One of the most exciting things about being a digital nomad is deciding where to work from next. With the world being filled with beautiful places, incredible people, and amazing food, remote workers have the privilege of learning about cultures other than their own while keeping up with their day job.
In this article, we’re going to look at Southeast Asia specifically which has always been a popular destination for people looking to work abroad.
Whether you’re searching for your next destination or are looking for some inspiration, you are in the right place!
Working remotely in Asia is a great choice for several reasons. It’s the largest continent, and incredibly diverse, giving you plenty of options to delve into fascinating cultures, gorgeous landscapes, and diverse cuisines.
Over the years Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia due to low costs for visitors and generally great weather, has become a place with growing opportunities for digital nomads.
Note: Although it goes without saying, we’re very lucky to be able to explore these destinations and it’s not a privilege that many of the locals around you are able to take part in for various unfair reasons.
If you can find some way to give back, and show awareness and support, while enjoying these destinations then all the better.
That said, here are some of the best cities in Southeast Asia for digital nomads including accommodation options, internet advice, coworking spaces, and more.
Note: At the bottom, we’ve also included some local ASEAN coworking space chains that serve multiple countries.
1) Da Nang, Vietnam
If getting your work done in a cool cafe before making your way to the beach sounds like your style, Da Nang is the one. Vietnam is a dynamic country of great food, coffee, and amazing scenery, and Da Nang is filled with some of the kindest locals you’ll ever meet.
It has become a major hub for foreign workers and digital nomads so you will have no problem meeting people who are working and enjoying life there.
Internet in Da Nang
Vietnam is known to be a bit quirky for visitors which is what makes it so appealing. One of those quirks is that the power is turned off about once a month in Da Nang for a few hours.
There’s almost always a heads up, especially if you’re part of the Expats in Da Nang Facebook page. But, other than this, the internet is great and you can find it in every cafe and accommodation.
An easy way to get around this issue is have a local data plan you can hook up to or purchase a wireless internet solution like Skyroam, which is amazing to have in surprise situations!
Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Da Nang
There are a number of coworking spaces in Da Nang, several of which have generators which helps when there are any power outages as mentioned above.
DNC – Da Nang Coworking Space is one popular one that’s centrally located and prides itself on being a community of creative individuals.
Did we mention the cafes in Da Nang? There are so many that offer excellent working spaces A favorite of remote workers is The Hideout Cafe due to their tasty joe, high-speed internet, and peaceful atmosphere.
If you’re new to freelance work, take a look at these 10 essential freelancer tips for beginners.
Accommodation in Da Nang
There is no shortage of great accommodations in Da Nang. A favorite area for foreigners surrounds My Khe Beach because it’s walkable and there are tons of restaurants and cafes. To find a place to stay, check out Airbnb or Facebook pages like the one mentioned above.
You can also easily book a place for your first few nights and spend your first day or two walking around to see different apartments. There are short-term options, but prices work out much cheaper if you book for a longer period of time. There are tons of options and it’s affordable!
Things To Do in Da Nang
When it’s time to shut the computer off, there are several must-do things while you are in Da Nang.
- Try all the Vietnamese coffee. There’s avocado coffee, coconut coffee, and cà phê sữa (coffee with milk). It’s all amazing and may keep you around for longer than you planned.
- Visit Hoi An, an ancient beach town full of character. While there, be sure to get some clothes tailor-made at a very affordable price!
- Watch a dragon breathe fire! Locals and foreigners gather around on Friday and Saturday evenings to watch the famous dragon bridge breathe fire. Afterward, head over to the local market for entertainment and yummy food.
- Take a half-hour motorbike ride to Monkey Mountain to see stunning views and don’t miss the prominent Linh Ung Pagoda.
2) Chiang Mai, Thailand
Another top-spot for remote working in Asia is Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here you can find a unique wat (temple) on every corner and so much more!
Internet in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a digital nomad’s paradise when it comes to the internet. It’s fast and easy to come by! Most places have their WiFi information posted for customers.
This may also be because Chiang Mai University students are always out and about getting work done, too. It’s very unlikely you’ll find an issue with the internet in Chiang Mai.
Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai offers plenty of coworking spaces throughout the city. There’s even a popular one for night owls: Yellow Coworking which is open 24 hours.
While Thailand’s coffee can’t be compared to Vietnam’s, they do have a thriving coffee-scene and several Instagram-worthy cafes excellent for getting some work done. Brown Cafe is a lovely spot with delicious desserts, too!
Accommodation in Chiang Mai
You can get a real bang for your buck in Chiang Mai when it comes to accommodation. You can find a budget-friendly, centrally located place to stay in the popular area of Nimman or the more touristy location of the Old Town.
Accommodation typically comes with utilities and internet and can easily be booked short-term or long-term. You can check out places to stay in Chiang Mai on Airbnb.
Tip: Another fantastic thing about Chiang Mai is that there are frequent opportunities for house sitting gigs.
Learn more about housesitting and working remotely without paying rent.
