Quick facts about Thailand
Thailand, officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia located at the center of Mainland Southeast Asia. It shares borders with Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
Thailand is a long-time favorite for many digital nomads, ex-pats, or anyone looking to visit Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Thailand is a magical country with tropical jungles, chaotic cities, and stunning beaches.
If you’re looking for a new destination, Thailand is the place for you.
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Living in Thailand as a digital nomad
Thailand offers a unique lifestyle to digital nomads. This country is no stranger to remote workers.
In fact, the city of Chiang Mai is known as the Digital Nomad capital of the world. Many nomads come for the low cost of living, fast internet, great food scene, cafes and coworking spaces, and the nearby airport with excellent connections.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped digital nomads from traveling to Thailand, but with borders reopening, many nomads and ex-pats are flocking back.
Attractions and best places to visit
The most attractive place is Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city. It is known for having a cosmopolitan feel and vibrant street life.
Bangkok is very different from the rest of the country. The city is full of skyscrapers, very different from the temples and palaces around Thailand. The city’s heart is on the water, with many canals networking throughout the neighborhoods.
Bangkok is famous for its many shopping centers, fantastic street food, and vibrant nightlife. There are also many traditional floating markets and outdoor markets that offer a unique experience of food and other local trinkets.
Misty, jungly mountains surround Chiang Mai. It is one of the best destinations for travelers looking for something different. Chiang Mai has ancient constructions, tropical rainforests, and hill trekking.
You can check out Doi Inthanon National Park, which is part of the Himalayan mountain range. There are many remote villages and stunning viewpoints.
Phuket is the place to go if you’re looking for beaches. Phuket is located on the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It is home to the country’s most visited beaches.
You can visit the following beaches:
Kata Noi beach
Nai Harn Beach
Thailand is a beautiful country, full of many religious and academic landmarks. Spread all over the country. We recommend you visit these sites:
Wat Pho – in Bangkok, the oldest and largest Buddhist temple.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep – in Chiang Mai, a Theravada Buddhist temple.
Dragon Cave – in Phang Nga, meditation chambers in the mountains.
Doi Inthanon – in Ban Luang, Thailand’s highest peak.
Digital Nomad Hotspots
Chiang Mai is the most popular destination for digital nomads. It has many coworking spaces and digital nomad communities. They even have educational courses on how to become a digital nomad!
Bangkok is another popular destination for digital nomads. Even though it is the most expensive city in Thailand, it is still an excellent destination for digital nomads looking for city life. Bangkok is becoming a digital nomad hotspot due to its comfortable condos, efficient public transportation, and many up-and-coming neighborhoods.
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Cost of Living
Living in Thailand is very affordable, and market prices are similar to the US, with some minor differences.
Even though Bangkok is the most expensive destination in the country, it is still relatably affordable compared to the cost of living in the US.
One-bedroom apartment in the city center – $350/month
Three-bedroom apartment in the city center – $530/month
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $2
Combo meal at a fast food restaurant – $6
One-Ride ticket $0.50 – $1.90
24 hours of unlimited rides – $4.50
30GB for 30 days – $17
20GB for 16 days – $8
5GB for 7 days – $6
Digital Nomad Essentials
Thailand has the seventh fastest fixed internet speed. Their average is 206.81 Mbps. In the big cities, you’ll find many cafes, restaurants, and bars that offer free wifi. Additionally, purchasing mobile data is the best way to stay connected at all times.
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The Thai government announced they have plans to create a digital nomad visa. Before the pandemic, most digital nomads used the 60-day tourist visa, with the possibility to extend another 30 days.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a full stop to all digital nomads wishing to visit Thailand. At the start of 2020, it was impossible to enter the country and later became only possible via expensive hotel quarantine schemes.
The pandemic resulted in Thailand’s tourism industry suffering a lot. The Thai government hopes to re-activate the tourism industry and help the economy by welcoming more visitors in 2022 and the future.
This potential impact is why they launched Thailand’s Smart Visa. The government introduced this visa to attract a highly skilled workforce, investors, executives, and startup entrepreneurs wishing to work or invest in targeted industries in the Kingdom of Thailand. In addition, the Smart Visa will grant up to 4-year permission to stay in Thailand.
To be a work-from-Thailand professional, you need to have earned $80,000/year, or at least two years (there are some exceptions, of course). You must also have at least five years of experience and work for a company with at least $150 million in revenue over three years.
There are five types of Smart Visa:
Smart T (Talent)
Smart I (Investor)
Smart E (Executive)
Smart S (Startup)
Smart O (Other)
However, if this visa does not work for you, you can still enter Thailand as a digital nomad with a tourist visa or a long stay visa.
Citizen Remote has a broad range of resources to assist with the exciting process of relocating to another country!
Who Can Apply for the Digital Nomad Visa for Thailand
The Smart Visa is only available to specific target industries. They are the following:
- Next-Generation Automotive
- Affluent, Medical, and Wellness Tourism
- Agriculture and Biotechnology
- Aviation and Logistics
- Biofuels and Biochemicals
- Medical Hub
- Smart Electronics
- Food for the Future
- Automation and Robotics
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Human Resource Development in Science and Technology
- Environmental Management and Renewable Energy
Since there are five different types of Smart Visas, each has different requirements.
Smart T (Talent)
Experts in science and technology
Have a monthly salary of 100,000 baht ($2760 approximately)
Have an employment contract with a one-year expiration date
Working in the companies in the targeted industry
Smart I (Investor)
A direct investment of at least 20 million baht
Applicants must be in the targeted sectors and invest in enterprises that use technology in producing or delivering services.
Smart E (Executive)
Holders with bachelor’s degrees or above with at least ten years of work experience
Have a monthly salary of 200,000 baht ($5500 approximately)
Employment contract with a one-year expiration date
Being in the targeted sectors and working with organizations that use technology in producing or delivering services.
Smart S (Startup)
A deposit of 6000,000 baht ($165,560 approximately) that has been retained for at least three months
Participating in an endorsed incubator, accelerator, or similar program or a joint venture with/or receiving an endorsement from a relevant government agency.
Within one year, you must either establish a firm in one of the selected industries in Thailand with at least 25% ownership or become a board member.
Smart O (Other)
This visa is exclusive to the legal dependents of the primary Smart Visa holders. Any spouses or kids must apply for this visa.
How to Apply for the Thailand Digital Nomad Visa
The first step is to apply online. You must submit your application on this website.
The next step is to have qualifications according to the criteria specified by the office of the Board of Investment.
Once their qualification has been verified, you will receive technical and non-technical endorsements. Then, the SMART Visa unit will issue a letter of qualification endorsement, which the applicant will bring to the Royal Thai Embassies or Royal Consulates to file for a SMART Visa.
Once you get a result of the qualification endorsement, you must make a Smart visa issuance appointment at this website.
When you attend your appointment, you must show all the required documents filled out and signed.
Once your visa is approved, you must pay the visa fee per person before collecting your new visa. In addition, you can collect the visa at the Immigration at OSS in Thailand, the Thai embassy, or the consulate closest to you.
Anyone who wishes to extend their visa must apply for a renewal of qualification endorsement at Smart Visa Extension at least 60 days before the expiry of the SMART Visa.
Documents required to apply for the digital nomad visa in Thailand
When you attend your Smart visa issuance appointment, have all the required documents.
Passport with copies
Valid notification Letter from the Board of Investment to the Immigration Bureau
TM. 90 form printed out on both sides.
Two copies of the STM.6 Form printed out on both sides.
The acknowledgment form of penalties for a visa overstay printed on one-sided paper.
The acknowledgment form of practices for recipients of Smart visa printed on one-sided paper.
One passport size photo (4 cm x 6 cm)
How much does it cost?
The Smart Visa processing fee is approximately 10,000 Baht ($2760) per year for visa permission.
Timeline for Applying
The processing time for the Smart visa is approximately 30 working days. Once your visa has been approved, you must collect your visa within 60 days.
Taxes for Thailand digital nomad visa
If you stay in Thailand for less than six months, you will not need to pay any taxes. In addition, if you work for a business outside of Thailand, you won’t be required to pay taxes.
However, if you receive the Smart visa and stay in Thailand for more than six months, you must file and pay taxes. If your income is greater than $140,000, then you’ll have a lower tax rate. You’ll only need to pay 17% instead of the usual 35%.