This post is a Digital nomad Guide to Danang the upscale edition. Danang feels like Chiang Mai with a beach, but it’s in Vietnam. From the short taxi ride, even an area that rivals Nimmanhaemen, prices that rival Chiang mai, and a weekly friday nomad event. Read on to see what more it offers
To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect with Danang. I heard about this beach city from other Chiang Mai nomads and there wasn’t a whole lot of inspiration and informative content out there. I was pleasantly surprised. Danang is a city on the rise. It offers a nice white sand long beach with palm trees and mountains and a whole lot more. This is no backpacker town, it is ready to service people looking for a beachfront, low cost living all-around, slow pace, the best of Vietnamese cuisine, craft beer, and fast wifi. In short this looks like Chiang mai with a beach. Tourism is starting to take off and there are nomads in town, but this city is still overlooked
Danang is about an hour away from Saigon using Vietjet Air. There is a grab taxi, which allows you to get to the each in about 35 minutes
Where to Stay
To be honest I’m still getting a hang of the geography of Danang, but my airbnb was located 5 minutes away from the My Khe beach and surrounded my 43 Factory Coffee and Space A cowork space. This area seems to mirror Chiang mai nimman offering everything you need from cowork space, cafes, foreign and local restaurants, a range of accommodation within a 1km radius.
I got my sim card at VietTel in Saigon and it is working just as well in Danang with 4G service.
Where to Work
There are plenty of options to work from your apartment, the Space A cowork space, 43 factory, gozar, verona, and tham tham cafe. There is wifi at pretty much every space and with the new sea internet cable installed from the US to Vietnam in 2017 the speeds are fast.
What to do
The beach is the main draw. It’s a long beach that is great to walk, chill and read, have a drink, surf, yoga. You get the picture. There are plenty of cafes to people watch and massage shops. You can also take a trip to Hoi-an which is 35 minutes south of Danang. The monkey mountain is there to offer just that, a tall Buddha statue and a Pagoda.
In my area I could pretty much walk to everywhere I needed to go with a 7 minute walk. If I needed to go further I could take grab motorbike or grab car taxi
Dating and meeting people.
It was actually pretty good for me. I met girls on Tinder, Badoo, and someone found me on facebook. I met a nice Vietnamese girl that might lead to something more in the future. We will see. I went to the nomad meet on Friday’s and actually met a friend from Chiang mai nomad basketball. We ended up hanging out quite a bit and made friends with some people from the meet. There were a lot of couples, but locals and foreigners were friendly.
Danang took me by surprised. This is a chill beach city that offers a lot at great value. It’s a very nomad friendly city offering newly developed and cheap accomodation within walking distance to a beach. The Internet is plentiful and fast. There are plenty of options to eat and places to work.
Danang Vietnam Digital nomad Retreat
I’m thinking of organizing a Digital nomad retreat in 2019. The best weather is in Spring when the air is the worst in Chiang Mai. I want to offer an opportunity to experience Danang, the beach, coworking, networking, BBQ’s on the beach, a chance to learn from others in a week long retreat. Take a break from your stressful life and enjoy the good life in Danang and get some work done! Leave your details in you’re interested
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).
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.
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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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Hanoi Vietnam has amazing food like banh mi beef stew sandwiches, chicken pho noodle soup, vietnamese spring rolls, and yes even craft beer.
Hanoi is a bit chaotic at first, and faster than Chiang Mai. After settling into the chaotic traffic there is plenty of food and shopping to discover by walking around the old quarter.
Getting in and getting around
You can use Air Asia or Viet Jet air from Thailand for cheap flights from Thailand to Hanoi. You can use the Mai Linh taxis to get into town without worrying about getting ripped off. If you get a simcard you can use an uber to get around cheap and safely.
Hanoi feels safe and the people are friendly even though their english isn’t too strong they will try. The locals are hustlers and even Hanoi is slower than Saigon you can feel the energy of the people.
The currency is super inflated so you’ll get to work with currency in the millions or hundreds of thousands. When you convert things over you’ll find that the costs are lower than Chiang mai for shopping and food. Bring plenty of brand new US dollars to exchange for Dong there and get a local sim card at the airport.
Where to Stay
I recommend to stay in the Old quarter. I stayed at the Nova hotel, which was a great balance between comfort, location, and value. The hotel offered a solid free breakfast with choices between western and local dishes like Pho Gai (Chicken Noodle soup).
