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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.
Stay in luxury Airbnb with all mod cons for less than $700 per month. Eat for less than $5. It’s clean and has everything you need, including great supermarkets and restaurants. Stay away from KL if you want history etc, but if you’re an expat this ticks every box.
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.
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.
Some of the costs are accurate and some seem a little high to me as an expat. I live on the interior of the island, Kathu. We are 5 miles from beaches on either side of the island. Weather is amazing all year - between 75-85 degrees. So far monsoon season is not as bad as I expected. Traffic is really bad. I have not had an accident but the hazards are there. That may be the biggest downside. Your money speaks loudly here. I have a nice route I do on my bicycle for exercise which is shady and hilly with wide shoulders. There is a nice reservoir where people socialize and exercise.
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