Living in Bangkok 2020: The ULTIMATE Digital Nomad Guide

city viewat night when living in Bangkok
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Bangkok totally surprised us.

When doing research on where to stay in Thailand as digital nomads, we never really considered living in Bangkok. Everything you read online is all Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai…

And that’s where we started. It wasn’t until I had a little spill on my motorcycle, broke my wrist, and needed a complicated surgery that we were FORCED to move to Bangkok.

The accident was a blessing in disguise, because turns out….Bangkok is AWESOME for digital nomads!

It’s a lot different than expat life in Chiang Mai, and it’s definitely not for everyone. But if you’re considering Thailand as your next (or first) digital nomad destination, make sure to give this post a read before automatically defaulting to Chiang Mai

You’ll be glad you did!

Why Bangkok?

In Bangkok, there’s something for everyone.

Whether you’re a high-roller or a penny-pincher, an introvert or a social butterfly, a workaholic or a partier (or both)…you can have it all in Bangkok.

Is it a crazy city?

Yes.

But that’s what gives it it’s unique energy and charm. (And there are plenty of places to escape the craziness, like the apartment we rented below).

Overall, if you’re looking for big city comforts, amenities, and entertainment—but don’t want the ridiculous cost of living found in other big cities around the world—then living in Bangkok as a digital nomad could be your dream come true.

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Living in Bangkok Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The value you get for you money—especially in the suburbs—is WAY better than Nimman, Chiang Mai’s popular digital nomad neighborhood (check out our video below to see what I’m talking about)
  • Metro connects awesome cheap suburbs to downtown
  • Pollution generally better than Chiang Mai during burning season (although still not healthy)
  • Tons of things to do in Bangkok—the options for entertainment, nightlife, and activities are endless
  • Food is INCREDIBLE

Cons

  • Rent is more expensive than Chiang Mai (but not by much depending where you live)
  • Traffic is a bee-otch. A lot of people use motorcycle taxis to get around this, but I’m too scared now.
  • Less of a cozy community feel than Chiang Mai, where you’re constantly bumping into familiar faces.
  • Pollution
  • Hot AF

Weather in Bangkok

If you’re the type of person who melts in the heat, living in Bangkok probably isn’t the best idea.

Bangkok has three seasons: pretty hot, rainy hot, and stupid hot.

Pretty hot season is from November to February.

Stupid hot season is from March to June.

And rainy hot season is from July to October.

To give you an idea—during our month in Chiang Mai, we only used our air conditioner three or four times (and that was just so we could close the windows and keep the pollution out).

In Bangkok, we ran it 24/7…and we were there in January, which is only “pretty hot” season! 

So, if you’re heat-sensitive, make sure to find a place with air conditioning. A fan’s not gonna cut it.

Cost of Living in Bangkok 2020

According to Nomad list, the cost of living in Bangkok is roughly $1517/month. We spent WAY less than this. Our grand total was $1350 for TWO people (or $675/month).

BANGKOK COST OF LIVING BREAKDOWN

Our detailed Bangkok budget breakdown will help you estimate your expenses and avoid surprises (+ some tips for extra savings).

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Best of all, we were living in LUXURY (check out our apartment in the video below).

Now, I must admit that…

  1.  We lived about 45 minutes from Sukhumvit—the main area of town (depending on traffic), and
  2. We weren’t living large going out to fancy restaurants, clubs, and other places all the time. We mostly stayed in our apartment—which had all the amenities we needed—and focused on work

So depending on your lifestyle, Bangkok can be super cheap or incredibly expensive. But all in all, I was blown away by the standard of living we could afford. Yes, we paid a tiny but more than in Chiang Mai. But what we got for that money was 10x more luxurious.

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Best Co-working Spaces & Cafes in Bangkok

We had no need for co-working spaces in Bangkok because we worked from the “Skyroom” of our apartment every day.

awesome city view we had from our office when living in Bangkok

That said, if your place doesn’t have a skyroom or you just prefer to be around other people, there are TONS of options to choose from.

#1.) Hubba

Hubba is a well-known coworking space in Bangkok two locations around the city—Ekkamai Soi 4 and Sathorn. Both are conveniently located near BTS stations, have TONS of productive spaces to knock out work.

Hubba is open 24/7 and charge 290 baht/day or 3900 baht/month (with discounted rates for yearly plans).

#2.) The Hive

The Hive is a coworking chain with tons of locations all throughout Asia. They have two coworking spaces in Bangkok, with the Hive Thonglor location being the most popular. Ithas six floors, a rooftop cafe, great work spaces, and fun social events.