Where and what to eat
Nova hotel was a great location to start sampling the local food . There were plenty of coffee shops nearby where you can people watch and enjoy vietnamese coffee. There is a sample menu in the video. You can also buy bags of coffee to take back home with you and the many shops around the old quarter. You’ll find coffee varieties like Kopi luwak or arabica beans. Highlands coffee is a local vietnamese chain around town that you can depend on for decent coffee, wifi, and toilets. I found a nice trendy spot to enjoy Vietnamese coffee near St. Joseph’s Cathedral that you can see in the video.
I recommend doing a food tour. I used Hanoi food tasting tours for $25 US. You will get some insight into the local foods and find places you would never find on your own.
My personal favorite are the beef stew cheese steak sandwiches. You can these banh mi shops near the old quarter. I was also happy to see a craft beer scene. I went to the craft beer pub near Hoàn Kiếm lake and enjoyed some a craft beer flight for a decent price. Of course I recommend trying the local beer first as well before spoiling your palette.
I enjoyed sitting by the shops and eating fried cheese sticks with hanoi beer. Of course you want to try authentic vietnamese beef pho. If you’ve lived in Thailand for some time you will know that quality beef is harder to find and more expensive. In Vietnam it’s easier to find good beef at good prices. We found a nice hot pot spot that was very generous with the beef.
I was impressed with the co-work space. It had a pleasant and large atmosphere with 3 levels.
Filming the trip
I brought the DJI Osmo with me to film. It was my primary camera as opposed to my SLR in past trips. There are no drones allowed in Vietnam fyi. Osmo gave me the freedom to walk around the city with my girlfriend without taking a long time to setup for stable shots.It’s so easy to get up and film great shots I even let my girlfriend try it. Also the image was in full 4k resolution at aperture f 2.8. For stock footage purposes I was probably one of the first to be filming this city again in 4k resolution. Connecting my Asus android or ipad allowed me to use it as an external monitor to give me comfort I was getting great shots. You can get the osmo here.
That is an affiliate link where I get a small commission, but I am currently using the DJI osmo and fully recommend it for traveling and shooting stock footage in 4k. Check out some of the clips I filmed with the Osmo.
Plans to monetize on this footage
I produce this footage to license it on stock footage agencies. I actually earned about $130 US during this trip from my past trips. I took advantage of this trip to get some interesting footage in Hanoi like Halong bay. I will then publish these videos online to license. If you’re interested in learning more about this you can check out my free stock footage course.
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South Korea is well known for the winter olympics, K pop, beautiful girls, and modern electronics. Seoul has amazing food for the soul like pork rib bone soup, dumplings, bugolgi beef bbq, bim bam bop and more. I decided to make a visit to film and sample the food and use Seoul to fly to Vancouver.
Getting in, getting connected, and Where to Stay
I booked a 6 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, but you can find cheap flights from Bangkok or Taipei. Unfortunately Ubers’s are expensive so I took an airport limo bus ($9 us) to the Ramada hotel in Dongdaemun. The bus pretty much stopped in front of the hotel. I decided to rent a mobile router as it would give me 4g Internet unlimited data up to 3 devices. This cost me $42 us for the 5 days. They also had single sim packages.
Where did I stay
I stayed at the Ramada Encore hotel in Dongdaemun. I did plenty of research between my friends, airbnb, and trip advisor. I found the airbnb’s more on the high end, and the Ramada had the right combination of value, convenience, location, good reviews, and it was a modern hotel. As I said I got dropped off right in front of the hotel. There is a starbucks, convenience store, bus stops, and the Shinseoldong Subway station within a 2 minute walk radius. This subway is on line 1 and goes directly to city hall station. The lobby has a decent work area and local coffee shop and nearby starbucks was spacious and featured a fast Internet connection. I got a good room on the corner of the 16th floor. The was room was relatively spacious for Seoul, everything was clean, modern, and I had a decent view. The wifi wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but I just used my mobile router. The staff spoke a decent level of English to help me get around.
What did I eat and drink
I ate everything from noodle soups, dumplings, fried chicken, beef bulgolgi, jap chae potato noodles, bim bam bop, and pork rib hangover soup to name a few. I marked some pins for the restaurants I went to. You could find a good meal for about 7000 won $6.2 US. The portions were large, and fresh kim chi and side dishes seemed to come standard. I tried the local beer Cass and also some craft beer in Hong dae and Itaewon areas. I recommend trying out the Magpie Ipa in Hongdae. It comes from Jeju island and goes for about 7000 won. Coffee’s ranged from 3000 to 4000 won and offered free wifi.
Seoul Korea Guide
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What did I film?
