Digital Nomad in Thailand- then and now

In the outskirts of the Bangkok town, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a co-working office located at Porto Chino, Samut Sakhon:

Porto Chino Samut Sakhon Co-Working

This is a very nice and cozy place located on the main road from Bangkok to Samut Sakhon town. We went there to enjoy dinner at a comfortable ambiance. Right at the entrance to the food court, we were greeted with a co-working office:

Porto Chino Samut Sakhon Co-Working

Porto Chino Samut Sakhon Co-Working

Seeing the co-working space, it got me thinking that the situation was so different 10 years ago…

A blogger in 2008

I spent about a year travelling in and out Thailand from mid 2008 to 2009 via tourist visa and border runs. I usually did my border runs at Mae Sai where we cross over to Myanmar, make a round and come back and got ourselves another 30 days. However, the border runs later changed to 14 days.

That time, the concept of digital nomads were quite unheard off. I remember there was a hype amongst bloggers when Tim Ferriss launched his book, The Four Hour Workweek which I must admit it was such a totally alien concept then that it was received with skepticism. Many thought it was just a wishful dream.

Tourists on border runs were mostly Westerners in their backpacks. It was not common to see foreigners working on their laptops at cafes then… that time not many people owned laptops. At most you may sometimes see those dressed in business suits fiddling with their Blackberry. And the internet service in Thailand 10 years ago were actually quite slow and very expensive.

I was already a blogger then even though that time I’ve yet to migrate to my own domain name and paid hosting. My teacher then did not have internet service. I needed to access to my blog as often as I could mainly to moderate comments. I would try to borrow my friend’s desktop computer to use when I am visiting her home in Chiang Mai. Else, it would be at those internet cafes where the speed is slow as turtle.

With proper planning, I try my best to prepare blog articles and schedule them when I am back at home. And then I would be using my point-and-shoot Canon to take pictures and write articles after I come back to Malaysia.

While others would most probably try to work it out at internet cafes….at its super sllllooooowwww internet speeds to get some work done.

The rise of Digital Nomad

So much have changed in Thailand for the last couple of years. From mid 2009 after I am back in Malaysia, I continued to travel to Thailand about 2 or 3 times a year (almost all of my annual leave in my corporate job are spent there).

Slowly the internet got faster. And later cheaper. I am able to get unlimited 7 days or 14 days plan (depending on how long I am staying) for 300 to 400 baht. It is cheap because it is unlimited. However, I am sure for mobile hotspot it would be charged differently.

Eventually my host started having Wifi service and it was faster than in my country. I am awed by the speed each time as it got better and better.

During my recent trip to the Thai Embassy in Malaysia to apply for a tourist visa, I am awed at the amount of foreigners who were there to apply for their visas. Most of them were carrying a backpack designed to put laptops.

Thailand is really a wonderful place to spend time in. I never got tired of visiting and staying in Thailand because there are new places to discover. It is a great place if you want to look for a good location to stay while being a digital nomad where you can work remotely.

In the past, you need a co-working place as it would have almost guaranteed fast internet speed. However I believe that the speeds of improving greatly at hotels and the major telcos such as AIS and True having their own Wifi hotspots, you would be able to login to their Wifi service from most of the cafes. Do make sure that the plan that you are buying supports that service.

A blogger or YouTuber in Thailand

If you need to be online and working actively in Thailand, for example if you are doing copy writing, web design, Skype meetings….having a reliable and fast internet connection is of great importance because there is a fixed deadline that you need to meet.

However if you are a blogger or YouTuber, you can concentrate on working on a specific period of time and then scheduling the posts or videos to be published later. Many bloggers and YouTubers working from home does that. For example many YouTubers will film a few videos all at once (they may change the scenery a little and change their attire). Then they batch edit their videos and schedule for the videos to be published on different dates.

As a blogger, I often prepare my posts and advance and schedule them to be published on different dates. I find this easier for me because I personally do not like to lung my laptop all over the place.

The only thing that one probably have to do on the go is to moderate comments but that can be easily done via their mobile phone.


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