The concept of the digital nomad visa Thailand has been hitting the news lately. That is because the Kingdom of Thailand is in the process of providing a special digital nomad visa for those who wish to work remotely from there.
While there are plenty of digital nomads who currently work out of Thailand, it is worth noting that one is, strictly speaking, only allowed to work and earn a living in Thailand if they have a work permit (more on this later!)
That being said, certain things need to be considered if you plan to work remotely in Thailand.
Read on as we discover:
- Some of the reasons to be a digital nomad in Thailand
- The various types of visas available for travelers to Thailand
- Whether you require a Thailand visa in the first place
- The potential emergence of the Thailand digital nomad visa
- How to apply for a digital nomad visa for travel to Thailand
- The cost of living in Thailand as a digital nomad
- The best cities to be in as a digital nomad in Thailand
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What Is A Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who travels while they work.
The main tool of a digital nomad is the internet, with a good laptop coming in as a close second. They may use other tech gear but these are the lifelines of a digital nomad.
A digital nomad can either be a remote worker for an employer or a freelancer.
Either way, a digital nomad has the freedom to travel and explore new places while they earn a living.
Why Become A Digital Nomad In Thailand?
Countries like Thailand are an incredibly popular destination for digital nomads. Some of the reasons for this include:
- The stunning beaches with breathtaking landscapes
- Extremely affordable cost of living
- It is easy to get around all over Thailand
- The people of Thailand are incredibly hospitable and helpful
- The slow pace of certain parts of the country can be attractive to some digital nomads
- The internet is fast and easily accessible no matter where in the country you are
- Thai food is amazing!
While these are just some of the reasons to be a digital nomad in Thailand, it is most certainly easy to see why it is such an attractive place to be.
Types Of Thailand Visas
Thailand offers a range of different types of visas, depending on your intended duration of stay and purpose of entering the country.
That being said, it does appear to be that (at the time of writing in April 2021) the most appropriate visa to apply for if you want to be a digital nomad in Thailand is the Tourist Visa.
As mentioned above, one can only legally work in Thailand with a work permit. As, working in the country as a digital nomad on a tourist visa may not be entirely legal. More on this later!
It is also worth noting at this point that most of the information on the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs website is in the Thai language.
As such, you may need to check with your local embassy or consulate for the details on the other types of visas.
Generally speaking, however, there are 2 types of Tourist Visas that you can consider if you are planning to work remotely from Thailand:
- Tourist Visa (TR Visa) – this is a single entry visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days and costs USD38.
- Long Stay Visa – this is a multiple entry visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for a minimum of 90 days and costs about USD188. This can be extended twice for a further 90 days each.
Do You Need A Visa To Be A Digital Nomad in Thailand?
As of 31st December 2016, some nationalities are exempt from having to apply for a visa if they plan to be in the country for up to 30 days only.
These countries are:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Demark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The Thailand Digital Nomad Visa
As mentioned above, this has been in the news lately. It must be emphasized at this point, however, that the Thailand digital nomad visa is not yet available at the time of writing (April 2021).
The concept of a Thailand digital nomad visa has been proposed by the Board of Investment in Thailand and is currently awaiting approval from the Thai Cabinet.
If this is indeed approved, then all tourist visas may be able to transfer to the Thailand Smart Visa scheme.
By way of background, currently, the Smart Visa (which was initially launched in February 2018) is offered to:
- Those with specific talents such as expertise in science and technology
- Executives with, among other things, 10 years of experience and a bachelors degree or above
There are also specific targeted industries that these individuals may have to fall into to be considered for a Smart Visa application. You can find out more details of the current operation of the Thailand Smart Visa here.
That being said, once the Thailand Smart Visa for digital nomads is approved, it will allow digital nomads to stay in Thailand without a work permit for up to 4 years.
However, it must be noted that if you want to apply for the Thailand Smart Visa digital nomad version, you will need to show that you have a contract of employment with a foreign firm that lasts for at least 6 months from the point of application.
At the time of writing, the Thailand Smart Visa costs about USD375 but note that it may change upon official approval of the visa for use by digital nomads.
How To Apply For Digital Nomad Visa Thailand
While the intricacies of the Smart Visa for digital nomads are being sorted out, as mentioned above, one of the ways you can enter Thailand to be a digital nomad at the moment is by way of a Tourist Visa.
It must be noted that the requirements and documentation to be attached to your application will depend on your nationality.
Here is a great platform that you can access that will help you to determine what is required based on your home country. Once you choose the country you are from, you will be directed to the specific embassy that will guide you accordingly.
Broadly speaking, the general requirements are:
- A valid passport with at least 6 months left
- Confirmed return air ticket that is fully paid
- A passport-sized photograph of yourself
- Evidence of adequate finances. This should be at least USD 641.20 (20,000 Thai Baht) but may be subject to change.
Again, it must be noted that all information here is correct at the time of writing but it is best for you to use the platform mentioned above to determine what exactly needs to be submitted to your local Thai embassy to obtain your Thai visa.
