Labor & Workforce

Digital nomads setting up camp in Bangkok

By Nayara Batschke

Bangkok, Jul 17 (EFE).- Famed for its idyllic beaches, cuisine and cultural attractions, Thailand has established itself as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations with an average of 40 million visitors annually and now its capital Bangkok is proving to be a hub for digital nomads.

The metropolis lays claim to being the best city in Asia for remote and flexible workers and was pipped in the global rankings only by Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, according to The Instant Group, a British firm that evaluated 80 cities around the world. The company estimates there are 35 million digital nomads globally.

The Thai capital outshone other locations due to its impressive local cuisine, its bustling street markets, easily accessible WiFi spots and low cost accommodations, the firm noted.

“Bangkok is a good place to live,” says Esh Muriel, a digital consultant who hails from Nepal, and has spent six months in Bangkok. “The cafes are very workable, the streets are very walkable, and you come across with people from all over the world.”

Muriel stays in the vibrant Asok area of central Bangkok, one of the city’s business districts, and usually works from cafes or coworking spaces, which are burgeoning in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a remote worker, Muriel can escape the city from time to time and move her office to one of Thailand’s paradisaical islands.

“Things are adapting to fit the digital nomad lifestyle,” she tells Efe. “In post-Covid society, people are realizing that they can be and work anywhere in the world and don’t really need to be inside an office to be productive.”

In the depths of the pandemic, popular tourist destinations like Thailand and Indonesia drew in tens of thousands of foreign workers in pursuit of a balance between leisure, quality of life and good working conditions.

International remote workers found themselves in a legal limbo, however, given that few countries have approved legislation relating to digital nomads.

But that is slowly changing.

The Thai government plans to launch a special visa for digital nomads and become one of the world’s first destinations to welcome a “growing trend” in work culture that took off during the pandemic, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, the director of marketing with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, tells Efe.

In 2019, before the pandemic hit, Bangkok was the most visited city in the world for the fourth year running, ahead of destinations like Paris, London, Barcelona and New York.

The capital now wants to open its arms to thousands of digital nomads. What awaits them is a city with efficient and easily navigable public transport, good internet connectivity, a relatively low cost of living, a tropical climate and a perfect launchpad to visit other areas of Southeast Asia.

“Here you can live, with $2,000, a very good life, that’s why Bangkok is convenient. And if you try hard, even with $1,000 dollars you can live an OK life,” Christina Kovalenko, a 3D designer who spent six years in Dubai before moving to Thailand, tells Efe.

She first tried her luck on Phuket, a popular tourist island in Thailand’s southwest, but quickly realized she needed better infrastructure to work properly.

“I always had this image of a digital nomad working on the beach, with the ocean and palms and you are just there with your laptop, and that’s why I went to Phuket, but it’s like a small village,” she adds.

“I chose Bangkok because it is an international city, it is easy to walk around, there are a lot of places to go, lots of interesting things to visit. It is a mix of tradition and a modern environment, and there are a lot of ambitious people.”

But Christina points out that there are downsides to digital nomadism.

“Sometimes you want to share what you are doing, you want some advice or to just exchange ideas. You want some human interaction and that’s when loneliness can hit you hard,” she says.

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