Three great Southeast Asian countries for digital nomads

Southeast Asia has some of the best places to live and work as a digital nomad. Source: Shutterstock

ARE you, like many others out there, considering leaving your desk job to live and work from anywhere around the globe?

If so, then it comes as no surprise as freelance and remote work opportunities increasing by the day, with predictions that over one billion people will become digital nomads within the next 20 years.

Just in case you’ve been out of the loop, a remote worker or digital nomad — according to author Conni Biesalski — is roughly defined as “someone that lives and works location-independent, runs an online business or is a freelancer, and only needs a laptop and the internet to make an income”.

And once you’ve decided to take the plunge of leaving and set your sights on Asia, which is arguably the world’s biggest growing marketplaces for jobs and opportunities, then you might want to consider setting up shop in the Southeast Asian countries we’ve listed below.


Tourists at the famous Rock Bar in Bali. Source: Alexander Mazurkevich/Shutterstock

Indonesia’s resort island of Bali is certainly a draw for the world’s pioneering digital nomads. And with picturesque beaches, rice fields and ancient monuments, and the ever-so-laid-back surfing lifestyle, coupled with yoga retreats all around, why wouldn’t it be?

A number of remote workers who have been on the island for years say its fast-paced development, new airport and cafes, and thriving number of Airbnbs have made it even more appealing. To top that, living in Bali can be very cheap and the weather is warm all year around.


Kuala Lumpur is considered to be a westernised and affordable city to live and work. Source: AsiaTravel/Shutterstock

While not known to be a destination for remote workers, some digital nomads say it is hugely an underrated country.

Before going to Malaysia, digital nomad and blogger Phil Hawskworth said he assumed it was an expensive and western country, much like Singapore, but was pleasantly surprised to be wrong on the first count.

“I love the buzz of the city, it has that raw productive energy of a big city. Everywhere else I have been in Asia is and feels much more laid back and provides a lazy way of life,” he wrote in his blog earlier this year.

“I don’t mind that, it vibes well with my personality, but being in and around a buzz that I haven’t seen since I left London has been a welcome change.”

Hawksworth, who spent a week in the country noted the country has “a lot of expats”, with Kuala Lumpur being a diverse city with people from all over Asia and the west living and working there.


Sunday market walking street in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Pic: 501room /

Aside from offering affordable living and plentiful work resources, Thailand’s incredible beauty, fascinating culture and friendly people have made the kingdom a top pick for digital nomads, according to the Huffington Post last year. These factors allow beginners to get their footing in a foreign country while they negotiate their transition to working independently.

The internet infrastructure in the emerging economy is within world-class standards while meeting other digital nomads would be a breeze, owing to its reputation as one of the biggest tourist destinations that are also favoured by expats. The Huff Post review on the country also noted that digital nomad’s held monthly gatherings in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, making it easy for the remote workers to network and make friends.