I took some pov footage from the bus and airport limos using DJI Osmo to capture that unique perspective. If you’re interesting in filming with this camera check out my course. I know its hard to unpack to get out the camera after a long trip, but I made an extra effort because I knew taxis would be expensive. I used the DJI osmo to capture some unique angles at Gangnam and Itaewon areas. I brought out the Canon SLR with the 50mm F 1.4 to capture some nice nightlife footage as well. I explored the hotel and discovered they had rooftop access. I took full advantage of this to get some aerials around Dongdaemun. I brought my drone, but from my research it seemed like if I didn’t fly at the designated drone park at Hangang park Seoul, then I might be at risk for a fine. From my research the footage from there wasn’t particularly scenic and it was at least 1.5 hours in transit just to get there. Instead I went to the DJI Flagship store in Hongdae area. I understand that there are only some official flagship stores worldwide so I made the visit. It was worthwhile as I got to see pretty much all the current gear and get some hands-on with the DJI goggles connected to DJI Mavic and touch the latest small drone dji spark. I ended up partnering with my local friend to complete filming of a Digital nomad guide to Seoul Korea.
I decided to switch my workflow to less laptop work and more content producing footage. This is always more fun and makes more sense on a short expensive trip. I rather do the laptop work from a location that I’m going to be more settled in. I worked at some cafe’s like Starbucks, the Ramada Encore lobby, my room, and the Noah Co-work space. I tried to make a visit to the free Dcamp cowork space, and Hive Arena and Wework at Gangnam They were closed due to holiday. Dcamp is free and the latter 2 are paid co-work spaces, which are not cheap The cafe Internet speeds were fast enough to get some work done.
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4 days is just scratching the surface of Seoul. It is a large city and although there is good public transport it takes a long time to get around to the different areas. I didn’t really explore the main tourist attractions nor did I visit many co-work spaces, nor did I visit Jeju island. If I did return to Seoul I would bring some company and might try out Gangnam or Hongdae areas. Seoul is not as expensive as you would think once you have taken care of your accomodation. It will just take time to fully expore what it has to offer.
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Langkawi Malaysia is a beautiful tropical beach island only a cheap 30 minute plane ride from Penang. A little known secret is that Langkawi offers duty free prices for alchohol and smokes! Read on.During my month stay in Penang I continually heard good things about the beach and the cheap alcohol. Disclaimer: There are affiliate links to the hotel.
Getting in and getting around
I booked a 30 minute flight from Penang to Langkawai there using Air Asia for $34 US one way and did a short 2 day stay at Cenang Beach, the main popular beach. My goal there was to relax from the grind I had in Penang. It was a cheap uber ride from the airport (15rm) to my hotel at the Nadias. Cenang beach is a short 5 minute walk away from the Nadias hoteland offers those gorgeous sunsets.
Where to stay
After a lot of cross research between trip advisor and Agoda I settled on the Nadias hotel at $about 49 US a night. As you know me I’m looking for a comfortable room, good value, clean, wifi, and good location. This placed checked the boxes for me. The room was a decent sized, it was modern, decent breakfast, and decent swimming pool. The main feature was that it was a short 5 minute walk to the beach, close to the starbucks, plaza, and duty free stores. It’s ideal for couples or people looking a comfortable room they could work and have a class walk to cenang beach.
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In between filming video I also found out that the duty free stores not only carry cheap beer, but wine and cigars. A got a bottle of hardy’s sauvignon blanc for 29 Ringet. I heard that the island has some special arrangement where they don’t pass on the duty to tourists. This is one of the draws of the island. I didn’t bother touring around the island. I managed to wake up early to catch some morning aerial footage of Penang, but the prime time would be during the sunset.
I did a lunch at red tomato, the popular restaurant for western food with foreigners. The food was good, but it was expensive and there was terrible customer service. The kebab’s on the main street were good. The included breakfast buffer at the hotel was just average. For the afternoon I decided to rent a sunbed until sunset. At least I could film some footage with DJI OSMO.
I took out the DJI drone to setup by my sunbed and asked permission from the owner. He said yes. There were a lot of people, but the airspace was clear and I had a strong GPS signal. I took off from a quiet area. I manage to capture different colors of the sunset during my 1 flight. I had to deal with some curious tourists. I gave myself a 5 minute buffer to land and double checked it was safe to land. Flying on a tropic beach paradise like Langkawi is awesome as an Aerial Videographer. There are few high obstructions and you have a georgeous sunset and beach to film. If you are interested in learning Aerial videography or photography from me check out my Online class with a promo discount.
