top cafe chiang mai work digital nomad
Adventures in Thailand, lifestyle, travel

Top 5 Best Cafés to Work From In Nimman, Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads

Best cafe chiang mai work

I’ve been living in Nimman, Chiang Mai for the past 3 months with the sole focus of setting up my yoga business Eka Bhumi Yoga and I’ve been to many (many) cafés around Chiang Mai. We tend to stick to the ones in the Nimman and surrounding area as opposed to the Old City because they are usually more spacious and less busy.

My criteria for a good cafe to work in is:

  • Air Conditioned
  • Ergonomic chair to table height ratio (not just coffee tables and couches).
  • Not too  loud with good air quality (not like The Camp in Maya Mall which is always packed with digital nomads and students and smells a little stuffy).

These are my top 5 favourite ones to work from:

#1
The Barn Eatery And Design

the barn best cafes to work in chiang mai
Opens at: 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM
WiFi: Strong in the mornings before the university students start to arrive at lunch time
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 45/60
Coffee tastes : Decent

I love this place. It was built by a few architecture students as a final project and it is truly beautiful and inspiring.

Maybe because I’m sitting in such beautiful surroundings with natural lighting or its indie music they play here, but I found myself doing some of my best design work here. Like attracts like.

A lot of love, passion and thought went into the creation of this place and it has great vibes.

They offer a simple food menu (around 89 baht/dish) and the portions although small are very tasty.

#2
Wawee Coffee (Nimmanhaemida Road branch)

Opens at: 7 AM – 8 PM
WiFi: Medium-Strong, depends on how busy it is
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 65/65
Coffee tastes :  a little on the strong bitter side which I like 🙂

Wawee coffee is a coffee chain in Thailand and boasts many locations in the country and about 10 in the Chiang Mai area itself. The one I like and where this article was written is this location.

We love this place because it’s opened early while most cafés open around 10. So it’s perfect for an early bird like me. It’s also set in a little boutique shop complex and has a 7-11 close by.

#3
Rustic & Blue (back room area)

Opens at: 8:30 AM – 10 PM
WiFi: Strong
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 70/95
Coffee tastes : Good – western, farm to table style

This place has great coffee and WiFi, but be warned that they charge western prices – we always end up spending way too much money here.We like to camp out in the back separate air-conditioned section of the place where there are large tables and it’s quieter, but the usually close this section off by 2PM.

If you’re craving some farm to table type of food, this is the place for you.

#4
UResto&Liqour

Opens at : 8.30 AM till late 
WiFi : Always strong because it’s usually empty.
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 65/75 (50/60 on special at time of writing). 
Coffee taste : Depends on the barista, the guy in the morning is a really good barista and then the coffee is shit not as good after he leaves.

Finally, I need to mention this place because it is completely off the radar due to its misleading name.I spent many, many hours working here because the place is modern, spacious and open (a little quirky Thai style decor here and there) but it was usually quiet with no customers and thus the WiFi was amazing.

Sometimes the staff play the music a little loud but you can tell them to turn it down a little.

You also get a loyalty card and stamps for every coffee and food dish ordered which is really nice touch. The food available here is local Thai and costs about 40 baht for the typical Stir Fried Basil Dish, 10 baht more for a fried egg. 65 baht big bottles of Chang are also nice way to end the work day.

#5
Ab Petite Cafe

Opens at: 11AM – 8PM (closed on Tuesdays)
WiFi: Medium, can be patchy in the afternoons
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 40/55
Coffee tastes : Drinkable

Popular with Japanese expats (they also offer menus in Japanese), Ab Petite is a cutesy cafe that is spacious and reasonable. Best to work on articles here for a few hours. They also serve food at reasonable prices.


Although working from my apartment is do-able and cheaper…I know myself. And if I’m left to my devices in my apartment, I tend to procrastinate more, watch movies or paint my nails.

So going to a cafe forces me to put 4 hours aside for pure productiveness, then I usually go for food. And then rinse and repeat.

