@TProphet - I don’t know about Ko Lanta, but Samui has two big hospitals. Bangkok Hospitals is about as highly reagarded as they come, on par with Bumengrad in Bangkok http://www.bangkokhospitalsamui.com/index.php?lang=en
Thanks for your thoughts! I’m not interested in a big city, personally, since the goal of the first leg is to decompress a bit. So I think Bangkok is out. Also, I live on an Island right now, so I’m familiar with Island life in terms of not having complete control over when you can leave (unless there are problems with emergency medical evacuation – which I’ve never needed).
Good to know about Internet access problems in Bali. This is what I was worried about. From scouring AirBnB, it seems like the housing options in Bali are much better quality for the price. Any input there? I’m not looking for outright luxury, but looking to spend $500-750 USD on a place at or near the beach with AC that has a bit of privacy. Not super interested in a bar scene, or in overly communal living – I’d like at least basic kitchen facilities in the apartment/bungalow.
Any other websites that would be good to look at for housing other than AirBnB?
Bali and Thailand aren’t very different in terms of total cost of living, but it varies on where exactly you want to stay. Koh Samui is one of the most expensive places in Thailand because it’s a resort destination AND has a well established expat community.
I tend to think Bali housing/lodging is a little cheaper than Thailand and higher quality, but Bali food is more expensive and lower quality.
FYI, Bangkok Hospitals is a private hospital group (not a single hospital in Bangkok).
Internet need is hard to gauge. I think I’m a heavy utilizer, I know many who seem happy if email and facebook works… whereas what I care about is FTP’ing hundreds of files.
The first category has no problem in Bali. WiFi is abundant anywhere there are tourists. It’s just not particularly fast and is prone to short outages.
Obviously from the 1000’s of people remote working from Bali though it is suitable to most. Including me as long as I can get to Hubud (coworking in Ubud, Bali), it’s just not on par with Thailand.
The paradox with Hubud and Ubud is that it’s far from the beach (about an hour)… which makes me less happy but Ubud in general I love as long as the tune out the yoga retreat crowd a little.
@jb510 Thanks! Your insight is really helpful, much appreciated. Since I’ve never been to Thailand, it’s difficult for me to imagine the difference between various places. Depending on who I ask, Phuket is either wonderful or horrid.
Krabi area seems like a good balance, but very little is available on Airbnb from what I’ve seen.
Ko Lanta seems nice, but somewhat remote.
Any other areas I should search for?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say…
Perfect example. I’ve never been a fan of big cities and I hated Bangkok and New Delhi the first couple times I visited each. Then on the 3rd or 4th visit a local showed me a new part of the city and I fell in love with both, not to the point I’d want to spend months in either, but a week in either is something I look forward to now whereas I used to avoid even spending the night.
I don’t know Krabi/Phuket well enough. I generally don’t like tourist crowds and they sound crowded. I have friends that live in Railey whom I keep meaning to visit though… I split my Thailand time between the south (Koh Phangan/Saumi) and Chiang Mai.
One other note regarding coworking spaces if that’s your thing (I love them), Thailand (Hubba & Punspace) are half the price per day of Bali (Hubud & Lineup Hub). US$10 vs US$20. It’s not a huge dollar amount, but it makes a difference. internet and electric cost a lot more in Bali than in Thailand, so that cost gets passed on.
Similarly scooter rentals in Bali tend to run double the cost of Thailand if I recall correctly. US$2-5/day vs US$5-10/day. (long term rentals much cheaper)
Again, the total cost of living in either is pretty similar and what you choose to spend money on is going to make a bigger difference than the difference between locales.
Looking closer at southern Thailand again based on the suggestions from @jb510. Any opinions on Ko Pha-Ngan?
See @DavidSidhom and my comments here: Are there any coworking spaces on Thailand's islands? Ideally on Ko Samui or Ko Phangan?
Any discernible difference in mosquitos between Bali and southern Thailand?
@jb510 Do you find the Internet service at Hubud to be fast/reliable enough for heavy use? (Webdev, pulling down heavy dbs, FTP, etc)
Generally yes the internet service at Hubud is fast enough and very reliable. They’ve done an amazing job of squeezing every bit of performance out of their dedicated 20/20Mbps line. VOIP/Skype is prioritized, heavy users get throttled (forget the cap but GBs per day), etc… It’s really impressive how sophisticated they are with it.
The reality though is it’s still 20Mbps being shared by 50+ concurrent users at peak hours.
I never had difficulty getting work done there, but it couldn’t compare to the joy of getting home to my US home and 50 Mbps connection all to myself, or just 20 users sharing 100Mbps in Thailand.
As this started… YMMV, you’ll develop your own coping strategies based on your own needs.
BTW, mosquitos… generally don’t bother me so I’d be a bad judge. There are mosquitos both places year round, I think how bad they are is more seasonal that geographic.
