Living and working as a digital nomad in Koh Tao, Thailand
Back in December last year, my friend Rafa and I travelled to Koh Tao in Thailand to spend six weeks living and working as digital nomads. What follows is some interesting stories and hopefully useful tips for anyone wanting to do the same.
Why did we choose Koh Tao?
There were a number of factors that led us to choose Koh Tao as a destination to settle for some time and work as digital nomads:
- Fast, reliable Wifi is generally quite easy to find
- There’s a small but close community of fellow digital nomads
- The island offers some of the best diving in the world
- It’s fairly cheap to live
- The food is amazing
- The weather is good at that time of year
We had considered other places like Vietnam, the Philippines and Bali, but none fit the criteria above as well as Koh Tao at that time of year (please do leave a comment below if you disagree!).
Where did we stay?
We rented a three bedroom villa at the north of the island near the Mae Haad pier. It was a few minute’s scooter ride from Sairee beach, the main beach and where most of the Island’s bars, shops and restaurants can be found. It cost a little over AUD 2,000 for the time we spent there, including electricity and Wifi.
The place was amazing, with a beautiful balcony partially overlooking the ocean, and the lush green jungle that covers much of the island.
Top tip: check out Facebook groups for great deals on places to stay for longer periods of time.
What was daily life like?
Other than a few days we took off to go diving, we were working regular full-time hours for most of our stay on Koh Tao – so it was important that we settled into a routine as quickly as possible. A normal day looked something like this:
- 7.30am – wake up, get ready then head down the road on our scooters to the coworking space
- 8am – Pop into the local coffee shop (Coconut Monkey – highly recommended) for coffee and something to eat.
- 9am – Headphones on and start work
- 12.30pm – Eat lunch. The coworking space often offered a cooked meal for a few dollars which was great. Everyone would sit around a big table and share delicious home-cooked Thai food and share stories of their adventures. Other times, we’d take a short trip into Haad Rin and get Thai food or (if we were getting tired of Thai food) a salad from a place called Vegetabowl.
- 2pm – Back to work
- 6pm – Finish work, get on the scooters and head off to the gym (or every few days a Thai massage)
- 7.30pm – Finish the gym (or massage) and find a restaurant to eat at
- 9pm – Head home and settle down for bed
What was the coworking space like?
We spent all our time working at a place called Tao Hub. It was close to where we were staying, and within walking distance of our favourite coffee shop, Coconut Monkey.
We paid THB5000 for the entire month (about $220 AUD), but I think you could negotiate a better deal – particularly if you were staying for longer.
It was pretty basic – essentially just tables and office-type chairs, with a couple of air conditioned rooms and a large out-door veranda area. In all honesty, the price did seem a little steep for what they offered, but Koh Tao is one of the more expensive Islands in Thailand, and the digital nomad/ coworking scene isn’t that big so there’s not a lot of competition.
I really liked the friendly atmosphere there though, and met some really interesting people who we made friends with and occasionally met for drinks in the evening. Overall, I think it was worth the money as it provided a good escape from working at the villa and an environment where I could be fairly productive.
How did we travel around?
As soon as we arrived on the Island, we both hired scooters to get around. I must admit that I was slightly nervous as I’d read reports online of rental places charging ridiculous prices for damage but this can be avoided by taking lots of photos any existing damage before you drive away. We rented from a place called Tao Technology on Sairee beach and the guy was really friendly and easy to deal with.
Scooters are by far the easiest and most convenient way to get around the island. They cost very little to run, and are pretty safe if you drive sensibly (everyone on Koh Tao gets around by scooter, sometimes you see a whole family squeezed onto one!). Obviously, make sure you wear the helmet that’s provided.
Would we recommend Koh Tao as a digital nomad destination?
100%. Though it might be a little touristy/ developed for some, I like being able to get a decent coffee, meet some fellow travellers and enjoy good-quality western food on occasions. The island is small enough to make travelling around really easy, and create a relatively normal routine. I also really like that they have a great gym on the island for a very reasonable price.
Of course there’s also the amazing food, cheap massages ($10 for one hour!) and great diving available too.
I’ve got lots more stories and insights to share from my time in Thailand. Check back soon to read more!