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11 BEST Places to Live in Thailand [2020 Guide!]

When it comes to amazing beaches, world class cuisine, cool culture all at a low price – it’s hard to beat Thailand!

But with so many options, it’s almost impossible to pick – which is EXACTLY why we wrote this article to the best places to live in Thailand!

Whether you crave the city life of Bangkok or Chiang Mai, or the beach life of the Koh’s, this article will show you exactly which place in Thailand suits you (and your budget!).

Let’s get at it!

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#1 Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok – the energetic capital of Thailand – is all about big city living, bright lights and never being bored.

Monthly cost of living in Bangkok

$1231/ month 

cost of rent in Bangkok

$673/month

A hot and humid metropolis, Bangkok comes complete with its own sizeable expat community. Living here means having huge shopping malls and public transport connections at your fingertips. And let’s not forget that famous street food. Oh, and the rooftop bars, too!

If you’re thinking about it, Sukhumvit is a buzzing central area to base yourself. On the other hand, On Nut may put you a little out of the city, but it’s a chill residential area with great transport links (you’ll be in central BKK in just 10 minutes) and more to the point: it’s budget friendly.

Pros of Bangkok

  • Well connected for exploring other places around SE Asia
  • A ton of culture and history to explore
  • Plenty of other people (expats AND locals) to mix with

Cons of Bangkok

  • It can get SUPER hot in Bangkok
  • It can also get very, very busy in the city
  • You may find there are TOO many expats for your liking

Bangkok is much more than just Khaosan Road. Gone are the days of backpacker mayhem down this infamous street.

There’s Chinatown to explore, decades-old cafes, hipster bars and a whole lot of temples and historic buildings to get your head around.

Then there are festivals like Songkran, Thailand’s mad water-fighting New Year celebration.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

A vibrant, modern city, there are TONS of coworking spaces in Bangkok. The affordable, very cool HUBBA Ekkamai is a good place to start your search for the perfect place. They have other locations around the city and are open 24-7.

#2 Chang Mai

Chang Mai

Thailand’s second city is a laid-back and easygoing alternative to the country’s capital, where you’ll find a whole lot of culture and history to soak up.

Monthly cost of living in Chang Mai

$755/ month 

cost of rent
in Chang Mai

$333/month

Chiang Mai is the old capital of the Lanna Kingdom up in Thailand’s north and has a LOAD to offer. Explore the old town inside its ancient city walls, wander the winding sois and relax with a coffee in one of many cafes. It’s a city, but it’s chill. But you’ll still find malls, hospitals and even an airport here, too.

Nimmanhaemin is the place to live in Chiang Mai. There’s a selection of housing available to suit different budgets and is set away from the old town.

Since it attracts a fair few nomads, there are quite a few cafes, coworking spaces as well as cheap eats and bars.

Pros of Chiang Mai

  • Easily head out into the stunning mountains
  • There's a pretty popping digital nomad community here
  • Loads of bargain food to be had at the night markets

Cons of Chiang Mai

  • In 'burning season' (March-May) there's a smoggy haze over the city
  • The old town can get PACKED with tourists
  • Expat community is spread out and can be hard to meet people

There’s a lot of culture here, and festivals are no exception. Chiang Mai plays host to the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, which sees hundreds of lanterns being released into the night sky. One of the most spectacular festivals in Thailand.

And if you were wondering about how to get around, a motorbike will serve you well here and get you around the compact city like a breeze. Plus you can take it for mountain day trips, too!

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Get your head down at the Startup Cafe, a sociable coworking joint with good coffee, or for an oasis away from the streets, spend the day surrounded by greenery at the laid-back Planter’s Space.

#3 Koh Samui

Koh Samui

Why NOT Koh Samui? Thailand’s second-largest island is much more than beaches and bars, it’s a slow-paced paradise with a countryside atmosphere.

Monthly cost of living in Koh Samui

$1211/ month 

cost of rent
in Koh Samui

$646/month

You may be thinking of Koh Samui as a throwaway, touristy island. But that’s NOT the case at all. Yes, tourists come here, but it’s by no means oversaturated. Head down to the port and its charming old wooden houses, grab yourself a motorbike and explore the island’s many beaches… It’s a wonder of a place.

Love nightlife? Then you should consider living at Chaweng. There’s plenty of bars, night markets, and a beach (of course). But if you’re into something cheaper and more beach-oriented, Lamai boasts Samui’s second largest beach and plenty of shops. For something quiet, check out Mae Nam

Pros of Koh Samui

  • You get to live on a beautiful island
  • There's a lot of local life going on
  • Nightlife, including night markets, if you want it

Cons of Koh Samui

  • Fairly expensive compared to other places
  • Getting off the island can be pricey
  • Island life can be a little isolating

There’s a surprising amount of infrastructure on Koh Samui. We told you it was a big island. There’s huge Tesco Lotus supermarket, a shopping mall, an airport, doctor’s clinics and a hospital.

