Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and also a great place to experience as a local independent entrepreneur or Digital Nomad. I’ve lived in Bangkok a total of 3 months and visited on many occasions so I feel like I’m beginning to know the city fairly well. As the big city, Bangkok has a lot to offer in terms of food diversity, great food, world class co-working, awesome condos, great rooftops, public transport, great travel hub, and nightlife. It may take some time and good information to navigate this concrete jungle to shape your experience. Bangkok is often overlooked as a place to settle. Often seen as place to visit as a tourist, or a spot to short visit before jumping off to the beach islands of Phuket or if you’re a nomad perhaps Chiang Mai.
Who is Bangkok for and Why?
Bangkok is going to cost a bit more than Chiang Mai for sure, but is going to offer a bit more. Bangkok is for a more established Entrepreneur that is look for more excitement, convenience, and opportunities of the large city. Great Public transport, more dating options, more shopping malls, and more food options and so forth. Personally I’m on track to spend about $1200 US for the month for a comfortable lifestyle. I might spend $200US less staying in Chiang Mai.
You could spend more or less by making different choices like staying further away from town, apartment choices (studio vs 1 bedroom), less drinking, cheaper food, and no cowork space. There are always trade-offs to these decisions. Bangkok is not the best place if you’re bootstrapping starting out looking for a shoestring budget. Chiang Mai is better suited for bootstrapping. Bangkok does have a hardworking hustle culture so while you’re spending more the environment has the potential to put an energy jolt into your business, and hopefully translate into higher earnings. This is assuming you have the discipline to develop a work routine and stay away from the distractions of of the city.
From Bangkok International Airport (BKK) you can take a metered taxi. They are pretty fair and you can expect to pay between 300 to 500 baht to get into the city. You can take an Uber or Grab and you’ll pay a similar amount, but will have to deal with waiting. If you don’t have a lot of luggage you can take the airport link. It is fast and the closest station to the city is Makasan. You will pay about 35 baht and it will take about 20 minutes. From here you can take a taxi or Grab, which will take cost about 100 baht. You can also do also this method to go to the airport. The airport link connects to the MRT by crossing the road.
Once you are in the city you have so many options to get around. If you are visiting the tourist attractions then base yourself near the chao phraya river near the temples. You can take the boat or ferry up the river and save time to see many of the tourist attractions, which are near the river. If you are here for coworking then base yourself near the many cowork spaces and the BTS train line or MRT train line. The BTS and MRT are 2 different train lines. The BTS covers sukamvit (On nut, phrakanong, ekamai, asok) and the MRT covers (Silom, Lumphini, phra ram 9).
If you see guys in orange vests hanging around anywhere in bangkok or near the train station they are the motorbike taxis. A bit of a scary ride especially weaving through traffic. They can save you at a 10 minute walk to your final destination. Sometimes Bangkok is hard to walk because of no or narrow sidewalks and the heat.
You also have the choice of metered taxis, ubers (soon to be Grab), or grabs. Avoid the Tuk tuks unless you are desperate or want the tourist experience.
It is easy to get a pre-paid sim card. I prefer AIS as a provider. True is another provider but, the customer service isn’t as good. If you have a sim from Chiang mai then you can to can continue to use it
Where to Stay
This is often the problem. Bangkok if such as a large city. If you are starting out I would recommend to stay in Ekamai, Phrakanong, or Onut. These areas are central along the Sukamvit line and close to malls, coworking, nightlife, and the MRT line.
If you want to experience the business district you might want to try living in Silom. This is the Business district, and also is home to some good areas like Sathorn. This is close to Lumphini park, the largest park in Bangkok.
It is harder to find short-term accommodation (1 week to a month) at great value like Chiang Mai. The best deals come at 6 months or longer. Another strategy is to use an Airbnbn and then check the local rent prices with the office or postings on the board.
You can check out the airbnb’s I’ve used in the past. There are excellent choices in Bangkok. If you haven’t signed up for Bangkok please use my referral link (I get a small commission at no extra cost to you for doing so).
Past Airbnbs’s I stayed (read my reviews)
Where to Work
You are spoiled for choice in terms of co-work spaces. I think Bangkok is the cowork space mecca in the world. I can write a whole article on this topic and you can spend 2 months visiting all the spaces in Bangkok. Spaces are closing and opening all the time so a good place to start is coworker.com. Check out the free day passes. If you want to work at a space for a day you can try the THINK Society: Co-working space in Udom Suk or the TCDC has daily and cheap annual memberships and multiple locations in the city (Phrakanong, fifth floor of Emporium).