Happy working everyone!

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Worthy Mentions that Didn’t Make the Cut

ALEXA Hostel

top cafe chiang mai work digital nomad
This didn’t make my list because it didn’t match my criteria of needing to be air-conditioned, but it’s really nice to work here in the mornings and on cooler days. Large tables and clean minimalist surroundings allow for a good flow of chi, ideas and work to be done in this space. There is always a western manager around keeping an eye on things and they give you a loyalty card for coffee as well. Coffee prices are 65 for Americano or cappuccino.

No. 39 Cafe

This cafe is hidden near the foothills of Doi Suthep and doesn’t have that much of a working area but the grounds are really unique and relaxing. Look, so pretty!

top cafe chiang mai work digital nomad

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Adventures in Thailand, travel

Koh Chang to Phnom Penh by Minibus

In this blog post, I will cover the following :

1) How much it costs
2) Where to get the tickets
3) How long the total journey is
4) What to expect

Intro

I had to do another visa run to re-stamp my 6-month visa and Cambodia is the closest country to do it. I like visa runs, they give me an excuse to travel somewhere new for a few days, and Koh Chang is super close to Cambodia, so that’s where I usually go. I did Koh Chang – Siem Reap twice already, and this time I wanted to do Phnom Penh.

I’ve always postponed Phnom Penh because I knew it would make my stomach crawl when I saw Tuol Sleng (S21) and the Killing Fields. I just knew it. And it did. But we’re here to talk about the journey itself. So let’s get started.

How much is the ticket?

700 Baht – because there aren’t (many) scams at this border (Had Lek / Koh Rong), they won’t go lower than 700 baht.

Where to get the tickets?

You can get them at any tour company kiosk on the island.

They usually will go through Virak Buntham or Rith Mony bus company. If you live on the isolated East Coast Koh Chang, you can call the company I used, Monday Tour which uses Virak Buntham +66 81 863 8144 and get your hotel to drop you off at the Centrepoint pier by 8AM.

How long is the total journey?

Approximately 12-13 hours.

I left the pier at 8 AM and was in my guesthouse in Phnom Penh by about 8:30 PM.

The travel agents will say 8, but it’s not. Google maps direct travel is about 8 hours and 40 minutes door-to-door, so it can’t possibly be 8. It’s 12. Then add an extra 3 hours for waiting around for the ferry, border crossing/immigration, and changing buses (twice)

The minivans start the pickups around 7 or 7:30, depending on where you stay. You get on the ferry around 8.30 AM.

What to expect?

A long journey, lots of waiting and some gross toilets.

Our minivan actually arrived at the pier well before noon. I speak Thai and the Thai driver told me the bus to Phnom Penh doesn’t leave till 1PM and to take my time and have some lunch. But then comes a hustler from the Cambodian side rushing towards us and wrangling everyone towards the border telling them the bus is leaving to get them to hurry.

After immigration, the (obviously commissioned) hustlers will wrangle you into little shop lots with plastic chairs that try to sell you sim cards, snacks and drinks. I got a myself a Cambodian sim card for 200 baht (normal price and always a must for me). But that’s not where they make their money. The shop owner will tell you that the bus leaves at 2PM and you need to wait 2 hours there unless you get a shared taxi, which is also a feasible plan if you want to get into PP fast.

I wanted to see my 700 baht ticket through, so I waited. I decided to ditch the uncomfortable shop lot in the heat and went to have a surprisingly really good lunch at Niche Cafe which was air-conditioned. Food was reasonably priced here for 200 baht. The shop hustler was not too happy about it, but I got back by 1PM and it was fine.

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The bus left at 1PM after the passengers piled on and headed westward. Note that most passengers from Koh Chang head to Sihanoukville and Koh Rong so you will be sharing the same bus with them until the road splits, one going south towards the islands and the other north towards Phnom Penh.