Things To Do in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a wonderful place with plenty of places to explore nearby. Here are a few notable activities to add to your bucket list when in Chiang Mai.
- Go to a meditation retreat. Several wats offer opportunities to learn more about meditation and some are even free!
- Get some shopping done. There are so many walking markets, unique shops, and shopping malls to find comfort items and special finds.
- EAT! Chiang Mai very well may have the best food in the country. Pad Thai, Khao Soi, and Papaya Salad are just a few must-try eats and there is so much more!
3) Luang Prabang, Laos
Located in northern Laos and surrounded by mountains, there’s a lot that brings digital nomads to Luang Prabang. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 due to its architecture, culture, and history.
Its gorgeous backdrop of forests, waterfalls, and rivers is enough to make it a top contender for the best places to work from in Southeast Asia.
Internet in Luang Prabang
You can count on just about every cafe, bar, and accommodation offering free internet access. While their internet isn’t the world’s fastest, it’s almost always good enough to get your work done.
Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Luang Prabang
Since Laos is a bit off the beaten path for most remote workers, coworking spaces aren’t a thing here. Maybe soon! However, there are enough riverside cafes ideal like Saffron Coffee for working so you won’t struggle to find beautiful spots to work in.
Accommodation in Luang Prabang
There are a couple of areas to stay in while in Luang Prabang. Again, Airbnb offers various options for short term or long term stays.
When it comes to popular areas Old Town is ideal, especially for your first couple of nights or if you’re staying for just a short time. The area between the main road (Phothisalath Road) and the Mekong River road (Khem Kong), is surrounded by side streets offering guesthouses and homestays.
You can easily walk around this area to find accommodation or look this area up and book ahead online. Another area that features a number of guest houses is Chao Fa Ngum Road, which has a less touristy vibe than other areas.
Things To Do in Luang Prabang
For fun and exploration in Luang Prabang, we want to share a few activities that will make your time in the city memorable.
- Chase waterfalls! One of the best parts of this city is the stunning waterfalls. A fan-favorite is the Kuang Si waterfalls. There’s a main fall that’s most popular, but many more if you’re up for a hike.
- Check out the night market. Honestly, do this anywhere in Asia! Luang Prabang’s night market is chaotic and that’s what makes it so cool. There are many things to buy, people to chat with, and foods to try.
- Visit Utopia Bar and Restaurant. This is one of the most famous places in the city, especially for foreigners. Its zen vibe is unlike any other. It’s a spectacular place to have a bite to eat, grab a drink, and there’s even yoga during the day.
4) Cebu City, Philippines
Next up on our list of best places in Southeast Asia for digital nomads is the Philippines’ capital city of Cebu. Named the “Queen City of the South,” Cebu City has a lot to offer including beautiful beaches, vibrant festivals, and friendly people.
Internet in Cebu City
Internet speeds are found to be fairly average in Cebu City. You should have no problem on your computer unless you have the task of uploading large video files. In this case, you may run into some trouble, and having some of your own backup wifi could be beneficial (Skyroam, which I mentioned earlier, allows you to purchase day passes which would be handy in this case).
Otherwise, Cebu’s WiFi is speedy enough and it’s been said that it’s improved over the last few years and is continuing to do so. You can also count on finding internet access in most cafes and accommodation.
Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Cebu City
If you were hoping for coworking spaces in Cebu City, you’re in luck! There are quite a few including ASPACE, which offers a variety of areas to work, laid-back lounges, and rooftop gardens.
As for cafes, there could be a whole guide on coffee shops in Cebu! Whether you’re looking for a cozy atmosphere or an island-view, there’s a spot for everyone to sip a coffee and work. The Workplace Cafe is a great one to get started with, set up specifically for remote workers.
Accommodation in Cebu City
You can find affordable accommodation and fellow foreigners all over Cebu City and public transportation makes it easy to get around. Banilad is located just outside of the city and has an even more comfortable cost of living.
Not only is Airbnb a useful place to look for a short or long-term rental, but there are a variety of Facebook pages like this one where you can find rentals.
Because Cebu has accommodation throughout the city, staying a few nights to decide what area you prefer is always a good option. Airbnb is widely used in Cebu so you’ll have no trouble finding short-term accommodation.
Things To Do in Cebu City
If you’re checking out Cebu City, we hope you like beaches! If not, there are other things well worth checking out.
- Relax on the beach or participate in water activities like parasailing or swim with whale sharks.
- Check out the seaside mall! Cebu is home to the third-largest shopping mall in the Philippines and it has a rooftop sky park, good eats, and lots of stores.
- Get outdoors! Aside from the beaches, there are so many stunning things to see from Osmena Peak which offers 360-degrees of picturesque views to Kawasan Falls known for its turquoise water.
5) Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh, the lively capital of Cambodia, is home to an international airport and is a growing hub for digital nomads. It’s located in the south of the country and home to three rivers: the Mekong, the Tonle Bassac, and the Tonle Sap.
