Best Cities to Live in Thailand
...or explore the rest of Asia?
...or explore the rest of Asia?
You get somewhat acclimated to the weather after a while (and yes, the right wool fabric is the most breathable one so ignore that previous reviewer). I've stayed here on and off for about 4 years now. The expat crowd is great and there really is a lot of opportunity for collaboration. Many networking events every month and a vibrant startup community. The variety of food is some of the best in the world (although you will have to pay to get quality Western). Shopping is great. Nightlife could be better but should satisfy most people. The real downside is the traffic which has become basically as bad as Jakarta, although Bangkok has much better transporation (both skytrain and subway). Living expenses have risen lately so don't count on this being a budget trip unless you want to resort to street food. Internet speed generally has becoming really great. Fast 4G in all operators. If you stay in a new condo or hotel you will average at least 30Mbit – my current co work place runs at 600.
I just got back here in late 2018 and it's better than ever. People who say "Chiang Mai is overrun by nomads" are really mistaken. I hardly saw them. I did see lots of Chinese and some Korean tourists, but they were all quite nice and mostly around Nimman. There's also the few American vegan midlifer's in the Old City center, but that's about it. Chiang Mai is cool and breezy, there's now public bicycles literally everywhere that you can rent for 250 THB or $6 (per month!) with the MoBike app. The red buses (or Songthaew's) are now legit and don't rip tourists off anymore, so you can drive everywhere for 30 THB or $1. People are nice. It's still super safe, even late a night. The food is better than ever. And thanks to the nomad wave of 2014 in Chiang Mai, there's now lots of hip cafes that allow coworking too. It's a great city.
Samui is Thailand's second most popular island for tourists, after Phuket. The main areas are Chaweng and Lamai. Chaweng used to be more backpacker and trashy (like Bali's Kuta) but is now rapidly developing into a real clean town. Since 2014, it now has a giant air-conditioned Central World mall, an increasing number of coffee places, good restaurants and more upscale hotels and resorts. Lamai Beach used to be the more clean and laidback area but is now deteriorating. The beaches are still okay but the streets are now filled with sex bars and bad restaurants. Worse, prices in Lamai are often higher than in Chaweng due to less competition. The preferrable spot to stay in Ko Samui now is the more mellow South Chaweng.
What's wrong with that? Why is that being looked at negativity? For "first world" "civilized" countries like U.S. with illegal prostitution being one of the top 5 countries with the highest rape rates in the world, maybe they need to learn a thing or 2 from Pattaya.
If you are looking to retire here: Life can be cheap once you get past the initial euphoric stage where, you eat in expensive restaurants that cater to foreigners. Watch where the locals eat and you can really eat rice & “gab kao” (any soup, stew or curry you decide to pour over it) for USD 1.50-2. A small bottled water 30 cents. (To put it into perspective minimum wage here is EUR10/day for locals, 2-3 people usually share a room which cost THEM €135/mo. You can do the math.) Unofficially there is double pricing going on toward foreigners (foreigners pay more). Beware of Mosquitos, Dengue is serious. Sweating can bring it’s unexpected problems. We are naturally covered in yeast which can be caused to accelerate growth in hot humid climates and especially during Monsoon season, you may find yourself subject to Yeast infections and skin Eczema’s, especially if you are overweight and insist on maintaining a bread (Yeast) based diet. Side walks are rare so, if you plan on getting exercise through walking, you will have to drive (transit) to places suitable for safe walking. Jungle walks are nice but with their own natural hazards. Biking, relatively dangerous, unless you go to a track. Automobile drivers practice “instinctive driving” and are ignorant of many rules. There is little consideration for pedestrians or bicycle riders. Properly organized public transportation has begun recently; the oldest form for locals was the Songteaw (an covered open sided, converyed truck with 3 long benches) however, the scheduling is unreliable. Snakes, lizards, spiders and ants are common. The common green garden snake is innocuous however, the mildly venomous, gliding Golden Tree Snake and Cobras are often sighted. Red ants with painful bites are ever present If you intend to build or buy a house, look for as little wood as possible, Termites love a nice wooden door or frame. Phuket is mainly Buddhist & Muslim so, if you want to attend Christan services you will have to transit to them as there are few places here (only 2 or 3 that I have heard of). Pets: plenty of strays (cats & dogs) you can take in or adopt but, please don’t have a pet if you plan on moving away and abandoning it. Tap water cannot be consumed. Phuket is a great home base if you plan on exploring the “oriental” side of the globe. Work is hard to find unless you start your own business which, comes with plenty of it’s own hassles - you will ALWAYS need a Thai intermediary, the system is not transparent and ALL the paperwork is in (bureaucratic) Thai. Please do not try to work locally if you do not have the right visa to do it, the trouble is not pretty. Retired tradesmen often innocently/inadvertently fall into the trap of doing small jobs illegally. If you get paid (money) for your activity, you ARE working. If you are not a repeat offender, you will get off with a salty fine. (Not nice if you are living on a budget). Finally, just let me say, HAVE A HOBBY, have a plan if you tetire here and stick to it. Create/find your routine and find your spaces, this will take about 2 years. Don’t get “distracted”! .... or you may find yourself going back to your native country to escape or live off welfare .... or the parents. Get to know people (locals & expats) well before you share personal details, i.e. be guarded. Good luck!🍀
It’s easy to see why digital nomads head north from Bangkok and Chiang Mai to take advantage of the ast internet and cheap cost of living in idyllic Pai. Well-connected to Chiang Mai via bus and plane, Pai makes a great break from city life with its waterfalls, hot springs, spas, elephant treks and Pai Canyon.