I was contracted to do a last minute video shoot in Tainan Taiwan. Taian is a one hour train ride away from Taiwan’s third largest city Kaoshiung. In this post you’ll get an idea of Tainan is worth your time.
You can get into Tainan Taiwan via Kaoshiung Airport via Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. If you’re in Taipei you can take the high speed railway from Taipei. The train prices are no expensive. I would recommend getting your sim cards at the airport or in Taipei city. There are pretty good plans that offer unlimited sim card data at 4g speeds. I paid 450 nt for 8 days with Taiwan mobile. A sim card is key to getting the most out of Tainan or Taiwan in general.
I would recommend staying somewhere near the Tainan station as there are a lot more restaurants, bars, and cafes. I stayed near the dive bar, which is considered west Tainan downtown and is very walkable. There are plenty of airbnb’s to choose from in the city.
Getting around can hard during the day because it is very hot. You can use the Easy taxi app as at the time there are no grab or uber taxi’s. However there is food panda and uber eats. I would recommend renting one of the city’s bicycles if you have time as the city is very flat.
As for things to do you can do you can visit the restaurants to enjoy beef noodle soup, beef soup, dumplings, taiwan teppanyaki and more. It can be hard to find these places if you don’t know how to type chinese so I create a google map with some posts to start off with. There are plenty of temples to see and there are some bars like the dive bar you can visit. You can see most of Tainan in a couple of days and then I would recommend heading into Kaoshiung Taiwan
As for Digital nomads Tainan could support your needs, but there are better options such as Taipei or Kaoshiung. Check out my Taiwan digital nomad guide if you need some help here. There weren’t a lot of cafe’s and cowork spaces that looked laptop friendly. There is the occasional starbucks you can sit at, but finding a comfortable place to stay long-term could be challenging because most of the buildings in town are older. To get around you would need a motorbike, or making use of the local bus or train system. The local taxis can really add up. Overall, there would be more to do outside of Tainan.
The main reason I went to Tainan was to film a baseball event as I do Travel Videography, but my main base for this year has been Malaysia. If you’re curious about the Travel videographer lifestyle and want to learn more about video, travel, or business check my Online School.
In 2011 I took a major risk. I sold my apartment in Vancouver Canada to fund my dream of starting a travel related business. I left a stable high paying IT manager job in Vancouver after getting my MBA degree. Why? I wasn’t happy. I knew it was time for the next chapter of my life. I discovered my passions for Travel, Video, and Business. After the travel venture didn’t work out I ended going on a tour of Asia for my friends wedding in Taiwan along with my SLR camera. It was eye opening, but I eventually ran out of money.
I went back to corporate life again in 2013 all the while I was experimenting with creating my first product. It started as a trip to Asia on vacation and then a working holiday to Taiwan in 2013. I sold my apartment, car, and packed a laptop and my camera with my dreams. 6 years later I found myself sharing my lessons learned with the next generation of travel videographers
After a 13 year career in IT in Vancouver Canada and a university and MBA degree from SFU I decided to needed a change. I went through a process of self discovery to determine what my values and passions were. (Travel, Business, Video). It started as a trip to Asia on vacation and then a working holiday to Taiwan in 2013. I sold my apartment, car, and packed a laptop and my camera with my dreams. 6 years later I found myself sharing my lessons learned with the next generation of travel videographers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chiang Mai, was an important part of my Entreprenuarial journey and it’s great to be able to give back some knowledge to the community.
I’m happy to have a chance to chat with Rob Palmer, who may be the World’s First Digital Nomad who is based in Bangkok Thailand. Join us for a refreshing chat and podcast to learn from his experience of having a raising a family across multiple countries and teaching his own son how to create a location independent income. Rob is an articulate speaker and easy to listen. Enjoy this treat and learn a little history about how times have changed for the digital nomad.
Rob is involved with the Amazon publishing business, online marketing business with Clickbank, and an Ambassador for Payoneer payment platform.
Most of the conversation involving digital nomads is tied to the young millenials in the their twenties so let’s give it up to the original veteran Rob Palmer
Huahin Digital Nomad Expat Guide The Danang of Thailand. Chiang Mai with a beach. Whatever you want to call it Hua hin was off my radar until a month ago. My Digital Nomad Journey Began in Taiwan and Sophmore year was in Chiang Mai Thailand, but it seems as though there are many destinations that are becoming great options as well like Hua Hin Thailand.
