Thailand’s been a long favorite destination, comparing to other neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Every year, thousands of digital nomads make their move to Thailand, attracted mostly by a great food scene, east-meet-west cultures, and its low cost of living. In the article, you’ll learn there are many reasons for digital nomads to seek Thailand as a temporary or second home, and what visa options are available for those seeking an unlimited extension to their stay in Thailand.
Changing Digital Nomad Trends in 2022
The strict COVID-19 entry rules and delayed re-openings in Thailand has seen an emergence of the wealthier Digital Nomads. While Thailand has been receiving the budget-middle level digital nomads, the wealthier sector of the digital nomads comprised of skilled corporate jobs being forced to work from home, or small profitable businesses quickly rising in numbers. Those who could afford to enter and remain in Thailand to enjoy all year round ‘workation’ lifestyle have managed to benefit from remaining in Thailand.
The reopening of Thailand in 2022 has Thai authorities looking to shift from low-cost mass tourism and more quality higher-spending tourists. The covid-19 pandemic has created an obstacle to many digital nomads doing visa runs to other countries, on top of expensive COVID-19 hotel schemes. The wealthier digital nomads turned to exploring Thailand Elite visa options to make their stay in Thailand seamless and worry-free.
Eight Reasons Thailand’s Great for Digital Nomads
- Diverse & Transformative Digital Hub
The start-up and freelancer ecosystem in Thailand is booming. There’s diversity in ideas, products, solutions, and services. Working in such a diverse environment inspire ideas and create resources helpful to any digital nomad. The fact that Thailand is a connectivity hub within ASEAN (due to its great infrastructure) and has allowed more opportunities for digital nomads to find like-minded professionals that can further support them in their own ventures.
- ‘Workcation’, All Day Every Day
The new era of living and working remotely has gained popularity, even more so with COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has given people the option to work from anywhere. It’s an easy blend of work and travel and finding pleasure while still operating your business. Why live in a cold, expensive city when you can work and live comfortably with just a laptop in your lap with your feet in the sand?
- Great co-working spaces
Thailand has a great selection of co-working spaces across all major cities. Modern and trendy co-working spaces, as well as cute coffeeshops, are Instagram-worthy and scattered throughout each town. Each with their own distinctive character, state-of-the-art facilities, and amazing cups of coffee.
- Low cost of living
Believe it or not, the cost of living for the whole month in Thailand will probably be less than your rent at home. To live and eat like a true local, you can expect to spend a monthly ballpark of USD 600 to USD 1,000 per month. For those looking for a more affluent and western-comfort lifestyle, you can expect to spend between USD 1,500 and USD 2,500 monthly. Like anywhere else, bigger cities are more expensive to live in than the surround outskirts and islands. There’s always something for every level of income.
- Fast Internet & Connection Speed
Thailand ranks No. 7 in best broadband speed. The constant competition between the Thai telcos have created a stable and fast internet broadband speed. Whether you’re relying on 5G or 4G on your phone while visiting remote temples or trekking in the jungle, you can expect service. WIFI’s are available for free in most public areas such as shopping malls, hotels, banks, massage parlors, spas, cafes, and restaurants.
The Digital Nomad Communities
There are 7 key cities where you’ll find most clusters of digital nomads, given its lifestyle, cost of living, and other facilities. These cities are:
The central capital of Thailand, it’s the most expensive city for a nomad to live in for this country. It’s ideal for expats or digital nomads who are craving the city life, business opportunities, and the resources that the city has to offer. Bangkok is crowded with busy streets, malls, markets, and restaurants. If you crave Western food and culture every once in a while, this city’s got something for everybody. Co-working spaces and start-up communities are abundant. While condominium rentals and leases in Bangkok starts from 6-12 months, you can always find some apartments that offer monthly rental. Airbnb is also an option.
- Chiang Mai
Located in the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai is a mini- Bangkok- except quieter and with less traffic jams. The city offers most digital nomads a very peaceful life and a lower cost of living than Bangkok. The city is full of cultural heritage and history, surrounded by water moats and mountains. You can find most things you’ll need there – western foods, gyms, restaurants, and local nightlife scenes. It also consists of many co-working spaces and trendy cafes to work in, although in lesser numbers than Bangkok.
- Koh Lanta
Another popular destination for expats and digital nomads in Thailand and situated on the Andaman coast, Koh Lanta offers a year-round beach excursion way of life. ‘Workcation’ in Koh Lanta consists of, asides from the actual work, morning beach runs, scuba diving, snorkeling, and beach bars. It became a popular destination with a prominent coworking space, yoga studios, and Instagram-worthy bars. A typical accommodation for digital nomads in Koh Lanta can easily range from a luxury villa, guesthouses, and apartments.
- Koh Phangan
An island in the Gulf, living in Koh Phangan is truly an island escape. Most famous as a full moon party destination, there are other sides of the island that nomads can explore. The stunning beaches, the never-ending line ups of palm trees make you feel like you’re working in a paradise. There are great restaurants, yoga studios, and other facilities all around the island. If not, you’re a short trip away from another of Thailand’s popular destination- Phuket.
5) PhuketThe largest island of all islands, Phuket is a globally acclaimed paradise known for its legendary beaches such as Patong, Kata Yai, Mai Khao, and Karon. Phuket’s coastlines consist of at least 30 beautiful beaches. Over the years, it has evidently become a second home for budget-to-luxury tourists. Phuket never lacks in sports activities, from scuba diving, parasailing, climbing, stand up paddling, hiking, to sunset cruises on super yachts. The island is big enough to maintain local or tourist-related businesses, so given the great lifestyle that it offers, many of the digital nomads do choose to make Phuket their home.