Add this to all those beaches, hidden waterfalls and mountain vistas, and you’ve got a lot to explore here. And if you feel like it, you can hop on a boat to Koh Phangan!

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

There are a couple of places to try out in terms of coworking. Check out KohSpace, in Ban Tai, complete with super fast wi-fi. The bonus is it’s right near the beach.

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#4 Lampang

Lampang

If you’ve never heard of Lampang, we don’t blame you: this is a charming, little-visited city in the north of Thailand with everything you need for your Thai life.

Monthly cost of living in Lampang

$702/ month 

cost of rent
in Lampang

$275/month

Some might think of Lampang as boring, but there’s actually a lot going on in this charming place. If you’re looking for somewhere truly off the beaten track, this is it.

Restaurants, cafes, interesting history, the ‘City of the Rooster’ boasts traditional wooden houses as much as good transport connections: an airport and a train station, no less.

Base yourself south of the River Wang for much more choice when it comes to places to eat and drink, as well as shopping centres, the hospital, airport and train station.

You’ll be able to rent a (big) place here at a BARGAIN of a fee compared to many other places in the country.

Pros of Lampang

  • Rent money goes a long way
  • Good place to learn yourself some Thai
  • Decent transport links

Cons of Lampang

  • Quiet; could be seen as boring
  • Might get lonely because hardly any expats
  • Pollution can get bad in burning season

There’s actually a lot more to Lampang than first meets the eye. Head to Talad Gao Road, where you’ll find old traditional houses from its heyday as a trading hub; buy some of its famous ceramics; dine with locals in a decent selection of eateries; cycle along the riverbanks; then head out of town for beautiful waterfalls and natural scenery. There’s even (one of the better) elephant sanctuaries nearby.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Even though it’s a quiet place, there are STILL coworking places here. One of the more popular places is the friendly Chailai Baan Cafe & Coworking Space. Delicious food and amazing coffee in a leafy location.

#5 Phuket

Phuket

Midway between remote island living and big city life, Phuket offers up a healthy middle ground of buzzing streets and your very own slice of sun, sea and sand.

Monthly cost of living in Phuket

$944/ month 

cost of rent
in Phuket

$450/month

Phuket may be known for tourism, but there’s a ton of charm that remains on Thailand’s largest island. Yes, there are beaches and yes, there are big resorts.

But there’s a vibrant youth culture with a load of cool cafes and bars to hang out in, as well as night markets.

Base yourself in Phuket Town, on the east of the island. It’s much less touristed than the coastal areas. It feels more authentic and comes complete with a historic Chinatown.

Karon and Kata Beaches, to the west, are a good mix of beach life and bars without TOO many tourists. Good spot for surfers, too.

Pros of Phuket

  • Easy access to beach and sea
  • Hop on a boat to discover other islands
  • A load of culture to soak up

Cons of Phuket

  • Can get a bit overtouristed
  • More expensive than other Thai cities
  • You'll need a motorbike to get around

Phuket is definitely a varied place. It’s big, for one thing, meaning that the scenery and vibe changes quite a lot when you travel between areas. The peranakan shophouses and old Thai eateries of the old town, for instance, contrast very much so with the beach madness at Patong.

You won’t get bored: each day can bring a different adventure. Plus there’s a variety of farang (foreigners) who’ve set themselves up here, so you’ll get to meet people as well.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Places to work include Bayaco, a funky, colourful and spacious coworking space just 5 minutes from Phuket’s old town and HATCH Coworking Space, a mix of cafe and coworking and a chill place to get some work done.

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#6 Krabi

Krabi

Famous for its beaches and stunning karst scenery, Krabi may be rough around the edges but it’s the coastline that does the talking here.

Monthly cost of living in Krabi

$726/ month 

cost of rent
in krabi

$364/month

Krabi Town is the capital of Krabi and is awash with Western restaurants, late-night bars and food markets. But it’s not all about that. There’s a riverfront to stroll along, caves to explore and waterfalls to hike to.

And most of all, Krabi is where you’ll find a stunner of a coastline, with hidden beaches and tiny islands only accessible by boat.

But head away from Krabi Town and you’ll find Ao Nang, complete with a beach. It’s the main tourist hub of the area. Or you could choose to live along Krabi River, which makes it easy for you to get to supermarkets and the pier where boats can whisk you away to Railay Beach.