The main draw for Hua Hin is the beautiful long beaches, the ease of getting there from Kuala Lumpur, how quiet and uncrowded it is, and the laid back vibes. Add in the overall fast Wifi, quality low cost condos on Airbnb, Grab Taxi, Golf courses, Tennis Course and a lot of what you may love about Thailand (cheap massage, thai food, 7-11, Pools) and you’ve got a great destination to either to go into mini-retirement or live as an expat/digital nomad. At the time I went there were 2 co-work spaces. If you stay near the True Arena then you are close to both of them. One of them is called Gopro and the other you will see on your way to Cicada market. They are a bit pricier than Chiang mai or Bangkok at 350 baht per day. There are a few cafes that are laptop friendly like coffeelism and the Truesphere cafe in the Bluport Mall. I recommend getting a condo with at least AIS fiber.
I’ve only seen one beach and the sand is a nice texture, clean, and white. There are some options to drink at the beach or you can go for a walk. One of my favorite things to do was to check out the various restaurants, cafes, and bars along the beach. Check my instagram for exact locations, but some suggestions are Mourakesh to catch a sunset, or Azur’s freeflow 699 baht at the Intercontinental. Huahin is a turning up to be the sleeper hit destination of the year. It has a beach. The air quality is better than most Thailand destination’s as it’s further South. Internet Speeds are fast in cafe’s and the home with AIS fiber very common. Good modern condos are cheap and available built by Sansiri similar to the condos built by Dcondo out in Chiang Mai. Good flights in from Kuala Lumpur on Airasia, but not to the rest of Thailand. Getting around on Grab is available, but a bit pricier and hard to get in the hot spot tourist areas. You can motorbike here for short distances as the traffic is less than larger cities. There are 2 large malls with everything that you need from movie theathers, gourmet market for all your culinary needs, and pletny of massage shops. There is an understated upmarket feel to Huahin and you can expect prices to be a bit more than Chiang Mai. Cafes and cowork spaces aren’t as plentiful yet, but there are options in the mall and you can work from home.
There isn’t that many tourists here in general and less Digital Nomads, but that can be a good thing. This is not just some beach town. Huahin hosts many gems if you know where to find them.
Sample Prices Motorbikes 1600 baht Sim AIS 7 days plan 150 baht Accomodation 450 cdn for 2 weeks inluding utilties and wifi with proper gym and super duper long pool Thai Meal 100-150 baht Western Breakfast 200-250 baht Beer 100 baht IPA beer 200 baht bottle wine 500 baht Taxi from airport to city 200 baht (need to take regular taxi from the airport, Can grab to the airport due to the mafia) cowork space per day 250 baht. Internet Speeds 20mbps- 200mbps #huahin#digitalnomad#locationindependent#expat
Recommended for: Beach Lovers, Motorbikers, Sabai sabai Thai lifestyle, Red light District Scene, Hot Weather
Best Time to Go: November – April ( I was there for the 2nd half of May and it was super hot)
How do I live this lifestyle as a Videographer?
I use my skills and content to create a lifestyle of time and location freedom as a Travel Videographer. I fly my drone and license my aerial footage and do videos for clients. Check out my Online Courses for more Info.
Busan South Korea is South Korea’s 2nd largest city. Why would you want to come here? The biggest draw aside from the korean food, fast internet, decent air, top notch public trains, are the beaches. Haeundae and Gwangan (Gwangalli beach) are the most well known. I’ve been here twice both for 1 week stints. Let’s get down to business.
Essential Info for Busan
I recommend going during the summer in June for nice warm weather. They also hold a famous film festival in October. I visited in early March this year, which is a bit cold and sunny. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom end of March.
Who is Busan for? It’s for a digital nomad that isn’t as price sensitive, wants to enjoy the beaches, a dose of korean culture, fast internet, perhaps a free co-work space, and a developed city in asia that can offer good direct flights to Western North America. Bring out XE currency or your favorite convertor as I will be quoting prices in various currencies. If you need to complete some fast uploads then some of the fastest internet speeds are located here.
Getting in. There are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Busan via air Asia. They do leave kuala lumpur late around 2am and you arrive in around 9am in the morning. I paid about 1400 MYR for mine. As a Canadian I get 6 month for my visa just for visiting! For sim cards I use an android phone and needed phone number and data so I went with KT at the airport. Price was 38,500 won and is good for up to 10 days and reliable throughout South korea. This will cover all your internet needs. Basically there is solid fast wifi from most places from starbucks to Holly’s cafe.
You can get into the city using subway, limousine shuttle or taxi. From cheapest to most expensive. Subway is about 4000 won to the city and the shuttle was 7000 won one way. I took the shuttle as I had some heavy luggage to carry.