A hot desk at the Hive will run you 350 baht for a single day pass, 3600 baht for a “part time pass” (10 days/month), and 5800 baht for a full time pass (30 days/month). 

#3.) Launchpad

Launchpad is an awesome work space located 5 minutes from BTS Surasak. It’s loaded with “productive zones” as well as “creative social zones”, and is one of the top-rated coworking spaces in Bangkok.

They’re open from 9am-6pm and offer several different packages:

  • Single pass 350-baht (with a free drink)
  • 7 visits for 1680 baht
  • 15 visits for 3300 baht
  • 30 visits for 5400 baht

If working at a cafe is more your style, you’ve also got practically unlimited options. However, some neighborhoods are better than others. Where we were living out in the suburbs, there wasn’t really anything in walking distance (but many condos have cool workplaces right onsite).

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Best Neighborhoods in Bangkok

The best neighborhoods in Bangkok are:

  • Sukhumvit
  • Silom
  • Siam
  • Khao San
  • Riverside
  • Chinatown
  • Pratunam

That said, don’t get too obsessed over which neighborhood you end up in. As long as your pad is close to the BTS Skytrain or MRT Subway, you’ll be able to easily move around.

In fact, sometimes you can find AWESOME deals by choosing a place a bit outside the main areas. 

For me, one of the most important things about choosing a location is the food situation. If possible, scout out the area beforehand to make sure there are plenty of convenient street food options available.

Apartments in Bangkok

Finding a great Bangkok apartment is super easy. 

It’s a bit expensive to stay directly in the center of the everything (ex. Sukhumvit).

But if you’re willing to be a little outside the city, you can live in luxury for cheap.

Check out this tour of our fancy-pants condo we rented for 6 weeks.

We found this place after a quick search on Airbnb (click here for a free $35 Airbnb credit). To save you some time searching, here’s the link directly to the property. (As an Airbnb affiliate, I earn a commission at no extra charge to you if you book through my link – thanks! 😉)

Apart from Airbnb, there are also a few FB pages that often have good deals. 

Transportation in Bangkok

Getting around Thailand is easy, and Bangkok is no exception. You’ve got loads of options.

The BTS and MRT public transport systems make it easy and affordable to get all over the city. When using public transport, sometimes you’ll even have connection with river ferries—a very unique experience!

Grab and taxi are also widely available, but I only recommend these options if you know there isn’t much traffic on your route (otherwise it might be faster to take the metro). Also, when using taxis, insist that they use the meter. If they refuse (and this happens often) ask to get out. To avoid these uncomfortable situations, I generally stick to Grab.

Another speedy way to get around is to use Grabbikes, mototaxis, or rent your own motorbike. That said, while these are cheap and fast options, I can’t recommend them after shattering my wrist in a motorcycle accident in Thailand (see video below).

After that experience, I prefer paying a dollar or two extra to ride in the safety of a car.

If you insist on riding a motorbike, do yourself a big favor and read these Thailand scooter safety tips first.

Where to Eat in Bangkok?

One word: Street food (ok that’s two words).

But seriously, Bangkok is the freaking Street Food Capital of the World. There are delicious street food stalls everywhere you look.

If you’re new to Thailand, here are my two food suggestions:

#1.) Go on a self food tour

Choose one of the bazillion food markets, make sure your stomach is empty, and go around sampling all the different foods. This is a great way to get an idea of what your favorite dishes are so you can order them for the remainder of your stay.

#2.) Go on a guided food tour

This will save you loads of time and ensure you’re actually trying the good street food (because not all street food is created equal)!

Or if you don’t wanna pay for a tour, you can just watch this video of the delicious tour we did in Chinatown, and we’ll tell you which foods are the best 😋

Healthcare in Bangkok

Health care in Bangkok is top notch—some of the best in all Southeast Asia. (I should know…I had 2 surgeries in 2 different hospitals within 2 weeks!)

The cost of care varies depending on which hospital you go to. Famous international hospitals will be most expensive, but still much cheaper than what you’d pay in the US.

That said, instead of automatically choosing the most “popular” hospital, I recommend researching the best doctor for the condition you need treated.

I had my wrist operated on by one of the best wrist surgeons in the world, and I never would have found him in the popular international hospitals. Fortunately, I stumbled on this handy Thailand expat forum where everyone was recommending him.

Nightlife in Bangkok

Nightlife in Bangkok is INSANE (at least, from what I hear). 

I’m more of a salsa dancing night kind of guy, so we didn’t get too wild. 

