I glanced at the phone: it’s 8:30pm. Despite loud music blasting through the headphones, I could hear my husband treading on by my side. He was in the zone. Turning down the speed of my own treadmill, I waved my hand like a crazy person to get his attention.
“Do you want to go for food soon, before everywhere closes?”
Early closing time was probably the only problem when we had in Chiang Mai. In most restaurants, the staff tends to turn newcomers away as early as 9pm. Except for that slight inconvenience, Chiang Mai is a great place to do remote workers, like this one:
At the beginning of the summer, Ian and I spent two weeks in Chiang Mai, renting an AirBnB apartment in Nimman, the popular neighbourhood among travellers and digital nomads.
Our first impression of Nimman was the density of new condominiums. When we looked for a place to say, we found many offering modern facilities like private pools, saunas, and gyms. We picked one, meaning to get back to regular workout after eating our face off for a month and a half without much physical challenge outside one six-hour hike and occasional walks.
We did get plenty of exercises, alternating daily between a swim and a run, with bonus yoga sessions now and then. The rent was affordable, two-third of what we would pay for a hotel room in Bali and half of the starting rate of any AirBnB room in a Dutch city, Amsterdam aside. Instead, we had a spacious studio where we could work at a desk, cook food in a fully equipped kitchen, and chill on a big sofa. I can’t remember how many episodes of Lost we watched during rainy evenings in Chiang Mai.
We didn’t cook a lot, though, as it was cheap and convenient to go out. We dined like King and Queen twice a day: big meals, delicious snacks, exotic treats, you name it. In Nimman, one can stay for two weeks, walk 10 minutes around her place to find a new restaurant to eat every single day.
There’s probably one meal that didn’t wow us in the entire two weeks. We got help from Foursquare, but Chiang Mai chefs got most of the credit.
On our last day, we went to work at the nearby co-working space CAMP, while waiting for our train. CAMP is a big cafe with at least 100 seats. You can choose from different types of tables: small round sofa tables, big long lunch tables, or low tables where you sit on a cushion on the floor. I opted for a standing desk with built-in power sockets.
CAMP opens 24/7 and does not have a membership. When you buy a drink, you get a two-hour wifi code. They also do food, both snacks, and proper meals. Because CAMP is located inside a shopping mall, there’s plenty of things for you to eat and do while taking a break.
I found toilet breaks potentially problematic. CAMP doesn’t have its own toilets. You need to leave the cafe, cross a hall, take a few turns to reach the common toilets of the whole floor. It makes a good excuse to stretch your legs. However, when you are alone, leaving your stuff unattended for a big walk through the mall could be inconvenient.
I’ve heard about another nice co-working space, called PunSpace. It has two locations, one in Nimman and the other in Tha Phae Gate. However, I mostly worked in the flat so I didn’t get around to check it out.
All in all, Chiang Mai is the great place for digital nomads. When you got a project that you can do remotely, don’t think twice. Go there, check into a co-working space, and you will find the like-minded folks. If you rather working from home, there're many spacious AirBnB apartments with a laptop space and at a reasonable price.
For relaxing, there are amazing treks up the nearby mountains. There are also many camp sites in the north of Thailand. You can also visit elephant conservation centres around the area. Make sure you know the ethical issues before visiting an elephant sanctuary.
The weather in Chiang Mai is temperate compared with many other Thailand cities and islands. It might be a bit humid but nothing to the extreme. We were there in June and the temperature was always around 29oC degrees.
Last but not least, go there for food, which is plenty and tasty. Try the hefty northern dishes like sausages and pork scratchings eating with sticky rice. Chiang Mai is close to China and you will find many Chinese tourists and non-tourists here. They bring great Chinese restaurants. Besides, Japanese food is trendy all over Thailand and Chiang Mai is no exception. There’s a decent katsu restaurant in Nimman, where you can eat chicken katsu on spaghetti. I know, it sounds wrong on many levels but it tasted pretty good. I just have to say one more thing: Thai food, in general, not just Chiangmai is awesome.
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