Chiang Mai strikes an important balance for long-term travellers. The cost of living is very low, but facilities are developed-world standard. How can that be? Well, I have no idea. After 3 months here, Chiang Mai is still a paradox.
Digital nomads will especially like the pervasiveness of fast internet in Chiang Mai. Without exaggeration, WiFi is much better here than ANY developed city we’ve visited (including Sydney, New York and Toronto).
But for travellers, there’s more to good WiFi than speed an availability, you also need productive working environments, nice staff and cheap eats. So here’s our list of top WiFi hangouts in Chiang Mai.
Good Morning Chiang Mai
Not the fastest Wifi, but the friendliest staff and tastiest eats. Why do you need friendly staff? Because unfriendly staff badger you after you’ve eaten and pressure you to move on unless you purchase something else. At Good Morning Chiang Mai, you can work your boots off and staff will keep the water flowing with big smiles and friendly banter.
I particularly like the 50 baht egg breakfast. You get a thick slice of fresh seeded bread, an egg done how you like, a small plate of home fries, and assorted veg. For the equivalent of $1.60, it’s enough to keep you going half the day.
Good Morning Chiang Mai is our favourite working spot in Thailand. A shame we discovered it so late.
- Wifi Speed: 1.5Mbps
- Avg Meal: 60 baht ($2)
- Staff: Super friendly
- Website: http://www.goodmorningchiangmai.com
Doo Dee Bar and Restaurant
The name leaves a little to be desired, but the 20Mbps WiFi speed more than makes up for it. The place is an English bar at night, but during the day, it’s an open-air cafe with a large upstairs section to work undistracted.
The food is a little pricey, we’re taking $2.50 for one of the best burgers in town, but if you manage to keep your hunger at bay, it’s a great place to work for many hours straight.
Lauren got locked in the bathroom one day and the owner literally had to kick the door down. So we’ll always remember Doo Dee.
- Wifi Speed: 20.0Mbps
- Avg Meal: 90 baht ($3)
- Staff: Good at kicking down doors
Another favourite of ours. Great food. Cheap prices. Open-air. 6Mbps WiFi. How can you go wrong? Peppermint is inside the moat towards Tai Pai gate. We would have visited everyday if it weren’t so far from our place in the South.
The guy who runs Peppermint is from Burma and he’s happy to have a chat or leave you in peace to work. He’ll also bring you cold water all day without pressuring you to buy a thing. He loves the company of remote workers, but it’s hard not to be tempted by the food. Try the banana crepes, massaman curry, English pies and coffee shakes.
- Wifi Speed: 6Mbps
- Avg Meal: 50 baht ($1.70)
- Staff: Super friendly
Basically, any cafe or restaurant that charges more than say 40 baht for a meal ($1.30) has free and fast WiFi. But the places above have the best ambiance, as far as we’re concerned.
Many tourists like the chain of Black Canyon cafes, but the WiFi is relatively slow, the staff aren’t so happy for you to work when it’s busy, and the food is pricey and average. The same you’d expect from any touristy chain.
Keep in mind, even in cafes that target locals, WiFi is free and fast. The same goes for most cheaper guesthouses and hotels. Of course, when you pay more for a hotel, you’re also expected to pay for WiFi. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
Otherwise, Chiang Mai is the perfect place for long-term travellers looking to get some work done. I’m sure we’ll be back some day soon.