Cebu Phillipines – Gregs Guide for Digital Nomads & Travelers
Since relocating to Asia in 2013 the Philippines has been on my radar. I heard of the beautiful beaches like Boracay and more recently the more unspoiled island of Palawan. However my trip research revealed bad and expensive flights and I had the impression it was an unsafe country.
First a bit about my Digital Nomad background. I’m a Travel Videographerthat has already lived in Taiwan for 2 years before relocating to Thailand for over 3 years. I’ve already traveled deep in to Asia, which you can read about here.
Cebu is the most populated island in the Phillipines and is often the place most visitors want to go instead of overcrowded and dirty Manila. I actually haven’t been to Manila this is just what I heard, and I don’t have a strong desire to go there. I heard many good things from Filipinos from Canada and in Asia, Japanese, and vloggers like Lost Le Blanc.
After traveling here I can tell you that Cebu has a lot to offer and amazing experiences. Highlights include swimming with whale sharks in Oslob, seeing the Tamulog waterfalls, daytrips island hopping, and eating amazing food like chorizo sausages, mexican food, ribs, pulled pork, legit burgers, legit pizzas, italian food, legit phto and even Japanese Wagyu BBQ. The craft beers and wine are often cheaper than Thailand and in most of Asia. As someone that has developed into a foodie I can say that you can really indulge at more reasonable prices compared to Thailand.
Getting into Cebu
In December 2017 I met a french digital nomad in the Hubba cowork space in Bangkok that told me that Phillipine Air had opened up direct flights from Bangkok to Cebu. I decided to give it a try. Roundtrip flights take around 4 hours and go for about $320 us roundtrip. The flight times are not that great so you may be flying late arriving early or flying late and arriving late. On the positive you can can skip going through Manila all together.
How did I like Cebu
I stayed 6 days during the Sinulog festival. Sinulog is one of the largest annual festivals in the country. It meant that accommodation prices and availability were higher than normal.
Overall I enjoyed my stay. There is a lot of natural beauty to see from the paradise islands to the whale sharks. You would need months or longer to really explore Cebu. I really enjoyed the international foods at good value. There are a lot less tourists than Thailand so you may be able to enjoy an island paradise all to yourself.
I wasn’t impressed with the downtown areas in Cebu City as they are dirty and crowded. You do see a lot of poverty and dirty areas. The IT park and Ayala Mall Terrace are the nicer areas to spend your time. I got a couple of chances to get out of Cebu city. We did a whale shark and tumalog waterfall day trip, which was a once in a lifetime experience for me. It gave me a preview of more gems to explore if I were to stay in Cebu longer.
The people in Cebu are nice. Their english was not as strong as I thought it would be, but they can understand you at least. In my opinion there is a lot more poverty outside of the bubbles of IT park and Ayala. Because of this you can feel a bit of desperation from the locals that I don’t feel in Thailand. Generally I feel safe, but not as safe as I do in Thailand. i wouldn’t want to leave my laptop in a cafe and go for lunch like some do in Chiang Mai or Bangkok.
We managed to try out living in IT Park, one of the better areas in CEBU to live. It is an enclosed area with condos, upscale restaurants, shops, and coffee shops. Everything you need to be comfortable and live in a bubble. I also stayed in the island of Mactan, close to the airport. The roads were not as good, and the actual building was old. The entire room was renovated to a modern western standards, and it was interesting to live outside of usual expat bubbles.
I’m just doing a mock monthly budget for myself based on my trip costs and lifestyle. All prices are in US.
Studio Accommodation with wifi in IT Park 24000 pesos ($471 US)
Fancy Coffee 3600 pesos ($ 71 US)
Daily Western Breakfast 6000 pesos ($117) (Western breakfast obo 200 pesos)
Sim Card 800 pesos (obo $16 US) 1.5 gb data goes for 100 pesos.
Transport 9000 pesos (obo $176) Based on 300 peso transport budget. trips vary from 100-300 pesos
Cowork space hot seat member 4000 pesos ($79) Based on Tide coworkspace
Lunch & Dinner 18000 pesos ($354) Western meals with 600 peso daily budget
1 hour Massage 1200 pesos ($24) weekly 1 hour massage
Weekend Drinks 2000 pesos ($40) 500 peso weekend budget craft beer 240, local beer 80, wine 120
Monthly Projected Budget
$ 1348 US 68,549 pesos. This may seem a bit on the high end. Keep in mind this is just my rough budget. Everyone has a different lifestyle. We could make adjustments to the food, transport, and cowork space and bring this down about $200 US to 1148 US. You can eat local meals, skip alcohol, and take local transport instead of ubers all the time.