Where to stay in Busan South Korea
I recommend staying in Huaeundae or Gwangalli as they are both walking distance to the beach and offer convenient access to the subway and restaurants. Other areas you could try are Centum City or Seomyeon. I checked out hotels, but airbnb offered a more comfortable experience and better value plus extras like a kitchen,washing machine, access to a local host, and living like a local is an experience I value. I paid 338cdn for my airbnb for a modern, well-located condo with kitchen, washing machine, wifi, japanese style toilet, heated floors, walking distance to the beach, and a view. No fancy amenities though and it’s not as spacious as malaysia. Yes it’s a bit pricey.
You can work at Starbucks Reserve or any starbucks, holly’s cafe, or check out the creator’s content studio at centum city for what they call a free co-work space. Wework is opening soon so there are many options. Be sure to bring a plug adaptor as North American style plugs will not work.
What to do in Busan
I recommend checking out all 3 beaches: Gwangalli, Haeundae, and Songjeong beach. The Gamcheon cultural village known as the Santorini of SKorea is nice for photos and also close to the Jagalchi fish market. As for food I recommend trying a lot of beef (beef shabu, beef bbq, beef bugolgi), dumplings, bim bam bop, and if you’re into seafood there is a ton of variety here as it is a sea port. The subway station is pretty cheap and efficient. You can try visiting different areas and working out of cafe’s and enjoy the fast internet speed. Can you fly your drone in Busan. I flew at Haeundae beach with no problem and have flown at Gamcheon cultural village last year. Check the rules, and fly at your own risk. Standard Aerial Videographer rules.
Cost of Living
I haven’t lived in Busan for a month for so I’ve made an estimate based on my week here. You’ll notice that the exercise and gym has a gap as I haven’t had time to figure out costs of using the gym yet. My total accounts to $2050 US which is about $500 US more than Kuala Lumpur. Use this as a guide as this varies with everyone’s lifestyle and you have to make certain assumptions to project out costs and how you will spend your time. In general accomodation costs are higher than south east asia at 1126 US, but not bad considering I’m looking at an apartment less than 5 minutes to the beach. One way ticket from Haeundae to Centum city if 1400 won. Coffee is about 3800 won from starbucks. A nice noodle soup dish is about 9000 won. Taxi ride from Haeundae to the Busan station is about 16000 won. Craft beer is about 7000 won a pint.
Busan is probably too expensive and the language barrierr will leave you with a level of isolation that won’t be as long-term friendly. I could probably do a month here or a few weeks for a visa run in the summertime to enjoy a beach lifestyle in a developed city with good flight routes to Canada. You can take the the high speed train (KTX) from busan station to Seoul if you want to check out another city or a cheap flight to cities in Japan using Air busan.
Hanoi Vietnam Digital Nomad the high end lifestyle
Hanoi Vietnam for expats or Digital nomads. There is a distinct difference between traveling and living in the old quarter and living in the high end area of Tay Ho as a local. What could we expect from Hanoi? I already knew about the old quarter and the some of gems and crazy traffic.
I did some research and discovered that Tay Ho is an area favored by expats for it’s location near the large Westlake. I booked a modern apartment in this area. I was very impressed by the accomodation for the luxury, value, and how spacious it was. It lacked the swimming pool and gym facities of Bangkok, but it had a washer/dryer, water machine with hot and cold water, new smart samsung tv, high speed wifi, well equipped kitchen with convection oven, and a clean toilet with bathtub. Check out the video for the tour and the price, but this was probably the nicest condo I’ve stayed for the money in years. I think this is the norm for this year. I took a walk near the lake where there is a range of accommodation options that are willing to accept 1 month short-term
My Viettel Sim Card from earlier in the trip is still working fine
It is ok to walk around the Tay Ho area and you have everything that you need from cafes, hairdressers, cowork spaces, and a convenience store. Grab motorbikes and taxis are also available throughout Hanoi. I usd a car for long distance
Wifi and Internet
The internet was fast in the apartment, cowork spaces, and cafes. There are plenty of cowork space options you can find on coworker.com. I tried out clickspace in Tayho, and Espace, and Toong in the old quarter. There are plenty of options here.
I reached out to the nomads group in Hanoi and didn’t manage to connect with anyone. There were some foreigners at click space, but they seemed content to stick to themselves. I also didn’t find any social events on meetup to go to. I was only here a week and managed to go to a south African BBQ wine tasting in Tay ho that I found in the Tay Ho times. I ended up meeting some foreigners that I hung out with. I had better success meeting people in Danang and Saigon.
Air Quality and Safety
The one thing that would concern me about living in Hanoi is the air quality, which was at 160 today compared to Vancouver BC at 14.
The city feels relatively safe walking around Tay and the Old Quarter
What to do
I enjoyed the food options here just like in Saigon and Hanoi. Picking up croissants and baguettes for breakfast. There is a good craft beer scene and even local wine that I picked up. I got a haircut i the old quarter for 100,000 and saw a UFC game and the Irish Pub Oleary’s. The West lake is a nice enough area to walk around a waterfront for exercise along with many locals and expats. It’s a good lifestyle.
