What are some of the best spots for being a Laptop Nomad in SE Asia?
SE Asia is probably the Mecca of Online Entrepreneurs today, a combination of awesome year round weather, affordable cost of living, good food, friendly people and cheap beer makes many South East Asian countries the perfect place for many to come and try their luck at making money online.
After traveling for 5 months in almost all of the countries in SE Asia here are my comments on every single one of them. This trip was a lot more traveling and less work than what I had initially planned, but after getting to know all the different places that I visited in the past months, I don’t regret it one bit.
One of the best things about the region is how easy and affordable is to travel between countries. Backpacker routes are well set up on most countries and you’ll have no problem getting around if that is what you wish to do.
For me, if I want to concentrate on work, I will probably pick one to three locations and stay there long term, as the temptation of visiting lots of places is higher when you are constantly on the move.
Keep in mind this list is not arranged in any particular order.
What your mobile office could look like if you can afford it
The most expensive of them all, Singapore is a beautiful city, almost too perfect sometimes. Traffic is light; English is the first language, fast Internet everywhere, good variety of food from the region, plenty of things to do and a very good nightlife. What is the one big drawback for most starting entrepreneur: Cost of Living.
Singapore is definitely on the top of my favorite cities in the world, but I would not consider moving there to start a business until you have a good income to support this pricy city.
Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur):
Kuala Lumpur: Beautiful city with great shopping & nightlife
One of the bigger cities in the region, Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city with plenty of activities for all to enjoy. As an entrepreneur, Kuala Lumpur offers all the opportunities of a big city, without the high prices of its close sister Singapore. Still not as cheap as some other cities in the region, Kuala Lumpur is a good option for those who will prefer all the luxuries of a big city without having to spend too much for it.
Bangkok: Hub of SE Asia and a limitless number of things to do
Probably one of the most if not the most famous country on the world for digital nomads, Thailand offers everything that a starting entrepreneur looks for in any location. With different cities to choose from, in Thailand you can’t go wrong with any location, Chiang Mai in the north is very popular among webentrepeneurs due to its low cost of living and small city atmosphere, Bangkok the capital hub of the region offers a lively nightlife, year round activities and plenty of options for things to do. Phuket and the islands in the south offer adventure seekers a beautiful scenery, awesome beaches and great food. I’ve met people in Thailand who live comfortably for around U$600 a month, which is definitely considered a low cost of living compared to any other country in the west.
Yangon, beautiful destination, not yet ready for digital nomads
This country just opened its doors to tourism and is very popular nowadays for travelers. Even though Myanmar is a beautiful country full of culture, I will personally not recommend Myanmar as a good spot for running your business as Internet speeds are highly unreliable and the cost of living is still higher than its neighboring countries. Hopefully this will change in the near future.
Phenom Phen, growing destination not very popular among expats
Another touristy destination, Cambodia is a country full of culture and friendly people. Its low cost of living may appeal to many if you don’t mind being surrounded by tourists on their way to Angkor Wat all the time. The city of Siem Reap, which is the tourist destination of Cambodia, is a beautiful city, with good nightlife and beautiful architecture. The less traveled capital Phenom Phen is one of the fastest developing cities in the region, offering a good number of activities offering a low cost of living as well.
Dalat, beautiful small city in South Vietnam rich in culture
Vietnam is one of the largest countries in the region and very different from city to city. From Ho Chi Minh City all the way to Hanoi, Vietnam is full of cities for you to choose from. Vietnam offers great food, fast Internet and a relative low cost of living making it another popular choice among entrepreneurs.
Manila – Widely different city depending on the neighborhood you stay in
The Philippines’s biggest advantage is that English has become their second language and today it seems that it might be their first pretty soon. Anywhere you travel in the Philippines people speak almost perfect English making it very easy for you to communicate. Manila the capital is a huge city with many different activities and things to do year round. Some of the other islands are more touristy but still offer great value, good Internet and friendly locals.
Bali – From tropical jungles to sandy beaches, a heaven for many entrepreneurs
As far as Indonesia goes, you’ll find that 99% of the people only talk about Bali. Bali is a great option for those who like to be near the beach with great options on things to do. Not as cheap as it used to be due to its popularity in tourism, Bali offers great Internet, a good network of entrepreneurs and all around good atmosphere for you to concentrate in work. Another alternatives might be bigger cities such as Yogyakarta and even Jakarta if you enjoy the options that bigger cities offer, while still being able to keep your costs down.
As you can see, SE Asia has a place for everyone. From the sandy beaches of Bali and the Philippines to the larger metropolis of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, moving to Asia might help you concentrate on business while still having a great time without having to spend tons of money in it.
Tip: If you are deciding on relocating for some time to work on your business, I recommend you first take a small trip to your top destinations before you settle on any one of them. Believe me, there are no photos, videos or testimonials that can help you see how each place really feels like.