goes a long way, so Davao is a good place to drop your cash. Nature is green and the beach is clear.
Common challenges faced by digital nomads in Southeast Asia
While life in Southeast Asia can be exciting, there are still challenges that digital nomads can face.
Unfortunately, power outages are not uncommon in this part of the country. The infrastructure is not designed, so when going out, keep your devices charged and money in a power bank.
Insecure public networks
With many remote workers on the same network, public Wi-Fi networks in co-working spaces are an easy route for thieves. Read here to find out how to protect your data with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).