While the world adjusts to the new wave of remote work, more and more countries are adapting their laws to accommodate this new digital nomad workforce. Perhaps no continent has as many amazing digital nomad cities and destinations as Asia.
In this post, I’m going to share with you our team’s top 7 digital nomad cities in Asia.
Out of the 15 or so digital nomads who are part of the team here at Goats On The Road, we’ve lived in dozens of different cities, towns, islands, and atolls around Asia and many of us, including myself, have lived in Asia as digital nomads for years in total.
Watch Our Asian Digital Nomad Cities Video
How We Chose The Cities
For the place to make the list of the best digital nomad cities, it has to have great internet, a decent digital nomad scene (like coworking spaces, conferences, and an overall entrepreneurial vibe), it should be safe, have an easy entry visa, long stay or digital nomad visa program, plus be well connected with flights, and have good long-term accommodation options.
It’s worth noting that there aren’t a lot of great digital nomad visa options in Asian countries, so we’ve included some that have decent entry visas, or are reasonably easy to extend in most cases.
7 Best Cities In Asia For Digital Nomads
Alright, let’s get started with our list. Here are our picks for the absolute best destinations in Asia for digital nomads and remote workers based on the criteria listed above.
1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Home to pretty much every blogger and SEO guru you can think of at some point or another, Chiang Mai is a major digital nomad hotspot for sure.
We first visited Chiang Mai way back in 2009 (I know, we’re old), and since then it’s blown up to be one of the most popular spots for remote workers, travel bloggers, SEOs, and online entrepreneurs in the world.
There are tons of great coworking spaces in Chiang Mai, restaurants, and cafes here, nearby hiking and camping spots, it’s well connected with flights usually laying over in Bangkok, and the internet is blazing fast at 200 down and 170 up on average, but you can get broadband speeds at up to 1000mbps down.
If there’s one thing the city is missing, it’s lounge nightlife with good DJ music and late-night dancing, but that’s also set to change as more DJs and musicians are making their way here.
Another con of Chiang Mai is that there’s a burning season between January and March when pollution becomes almost unbearable. Most digital nomads we know leave the city during these months.
Having said that, the rest of the year this is easily one of the coolest places for digital nomads.
If you’re a digital nomad and you want to be surrounded by an inspiring entrepreneurial spirit, then Chiang Mai is the place to be.
2. Bali, Indonesia
I’m putting the entire island of Bali here rather than breaking it up into the many different digital nomad cities because, in Bali, there’s a place for everyone. We’ve lived in Bali a few times as digital nomads and it will always have a special place in our hearts.
For surf, it’s pretty much anywhere on the south coasts, particularly on the west side of the island. For yoga and health, it’s still Ubud and for city life and being close to the airport, you could stay in Denpasar… if you’re also a sadist.
Bali is known for its beautiful beaches and accommodations, the latter typically taking the form of luxury pool villas. While these are still considerably cheaper than similar places in the West, there are no longer the super cheap deals that Bali was once famous for.
If you want a nice villa with a private pool, you’re looking at around $3,000 per month at least. There are some nice smaller apartments to be found for $1000, but these aren’t as common as they once were as the market is catering more and more to wealthy digital nomads here.
The internet in Bali ranges from city to city, but you’ll usually be able to get over 100 down and 100 up in most of the cities I listed with the fastest on the island hitting around 250mbps.
Bali is growing so rapidly that one year a city is a quiet haven and the next year it’s overrun, so you’ll have to do your research before going, but Bali is still one of the most magical places in the world and I think there will be a slice of digital nomad paradise found somewhere on the island for many years to come.
Bangkok is chaotic, hectic, and exhilarating and it is still one of my favorite cities in the world.
As a digital nomad, there are tons of things to do, you’re super well connected with one of the best airports on the continent, it’s affordable, there are countless restaurants ranging from street food to Michelin stars, and there is a definite entrepreneurial buzz going on here.
You can get nice one-bedroom apartments in trendy areas of the city for under $1000 per month if you’re signing long-term leases, but cheaper one-bedroom in less desirable areas can be as cheap as $400 per month.
