Ever since coronavirus started last year, it has changed the way we work by a great deal. Companies no longer bound their employees to the office and many of them allow remote working as an option. With some vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) opening up to other countries, many more people might consider going overseas for workation. A key question among many people is: will this trend continue or will only be temporary? From a McKinsey research report, remote working will likely continue even after the pandemic.
Most people globally have been working away from the office for around 1.5 years. Some are working from their home, and some even choose to work remotely away from the country of their employment.
According to a recent news published by CNBC, Bangkok was ranked as world #1 destination for Workation. We have spent almost one year now working remotely from Thailand since Coronavirus started, so we would like to share some considerations for anyone who may be considering Thailand for remote working.
Table of Contents
Working remotely in Thailand: finding a good “workplace”
Reliable Network infrastructure
Remote working means everything is done online or via phone, and you will need a good network infrastructure to make sure things run smoothly. In this aspect, Thailand has a reliable telecom infrastructure, which means a relatively fast and stable internet. In Southeast Asia, Thailand’s internet connection is among the best, even during a high demand period like this pandemic.
Other than being reliable, the Internet packages in Thailand are affordable. We are paying THB 400 (~USD13) for unlimited 4G data and THB 200 (~USD7) for broadband connection. These are lower end packages which give us up to 50 Mb/s connection. Better packages can give you over 1 Gb/s connection speed but would cost at least THB 600 (~USD20).
With these affordable packages, you can enjoy a stable connection most of the time. We have had no issue conducting Zoom/Meet/Team meetings or calling business partners via Whatsapp. Netflix and online gaming are also largely smooth. However, we are speaking of our experience in Bangkok and we have yet to try the quality of the network outside of Bangkok.
Thailand also has a lot of workspace, whether you are looking for a home office, a co-working space or coffee shops.
According to the property company CBRE, there should be 150+ co-working spaces across Thailand. The options range from affordable ones (as low as USD 100 per month) to top-tier spaces like WeWork. An example of co-working space in Chiang Mai.
If you love your coffee, you will have a lot of coffee shops in Thailand where you can work. There are 10,000+ coffee shops in Thailand, but of course not all of them will allow you to work there but most do. Most of the modern coffee shops also offer free WiFi and charging outlet, so you can get work done at the cost of a cup of coffee.
Another option for you to work away from the office is to work at the convenience of your home office. In Thailand, the range of apartment rental rates can be huge. For example, even in Bangkok, monthly rent for a 30-35 sqm apartment can be between THB 8,000 (~USD 250) to THB 25,000 (~ USD 800). If you rent anywhere in the middle range, it would give you sufficient space to set up a work desk with monitor, keyboard, and other equipment.
Finding a good community of foreign professionals and digital nomads
We are social beings and we crave connection. However, working remotely means you are not close physically with your colleagues and might find it harder to build real connection. Finding your own community in Thailand, where you can feel a sense of belonging, becomes increasingly important.
Thankfully, there are many digital nomads in Thailand, and on top of that Thailand has over 4 millions foreign workers in the country, according to the UN Migration. However, the bulk of this number would be migrant workers. Still, there are about 200,000+ foreigners on skilled worker permits and retirement visas in Thailand. In conclusion, the community of foreigners in Thailand is huge and your chance of finding your own tribe is quite high! Most of the foreigners in Thailand are people from Japan, China, the Philippines, India, the UK, and the US.
Working remotely in Thailand: Taking a break from work by taking vacation
You can take an escape from work to beaches or mountains throughout Thailand (or you could even be working from your vacation home by the beach or resort place in the mountains). Even if you choose to stay in a big city like Bangkok, major tourist destinations are within an hour of a plane ride away. This is possible thanks to the country’s well-developed domestic airport network. Other Southeast Asian countries (like Vietnam) are also nearby (~2 hours flight). Personally, we are a fan of Vietnam (and Vietnamese food).
Actually we are in Thailand right now working remotely. And we are in the middle of planning our vacation to the beachside and mountain in the coming few weeks. From Bangkok, we can easily go to Huahin beach area (4-5 hour drive) and Khao Yai hill/mountain area (2.5-3 hour drive).
One major problem: Thailand lacks of a digital nomad visa
There are a lot of foreigners who are keen to be a digital nomad in Thailand. However, visas would be the biggest issue you need to solve before you can work remotely there.
There are 2 key questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to visas (aside from the Thai language barrier):
How long can you stay in Thailand?