Would I recommend CEBU for Digital Nomads?
There are already a few digital nomads, but it is nowhere as popular as chiang mai or bali for community. I would recommend Cebu for a visit or a visa run from other Asian countries. There are some decent airbnb options to stay at short-term from $20-40 US a night for a good private apartment. It is harder to access local pricing unless you do what is considered a short-term lease for cebu (6 months). If you do a 6 month studio lease at the Avida towers with utilities and wifi you are looking at around $500 US a month
The Internet is not as reliable or as fast as Thailand. I suspect that uploading video would be frustrating living here long term unless you work from a cowork space. I did hear there are some areas that have access to Optic fiber.
My friend Kevin has opened a cowork space called Tide in IT Park; however I didn’t have a chance to check it out unfortunately. From my perspective Cebu could be an interesting place for a Stock footage Videographer or Vlogger looking to capture beautiful scenery.
Getting around was pretty easy with uber, grab, local taxi, and motorbike taxi.
The Internet is good enough for nomads not doing a lot of high bandwidth uploading. The Tide cowork space offers high speed Internet of 50mb up and down. I don’t think there is an established community or co-work space scene in CEBU yet, which is why my friend opened his cowork space to fill the gap. Cafes I went to gave me the impression that free wifi and outlets were a lot harder to come by than Thailand. If this is your thing you may want to try Bo Coffee or Starbucks (they have a 1 hr limit though and it’s often crowded).
Surprisingly, there are not a lot of foreigners I saw. It feels like CEBU is a bit more of the wild west compared to Thailand. While there are as many foreigners as Thailand, locals are comfortable and friendly to foreigners.
There is a lot to do and enjoy in CEBU. This is a good lifestyle to be enjoyed and CEBU has a lot to offer. I easily see people wanting to come here for a visit or even stay up to a month. The amazing indulgences, low prices, english friendly, decent accommodation options, whale sharks, and amazing sites make CEBU an amazing draw. My recommendation is to come for a short visit and see if you like it before committing for a month. I’m also writing this from the experience of a visitor so if I lived here for longer I would have more insights.
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Is the magic still in Chiang Mai Thailand leading into 2018?
Does Chiang Mai still have the charm and magic for digital nomads and location independents as we approach 2018? Was it overhyped? For many people Chiang Mai was the starting point or ground zero to bootstrap and get your business off the ground. I started my journey in Taiwan for 2 years on a working holiday before I came to Thailand. After spending more than 6 months in Chiang I got bored and the little cultural frustrations started to mount. I and other nomads started exploring many other destinations around the world from Bali, Budapest to Medillion. After living long term in other destinations it’s easier to see where a city excels or is lacking. Is Chiang mai still a top choice? After exploring Bangkok, Penang, Bali, and Vancouver I was wondering the same thing.
After enjoying the cheap craft beers and plentiful high quality marijuana in Vancouver, the great ocean vibes and food of Penang, and world class co-work spaces of Bangkok where does Chiang Mai stack up?
Basic needs come first and Chiang Mai is the top destination to find comfortable and affordable accommodation. After the frustration I went through to find a good place in Vancouver Chiang mai is a nice relief. Not only is the cost affordable, but the rent process and structure is so straightforward. Rent a week, month, 3 months or long no problem.
Chiang Mai is not the cheapest for everything. Co-work space memberships, western food, and craft beer are often pricier than other destinations. When you factor in your overall monthly costs Chiang Mai is probably one of the cheapest destinations I’ve lived in without compromising quality of life and safety. My estimated monthly budget for value comfort living is under $1000 US. You can go a lot lower than this if needed.
Aside for watching out for car traffic or if you choose to ride a motorbike I feel safer in Chiang Mai than in Vancouver or Capetown South Africa. The local thai people are in general not as aggressive as Canadians and when you leave your laptop at a cafe or your phone in your bike there is a good chance it will still be there. When I work from a cafe or library in Vancouver I constantly worry about theft. When I was living in Gastown Vancouver there are a lot of sketchy characters and areas around with a chip on their shoulder. Vancouver suburbs are a lot safer in general, but Vancouver downtown depending on your location and time of day there are times I do not feel safe. Yes I know Vancouver is ranked one of the most livable cities in the world.