Not surprisingly the internet in the capital is the fastest in the country, with blazing fast speeds of 180 down and 140 up. Plus there are more co-working and co-living spaces than you could visit in your day-to-day life.
If you’re a city person, then Bangkok is a thriving metropolis with all the inspiring city energy a digital nomad could ask for.
4. Kuala Lumpur
There are a ton of reasons to pick Kuala Lumpur as the best digital nomad hotspot in Asia. The city is thriving but still feels approachable.
Malaysia has one of the best digital nomad and tax residency regimes in Asia.
The city is extremely well connected, there are lots of things to do, it’s relatively clean, and there are a growing number of co-working spaces and digital nomad communities popping up here.
Internet is quick at 100 down and 60 up, and there is a great 5G connection as well.
Because of its central location in Southeast Asia, the KL airport opens up a world of quick vacations and weekend trips to other digital nomad hot spots like Thailand, Bali, and pretty much anywhere in Asia.
Domestically, the city is close to the coast, meaning you can weekend in stunning tropical island locations like the Perenthians, Tiamon, or Langkawi.
You also have cultural Malacca right on your doorstep and, seeing as you’re living in one of the best foodie countries in the continent, it’s no surprise that there’s an endless number of great restaurants, bars, and nightlife to enjoy here.
The city is safe, energetic, and beautiful. KL has always been one of the most underrated digital nomad cities in the world in my opinion.
- Population: 1,500,000
- Internet Speed: Up to 260mbps⬇/220mbps⬆
- 1 Bedroom Apartment: $1,200 in Center
- Entry: No Visa 90 days. Extendable
- Digital Nomad Visa: No
It’s a bit pricier than the other places I’ve listed so far, but it also comes with some great amenities, plenty of green spaces for nature, and very nearby beaches.
Singapore is one of the most livable cities in Asia. It has blazing-fast wifi averaging at 260 down and 220 up, but you can actually get much faster speeds than that with home broadband.
There are plenty of cafes and coworking spaces to work from, a well-connected airport, and apartments in the city starting from around $1200 US per month.
If Singapore eventually comes out with a digital nomad visa it’ll be even better.
6. Goa, India
We had to get a city from India here and in my opinion, Goa is one of the few spots on the subcontinent where we’d actually consider living for an extended period of time.
While India proper has a chaotic energy that is too much for a lot of people, Goa, while still busy, retains a laid back beach vibe that feels more modern than a lot of the rest of the country.
Here there are countless yoga retreat centers, healthy restaurant options, coworking spaces, and a growing digital nomad community. Unfortunately, most international flights leaving from Goa are going to have layovers in Mumbai or Delhi, making it a bit less well-connected than some other places on this list, but what it lacks in connections it makes up for in delicious food.
7. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Population: 9,000,000
- Internet Speed: Up to 125mbps⬇/125mbps⬆
- 1 Bedroom Apartment: $500 in Center
- Entry: 30 days extendable
- Digital Nomad Visa: No
Ho Chi Minh City has turned itself into a digital nomad hot spot in recent years. It’s a coffee capital, meaning there are countless cafes you can work from, a growing number of coworking spaces, super fast wi-fi and it’s one of the most affordable cities on this list, with great 1-bedroom apartments in the center for under $500 per month.
Before we close out here, I’ve gotta list some honorable mentions because Asia is so jam-packed with great digital nomad spots:
Tokyo: Expensive but thriving and clean with excellent wifi and amenities.
Phuket: A fully established island on the digital nomad scene, Phuket is beautiful and cities like Rawai and Kamala are perfect for digital nomads.
Shanghai: If it wasn’t for the pollution and the uncertainty of the visa situation for digital nomads in China, Shanghai would’ve been on this list. It’s a super fun city with a huge expat community.
That’s it! I hope you guys enjoyed this article about the best digital nomad cities in Asia. I’m sure that 90% of you disagree with this list in some way or another, and that’s totally fine.
That’s the cool thing about these kind of lists. Maybe you know some up-and-coming digital nomad cities that you want to share, or you want to make suggestions for future videos.
Click Here to watch our video on YouTube and leave your comments there. We can have a fun discussion in the comment section and who knows, maybe we’ll uncover some cool places that we didn’t know about.
Thanks for reading.