Bangkok for digital nomads
Thailand may well be one of best places to go to for digital nomads. The food is hot, living is cheap and the culture is equally parts serene, bewildering and captivating. No wonder many find themselves visiting this place over and over again. Although Bangkok doesn’t have the same allure as the white sandy beaches of the islands in the south, I think that no Thailand travel, in fact probably no Southeast Asian adventure would be complete without a visit to Bangkok.
This is a quick guide on how to tackle Bangkok for digital nomads, where you will learn:
- Why you want to stay in Sukhumvit as a digital nomad
- The best co-working spaces
- The best coffee shops for digital nomads
Where to stay in Bangkok as a digital nomad?
Bangkok is a mega city housing over 8 million people and spreading more than 1,500 square kilometer. With so many foreign sounding neighborhoods and endless options for accommodation it can be tough to decide where to stay. If you’re also looking for a co-working space it doesn’t get any easier. Coworker.com alone lists over 90 co-working spaces in Bangkok. So here is my simple piece of advise for digital nomads wanting to explore Bangkok: stay away from Khao San Rd and come to Sukhumvit.
The Sukhumvit area is bursting with cafes, restaurants and bars. It stretches along the Sukhumvit line of the Bangkok Sky Train (BTS). Therefore, the area has a great connection to the public transport system. It has a large expat culture and enough accommodation options to be attractive for digital nomads and travelers. At the same time it is far enough away from the tourist hotspots. Hence, in Sukhumvit prices are cheap and you won’t be hassled by tuk-tuk drivers and scam artists like on Khao San Rd.
How to orient yourself in Sukhumvit
Sukhumvit Road starts west of Phloen Chit and stretches out for kilometers across Bangkok’s south-west. Despite it’s size, orienting yourself is easy. The parallel streets (Soi) intersecting Sukhumvit Rd are enumerated – even numbers on the east side, odd numbers on the west side, numbers increase towards the south. So if you want to get anywhere just tell the Taxi driver the number of the street or closest intersection. Like, Monkey Nap hostel lies on Soi 30.
Overhead you will always see the BTS railway tracks and the closest station is never more than 10 min walk away. In the middle of Sukhumvit there is also the Sukhumvit Metro station, which is great to get to Chatuchak weekend market or Rod Fai night market.
Best co-working spaces
Find your focus at MonkeyNap hostel
If you’re staying at MonkeyNap the long table in the lounge has plenty of power plugs and chairs ready for you to get going. There are usually a couple of people working here, and if you’re lucky you may even run into a digital nomad celebrity, like famous Japanese blogger Taro.
AIS Design Centre – Co-working and library
- Mon-Sun 10:30-21:00
- day-pass ฿150 / year-pass ฿1,200(!)
- fast wifi
- No free drinking water or coffee
- sometimes noisy or cold
As far as co-working spaces go the AIS Design Centre (AIS DC) at the Emporium mall, next to Phrom Phong BTS, offers by far the best value for money I’ve ever encountered. ฿1200 will get you a year pass with access to two locations in Bangkok and one in Chiang Mai.
The space is a large open-plan library, with plenty of books from arts and design to computer science. There are lots of work stations and even a separate quiet room. It is open Monday to Sunday from 10:30-21:00. There is no free water refill and the air-con is on super charge – you may wanna bring a jacket.
Note: the place gets packed in the afternoon, and it may get noisy sometimes when kids start assembling here after school.
The Emporium mall can be a bit of a maze to navigate at first, as it is composed of four partly interconnected buildings. If you’re walking from Monkey Nap to the Phrom Phong BTS, the mall is right behind the station. Take the entrance to your left at the Louis Vitton and Cartier signs – yes I know how that sounds, just trust me on this one… Inside, make your way past the designer shops and follow the signs to the Emprive Cinema on the 5th floor. When you come up the last escalator to the cinema turn right around the corner and you will see the green and white AIS DC sign.
Special trashpackers tip: the gourmet grocery store on the 4th floor frequently has tasters of imported cheese and cold meats lying out to sample for free =)
The Hive Thonglor
- Mon-Fri 08:00-20:00
- day-pass ฿350
- fast and super reliable wifi
- free coffee and drinking water
- awesome community and events
- no office chairs for hotdesks
If you’re looking for a co-working space with an awesome community The Hive Thonglor is a top choice. It’s on Sukhumvit Soi 49 at the Piman complex. The place offers hot-desks and office space on multiple floors, with a roof top cafe/bar that serves a decent coffee and great lunch. It has probably the most stable and fastest wifi-connection of all places I’ve been to. Members get special discounts on the in-house luxury Spa and events. The space is very friendly and communal events like lunch and dinner-parties, cinema clubs and yoga session happen regularly. Different memberships options are available. As of late 2019 the day pass goes for ฿350 which includes free coffee and water and fresh fruit by donation. Open 08:00-20:00 Monday to Friday.
Special tip: Go check out the space for free every Tuesday. Also, just on the opposite side of the road is the EspressoMan coffee stand, which serves the best coffee in town.
Best coffee shops for digital nomads
Sleep Industry Coffee
- Mon-Sun 08:00-20:00
- cappuccino ฿80
- convenient location
Just 100 m down the road from Monkey Nap is Sleep Industry Coffee. Walk out to Sukhumvit Road and turn right to walk towards Soi 34. It’s a small air-conditioned shop that serves a decent cappuccino for about ฿80 and an assortment of baked goodies. It’s usually not very busy, a couple of tables have power-plugs and the wifi has never let me down. They also serve nitro coffee and coffee mixers from the tap. Never heard of that? Go, try some!
- Mon-Sun 08:00-22:00
- cappuccino ฿120
- comfortable seating
- food very expensive
Casa Lapin Specialty Coffee Shop on Soi 26 is also popular with digital nomads. Be warned, it may not be a good choice if you’re on a tight budget. A foamy latte goes for a lavish ฿120 and lunch starts at ฿200, but the chairs are comfy and the tables have just the right height. Depending on the time, and day of the week it can get very busy. Especially, the rows behind the bar are often occupied by people on their laptops. On the weekends the upstairs space may be open which is great for working too.
Note: there used to be a co-working space here which is now permanently closed.
- Mon-Fri 07:00-17:00, Sat-Sun 09:00-17:00
- large cappuccino ฿85
- great lunch options
- not many power plugs
Just outside of Phrom Phong BTS, right next to the Family Mart there is another tiny shop serving a damn good coffee called 39 Espresso. The bar table in the back has two plugs if you’re looking for some power. It get’s busy around lunch time, as a popular street food stall sets up right outside. Pick from an array of curries and fried vegetables with steamed rice and eat it inside the shop. The food is delicious and cheap. Come early, it sells out fast and the best picks may be gone by 1 pm.