Pros of Krabi

  • Pretty easy to island-hop from here
  • Multicultural area
  • House prices are fairly cheap

Cons of Krabi

  • Definitely can get overtouristed
  • Daytime traffic can be bad
  • Public transport can be unreliable

Interestingly, Krabi is a pretty multicultural place to be. That means there’s a lot more going on here than just Thai culture. Thai Muslims, for example, make up a sizeable part of the community; there are a load of mosques and lot of tasty food to be had, including biriyani and curry.

There’s also a Thai-Chinese community, which (of course) means you’ll also find a lot of tasty Chinese delights.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

When it comes to coworking spaces, Krabi isn’t loaded with them, so check yourself into a cafe for the day. They’re pretty cool here: one of those is Cafe 8.98, complete with high-speed internet and tasty snacks.

#7 Hua Hin

Hua Hin

A developed city by the sea that’s packed with beach living and urban amenities, Hua Hin has a growing expat population.

Monthly cost of living in Hua Hin

$878/ month 

cost of rent
in Hua Hin

$240/month

Located on the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, about 3 hours south of BKK, Hua Hin is a settlement of skyscrapers by the sea. It’s a popular spot for Bangkok residents to spend a weekend of chilling and letting loose.

Even the Thai king has his summer residence here. Clearly there’s a reason that this beautiful, well developed spot is popular!

The main tourist street in town, Nartedarmi Road, is also where you’ll find a lot of easy and cheap places to rent. These might not the highest quality, however.

Head slightly inland to find leafy and affordable villas in the district of Hin Lek Fai – which often come with pools as an added bonus!

Pros of Hua Hin

  • It's a vibrant beach resort
  • Hosts the yearly Hua Hin Jazz Festival
  • Plenty of amenities

Cons of Hua Hin

  • A lot of traffic and noise
  • Lacks the Thai charm you may be looking for
  • A lot of concrete and development

It isn’t just about getting lost amidst the increasing number of skyscrapers in the town. There’s more to it than that. Grab your snorkel and head off to the beach, get involved in some watersports, or just chill out for the day on the sand.

With old stately houses along the sea now converted into chic restaurants, nights here are about fun times and good food. If that sounds like you, you may like it in Hua Hin.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

For a coworking space by the sea, you should make True Sphere @ Blue Port your local. It’s a trendy place with siphon coffee, mood lighting and plenty of space to find a spot of your own.

#8 Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai

Up in the highlands, Chiang Rai is the cool city that’s a welcome alternative to Thailand’s hot and humid lower altitude urban sprawls.

Monthly cost of living in Chiang Rai

$562/ month 

cost of rent
in Chiang Rai

$198/month

Though surrounded by remote hill tribes and misty mountains, and very close to the borders of Laos and Burma, Chiang Rai a surprising city.

It’s modern, but has a lot of history, as evidenced by the monuments and museums that can be seen around town. And when you’ve done all that, you’ve always got the surrounding hills to trek and explore.

It’s VERY cheap to live in Chiang Rai – and even cheaper to live in one of the outlying villages. One such is Ban Lan Thong, where you can really save some money and get into local life.

Having a motorbike to get around is pretty much a necessity, however. Living in town itself means easy access to all of its amenities.

Pros of Chiang Rai

  • Super cheap
  • Not as hot as other Thai cities
  • Surprisingly interesting

Cons of Chiang Rai

  • Can be tricky to navigate
  • A little bit remote
  • Not as lively as other places

This is the location of the very famous (and actually very modern) Wat Rong Khun, or the ‘White Temple’, amongst other more historic cultural spots. Aside from marvelling at the buildings, you could wander along the Kok River or browse the large night bazaar.

Chiang Rai is for those who enjoy nature. But if you’re here to save money in the long run, you could hop on an Air Asia flight to coastal Hua Hin, or catch a bus to Chiang Mai if you feel like a weekend away.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Stone Wall Co-working Space is a newly opened venture which serves up some mean Mexican food. This is basically the town’s hub for digital nomads,  so you’ll find yourself in good company. It’s even got massage chairs to relax in!

#9 Koh Tao

Koh Tao

Famous for its scuba diving and stunning white beaches, Koh Tao is the ultimate digital nomads’ beach getaway.

Monthly cost of living in Koh Tao

$1108/ month 

cost of rent
in Koh Tao

$330/month

The tiny island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand is dotted with beach huts, postcard-worthy beaches and plenty of dive schools for you to get to grips with the undersea world.