Thailand has a great visa exemption program which supports over 60 nationalities. visitors can stay up to 30 days (currently extended to 45 days), however longer stay will require the visitors to apply for another visa. Examples include tourist visa and Special Tourist Visa (STV) that allows visitors to stay in Thailand up to 60 to 90 days. See the official Thai embassy website for more info.
Is it legal for you to work remotely in Thailand?
In the point above, both visa exemption and STV are for tourism purposes. In many cases, remote working in Thailand is NOT illegal. However in reality, this is a grey area and we have another post to examine this in more details.
Thailand has introduced a “SMART visa”, which aims to provide up to 4 years of permission to stay and work in Thailand. This solution, however, is quite restrictive at the moment and less than 1,000 applications have been approved so far. A plan to relax the requirement has been proposed, and this should come into effect soon. This could potentially be a solution to people interested in working remotely in Thailand.
Lastly, if you want to be a digital nomad in Thailand, you also need to understand the Thai tax law. While Thailand mostly looks at income generated in Thailand, if you stay in Thailand longer than 180 days within the year, Thailand will also look at the portion of your overseas income and investment return that you bring into Thailand.
In February 2022, the Thai government has approved a plan for the long-stay visa to waive personal income tax for a few groups of foreigners, and a remote working professionals is one of them. We are waiting to see more details on this plan once they come out.
Is Thailand the right remote working location for you?
Thailand is an attractive destination for digital nomad and remote workers. This is due to many factors like great infrastructure, relatively lower cost of living and proximity to local and regional vacation destinations.
However, staying and working in Thailand could be restrictive without a proper visa. Many digital nomads are solving this by re-entering the country and staying in the grey area. If you want to ensure that you are legally working in Thailand, our recommendation would be to apply for a proper visa. The development of “smart visa” looks promising, but it will still take some time before it becomes a visa type for every digital nomad in Thailand.
Other useful contents about Thailand:
15 thoughts on “Is working remotely in Thailand in 2022 a good idea?”
I want to become a digital nomader. I read this article and I found it very useful and interesting. However, I now read the advice of my (Belgian) government and it seems that the corona measured are quite hard and strict. Seems like I will need to stay in a quarantaine hotel for 5days and get tested twice. How are the measure for the rest? What is life in Corona times in Thailand at the moment?
Hello Vince, there are entry requirements (and it does take time to prepare + go through) – however with Test & Go being back in the picture again, vaccinated travelers from all countries around the world can now enter Thailand with just 2 nights of quarantine (just to wait for your 2 PCR tests’ result). More information can be found here: https://www.tatnews.org/2022/02/thailand-reopening-exemption-from-quarantine-test-go/.
Once you are in Thailand, things may not be as care-free as some other parts of the world in a sense that masks are required when you are outdoor, temperature check points are here / there, and lastly there are certain time restriction on alcohol sales (close after 11pm for example). However most of lunch/dinning places and cafes are mostly open now. We ourselves just came back from a week workation in Hua Hin, Southern of Thailand and we were able to enjoy the beach, beer/wine/cocktail, coconuts and food without much restriction (although places are less happening now but they are still enjoyable).
In our opinion, the only concern really is around how the government may change their rules/restrictions in the future, and they are not known to be giving a long headsup. We hope that this is helpful!
With the tax, I found out that “Thai sourced income” actually means:
Work performed in the country, not if the payment came internationally to your business bank account.
Which means the 180 day thing is ill relevant. You can still be taxed technically for doing work while residing there even if some international company paid your foreign bank account less than 180 days stay. Also you can be up for Permanent Establishment corporate tax and have to pay corporate tax (20%) on profits. Although if you pay yourself a salary from all sales revenue in your company, that’s an expense so the profits would be zero in the company, but then they have another clause which says they can at minimum charge 5% of the gross profit of your company and gross is basically company revenue before wages payment etc.
So If your company makes $90000, they can charge you $4500 at minimum. They can only charge you for the revenue that your company received connected to the activities you were doing while in thailand. So if you were there for 2 weeks and in that 2 weeks, your company generated $5000 from a client, it’s 5% of that $5000 or corporate tax 20% of net profit of that $5000 whichever is higher. The income you made being outside of Thailand won’t be part of the equation.