Hanoi is a crazy city that doesn’t have a dull moment and will keep you on your toes. It feels a bit more manageable than Saigon, but not as small as Danang. There are plenty of gems and scenery to take footage of. It has a lot to offer for a visit, but I think it would be a little too chaotic for me. It does offer a high end lifestyle at a reasonable cost. The buildings have a lot of character especially in the old quarter for interesting architecture and mix between street food and high end options. I was surprised at the value that Hanoi does offer from wine, craft beer, western food, apartments, and more. I’m not sure if there is a digital nomad community here, but there definitely is a community of foreigners that are calling Hanoi home. For Digital Nomads Hanoi offers everything that you need especially in 2018. There are more Airbnb accomodation than ever. It offers slightly better value than Bangkok and not that much more than Chiang Mai. I’m not sure if it would be my top choice, but it is an interesting option. The only way is to give it a try.
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. Here is the Airbnb Listing I stayed at.
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.
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
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. South Korea has potential for Digital nomads despite the higher cost. We will be exploring some of the info in our Seoul Korea Digital nomad and food guide.
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
Chiang Mai was my introduction to Thailand. It was an easy introduction thanks to the entrepreneur community, low cost of living, helpful information, and ease of finding a place to stay. I never really gave Bangkok a chance. It wasn’t until I stayed in the residential area of Ekamai near the Hubba workspace that I started to think I could actually live in Bangkok. I’ve already flirted with Bangkok several times living there a month at a time expanding my comfort zone of the city.
Bangkok overall is a bit tougher than Chiang Mai. It’s larger, more crowded, and a bit more expensive. However, it offers more opportunities for business, dating, a better travel hub, better public transport, and better co-work spaces. Bangkok is a huge city and you need time to find the area that you can feel comfortable as your base. It’s definitely a bit harder to find good short-term accommodation in Bangkok, but you can find somewhere good to live on a longer term contract.
I now have an opportunity to live in a good area of Rama 9 in Bangkok for 6 months at a similar if not cheaper cost than Chiang Mai at 14,000 baht ($446 US). Chiang mai has some of the lowest cost short-term accommodation (monthly) for fully furnished studios. Once you start to add 1 bedroom and a kitchen to the equation the average living costs in Chiang Mai jump to 14 – 17000 baht, which is comparable to Bangkok.
As someone who no longer wants to ride a motorbike I find Chiang Mai a bit limiting. After 2 motorbike accidents I no longer want to gamble and take the risks. I’d rather walk, take a taxi, uber, the MRT or BTS train system in Bangkok to get around.
I originally came to Chiang Mai for the digital nomad community. After diving in deep my first year attending events and meeting people I got fatigued of the scene. I found it was mostly new people coming in and out of Chiang Mai wanting to sample the digital nomad experience. The material in the talks started to become repetitive, and I stopped attending so many events. I’m still grateful for these events for the good people I met, but I understand that people are at different stages in their entrepreneur journey.
In the end I found out there were videographers, but noone was truly making an online video business with their videography. I found I was the one doingmost of the teaching when it came to monetization for videographers through stock footage or teaching online. I learned a bit about online marketing and cryptocurrency from my time in Chiang Mai. I’m thankful for that
I find that there is a strong scarcity and price sensitive mindset in Chiang Mai that I’m not fond of. I’m all for low cost living, but I like to enjoy life and would prefer to live comfortably instead of aiming to live within a $600 monthly budget. The people that are in Chiang Mai are friendly and down to earth, but I find that the low cost of living attracts people that don’t have an abundance mindset. I find when I’m here too long I find that what I thought was cheap is not really cheap. There is always someone that knows where to stay and eat cheaper. When does it end? I think focusing too much on finding cheap things all the time takes away focus from earning and living a comfortable life.
Chiang Mai is an easy city to live and relax, but I get restless staying here for longer than 3 months. It feels too small, and yes I know i’m guilty of staying in the bubble of nimman.
After a chaotic year of traveling the world (Bali, South Africa, Penang, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Vancouver, Seoul, Koh Tao) I wanted to roam the world less and have more of a base and hopefully more of a normal lifestyle.
It’s another burning season and I will be leaving during the month of March. The question is do I go away for short-term and come back or is this my opportunity give Bangkok a chance?
In a perfect world I would be able to have a place in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. I could escape the concrete jungle and enjoy the nature and peacefulness of Chiang Mai. One thing is for sure. Chiang Mai’s climate is a great place to be from November to February. It’s a place where I can definitely spend part of my year here. I’m just not sure if I want to spend the whole year here.
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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