Bangkok – the start of my digital nomad life

Hello Bangkok, goodbye vacation. Or a better way to put this, hello temporary digital nomad life. While in Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore we had a chance to explore day and night, things were a bit different in the Thai capital. The real South East Asian adventure is about to begin.

I always said that I chose not to have just one home but have the entire world as my home #citizenoftheworld. And this life-changing trip is the living proof of it. This new adventure proved to be challenging, rewarding, eye-opening and so much more, all at once. However, every second of it was worth it and I couldn’t be happier that I am lucky enough to experience it. A big thanks here goes to Georgij, with whom I share this crazy adventure. Secondly, I am grateful to my amazing team at IWG, who trusted me and allowed me to fulfil this dream.

A bit about Bangkok

Bangkok is a huge hub and super well connected  city with the rest of the world. It is the most populous city in Thailand, with about 8,2 inhabitants and the capital of the country. It is everything you can expect from an Asian metropolis: crowded, polluted, with crazy traffic jams, skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife. You name it and Bangkok has it all.

We spent two weeks here, due to the limit imposed by the visa on arrival. From our research, people tend to avoid this city, or just use it as a connection place with other Thai destinations such as Phuket, Krabi or Chiang Mai.

We chose to spend more time than average here as we felt the city has a lot to offer. Bangkok is a perfect blend of super modern with traditional. There are beautifully ornated temples next to huge glass skyscrapers, luxurious malls at every corner with street food stalls right in front and tuk-tuks everywhere, trying to overcharge a naive tourist. The contrast is hard to miss.

How does the life of a digital nomad look like in Bangkok?

Bangkok is also a great destination to be a digital nomad. If you come from Europe, you will find the city quite cheap and affordable. Of course, if you don’t go shopping for luxury brands or eat in high-end restaurants.

We rented a cosy apartment via Airbnb with a nice view over the city’s skyline. Though the location was not that central, it was close to shopping centres, night markets and 7/11 convenience stores. It felt homier than a hotel so we didn’t feel like we are away for vacations.  And of course, it was also way cheaper.

We worked European times, meaning that we had the entire morning to explore and then work from around 2PM to 11PM. The internet is Thailand is super fast so we could work both from home or from coworking places such as Regus.

One of the best things about the shopping centres around is the food court. It is a Thai food paradise, where vendors cook right in front of you and for as little as 50 Thai Bahts (approx 1,5 Eur) you could get a very nice local meal. We took advantage of this and even ordered take away. Cooking is really not an option here, it’s way cheaper to just eat out. You can eat with as little as 5 Eur per day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This is how a simple work day looked like during our digital nomad time in Bangkok. We would wake up around 8 o’clock and have breakfast at home (porridge with passion and dragon fruit). After breakfast and shower, free activities: either Thai massage, explore a touristic point of interest or just lay by the swimming pool. We always had lunch out and before 2PM would be home, ready for work. The next day we would mix and match, so we don’t fall into a routine. 

 

 

 

 

Been there, done that: Bangkok edition

There are not that many touristic attractions for such a big city. At least this is how we felt about Bangkok. Since we were also working, we took our time and didn’t rush with the touristic part. This is what we managed to see during our stay in the Thai capital.

 

The Grand Palace and the Temple of Reclining Buddha

This is probably the main attraction in Bangkok, or at least the most visited. Here you can find the royal residence of the king and beautiful temples and stupas with amazing Thai decorations and motifs. In Thailand, a temple is not just a building, but a complex of different buildings with religious meaning. The Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew) is one of the most popular buildings here, where the ancient statue changes outfits depending on the season.

The complex is very large so you can easily spend a few hours inside. Check out for the free walking tours to get better knowledge from somebody who works there. 

Right next to the Grand Palace, you can find the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, aka Wat Pho. This is also a beautiful complex of stupas and temples beautifully decorated. The main attraction, as the name suggests is a golden statue of Buddha, that lays on a side, in a reclining position. It has 46 meters in length and it’s really impressive, as well as hard to catch in one picture.

Tip: Since the two locations are so close by, it is easy to combine them in a day.