If you are planning to be based in Bangkok for a month or longer then I recommend a monthly membership. I have experience working at Hubba Thailand in Ekamai or Workloft in Silom. Both offer excellent value for the money and 24/7 access, and are high productive environments.
Thai food is world famous and you are doing to get the whole spectrum of Thai dishes from Southern dishes like Massam curry to Northern Dishes like Khao Soi. Yes there is Pad Thai for the Thai newbies and a whole lot more to try. As a foodie I’ve found great spots around town for all sorts of food and indulgences. For great burgers like Arnos, great Pizza in Asok, chicken rice (Silom Complex), good Taiwanese food in Chong nonsi (Yong He Dou Jiang), to great western breakfast at the corner in Sathorn. It’s easy to find a range of International foods here. Follow my Instagram to get the details on my favorite foods in Asia.
You have a ton of options for nightlife from rooftops, clubs, events, to just casual spots to drink. I’m sure everyone has a Bangkok nightlife experience to share. My preference is to chill out in the casual outdoor public market area and order some food and drinks at the W district (phrakanon).There is a healthy craft beer scene. I’ve tried wishbeer and phrakanong. There are pool halls with bars around Asok. There are sports bars to watch games and drink in this area too. I’ve tried out the MIXX Discotheque – Bangkok near Chitlom for a wedding afterparty. It’s also fun to have a happy hour drink and catch a sunset. I can recommend the Octave in Thonglor and the Continental in Asok.
What to Do
It’s really up to you. There is so much to do. I’m not going to cover the usual tourist attractions. Here are some other ideas. Rooftop and sunset hunting as mentioned in the nightlife section. You can try out the different cowork spaces around town. Take a boat ride up the canal or a boat up the chao phraya river to see the different temples. You can take the free ferry to visit the Asiatique upscale market. LHONG 1919 riverside market. Massages are also cheap. You can visit the Redlight districts like Soi Cowboy. Don’t worry they are safe for both guys and girls to check out. Nana plaza is another popular red light district. You can go for a walk at Lumphini park. I think you get the idea
This is a bit trickier. Most gyms look for long term memberships and are as expensive as a cowork space membership. Not worth it in my opinion. You can play basketball or go for a run at lumphini park. I recommend paying a bit more for a condo with a decent pool and some kind of gym. For a gym with decent gear and that offers reasonable rates try muscle factory or fitness station.
If you’re looking for more business opportunities Bangkok will most likely have it. Bangkok is a fast-paced city with hard working hustlers involved with multiple things. As a Videographer I’ve already had a chance to meet more potential clients or customers than a smaller city than Chiang Mai or Penang. There may not be as many digital nomads, but you’re likely to meet people established entrepreneurs, startups, English teachers, or anyone in between.
This part if a bit trickier. Bangkok is not the greatest place to meet Digital nomads. Maybe the higher cost deters them or that the city is more spread out unlike Chiang Mai, which is more compact. Bangkok is a larger city than Chiang mai and it’s harder to meet like minded people like Digital nomads. That is ok if you’re not looking to make friends with digital nomads. Personally after living in Chiang Mai for 3 plus years and recently for 3 months its nice not to have daily conversations about the latest business model (crypto, Amazon, Sales Funnels). Bangkok is a transient city with people coming for short visits, so you’re likely to have spontaneous visits from friends and then they’re gone to their next destination. I’ve tried out Internations.org, which have paid social events. I’ve met good people from here in Taiwan and Singapore. You’ve got Meetups for free events with a variety of events, but I find the quality of people you meet to be a mixed bag. Co-work spaces like Hubba Ekamai encourage social lunches so there is also a good starting point. Other than that you can try couch surf meetups, which are a good way to meet people traveling through the city.;
The X Fun Factor
As a single guy I also look for the potential to meet girls and as I approach 40 a long-term partner. Sorry ladies I can’t speak about the guy situation. I find that Bangkok has some of the prettiest and fashionable girls in the world. I’ve met Thai girls here that are more likely to have had some education abroad or had some international experience like a working holiday than thai girls in other regions. I’ve dated some Bangkok Thai girls I met in Chiang Mai, but not a Thai girl in Bangkok. Other girls may hate on me for this, but I find Thai girls in general I find to be a bit more fun and not as uptight. The potential to meet a good girlfriend appears to be there, but we will have to see.
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