Internet in Phnom Penh
Most cafes and accommodations offer free WiFi in Phnom Penh. While internet speeds aren’t the best in the world in Cambodia, they do offer some of the fastest in Asia. You always want to double-check speeds, as with anywhere, but you can almost always count on being able to get your work done in the city.
Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Phnom Penh
As more remote workers learn about this special place, coworking spaces are expanding in Phnom Penh. There are quite a few to choose from including The Desk which is a great spot to drop in and be productive or use as a long-term space.
Choose a favorite cafe or change it up daily because there are quite a few cafes to settle in with your laptop. Backyard Cafe offers a variety of seating options in a charming setting filled with plants.
Accommodation in Phnom Penh
One thing that draws digital nomads to Cambodia is affordable accommodation. The most popular place for foreigners in Phnom Penh is the BKK1 district but also the most upscale and pricey.
BKK2, Toul Tum Puonh 1, and Tonle Bassac are also excellent areas to stay for a mix of a western and local feel. You can conveniently search for rentals in specific districts on realestate.com or look for accommodation on Airbnb.
Things To Do in Phnom Penh
Cambodia is a truly beautiful country to explore and when you’ve satisfied Phon Penh, you’re really only just beginning. If you love history and nature, you’ve got a great base in Phnom Penh.
- Learn about and explore history. Founded in the 1400s, there’s a lot to see and know. Landmarks worth visiting include The Royal Palace where the royal family resides and The National Museum of Cambodia filled with thousands of exhibits.
- Take a break from the city and enjoy Mekong Island’s offerings from rice paddies to fruit orchards.
- Take a cooking class to learn how to prepare unique cuisine with exotic flavours.
- Take a trip to Siem Reap to see the famous Angkor Wat
6) Bali, Indonesia
Last up on the list but certainly not least is Bali. If this isn’t your first time researching the best places for digital nomads in Asia, you’ve likely already come across The Island of the Gods.
It’s a province of Indonesia with a spiritual vibe where many people go to ‘find themselves’ and many say that they do! It’s also a place where digital nomads are inspired by the others in their community due to networking opportunities and find lots of opportunities.
When considering spending time in Bali, bear in mind that there are several main parts of Bali where foreigners visit and spend time. Two popular spots for digital nomads include Canggu and Seminyak located 20-30 minutes away from one another.
Internet in Bali
You’d think that since Bali is a go-to spot for the wandering worker, internet speeds would be through the roof. This isn’t necessarily the case. While you can find access to free WiFi just about everywhere, it may not always be the best internet. Of course, this also depends on what your work entails.
Rest assured that adequate WiFi is available seeing as so many digital nomads are making it work and call Bali home. However, it’s crucial to use your speed test app or ask for internet specifics before booking an accommodation or settling into a cafe to work.
Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Bali
To help with internet uncertainties, there is an abundance of coworking spaces that offer plenty of opportunities for productivity. One stunning place worth checking out no matter where you are in Bali is Tropical Nomad Coworking Space.
Like coworking spaces, cafes are galore in Bali to settle in and work. You may not find coffee that matches up to Vietnam’s, but Bali knows how to do a smoothie or acai bowl unlike any other!
Accommodation in Bali
As we mentioned, there are several areas in Bali to check out and they are all affordable. You really can’t go wrong in any area as they all offer easy access to beautiful beaches and places to work. There are English-speaking locals and travelers everywhere.
The three main areas are Canggu, Seminyak, and Ubud. They are all 30 minutes to an hour from the other and the most ideal way to go would be to visit each area for a couple of days to see which suits you best.
There are plenty of short-term and long-term rentals in any place you choose. The easiest way to find accommodation is to walk around and see what there is (and don’t forget to test WiFi speeds). You can also book on Airbnb or agoda.com.
Things To Do in Bali
The things to get up to in Bali are endless with it being just as popular with tourists and traveller as digital nomads and remote workers. Here are a few things to get started with.
- Enjoy the night scene! Of all the places mentioned, Bali has the most happening nightlife. You are sure to find something going on any night of the week whether you are looking for casual drinks, a beach party, or dancing at a club.
- Learn to surf. Bali is truly an ideal spot to hit the waves. The friendliest locals line the beaches to rent out surfboards and provide lessons. This is also an excellent way to meet people if you are solo!
- Watch sunsets every night! Many people will agree that the best thing to do in Bali is to find a beach bar, get cozy in a bean bag with a cocktail, and watch the most incredible sunsets.
Coworking Spaces in Southeast Asia
Here are some of our favourite local coworking space chains that are specific to Southeast Asia.
Common Ground (Kuala Lumpur & Penang): Voted ASEAN’s best coworking space in 2019 (also having branches in Thailand and Philippines and growing), these spaces are focused on fostering an engaged community apart from offering a bright and comfortable place to work with a series of perks. Monthly hot desk, fixed desk, and office space plans are available.
Union Space (Kuala Lumpur): With spaces across Southeast Asia, these award-winning co-working spaces are geared towards millennial remote workers and digital nomads with bright yet tucked away intimate spaces and flexible working plans. Free refreshments and regular events mean you’ll truly feel part of the community.
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