But again, there’s something here for everyone. 

Here’s some of the top spots for nightlife in Bangkok, each with its own distinct vibe and crowd: 

  • Sukhumvit – Where most expats hang out, divided into many subsections like Nana, Asoke, Thong Lor, etc
  • Khao San Road – Where mostly young and crazy backpackers hang out.
  • Royal City Avenue (RCA) – Where mostly locals hang out. 

With so many options, the hardest part is just choosing one!

Things to Do in Bangkok

Your options for things to do in Bangkok are essentially unlimited. 

Unlike Chiang Mai where your entertainment options are somewhat limited, in Bangkok, you’ll never get bored.

There’s just too many things to experience.

Here is a list of some top tourist attractions in Bangkok (this is by no means exhaustive):

▶ Go rooftop bar hopping
▶ Watch a Muay Thai fight
▶ Experience a floating market
▶ Explore the airport graveyard
▶ Visit the Jim Thompson House
▶ Party (or people watch) on Khao San Road
▶ Get lost at the Chatuchak Weekend Market
▶ Shop at the stunning malls (Iconsiam is our favorite)
▶ Take a street food tour in Chinatown (or explore on your own)
▶ Boat along the Chao Phraya River to various tourist attractions
▶ Visit the Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, Wat Arun, and other temples
▶No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Bangkok (for us, it was somewhere to go salsa dancing 💃🏻🕺🏻).

Facebook Groups, Meetups, and Events

Since Bangkok is such a big city, one of the best ways to find your “tribe” is in Facebook groups and Bangkok meetups groups

Facebook groups are also a great place to ask questions related to expat life in Bangkok. Figuring out how to live in a foreign city can be intimidating. It’s comforting to know you’ve got virtual support from people who have “been there, done that”.

Some of the most helpful Bangkok expat facebook groups are:

Helpful Thai Phrases

To be polite in Thai, men add the word “krahp” to the end of each sentence, and women add the word “kah”.

Hello – Sawatdee krahp/kah
How are you? – Sa bai dee mai krahp/kah?
Goodbye – La gorn khrap/kah
Yes – Chai
No – Mai
Excuse me – Kor tuhd krahp/kah
Thank you – korp kun krahp/kah
I would like to order… – Sang aa-haan
Not spicy – Mai pet
A little spicy – Pet nit noy
Very spicy – Pet mak
Delicious – Aroy mak
How much? – Tow rai?

Tips for Living in Bangkok as an Expat

There’s no better way to learn about Bangkok life than to dive in and figure things out yourself. But to help you hit the ground running, here are 10 handy tips we learned during our Bangkok digital nomad experience.

#1.) Use the AirVisual app to monitor pollution and take the proper health precautions.
#2.) Insist that all taxi drivers turn on the meter as soon as you get in. If they refuse (and they will), get out.
#3.) Explore a new area once a week—there’s loads of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
#4.) Try new foods every week. It’s easy to play it safe and stick to a couple favorites for every meal…but that’s BORING! You never know when you’ll find a new favorite.
#5.) Use the Grab app to order taxis and food (Food Panda is another option for food delivery).
#6.) You can save time and money by choosing a condo with the amenities you need (gym, pool, work areas, etc).
#7.) Be careful on motorcycles.
#8.) Taxis waiting outside tourist attractions will try to overcharge you. Try walking a block away and grabbing one from there.
#9.) Public transport is super handy, and the boat connections are a fun (and cheap) experience.
#10.) A coconut shake a day keeps the doctor away.

Visas in Bangkok

The visa situation in Thailand is a little bit complicated. 

Unless you’re planning to make Thailand a permanent base, most digital nomads will enter the country with a 30-day visa exemption or a 2-month tourist visa. Both of these can be extended for an additional 30 days. 

Make sure to check the Thai Embassy website while planning your trip for the latest visa information.

If you plan to stay longer than a couple months, this massive Thailand visa guide will get you straightened out.

Bangkok Digital Nomad Guide Recap

There ya have it, folks!

If you’re looking for your next digital nomad destination and are itching for some city life, Bangkok should be top on your list. 

We wound up in Bangkok by accident and ended up loving the 5 weeks we spent there. 

  • You can live like royalty for cheap (especially in the suburbs)
  • Internet is blazing fast
  • The food is amazing
  • The people are friendly
  • It’s safe (other than traffic accidents)
  • It has a great transportation system
  • There’s tons of cheap and free things to do in Bangkok—it’s literally impossible to get bored

If you have any questions about living in Bangkok, lemme know in the comments!

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