 

Night and day markets

Thailand is very famous for its markets, both during the day and night. Some of them are fixed, some of them only emerge during weekends or certain days only. It is definitely a great experience. You can find everything you want here, from Chinese goods, clothes, cheap souvenirs, and so on. My favourite parts of the markets were of course the food section, where you could sample various Thai and international dishes. It can be really hard to choose and sometimes it is overwhelming (the choice and the crowd) but in my point of view, this is a must experience in Bangkok. Good luck not to get lost in them, because they are like gigantic mazes.

 

Lumphini Park, Khao San Road and China Town

I liked these places, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s much to say about.

Lumphini Park is the main green spot in Bangkok. It is like a green oasis and a nice place to escape from the crowds, pollution and just relax. It has a beautiful view over the skyscrapers, so it’s a good place to experience the blend I was talking about. Beware of the huge lizards roaming and swimming around and the huge scary catfish from the lake.

Khao San Road is the touristic heaven in town. Everything here is designed for visitors, from overprices restaurants, to hipster bars, tattoo shops and cheap and most likely not professional massage salons. Of course, you can get your souvenirs here as well and bargain for some cheap deals. We didn’t find anything special about this place, but we wanted to give it a try.

I feel like I’ve been writing about China Town in all my Asian posts before. Well, I know I’m in Asia, but still. The one is Bangkok is nothing different from the rest: Chinese restaurants, red ribbons and golden coins. We didn’t even eat here, as most of the restaurants were serving shark fin soup. No, thank you!

 

Day trip to Ayutthaya and floating market

Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand and just one hour drive from Bangkok. We booked a day trip through Getyourguide for the convenience and because it covered different points of interest. We managed to see the Summer Palace of the King, a “traditional” Thai floating market and of course the ancient temples with pagodas and stupas.

I say “traditional” for the floating markets as they are not what they used to be. There are designed and maintained for tourists and this is how they actually survive. Though the experience was not that authentic, the Thai sweets we tried there were just amazing. 

The highlights of the trip were, of course, the temples, built in the same style as the Angkor Wat complex in Siem Read, due to the Cambodian influence. You can literally walk among the ruins and thousants buddha statue ramains. 

 

Practical advice or learn from our mistakes.

We are new to the digital nomad life and Bangkok was our first experience. No matter how much research we did, we still made mistakes that helped us learn.

The main mistake was the Airbnb location. The apartment was lovely and well equipped,  had a view and swimming pool. It was 7 minutes walking from the MRT (the metro), but still far away from downtown. It took us almost 45 minutes to go to the Grand Palace. By Grab/Taxi would have been the same, but more expensive, as the Bangkok traffic is not light ever. This limited our visiting during the workdays. We recommend a more central location, despite being more expensive to maximize your time and get the best of this city.

Touristic scams are another thing to look after. They happen around the main attractions and most involve Tuk Tuks. We lost an entire day at the Grand Palace when we were approached by a scammer who told us the palace was closed due to a religious ceremony. It sounded quite convincing, except he was trying to lure us away and offer his services. We declined his proposal but believed him about the ceremony, that proved to be false. Later we read about this “classic” scam we felt for. 

The amount of time spent in Bangkok can also be an inconvenience. We decided on 2 weeks because of the visa, but it was too much. The internet speed was also a concern due to work itself. We learnt that this is not an issue here. The Thai capital is the best if you are into the big city life. To be fair, I would have spent one weekend in Bangkok and the rest of the time working on one of the tropical beaches down south.

 

Conclusion

Bangkok was a very great experience overall and marked the beginning of our temporary digital nomad life. It is a city that has a lot to offer for every taste. I don’t think it’s possible to get bored here unless you try very hard. 

When it comes to the digital nomad part it scores high at speed of internet, cost of living and accommodation. But somehow, I wouldn’t want to come back here and work. I think I’m more of a beachside city type of nomad, like Barcelona or Bali.

As always, plan your trip in advance and do as much research as possible. It is a foreign country, far from home and with different rules. Do your homework in order to better enjoy the experience.

Until the next time.

AlexD.

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