Nowhere I’ve been compares to Chiang Mai for meeting great digital nomads, expats, or just down to earth friendly foreign or local thai people. The Chiang Mai sophmore’s or veterans can get meeting new people fatigue, but I found it interesting that these old faces migration patterns have been in synch with many familiar faces returning to Chiang Mai at the same time. The time with the best weather perhaps? Sure Canadians are known to be friendly. In my experience this means they are polite to you when you’re small talking. There are social walls when it comes to breaking the lines between working and hanging out. People in Chiang mai are open to meeting and if you’re a digital nomad there will be plenty of opportunities to meet them.
I arrived in December (winter), which is about high 20’s to low 20’s at night. Compare that to 3 to 6 degrees celcius and rain from Vancouver, and people that appreciate the sun will appreciate Chiang Mai. December to February is a great time to be here. The burning season (Feb-March) is probably not the best time to be sure for air quality and extreme heart.
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Proximity to airport
The ride from the airport to Nimman is about 15 minutes. This is probably the shortest ride from the airport to your hotel or apartment of any destination. A great benefit after a long journey or experience for trips away.
Where does it fall short?
Just like I’ve found in most destinations it’s hard to find utopia. Chiang Mai is a bit rough around the edges, but that is part of the charm. Whether it’s receiving the wrong dish because of a server’s english, no ocean, a desk that is uneven, a rat running across your path at night, booze midnight curfew, no crosswalks, no public transit system, or lack of pavements I accept it for what is is. As Michael Jordan said we can choose to focus on the positive or negative of most things and for the most part I choose positive.
Who is Chiang Mai for?
Chiang mai’s slow place and affordable pricing are great for new digital nomads, returning digital nomads, people that want a holiday or time away from home in the west. Chiang mai internet speeds continue to increase, there is still a strong organic community, people are friendly, and plenty of places to work. Everything you need to ramp up your business to create more options. I encourage people to set up a base here, but not become a prisoner of Chiang Mai’s cheap prices. I found after staying here long term that I developed a bit of fear of expensive prices because almost everything becomes expensive once you leave Chiang Mai. There are many great places to live and explore.
Chiang Mai, Thailand and Thailand in general is a great destination to start your journey as an online entrepreneur or digital nomad. However, it’s also good to have some alternatives or other options to base yourself for burning seasons, get tired of visa runs, or if you want a change. March is typically the bad time of year to be in Chiang Mai because of the burning season.Before moving to Chiang Mai I lived in countries like Singapore and Taiwan for an extended period. Since then I’ve scouted other locations on visa runs. In this episode I give my reasons for leaving and share some alternative destinations for your to try during the burning seasons or for a change. Check out the podcast episode to find out more
I’m back to Chiang Mai after traveling on a world tour that took me to Singapore, Bangkok, Penang, Johannesburg, and Capetown. In this podcast world tour 2017 I share gems from each destination from food, getting around, co-working , and local areas I stayed. I took my filming gear and shot from amazing footage of the modern singapore skyline in marina bay to the beautiful postcard views of Capetown’s Table mountain.
I stayed in modern condos in Penang, a penthouse in Penang, and a unique estate in Houghton, the neighborhood of Nelson Mandela and another past South African president.
I ate world class xiao long bao, dumplings, noodles to delicious rump and fillet steaks in South Africa. The amazing wines in Capetown South Africa from the sauvingnon blanc in Constantia and stellenbosch. Listen and watch to learn more.
My Amazon book on South Africa: http://chicvoyageproductions.com/southafricabook
So you made the decision to relocate to Vancouver. If you’re an expat, international student, digital nomad or new to the city then keep reading. Vancouver is a beautiful city on sunny days especially when there is still snow on the mountains. There are few cities that can compete with its natural beauty. It offers world-class winter sports, high standard of living, beautiful nature and international foods. Vancouver is also an expensive city to live and cold and wet for most of the year. If you’re looking for a cheap city to live then you’re better off looking at other countries in Asia.
I’ve lived in Vancouver for over 23 years, but have lived abroad in Asia for the past 2 years in Taiwan and Thailand. I’ve visited Vancouver two Holiday seasons for a row during that time. This trip I’ve been here for over two and a half months so I wanted to write this while the experience is fresh in my head. I’m 37 and I’m not a backpacker. I’m an ex corporate guy who is used to certain comforts like a steamroom, leather chaise, a convenient apartment located close to the Canada line and the seawall. Staying at a hostel is not an option for me. My style is value comfort.
Best time to Visit?