If the sight of azure blue waters and mountain peaks give you a lust for adventure, this south of Thailand destination is tailor made for you. Krabi is an island that boasts a true island life, while being the main transit hub of the province and an access to all things mainland. With kilometers of scenic coastline ready to be explored, it’s also home to some of Hollywood’s legendary islands and perfect diving and climbing spots. As a digital nomad, why wouldn’t you want to live here?
7) Koh Samui
Besides being another heavenly beautiful island in Thailand, Koh Samui’s cost of living can range from cheap to luxury. The weather is fantastic, and it is safe. The whole island is supplied with fast internet access, and the island is accessible with scooter or car rentals. There are options catered to every level of digital nomads. The island also has its very own immigration office to make it convenient for digital nomad to do their visa stamp or 90 days reporting.Tourist Visa VS. Thailand Elite
The biggest inconvenience of being a digital nomad is finding a visa in Thailand that works for you. As a digital nomad, you’re probably on a tourist visa (and legally, you shouldn’t be working on a tourist visa). So, what visas are available? Would you have more benefits with getting a Thailand Elite Visa that grants you 5-20 years residency in Thailand?
- 15-Day & 30-Day Tourist Visa Exemption
If your nationality is one of the 56 that can enter Thailand with a visa exemption, you could get a maximum duration of 30 days visa-free stay in Thailand. You can apply for a visa extension of an additional 30 days by paying a fee. You’ll need to have an outbound confirmed flight.
This means, after your 30 days + 30 days extension is over, you’ve used up your extension of stay. You’ll need to do a visa run or apply for a student visa to prolong your stay in Thailand. Under any circumstance, you are not allowed to work under the tourist visa.
To do a ‘visa run’, this means you do not have a valid visa and seeks to obtain one. You’ll need to visit a consulate or an embassy outside of Thailand to get this visa, requiring you at least a round-trip flight andone or two nights overstay as you’ll need time to visit that consulate/embassy to apply and collect for a visa.
- Thailand Elite Visa
Under the care of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thailand Elite Membership was created to attract long-stay expatriates through its enhanced first-class service and exclusive immigration and airport benefits. Thailand Elite Visa is a 5–10 years long-term residency program given to the Thailand Privilege Card members. It’s categorized under Tourist Visa (Privilege Entry “PE”) allowing the membership holder 5-20 years residency in Thailand, depending on the membership level. They can also include their legitimate spouse, children, and other family members for an extra fee.
Prior to the global borders COVID-19 lockdown, Thailand Elite was considered to be just for the ‘affluent’. With the effects of the second wave COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe, many digital nomads and crypto investors have become increasingly interested in investing into such residency visa to escape the lockdowns within their own country. There’s no downside to live comfortably in a tropical download, worry-free from dealing with visa issues and Thai immigration.
What’s in it for a digital nomad to obtain a Thailand Elite visa? Well, there’s long term residency in Thailand. There are a total of 7 different visa membership packages to choose from. The top 3 popular Thai Elite programs are Elite Easy Access (5 years for an individual, USD 18,000 Elite Privilege Access (10 years for an individual, USD 30,000), and Elite Superiority Extension (20 years for an individual, USD 60,000). In addition to nomads travelling with family, the Elite Family Excursion has been a popular membership choice to include spouse and immediate family members.
Any type of membership chosen will include an Elite Personal Assistants that’ll ease your airport journey with fast-track immigration, VIP limousine, and other airport related procedures. For any immigration reporting such as 90-days reporting, you can simply drop your passport and related documents with Thailand Elite and the Elite personal Assistant will handle the whole immigration formality for you without you even showing up. With the Thailand Elite Visa, digital nomads can get assistance from Thailand Elite to open a Thai bank account, as well as obtain a Thai driving license.
Comparing accumulative expenses acquired from visa runs and other immigration procedures for all parties involved, an investment into Thailand Elite privileged visa doesn’t seem like a bad one. For interested applicant, you can easily apply for a Thai Elite membership online here, get your letter of approval as fast as 4 weeks, and make your membership payment only after your applicant is approved.
The reality of living in Thailand as a digital nomad is that if you intend to work (even remotely), you’re doing it illegally. If you work without paying tax in Thailand, and without a tax ID number, you’re technically not allowed to work at all.
Of course there are other visas available, in case you’d like to investigate them. If you plan on having a work permit, you’ll be required to take Non-Immigrant Visa “B” to be granted work permit before starting work. The visa fee is 2,000 Baht for single-entry with three-month validity and 5,000 Baht for multiple entries with one-year validity. An annual renewal is required alongside a handful of documentations you’ll need to show. If you’re a frequent visitor to Thailand conducting business, you can request for a Three-Months Non-Immigrant Visa “B”, allowing unlimited visits and three months residency in Thailand purely to conduct business. If you’re over 50+ years old and looking to retire in Thailand, you can apply for the Non-Immigrant Visa “O-A”, with the visa validity of 1 year and employment of any kind is prohibited.
Exploring visa option to Thailand as a digital nomad? Chat with us now on www.thaielite-express.com for more information on the membership and other Thai Elite promotions. Thaielite-express can further assist you in other expat visa requirements.
Thaielite Express has been an authorized General Sales and Services Agent since 2013. We hope that with our guide, you can comprehend Thai Elite Visa costs and benefits better and find your suitable option. Should you have any questions, however, please do not hesitate to visit our website for more details on Thailand Elite Visa and Membership, or send your questions directly to us via email: email@example.com. We support English, French, German, Japanese, and Chinese languages. We reply within 24 hours.