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
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.
Vietnam is one of the fast developing Countries in South East Asia. As a location independent and Digital nomad it appears as though this is the golden age to visit this Country as of October 2018. Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam and also has a reputation as being fast paced and overcrowded.
I returned after 3 years to sample a local life as a Digital nomad and expat. I booked a well reviewed High Class Studio Airbnb in District 4. After a week I was pleasantly surprised to see how Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) offers a good quality lifestyle for Digital Nomads especially if you’re seeking good comfort and value. Saigon offers all the essentials Digital nomads look for plus some pleasant surprises such as the established craft beer scene, fast internet, awesome food, and the best bread in Asia.
On my digital nomad journey I’ve lived in Taiwan for 2 years, Thailand for 3 years, and a growing amount of time in Malaysia. Watch my video series to learn the essential. Watch the video to learn more. How to get into Vietnam as it can be a bit tricky.
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