Vancouver is often ranked highly on the livability surveys. What is doesn’t measure and is not often talked about is the weather. You can expect long cold grey rainy days with short daylight most of the year. The best time to visit is between April and September when the weather is sunny at a comfortable 23-27 degrees Celsius. During this period Vancouver can be one of the best places to live not factoring in the expensive cost of living. If you want to enjoy beautiful views with snow on the mountain you may want to visit in March. Its still cold and wet, but you can expect a few sunny days where you can get great photos.
Where to live for long term stay
Even though my family lives here I’m often asked “Why didn’t you stay with your family? Well there is no room so during the last couple of years I’m in a similar boat as you except I have local knowledge. Vancouver real estate is extremely expensive with costs in desirable areas like central Vancouver, Downtown, Burnaby, and Richmond going up since 2005. The rental market is also expensive. The location depends on where you will spend most of your time. Most of Vancouver’s businesses, International school and entertainment centers on Vancouver downtown. Downtown is easy enough to walk to most destinations, and has a decent transit system. Within downtown, waterfront areas like Coal Harbor and Yaletown are highly sought after. I’ve lived most of my time in Vancouver since 2009 living in the Yaletown area of downtown. It is a modern trendy area that is central to the seawall and parks, the Canada line, good restaurants, and the business and shopping district. It is also at the edge of downtown right across from central Vancouver so it isn’t far to commute to the City center or Richmond. Another area I would recommend is Olympic Village. This area has developed nicely since the Olympics and offers similar benefits to Yaletown, but is a newer community and is just outside of downtown. You can also look for rooms or basement suites anywhere that is walking distance to the Canada line. Some convenient Canada line stations include City center station, King Edward, Oakridge, Langara, Marine Drive station, and Richmond center.
I was lucky to stay at an Airbnb for $30 canadian a night. I managed to find a private room with shared kitchen and shared bathroom in a new house near the newly developed Marine drive Canada line station for $30 Canadian a night. I ended up paying $365 Canadian for 12 nights, which is incredibly cheap. A good option if you were staying a week or 2 in Vancouver. I could have booked longer, but there weren’t many reviews and it ended up getting booked up for months after I booked my room. I consider myself lucky.
If you needed a longer term more comfortable option to stay you can search on craigslist. You can find a basement suite in a Vancouver suburb for about $1300 Canadian. The problem is that the majority of landlords want 6 month to a year leases. These places are unfurnished and you’ll end up spending hundreds more to get set up with your essentials.
If you are living here for 1-3 months most likely you’re going to need something fully furnished, wifi, and central. There are not many options here in Vancouver. If you google short-term accommodation your top results will be the Standard, The Lex, and Rentwithconcert. Those apartments cater to corporate executives that have afford to have their companies footage a 3-5k a month bill.
I was fortunate to find the new GEC Student hotel. Don’t let the name fool you this used to be the best Western Plus hotel converted into short-term hotel accommodation.
The suite is located at Granville and Drake at the foot of the Granville bridge on the downtown side. This area used to be a bit seedy, but I can see it has gentrified. Downtown Vancouver is small, but the funny thing is you can be in shady area one minute, and a nice condo residential area the next. Try to avoid Granville street at night especially on the weekends. I recommend taking Seymour or Horny for a more pleasant walk.
The suite is a fully furnished studio with wifi. It has a 40 inch lcd, private bathroom with a shower and hot tub. The desk is solid with a nice view looking up the entertainment district of Granville with a view of the mountains. In my second month I upgraded to a studio with a kitchen and king sized bed. It is also a downgrade in terms of the view and a lower floor.
A so so gym area with hot tub is on the rooftop. The seawall is a 3-4 minute walk away, and the Canada line is 8 minutes walk away. There are bus stops right outside that can take me anywhere in downtown or even to my parents. This is a good lifestyle for a month or 2. It doesn’t come cheap.
Studio $1450 cdn
Studio with kitchen $1580
I had a good stay here. The staff and service have been great the past 2 months. The wifi has been up and down, but more than good enough. They have just recently opened up a business center which offers computers and printers. They have a decent fitness center, parking, sauna, and laundry. In short everything you need in a convenient location.
Where to work from?
This section is for the Digital nomads and location independent workers that work from a laptop.
If you’re looking to find work in Vancouver I can offer deep knowledge as someone who built a 13 year career in Vancouver. For 5 of those years I worked as a manager where I was hiring people for a company. I’ll share knowledge about that in the Vancouver living guide.
Vancouver offers a lot of coffee shops, cafe/restaurants, and public areas with free wifi.