Is It Legal To Work Remotely In Thailand?
With all this talk about being a digital nomad in Thailand, this is probably the most important question to address.
Technically, you are strictly not allowed to work on a tourist visa. You can only work in Thailand if you possess a work permit and pay taxes accordingly.
However, it cannot be denied that plenty of people from all around the world come to Thailand and work remotely as digital nomads in Thailand. The law is an undeniably grey area when it comes to situations like this.
What may be helpful is this: work is defined as using energy, knowledge, or effort to produce something.
It is also thought that the Work Permit Office in Thailand is primarily concerned with situations where the interests of local Thais are affected and if you are doing work that in turn denies them work opportunities.
As such, it is possible to interpret remote working in this context as falling outside of these two scenarios.
That being said, with the emergence of the Thailand digital nomad Smart Visa, these grey areas may get cleared up to allow for digital nomads to legally work remotely in Thailand.
Cost Of Living In Thailand
As we discussed above, the cost of living in Thailand is considered to be relatively cheap when compared to other countries in the region.
For example, the estimated monthly cost for a single person in Thailand is about USD582.53 without rent.
If you were looking to rent an apartment in Thailand, it is worth it to note that prices in the city are almost double than those outside the city center.
For example, a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost you about USD430 in monthly rent whereas, outside the city center, you will only need to pay about USD260 for the same thing.
If you wanted to have a meal outside at an inexpensive restaurant, it might set you back about USD2. Yes, you read that right! The glorious food in Thailand is also considered to be gloriously cheap!
For a more detailed breakdown of the cost of living in Thailand, check out Numbeo, the world’s largest cost of living database.
Best Digital Nomad Cities in Thailand
Thailand is undoubtedly a place of many wonders and much beauty.
However, some cities in Thailand have captured the hearts of digital nomads from all over the world. Some reasons for this include the convenience of their location, as well as the availability of coworking and coliving spaces.
Some of the best cities in Thailand include:
Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. It is a bustling place that is constantly full of life.
In addition to the city life, you will also get to experience the city’s rich history and heritage in the form of Royal palaces and multiple temples.
More importantly, as a digital nomad, what you will most certainly find useful is the range of coworking spaces within the city. These include international coworking brands such as:
Okay, Krabi is not technically a city. However, if you are a digital nomad beach bum, then there can be no better place to be a digital nomad.
As a digital nomad in Krabi, you are most likely going to be working by aquamarine blue oceans on soft sandy beaches.
On your breaks, you will be able to indulge in some island hopping, scuba diving, and jungle trekking.
Krabi is also home to the Krabi Tiger Cave which is near the Krabi Town center. It consists of natural limestone caves and you can discover the Buddha’s footprint after a 1237-step climb with stunning 360 views!
Generally, digital nomads prefer to be in Krabi as opposed to being a digital nomad in Phuket because it is a more quiet beach, with fewer tourists, thus a more conducive environment to work as well as play!
Chiang Mai is located in the northern part of Thailand.
If you are the kind of digital nomad who prefers to be surrounded by lush greenery with access to plenty of outdoor activities, then this is the perfect digital nomad destination in Thailand for you.
This is also a popular destination for digital nomads to meet up and have digital nomad courses and digital nomad conferences as well.
Unique Tips For Digital Nomads in Thailand
- Thailand has many temples that also serve as tourist attractions. When you are visiting any of these temples, do make sure that your knees are covered. Otherwise, you may be denied entry. To be safe, avoid sleeveless tops or carry a shawl with you to cover your shoulders while you are in the temple.
- Learn a few Thai phrases such as ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’. Thai people are already extremely friendly but speaking to them in their own language is bound to give you bonus points! You can use an app like Duolingo to quickly learn some common Thai phrases!
- Did you know that there are restrictions on taking images of Buddha out of the country? Buddhism is the religion of almost 95% of the people in Thailand. As such, all images of Buddha are considered sacred.
If you want to take images of Buddha out of the country, you require special permission to do so. The purpose of the permission is to ensure that you are not taking a cultural artifact out of the country
Of course, you will see images of Buddha being sold in the form of prints, paintings, and other artistic items. However, they may not tell you about these regulations.
Which Countries Have Digital Nomad Visas?
If you are interested in exploring the digital nomad lifestyle and are a little bit worried about the uncertainty of the Thailand digital nomad visa status, then there may be other countries that you can explore that have visas that are catered specifically for digital nomads.
While they may not be explicitly referred to as such, the following countries have visas that are akin to digital nomad visas. These include:
As you can see, the specific digital nomad visa Thailand is in a bit of a state of limbo at the moment. But fret not, you can still make your way there using a tourist visa. You just may not be able to stay in the country for as long as you want.
Prior to the global pandemic, it was easier to exit the country, travel to nearby places, and enter the country again (a concept known as visa runs!) to restart the duration of the tourist visa.
However, to do so in these times just may not be practical or more importantly, affordable.
As such, if you do have your heart set on going to Thailand and working as a digital nomad, your best bet is to wait for the approval of the digital nomad Smart Visa.