We got dropped off just before the road split at a shop and waited for what felt like an hour. We had to cross the highway and get on a bus packed full of locals and farang finally heading to Phnom Penh, finally reaching Phnom Penh late into the evening around 8PM.

From the bus station, I split a tuk tuk with an old French artist man for about $3/person. reaching my guesthouse at 8:30.

Other Ways

Check out another post on this topic which explains a more comfortable and easier (also more expensive) way to get to Phnom Penh.

 

Adventures in Thailand, how to, lifestyle, travel

Learning Thai Massage at Wat Po Thai Traditional Massage

Why I chose Wat Pho Massage School

After leaving Koh Chang, I headed to Bangkok and chose to study thai massage at the world renown Wat Pho massage school.

The #1 reason I chose this place instead of other schools in Chiang Mai is due to their deep rooted history and their accreditation.

Wat Pho is the birthplace of Thai Massage. Thai massage is said to have come from, or rather, inspired by the yogic asanas and Ayuvedic principles from India – which is why I have interest in Thai Massage. It is not relaxing form of massage, at times it can be slightly uncomfortable. It focuses more on the acupressure points of the body to form to release muscle tension or pain.

Wat Po was 1 of the 3 schools listed in Bangkok as being accredited with the National Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC). One of other schools was Phussapa Thai Massage running fix course schedules from Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., alternate weeks. I like Phussapa and being Japanese-run, I think it would have had a more efficient way of running things, but it was more expensive at 12,000 baht, compared to Wat Pho at 9,500 baht. The other accredited schools were mostly in Chiang Mai with prices from around 6,000 baht and up, Sunshine being one of the top choices. Check if your school is accredited with NHPC.

Additional reasons why I chose Wat Pho were based on schedule flexibility. They have courses for General Thai Massage every single day 9-4, you just show up at 8:30 in the morning, register and pay.

I found hostel accommodation on Samsen 2 (near Khaosan Road) called Glory Hostel for about 200 baht a night and it cost merely 7 baht/day for my bus ride to and fro Wat Pho on Bus 53. The hostel was clean and tidy, albeit a little cramped as most hostels in Khaosan are, but the staff were super friendly and helpful. It is within walking distance to Wat Pho too, if you would like to stroll about 30 minutes each day.

Finding the Wat Pho Massage School

So recently, as of November 2015, I realized during my research that the location of the massage school was quite ambiguous, with Google Maps showing 2 locations. And I know people have been going there for years and locals will just give you instructions on how to get there. But let’s put a map to it.

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Basically, you will first have to go to the (1) administration office to first to get registered. It’s right down the alley where the yellow building is.

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You’ll need 3 passport sized photos – if you don’t have the photos right away they can be taken later by the 7-Eleven close by for 200 baht and they give you 12 photos! Once you are all registered, they will send you upstairs for “orientation” which is basically watching a video that explains the origin of Thai Massage. In the afternoon, you will move buildings down the street (2) at where the rest of your course will be held.

Reusi Dat Ton classes at the eastern of the temple grounds in front of the massage parlour is (3) every morning 8 – 8:30 then followed by my own gentle yoga practice. It is open to public and I practiced here every morning.

Overall Experience 

My overall experience was pretty good. I like learning and that’s key to any experience I believe. There are no real bad experiences, only lessons to be learned. I also met a really cool Japanese guy living in America who had a sense of humour and made the experience a fun one.

The only complain I have is that our main teacher well wasn’t very interested in her job. On Day 1, a girl from my group that talked to much decided to ask for private lessons at her 5-star hotel. And thus, favouritism began in the class. Also, our teacher played with her telephone more than the others and had visitors throughout the day coming in to do business with her. I believe it was some sort of furniture building business because a guy came in one day with measurements of tables and handed her money. She left it up to other teachers to step in to show us the techniques in a more professional manner. If you are picky about teachers like I am, you can request for Pi Thip (the one I liked best) or the Indian Thai lady teach whose name escapes me. Request to start on the day that they start teaching Day 1, then they will be your main teacher for the rest of the course.