I recommend trying to use your apartment or room as a home base. This is where you can do the majority of your work and have access to everything you need. This means somewhere with a desk, solid wifi, and power. I also look for a large screen tv with HDMI access for video work or playing movies from my laptop.
The room at the GEC hotel served as a good base, but I needed to get out once in a while and find high speed Internet for uploading.
I’ve worked out of coffee shops like Starbucks Marine drive station. Although it ticks all the boxes it’s got too much in and out traffic for me to relax. This is good for a couple of hours. I’ve also worked at the Starbucks across from the downtown Library. There are 2. I worked at the one further west on Robson.
The downtown Vancouver library offers workspace and free fast wifi. In late 2015 it made a major upgrade by introducing the Inspiration Labs on the 3rd Floor. This facility offers rooms, computers, and equipment you can use to content. This means sound proofed recording rooms for podcasters, musicians, online teachers, and even computers with software to video edit. They even offer a green screen recording room where they offer a camera and lighting to create a professional production.
Vancouver Library Inspiration Labs
I’ve also worked from the Inspiration labs at the downtown Library. The recording and sound rooms have been a great resource to create some high quality content. The Wifi is super fast in the work area within the Inspiration Labs. I’ve been able to reach close to 85 mb/s upload speed. The rooms allow you to use equipment like lighting, condensed microphones, greenscreen, and sound mixers. In the hands of someone who has some knowledge like myself you can take full advantage on this free resource. Thanks to the Vancouver Library. This resource was one of the reasons why I decided to extend my stay. I’ve even developed a content schedule to make the most of my studio time. The one drawback is that this library also attracts a lot of bums and the bathroom can be disgusting. You often have to ask someone else you can trust to watch your things while you run to the bathroom. The best workspace is by the tables with the video editing computers. This space serves it’s purpose and is free. If you can obtain a library card the library offers free access to the online learning resource called Lynda. This is an excellent free benefit and I suggest you use it.
In general there are a growing number of co-work spaces located in Gastown area. They don’t generally offer daily or weekly rates, but start with monthly rates start at $300 Canadian. Some of the names I came across included Hive, Suite Genius, Werklab, nd Kickstart (International Village mall).
My freelancer friend had a daypass to the cowork space called HIVE located in gastown
Hive was a decent work environment. The hotdesk area where I was sitting was busy. The wifi was solid and it’s a trendy design with different workspace areas. I worked out of the hot desk area. There were other areas for fixed desk workers. The vibe was fairly quiet and people kept to themselves. There was a mix of solo independent workers and some groups. It’s a comfortable work area with a kitchen if you were to fix yourself a lunch and a lounge area. There are plenty of options around the area such as noodle box or subway.
They had a couple of phone/skype booth areas for private conversations. There is a sustainable theme where they attempt to provide a contribution to the community and the environment. There were plenty of racks for people that commute on bikes. In short I found this to be a solid establish option if you were in need a co-work space in Vancouver.
Cafe’s and Coffee Shops
Urban Fare (Olympic Village)
This grocery store/cafe chain has a modern lounge feel with plenty of desks, food, wifi, and beautiful views. You are footsteps away from the seawall and the popular Craft Beer Market
This café is centrally located near the city center Canada line location. It offers everything you need and some good priced happy hour wine and beer. My favorite Vancouver beer Four Winds IPA is sold here. It’s also located within the Whole foods store should you wish to do some shopping after. After you’re done work you can find any convenience store you would need from post office, liquor store, restaurant, electronics store, or drug store. It’s fairly busy so it’s not the quietest place to do work.
BC’s best coffee (Near Granville and Drake)
This hidden gem offers plenty of comfortable seating and marble desks space if you like to stand up and work. It’s not that busy and offers everything you need. I like it because it is spacious, has all the essentials and isn’t too busy.
Roundhouse Community Center
I actually haven’t worked here,but this is the community center that serves Yaletown residents. If you can find a desk here you can benefit from free wifi and work here for a couple of hours. It’s close to the Yaletown Canada line and is close to the seawall if you want to take a walk.
Waves Hastings locations
Waves is a coffee chain that offers everything you need. The coffee is average, but the location on hastings was a good location to work from. This is close to SFU and international schools so you might find many students studying out of this location.
Gas town and Yaletown remain the trendy district that people like to go to hang out. I enjoyed a drink at the Oxford and even the local chain restaurants like Earls, Milestones, and Cactus are still strong bets for a good night out. Granville Street is the entertainment district and is home to a lot of the clubs and bars that appeal to the younger crowd.