As such it’s a popular spot for partygoers who want to learn how to dive. Expect a hearty helping of nightlife with a chilled daytime vibe that’s all about beachside living.

Live in Sairee if you want a lively beach area with plenty of shops, funky bars and decent facilities on offer. Properties available for rent here include kitchens, dining rooms and even outdoor areas.

Otherwise, the main town of Mae Haad has a range of accommodation for different budgets. For something quieter, Tanote could be for you.

Pros of Koh Tao

  • It's a tropical island
  • You get to go swimming/ snorkelling/ diving whenever
  • Explore other islands nearby

Cons of Koh Tao

  • Very overtouristed in high season
  • Can be expensive to get off the island
  • Very little in the way of amenities

Koh Tao itself is only home to a population of around 1,500 but brings in crowds of around 10,000 visitors a year. Obviously, people are drawn here to see the stunning scenery and waters.

Living there not only means you’ll have access to this 24/7, but you’ll also get to see the REAL local side to this beautiful tropical paradise.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

If you need to get some work done, get yourself over to Tao Hub. This coworking space has a community feeling, offers lunch and has stable internet. If the power goes down, there’s a backup generator (it’s an island, after all).

#10 Pai

Pai

A natural hideaway tucked in the mountains, Pai is a slow-paced town for people who want to live a rural life.

Monthly cost of living in Pai

$442/ month 

cost of rent
in Pai

$321/month

Formerly a Shan market village, Pai grew up in the 1980s when a well-trafficked route was put through the settlement and the Thai government pushed back insurgents.

Today it’s popular with backpackers as a rural spot to chill out and get into a ‘New Age’ lifestyle. There’s a popular motorbike loop into the surrounding mountains, too.

Where to base yourself in Pai depends on your mode of transportation. Rent in Pai Village itself, where you’ll be surrounded by a load of bars and restaurants.

If you’ve got wheels, then you may want to live the far side of the Pai River, where there’s a smattering of guesthouses and other places to rent in a more chilled area.

Pros of Pai

  • Beautiful, green countryside setting
  • Less humid than other places in Thailand
  • Loads of activities to do in the area

Cons of Pai

  • Steady stream of tourists and backpackers
  • Not the best internet going
  • Pretty far from anywhere

One of the best things about living in Pai as a digital nomad is getting to soak up a more rural way of life; there’s lots of different cultures here – not just Thai people – and it’s a community-minded place.

There are things for you farang to do though, like yoga, martial arts classes, tubing or just meeting up for a drink at one of several bars in town.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

There may not be dedicated coworking spaces in Pai, but there are cafes to set up shop in. Espresso Bar serves up a good cup of joe and the wi-fi isn’t too shabby. Another option, with lots of space and FAST wi-fi is Khaotha Coffee.

#11 Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi

A natural hideaway tucked in the mountains, Pai is a slow-paced town for people who want to live a rural life.

Monthly cost of living in Kanchanaburi

$652/ month 

cost of rent in Kanchanaburi

$421/month

Formerly a Shan market village, Pai grew up in the 1980s when a well-trafficked route was put through the settlement and the Thai government pushed back insurgents.

Today it’s popular with backpackers as a rural spot to chill out and get into a ‘New Age’ lifestyle. There’s a popular motorbike loop into the surrounding mountains, too.

Where to base yourself in Pai depends on your mode of transportation. Rent in Pai Village itself, where you’ll be surrounded by a load of bars and restaurants.

If you’ve got wheels, then you may want to live the far side of the Pai River, where there’s a smattering of guesthouses and other places to rent in a more chilled area.

Pros of Kanchanaburi

  • Beautiful, green countryside setting
  • Less humid than other places in Thailand
  • Loads of activities to do in the area

Cons of Kanchanaburi

  • Steady stream of tourists and backpackers
  • Not the best internet going
  • Pretty far from anywhere

One of the best things about living in Pai as a digital nomad is getting to soak up a more rural way of life; there’s lots of different cultures here – not just Thai people – and it’s a community-minded place.

There are things for you farang to do though, like yoga, martial arts classes, tubing or just meeting up for a drink at one of several bars in town.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

There may not be dedicated coworking spaces in Pai, but there are cafes to set up shop in. Espresso Bar serves up a good cup of joe and the wi-fi isn’t too shabby. Another option, with lots of space and FAST wi-fi is Khaotha Coffee.

There you have it! The 11 best places to live in Thailand!

We know that with the help of this article you’ll be able to figure out which area/city in Thailand best suits your interest!

Wherever you choose – have a blast, and thanks for reading!

Travel on, Nomad.

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Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -