asian cities for nomads

Best Asian cities for digital nomads according to travel bloggers

Reader Mail: Dear Trisha, I have been following you since your South America days. I love all your honest content! I have been living vicariously through you but now I feel it’s time to make my own journey but I want to start small which is in my home in Asia. What are the best Asian cities for digital nomads? In your experience, what is the best? Where should I start? I have a lot of questions so thank you for answering. I hope you answer! Thank you in advance!

This post was last updated on January 2, 2021.

If there’s one continent that is being flocked by digital nomads from all over the world, it’s Asia. The cost of living is cheap, people are extremely welcoming and of course, the food is great! In my opinion, Asia is the best pick if you are a first-time digital nomad venturer. It will be easier for you to adjust and it can open new opportunities – everyone is here!

Travel blogging as a full-time job requires the constant moving around and the endless search for a steady Internet connection that will sustain our work on the road. In this post, travel bloggers have suggested the best Asian cities for digital nomads but don’t be confused with the numbers.

Best Asian cities for digital nomads: about the list

I’ve traveled all over Asia and I am quite knowledgeable about which Asian cities are best for digital nomads. However, in this post, I’ve got a little help from my travel blogger friends who are also experts in being digital nomads. All of them have lived in Asia extensively so it’s great to have different opinions from others.

I am sure you’ll love their blogs but if you have any questions about starting your life as a digital nomad in Asia, these are the right people to contact!

Here are the best Asian cities for digital nomads according to professional travel bloggers!

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#1: Chiang Mai, Thailand

by Nathan Aguilera, Foodie Flashpacker

Chiang Mai, Thailand is a famous hub for digital nomads for good reason. A low cost of living, high quality of life, and super-fast internet at some of the best prices anywhere in the world make it many people’s go-to choice for starting out as a digital nomad. It is one of the best places to work remotely because there are also tons of coworking spaces or cafes to work from, weekly nomad meetups and someone is always organizing some type of day trip or weekend event. It makes for great networking.

Related: The digital nomad guide to Koh Phangan, Thailand

Chiang Mai has been a digital nomad hub for the last 3 years.

Also, as a foodie- Thailand has some of the best food in the world at incredible prices. You can have a delicious meal for less than $1 USD or treat yourself to a designer brunch for about $6. For anyone interested in an amazing city with a great support network at incredibly affordable prices Chiang Mai should be at the top of your list!

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#2: Bangkok, Thailand

by Claudia Tavani,  My Adventures Across the World

I didn’t spend too long in Bangkok, but I found it to be a great place to hang out. There are a lot of things to do in Bangkok, and it may well be one of the best cities in Asia to live as a digital nomad. Internet is easily available in a lot of places, and it works better than in most places in Asia. The cost of living is incredibly cheap – rent for under $300 per month for a really good place; food for more than reasonable prices.

See also: Bangkok 5-days itinerary

asian cities for digital nomads

Transportation works well, with a state of the art metro system and lots of tuk tuk and taxis (and uber as well). There are plenty of gyms to work out (and lots of condo buildings have their own pool and gym anyway) and there are lots of good co-working places. And if one is really stuck for inspiration and needs a break, the cat cafés around town always help relax.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#3: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

by Hanna Sobczuk, Hanna Travels

When I arrived in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) the first time, I’ve heard a lot of opinions from backpackers that there’s nothing interesting here. How good I didn’t listen to them! It turned out that HCMC is a perfect place for digital nomads.

Related: Solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh City

best asian cities for digital nomads

The city has a great coffee culture (hello, we’re in Vietnam!) and one can find here plenty of interesting coffee shops, restaurants, and places to go out. Wi-Fi is stable and quite fast. And it’s really cheap to live here, which is most important for all digital nomads.

However, there are some challenges, too. First of all, the language is very difficult and not many people speak English but society really wants to improve. (That’s why you can easily find a job as an English teacher and earn some extra money!) Another challenge is driving a scooter in the city. Saigon’s traffic is a hustle and bustle but driving your own bike gives you freedom!

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#4: Jeju Island, South Korea

by Kisty Mea, Let’s Go Wander

Jeju Island is a volcanic island located 130 km off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. The island is dubbed as the ‘Hawaii of Asia ‘for its volcanic formation and lava tubes. Jeju Island is a terrific place for digital nomads mainly for three things: Superb internet speed (I once downloaded a bunch of series for less than 10 minutes!), beautiful views (three are UNESCO Heritage Sites, and a field of canola flowers!), and strong coffee culture.

best asian cities for digital nomads

Not to mention, Korean beauty skincare is cheap and there are a lot of places to eat kimchi and other delicacies. Although English is not a common language in Jeju City, the capital of this province, a lot of restaurants offer English menus and the people are very accommodating.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#5: Phuket, Thailand

by Sarah-Jane Edwards, Not Another Travel Blog

It took a bit of searching for us to find the perfect place to base ourselves in Thailand but when we finally decided on Phuket it turned out to be a great decision. Rent is super cheap and we were able to get a modern, well-equipped one-bedroom apartment for just $350 USD including fast wifi and all bills.

The wifi was a particular bonus, boasting speeds of over 10MB, which made it easy for me (as a writer) and my partner (a web developer) to stay productive. The cheap cost of living in Phuket also stretches to transportation, food, and entertainment.

best asian cities for digital nomads

Costs aside, we loved that Phuket had plenty to do. Unlike Chiang Mai, our second choice, it has beautiful beaches to explore. Most have plenty of cafes and bars as well so if you want to work in a more scenic location it’s easy to do so. There are also a couple of good-sized towns if you’re looking to meet people and work in a more social environment. Phuket Town, in particular, is full of gorgeous architecture with old streets lined with colorful houses, many of which have been transformed into digital nomad friendly restaurants and cafes.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#6: Daegu, South Korea

by Lindsay Mickles, The Never Ending Wanderlust 

Daegu is a fantastic choice for digital nomads. I lived there for 2.5 years and highly recommend it. The internet is fast, the cost of living is cheap, and the city has plenty of options to keep you entertained. Daegu has a local airport, access to high-speed and local trains, and the inter-city bus system is fantastic. Within the city, there are 2 subway lines, a monorail line, and a very thorough bus network.

asia digital nomad countries

One of the things I like best about Daegu is that the city does its very best to share its culture with visitors and expats alike. I was fortunate enough to take part in several Korean cooking and traditional art classes at the local YMCA. The only negatives are that it is the hottest city in the country (a bit brutal in summer) and some of the elderly population aren’t too excited to have foreigners in their city. Other than those small things, Daegu is a great choice and a wonderful home base to explore the country and neighboring cities!

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#7: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

by Dave Jones, Jones Around the World

When it comes to digital nomad hotspots, there are tons of good options to be found around South-East Asia. When I based myself in Kuala Lumpur on/ off for about a year, and it slowly became one of my favorite cities in Asia! The food is absolutely amazing, the rent was extremely cheap (even for a luxury condo rental), and you can find just about anything else you’re looking for. That’s why it’s one of the best countries for expats to work!

You may also like: How to make Malaysia your base

asia digital nomad countries

There is a large ex-pat community, surprisingly great nightlife, and excellent travel options from KLIA Airport. Traveling Malaysia is one of my best memories while in South-East Asia, and I’m definitely planning on moving back to Kuala Lumpur again sometime in the future.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#8: Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

by Barbara Riedel, Barbalicious

I spent one month in the beautiful and vibrant Balinese surfer town of Canggu this year. It’s one of Asia’s hotspots for digital nomads. It’s a perfect place to begin as either a nomad or anyone searching for a strong community, great places to work, such as co-working spaces and cafés, and the possibility to live with like-minded people or online-entrepreneurs in a coliving space or villa.

See also: How to become a digital nomad in 2021

best cities in asia for digital nomads

Wi-Fi was mostly strong and great for work. But in the worst case, I could use my hotspot: In a country where you pay 10 USD for a sim card with 35 GB – you don’t need to worry about that! But my favorites were being able to go to the beach whenever I want and the sunsets! That’s what’s giving me the perfect work-life-balance.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#9: Shanghai, China

Alexandrea Here, They Get Around

Shanghai is a great place to live as a digital nomad – there’s a thriving ex-pat scene, tons of western food choices, and impressive nightlife. Shanghai is a massive city and you’ll find heaps of other ex-pats here who are either working as teachers or are digital nomads. Internet connections are pretty good and there are heaps of co-working spaces such as Naked Hub, Link Place, and Regus Jinmao (all open 24 hours).

asia digital nomad

Unfortunately, costs are much more expensive than living in one of the smaller, neighboring cities. However, with the price tag, you do get to live with a lot of western comforts that you will struggle to find (with as much choice) elsewhere in China. There are also a ton of day trips from Shanghai that you can take when you need a break, such as the nearby water towns or scenic cities such as Hangzhou.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#10: Singapore

Callan Wienburg, Singapore N Beyond

While there’s a lot do to in Singapore, especially for foodies, digital nomads may find it a bit stressful. It is expensive, the wifi is limited and you may get looks of disapproval when spending over 2 hours in a café. It’s surprising that some coffee shops in this amazing first world connected city still lack internet. That being said, there are some great little hotspots that have both free (and fairly fast) wifi and power sockets like Kith, the Daily Coffee, and Working Title. My favorite digital nomad spot is the Book Café near Robertson Quay as they cater to our kind of lifestyle. There have various power sockets, both inside and outside, the ambiance is great, wifi fast and the staff is super accommodating.

cities in asia digital nomad

There are also numerous workspaces, but again, they are quite pricey, such as S$250 for five days. Yet, if you do some free activities, travel on the super-efficient and convenient public transportation, and eat Hawker Centre food (around S$3-6 per meal) you’ll have an awesome time.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#11: Hangzhou, China

by Helen Anglin, Bristolian Backpacker

Hangzhou isn’t a hot spot for digital nomads due to the Great Firewall of China. However, once you get past the Great Firewall of China (buy a good VPN, I recommend Express), being a digital nomad in Hangzhou is excellent. Internet speed can vary but in our flat it was excellent.

best asian cities for digital nomads

The cost of living is low, especially if you stick to a Chinese diet, though there are a few good (and pricier) spots for Western food too. There is a plethora of Starbucks which is great for working, but my favorite work spot is Tous Les Jours, a “French” café (which is actually part of a South Korean chain) serving some great sweet treats and providing good wifi.

If you’re traveling to Hangzhou, there are lots to see and do there. Be sure to learn some Mandarin as English isn’t spoken as widely here as in Shanghai or Beijing.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#12: Seoul, South Korea

by Barbara Wagner, Jet-Settera

Seoul is the perfect place for digital nomads because it is modern and fast Internet is accessible everywhere. Incheon Airport of Seoul has one of the best wifi out of all the airports I have visited lately. On the streets of Seoul, a good wi-fi connection is also accessible. The Internet pretty fast. (99 MBPS).

best asian cities for digital nomads

Monthly living expenses are around $1600. A great thing about Seoul is that it is one of the best places to live in Asia for expats because it’s perfectly safe, people speak English. Locals are friendly and welcoming and public transportation is great! There are plenty of good cafes to get work done.

There are plenty of co-working spaces, such as the Hive Arena Coworking Space and the Imagebakery Coworking space. Cafes like Tom N Tom Coffee, Paul Bassett in GangNam or Bread & Co are great places to work. You can also find themed cafes such as Hello Kitty Cafe or Cat Cafe as well as Lego Cafe.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#13: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

by Stefan and Sebastien, Nomadic Boys

During our travels in Asia, we always sought out a home “base” somewhere. This was usually Bangkok, but we found Phnom Penh to be a better alternative. It’s even more affordable than Bangkok with an excellent internet connection and for us, a really cool gay scene.

best asian cities for digital nomads

We didn’t find a co-working space in Phnom Penh because we usually find an apartment on Airbnb, which is our home/work base. The most important factor, however, we always look for is internet speed and we always ensure this high before booking a place to stay so our tip is to contact the owner beforehand and ask them to confirm how many megabytes per second.

The cost of living in Phnom Penh is extremely affordable and you can easily get by spending $20-30 per person per day.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#14: Kaohsiung, Taiwan

by Lotte Eschbach, Phenomenal Globe

Chances are you have never heard of Kaohsiung. I for sure had not before I traveled to Taiwan. But I soon discovered Kaohsiung is pretty awesome! Kaohsiung is located in the Southwest of Taiwan and is the second-largest city on the island. Almost 3 million people live in Kaohsiung and its port is the largest harbor in Taiwan. Why Kaohsiung makes an excellent base for digital nomads? Multiple reasons!

The city also has an international airport (and cheap flights!) making it very easy to take a trip to other countries in the region. There are a big train and bus station in Kaohsiung, enabling you to explore other areas of Taiwan during short (weekend) trips. Getting around in the city itself is also very easy and cheap, you can either take the MRT or hop on a C-bike (Kaohsiungs public bicycle system).

best asian cities for digital nomads

Food is cheap and delicious, you can find traditional Taiwanese cuisine, Chinese food, Japanese dishes, Vietnamese restaurants, and even Canadian sandwiches. Accommodation is also not expensive, you can rent a room via Airbnb for only €250 a month!

Internet in Kaohsiung (or Taiwan in general) is the fastest I’ve ever seen. I bought a 30-day tourist SIM card (1000NT) which gave me unlimited 4G internet for the entire month. I used this SIM to create a personal hotspot and connected up to 5 devices simultaneously, without any problems!

Besides all these benefits there are also plenty of things to see and do in Kaohsiung, you can read more in this Kaohsiung itinerary.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#15: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Gianni Bianchini, Nomad Is Beautiful 

Ubud might be well-known as a detox & yoga paradise, but everyone who wishes to spend quality time in a digital nomad community in a beautiful environment and get fantastic food should draw his attention to this cozy village in Bali.

Here you can easily rent a spacious double bedroom with a private bathroom for $300 USD with Wi-Fi. If you wish for a private two bedrooms house with a pool, triple the price.

digital nomad cities asia

Regarding the internet, you’ll be on the safe side if you work in cafes or co-working spaces like HUBUD – a fantastic place for creativity. A day pass costs $20, a monthly pass with unlimited hours is $275.

Moreover, there are oodles of organic vegetarian restaurants in Ubud where you can work with your laptop. Meals are for very reasonable prices here: lunch in a local warung for 3$, or $10 for a fabulous Italian pizza.

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#16: Gwangju, South Korea

by Chris Walker-Bush, Aussie on the Road

Gwangju in South Korea’s Jeollanamdo province probably doesn’t leap out at you as a go-to digital nomad destination. It doesn’t have the cosmopolitan status of Seoul or Busan, and the entire province tends to be looked down upon by Koreans as a bit of a rural backwater.

My two and a half years living and working in Gwangju painted an entirely different picture. The fast internet, inclusive ex-pat scene, and Gwangju’s status as a transportation hub within South Korea made it a perfect base from which to work and explore.

cities in asia for digital nomads

By far the biggest selling point of Gwangju is its status as one of Korea’s most connected cities. The high-speed KTX train might be the most glamorous way of getting about, but it’s Gwangju’s massive bus terminal (once the largest in the world) that makes it a perfect base. You can get anywhere from Gwangju in just a few hours and for $10 – $30 US. Here are some of the coolest things to do in Gwangju if you want to check it out!

Best Asian Cities For Digital Nomads

#17: Cebu, Philippines

by Angeline Ibarra, Go Around Philippines

The Philippines certainly has many islands for any digital nomad to choose for a base. For someone who has been traveling as a remote worker for a few years, Cebu has ticked most of what I have been looking for in a place to be based. Cebu is an island with the second biggest city in the country. It has an international airport, big shopping malls, different kinds of restaurants and bars, and affordable apartments in the city or near the beach like Moalboal or Bantayan Island. Internet connection is stable in Cebu City as you can choose either a fiber cable or DSL connection from three different providers.

best asian cities for digital nomads

There are also free GoWifi hotspots in business areas around the city. The cost of living is somewhat more flexible with a range from $600 per month. Condos or apartments are available from $300 per month or less if you want to save. It is also cheaper to have a great nightlife in Cebu as alcoholic drinks are more affordable. Filipinos love to have fun, so you’ll find karaoke bars and restaurants with live music playing around the city too. There are many things to do in Cebu too!

On weekends, it is relatively easy to take a bus to amazing waterfalls, hop to nearby islands like Bohol or Bantayan, and even just go to the beach.

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • July 16, 2017

    Scrambling to plan the next home base in Asia. Taiwan and South Korea look very appealing!

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  • July 16, 2017

    It looks like lots of the great digital nomad destinations are in Korea. I feel like I should go back to explore more of this exciting country!

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  • July 17, 2017

    Great list! I have been to many of these cities an it always surprised me how affordable life is, even in cities like Taipei and Seoul (which reminds me: I’ve got to travel to South Korea, I’ve heard so many great things about the country!)

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  • July 17, 2017

    What an absolutely fantastic list! I’ve been thinking about moving to Asia and pursuing a full-time digital nomad lifestyle. This will definitely come in handy when choosing where I’d like to set up shop!

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  • July 17, 2017

    Great choices and beautifully structured! Good to know about all these detailed costs. If I knew it before, I would have told you to include Bishkek, as well, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. I’ve spent here almost 3 weeks now and I am very surprised by how developed it is. There are awesome wifi, endless cafés, western pubs and restaurants, people are open-minded, it’s incredibly clean and super, super cheap. You can rent a room for as cheap as 100$. I’ve met a couple of DM and they love it, especially because the international scene is increasing massively! I am seriously thinking of moving here!

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  • July 18, 2017

    It’s disappointing that none of the Indian cities could make it in this list…

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  • July 22, 2017

    So many great cities to choose from but I’d be partial to Chiang Mai. I loved my time there and the food was great! There are so many little streets to explore and the night markets are fun. Most of all, (clearly my priorities are set) Chiang Mai was where I had the best Thai massage. Living and working from Chiang Mai would be a win win!

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  • Chrysoula
    July 22, 2017

    There are so many great choices to base yourself in Asia and especially Thailand is very affordable. I love how you analyze the costs and most importantly the wi-fi connection which is so important on a job like this.

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  • July 23, 2017

    Havent been to Asia as a digital nomad but this list will come in handy if I can get rid of my ‘real job’ in London 😀 If I did, it has to be Maldives. 😀 😀 😀

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  • July 23, 2017

    I had started to notice how many digital nomads have gravitated toward Asia. After reading through the recommendations, I can certainly see why. Right now, I’d say that I’m swayed toward Phuket. The mid-level costs, decent Wi-Fi and things to see are big selling points. While I’d love to see Singapore, it feels like it might be too expensive for us to stay for long. Thanks for the breakdown!

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  • July 23, 2017

    Love this list! I feel like Thailand is a great option and Vietnam! Would love to go to both for a month each!

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  • July 24, 2017

    Trish, sometimes I feel like you can read my mind. I was looking around for a place in asia to stay for a month or two— and these are all the things I needed to know. Thank you

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  • July 25, 2017

    Unfortunately I haven’t been to any of these yet, but definitely agree that Chiang Mai is the most blogger friendly. 😉 I read about it constatnly. Great post and interesting destiantions. 😉

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  • Megan Jerrard
    July 25, 2017

    Great list! It seems like everyone’s in Chiang Mai at the moment – seems to be a pretty big digital nomad hub, and any-where in South Korea I can understand – fastest internet speeds in the world or something like that!

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  • July 26, 2017

    Great list here, looks like south Korea is winning for great wifi/internet connection

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  • July 28, 2017

    Great article! I love that you included gay friendly and female friendly in your list. That isn’t something I’ve seen much of.

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  • July 30, 2017

    What a great list ! And I love the metrics you used to based your search and answers on. I personally would probably choose Chiang Mai because I just love Thailand and think it has a great location but maybe anywhere in Bali would also work for me

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  • July 30, 2017

    I was surprised that so many places from South Korea made the list! I never thought of that country as being good for digital nomads, but why not?

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  • Rye
    July 30, 2017

    I’ve just come back from a two-week trip to Chiang Mai, and I am now in Hanoi where I’ll be staying for 6 weeks. I do agree that Chiang Mai is a perfect base for most digital nomads. It has a plethora of luxurious cafes that serve affordable coffee, and Wi-Fi is quite reliable. But I feel drawn to Daegu, Gwangju, and Kaohsiung as well. I’ll consider moving to Korea and test the waters, I suppose.

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  • July 30, 2017

    You did such a great job on this list! I always wonder why there are so many digital nomads in Asia, now I know!

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  • July 31, 2017

    I love this list. I have been to many of these places and can connect with the article immediately. Of course not all these cities are cheap

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  • July 31, 2017

    What a great list! I had heard so much about Chiang Mai as a place for digital nomads so it was cool to see some other options and suggestions as well.

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  • Candiss
    July 31, 2017

    What a great round up! All the information especially cost of living is super handy. I have many plans for digital nomad-ing so i am sure this will come in handy!

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  • August 1, 2017

    This is a perfect guide for people wanting to live remotely and be a digital nomad. I’m hoping to be referencing this list in the very near future. We’re heading to Chiang Mai in a few weeks to feel it out.

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  • August 3, 2017

    The metrics in this post are great! I need internet speed like a necessity, but other than that – freedom of speech, transport and cost of living and such important factors! I would love to live in Ubud!

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  • August 4, 2017

    Ooh this is a great guide! I’m travelling Latin America at the moment and having some major issues with wifi – so when I switch continents I’ll definitely come back to this guide to decide where to go in Asia!

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  • September 19, 2017

    This is a great list and so many cool places to base oneself. I’ve been to many of the cities mentioned in this article and I’d to say fast internet access always impressed me. I was impressed with the speed of internet in Cambodia and I loved the co-working spaces in Chiang Mai. Looking forward to getting back to Southeast Asia soon. Thanks for sharing.

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