Hi Daniel, I can only speak about Koh Lanta, I have been a DN here for 6 years now - on and off. It’s a nice balance on the island, not too touristy, but developed just enough. You won’t find certain big name franchises there for instance. But everything you need.
By some odd coincidence there is a new Hub opened and one of the members actually had Type 1 Diabetes. She seemed very comfortable here and was around for a few months.
It’s a relatively undiscovered DN scene here, but the new hub (kohub.org) has 55Mb/s internet, back up electricity and is open 24 hours.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the reply. I actually called Medtronic Minimed yesterday (the manufacturer of my insulin pump) to find out how they handle distribution outside the USA, and it looks like they have a Bangkok operation, so my mind is put at ease about getting access to pump supplies. Great to hear about the other Type 1 member at the new Hub who isn’t having any issues there.
I’m curious – I saw a couple places in Old Town Koh Lanta on AirBnB that looked promising, but Old Town seems like it might be a bit further off the beaten track. I wonder if Internet service out there is any worse?
If you were to recommend an area to look in Koh Lanta where would you recommend?
Old Town is a bit out the way, lovely fishing village vibe though. The fibre has not reached that far yet and they rely on up/down over shared ADSL. For a DN I wouldn’t advise it.
All depends on what you are looking for, price, location (beach/road), style(apartment/hut), A/C or Fan and how long you stay. In Lanta monthly deals are common and cost 30-50% of daily prices (to get these you normally need to be here).
All the choices you can get in Long beach/Pra Ae area. The further south you go the quieter the beaches get. But even in the peak season (now) the ‘busy’ beach is a times a handful of people.
In March/April there are lots of options (on the cusp of the cheaper low season, where there are many bargains to be found) really nice apartments to bungalows right on the beach.
There are a clutch of Apartments you can check out when you get in, if you want I can try to point you in the right direction. Also, Kohub have a page on ‘where to stay’ http://kohub.org/phra-ae-long-beach-places-to-stay, maybe check that out?
@James – thanks again. This is exactly the info I was looking for on Koh Lanta. We are definitely going to be heading to SE Asia around March 1, and the current plan is to spend 2-3 months in the region. We’re not looking to hop around a ton – so monthly deals would be terrific.
This is our first stop in our adventure, and we are kinda Northern souls who are trying out the tropics. Love the idea of the beautiful beaches and natural scenery, so I’m not looking for anything overly built up (this is why Phuket doesn’t seem super appealing to me). At the same time, I’d be lying if I thought I was ready for a fan-only hut, either. We want to ease into things, so a cabin/hut with AC with a covered porch to work on, good WiFi, and (ideally) a beach view is our big wish list.
Sounds like it would be a better idea maybe to book a place for only the first few days on Koh Lanta and then shop for a longer term place in person?
Yep Daniel just turn up with a booking for 2-3 days, get a bike, ask around and explore for long term! Sounds like Lanta is exactly what you are looking for.
Glad to help.
I just want top chime in on the possibility of Chiang Mai, Thiland. If you are looking for everything except a beach then this place is definitely worth considering- quiet, great internet, surrounding beauty to die for, co-working spaces and a very digital nomad friendly atmosphere plus cheap and very easy to get settled.
I’m here twice a year and happy to answer any questions. I even have a friend here with a nice studio apartment which may be free when you are planning to travel.
If it doesn’t fit your criteria right now, then fair enough, but I’ve had such a relaxing and easy time here, I just wouldn’t want you to count it out- unless you really need a beach!!
Best of luck…
Thanks @RyanChampion ! I think we will definitely end up checking out Chiang Mai at some point. One thing I’m liking about Bali, at least as our first stop, is that the beach isn’t terribly far away if we want to take a day off for a beach day.
Is there a particular area of Chiang Mai that is particularly beautiful to check out?
Sure I get it. For the first stop, a beach close by is a big draw. Chiang Mai is fairly small with lots of useful stuff very close by and a great atmosphere. The Nimmamhaemin area is the main one cool area- bars cafés, co-working etc. + the Old city. In and around Chiang Mai there is a ton of natural beauty and things to do ( trekking/ hot springs/ mountain retreats etc) which make it great for having weekends away doing something fun. There’s loads going on here, but its not oppressive in any way.
Digital Nomad population is pretty high, so its good for networking and meeting similar types.
One for consideration for later I’d say. You’ll probably bump into people who’ve been here if you meet any nomads in Bali.
Congratulations on making your choice to head to SE Asia. I’m sure you’ll have a great time wherever you head.
1 more thing to be aware of:
- The Andaman coast in Thailand (e.g. Ko Lanta) and most of mainland
Thailand have summer monsoon.
- Indonesia and the Gulf islands (e.g. Ko Samui) have winter monsoon
That’s why those 2 regions don’t compete with each other, if you want to stay dry
March is just around the turning point, so if you wanna go to the west coast of Thailand, you should do that first before the rainy season starts. Then head over to a winter monsoon region, where the rainy season is just about to end.
Here’s a helpful tool for that kind of thing. It’s in German, but you will figure it out.