However this is IF they actually bother to do anything. Most likely you will be fine. I’ve been looking this up myself because my company is allowing remote work and i’m trying to see what the worst they could tax me if it I did it.
so, if my affiliate website is already set up and commissions are paid to my UK Paypal then UK bank and I am transferring the money to Thailand after 1 year… i am not going to pay tax in Thailand even tho I am here 18 days+?
do I need to get a Thai tax id and submit a tax return saying I have zero locally-sourced income to declare?
do I need to set up a company in malta/hk etc for the affiliate commissions or is uk personal bank ok? I’m non-resident in uk.
Thank you for this article. I am very interested in digital nomad topic. From my point of view foreigner digital nomads will spend money earned abroad in Thailand which is clear benefit for both sides. Is there any logical explanation about why Thailand prohibiting/restiricting digital nomads from staying in country?
We believe its a case where legal and immigration system is lagging behind time. While digital nomads and remote workers are not openly supported, we do not see any clear push back either. There has been a lot of talk about visas for digital nomads but we are also waiting to see how the government will implement this going forward (unfortunately this might take some time).
I am planning on going to Thailand soon to work remote but I need to make sure I got good internet everywhere I go. Does anyone have good recommendations on how to get this? I asked someone to test it for me with the AIS provider with a 300Mbps bundle. But the speedtest only showed 30Mpbs download & 15Mbps upload but that wouldn’t be enough for me.
Hopefully someone has a solution for me. Thanks in advance!
Hello Jay! what is your usecase? we have been using True 4G while remote working here and havent had any issue with streaming/video conferencing. We get around 40 Mbps on the cheapest 4G plan – although we didnt run any speed test while we are out side of Bangkok. 5G is being roll out in the country but we are not sure if they will be enough for your use case.
Thank you for your reply! I am an online marketer so running many browser tabs at the same time and conference calls (google meet). Using things like Google Ads & Analytics a lot. Will be going to Koh Samui or maaybe one of the surrounding islands. Not sure what my minimum need is but at home I have 50 mbps download speed and 20 mbps upload (in the test). And I know that’s enough. Really wanting to go to Thailand to work from there but need to make sure I have good enough internet else I shouldn’t go.
Is it possible for you to do a speedtest for me (maybe https://www.speedtest.net)?
And any other advice is welcome.
Hopefully it’s possible and thank you in advance!
Hi Jay, we get around 40 mbps upload and 20 mbps download speed on our True internet. We also make use of Google Analytics, Adsense, Facebook Ads etc. along with daily Zoom / Google meet calls. So far we have not encountered any issue while in Bangkok. If you are concerned about internet connection in Koh Samui then I’d recommend you get direct feedback from freelancers on the ground, which you can find on Facebook pages like Digital Nomad groups (one of the examples is here https://www.facebook.com/groups/digitalnomadventures/)
Thank you so much for the advice and will do right away! Thanks!
Hello, thank you for this article. I would like to work in Thailand for a few weeks on my laptop for my current employer in the UK whilst my wife and son enjoy being with our family there. However my employer is asking for evidence I have the right to work there. What do I do?
Hi Tim, what an exciting time ahead of you! To answer your question, it depends on how long you will be in Thailand in total. If you are in Thailand for less than 30 days, you should be able to enter and work there remotely without a visa if your line of work does not concern the Work Permit Office (read more here https://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/thailand-digital-nomad-visa-and-work-permit). Any non-resident who stays in Thailand <180 days will not be taxable in Thailand. However, the most legit way is to obtain a visa, which is now extended to also include remote workers with overseas employers (smart T visa https://smart-visa.boi.go.th/smart/). This Smart T visa is still in its infancy and from hearsay, the visa is not the easiest to get. But worth trying if you want a worry-free digital nomad stay in Thailand 🙂
Hi there! Thank you so much for your article. Me and my husband are digital nomads and we are planing to go to Thailand in September. As we plan to stay ~20 days, and we do want to go traveling a little bit whilst working, what do you think will be a good plan for us, thinking in terms of good cost and good infrastructure? Any thoughts around this?
Hello! if this is your first time in Thailand then it may be good to split your time between Bangkok and a few other destinations. However September will be rainy season in Thailand, it will last up to around early-mid October. From weather standpoint, northern city like Chiangmai should be a little bit cooler and more dry during that time. If you want to visit beaches/islands then you can consider southern cities like Phuket, Krabi or Samui – but these (Chiangmai included) are best visit via taking flights as the travel by car may take some time (10 hours or longer).
If Bangkok is your first destination but you still want to spend a few weeks in coastal cities within a few hours drive then do look into Hua Hin (2-3 hours south) or Pattaya/Rayong area (2-3 hours east).
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