Ko Samui, Ko Lanta, Goa or Chennai. Which one to start developing apps?

Hi nomads!

I’m intending to become a proper digital nomad in January at the latest, and I am just starting to take some initial steps. I am a software developer and I intend to create an app and build a startup. Which one of these places would be best for that?

  • Ko Samui (Thailand)
  • Ko Lanta (Thailand)
  • Goa (India)
  • Chennai (India)

My idea is to develop my business in any of those places and open it here in Australia later on. Obviously, one of the main reasons why I have picked those places is that they are very affordable so that I can make the most of my savings from my current contract :slight_smile: Goa would probably be my favourite pick since is quieter and not as crowded as Chennai (I think), plus living costs are about half of what they are in Ko Samui and Ko Lanta.

However, due to the nature of my business plan, Internet is a must. I have read your article about Goa and you said that Internet access is pretty bad, however I noticed that you wrote that a year ago and I also heard that this is currently changing. What’s the situation right now?


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I can only speak for Koh Lanta and Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is a much bigger island than Koh Lanta. More people, more everything. If you like modern amenities and enjoy a more city feel at the beach with access to everything you could want, it’s probably the better pick. I think the internet was fine most places.

Koh Lanta is a much smaller, relaxed island. Since you’re talking about January, that is high season (until around april/may). So it is more crowded, but it’s still not that crowded. It’s more of a family island, rather than a party island. Although there is generally a party or two every night somewhere if you want it. It also has a fantastic coworking space KoHub (http://kohub.org) which has very good internet (100mbps + 50mbps backup line - from which I’m writing this now).

Thanks kevinohashi. Ko Lanta would be more suitable for me I think.

Let’s see if someone can share their experiences with Goa and Chennai! I’m very interested to know about those too.


Goa’s infrastructure is certainly improving every year. There is more widespread 4G, especially in the big city Panjim, and some areas in North Goa. I expect with the Reliance Jio launch this year; the situation would improve even more.

Panjim, the capital city, has also seen some attempts at building a digital nomad and tech community. I have seen a definitive trend of tech & design startups in India choosing Goa as their base.

South Goa wifi/internet infrastructure is very sparse. You could, of course, get a landline, if you plan to stay for a while, but the only provider in most places is BSNL, a govt provider with the bureaucracy you can imagine :wink:

I am confused why you put Chennai on this list at all. It is one of the four major metropolises in India, and the dullest and insipid one. If you wanted tech talent, Bangalore and Pune are much better options. Pune is not too far from Goa.

Thanks anigupta. It seems that I’ll be going to Ko Lanta and Chiang Mai in the end :slight_smile:

Thought I’d throw our hat in the ring, we might interest you @Spacer. @Edumadic run 12 week programs for people exactly like you. Our next program visits Goa, Sri Lanka, and Bali. You can check us out at www.edumadic.com

Lanta is bigger than Samui!

Koh Lanta is much easier to get around though as it’s pretty much one straight road. In general, cheaper than Samui.

That said, my preference would be Samui. It’s just beautiful there.

@Paul maybe in area because it’s counted as many islands. But Koh Lanta Noi has no hotels on it and is pretty much exclusively locals. As is the eastern side of Koh Lanta Yai (main island) which is only 80 km^2 according to wikipedia. While Samui is 228km m^2. Samui also has a population of 60,000+ while the entire lanta district is 30,000 (11,000 for Yai).

The area generally talked about as Koh Lanta (one specific island, Koh Lanta Yai) is much smaller than Samui.

Thanks for your replies. What about Ko Pha Ngan? I heard that it’s becoming increasingly popular among digital nomads these days.

I was in Koh Lanta this January working out of KoHub and would definitely recommend it. Its a great island with lots to do and KoHub’s atmosphere makes it really easy to make friends and have socials.

Lots of people work during the day and there is always someone going out in the evening for dinner and drinks… Pair that with a laid back island, its truly an amazing life style.

I was also in Goa unfortunately internet was a struggle and no where near as tourist friendly as Koh Lanta.
Koh Samui is a nice island and close to a few other so you can hop around. Not sure about how digital nomad friendly it is. Internet 4g was great.
Koh Pha Nang seems to be picking up… theres a coworking space which opened on the beach earlier this year if I’m not mistaken. One to check out for sure.

I’ve been reading a bit more about Ko Pha Ngan and it seems that indeed it’s picking up. They opened two coworking spaces and it seems that they are cheaper than Ko Lanta’s.

Most likely, I’ll go there to work on my startup, and also to Chiang Mai.

Thanks for your replies!