News & Events
Running A Remote Business From Thailand: 14 Things You Need to Know
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the kinds of things you can do when you can work from anywhere.
The basic jist is that I woke up feeling house-bound and stuck and by the time I went to bed, I’d booked tickets to Thailand. In between then and now, I’ve lived in three different houses in two different cities, and landed my fat arse in Phuket.
Travelling between cities on ferry’s, longboats, and minivans and living in everything from dirt cheap bungalows to fancy resorts, eating all the different kinds of noodles I could ever dream of, and sweating more than I thought possible, I’ve learned one very incredible lesson:
The most important one for you is: You can live like a king for less than US$2000 a month in this tropical paradise.
Just to illustrate what I’m talking about, this is a picture of the place I’m sitting to write this article.
This is a 50 meter walk from the front door of my US$20 / night (600 Baht), air conditioned hotel room. I’m sipping on my US$1.33 (40 Baht) fresh watermelon juice while I wait for my US$2.33 (70 Baht) 3 egg omelette to arrive.
After working through the morning and going for a swim at lunch, I’ll probably get US$2.33 plate of noodles for lunch and splurge on a US$3.33 stir-fry for dinner.
Throw in a few US$0.30 1 litre bottles of water and all up, my day has cost me a grand total of $30.
If you throw in the occasional adventure and a few beers (Try deep water soloing – Look it up. Or you can see a picture of me doing it here) and average the cost out over the month, you can live very well here for less than US$2000 a month.
Think about that for a second. How much less is that than what you’re spending right now?
- How much are you paying a month in rent? Is it more than US$600? If so, that’s more than it’ll cost you to live here.
- How much are you spending on food? Is it more than US$10 / day? If so, that’s more than it’ll cost you to live here.
Living in paradise isn’t expensive, you just need a location independent income stream and a fondness for Thai noodles and you’ll be right.
But this wasn’t the only lesson I learned. There are plenty more things about Thailand that I wish I knew before I got here.
Here are the top 14:
1. It’s hot. And Humid.
I read about this but I really wasn’t prepared for it. Yes, the heat was expected, but the humidity??
I’ve been in Sauna’s less humid than this.
I was sitting on my balcony at 5am (thanks jetlag), trying to bang out an article, and I had to keep wiping the screen because the humidity was pixelating the screen and I couldn’t read what I was writing.
2. Meals are cheap but small
You can get a plate of delicious Thai noodles for between $1.50 and $3 (45 to 90 Baht) but if you’re used to eating anything close to western sized meals, you’ll need to eat 2 or maybe 3 to feel full.
This has meant that I’m spending about the same amount of food in Thailand as I was in Australia.
3. ‘Smoothie’ means ‘Frappe’
When you see a sign for a mango smoothie, don’t be worried that you’re going to be drinking reconstituted milk that’s been sitting in the tropical Thai heat for the last 6 hours.
That’s what I did and missed out on all these delicious and refreshing treats.
‘Smoothie’ in Thailand means delicious fruit frappe made with blended fruit and ice.
If you’re looking after your diet and don’t want to be eating too much refined sugar, just add pineapple to the juice. They’re super sweet over here and will make any drink tasty.
4. Tourists from EVERYWHERE
One of the big issues I had with travelling around Bali was that it felt like Australia. Without having exact statistics, I would guess that 80% of tourists were from Australia and 90% spoke English.
It felt more like I’d gone to the Gold Coast than to another country.
Thailand is VERY different.
I’d guess that about 10% of tourists I’ve met have been Australian and less than 30% have English as their first language. It’s a very diverse tourist mix which means you get to meet and mix with a very diverse group of people.
This is what you get with it being halfway between Europe and Australia.
There’s plenty to learn from them and plenty of knowledge to gain.
5. Internet is EVERYWHERE
If you’re going to run an online business, you need to be online. This is pretty obvious.
What was not so obvious from the guides I read about Thailand was how easy getting online was going to be.
It turns out that it’s not hard at all.
WiFi is everywhere and for the cost of a plate of noodles (around 70 Baht), you can sit in most café’s and use their WiFi till your heart’s content.
The speed is good enough for Skype and other online chatting software and will let you get to your emails and make site updates without too many issues.
If you have a smartphone, you can also buy monthly unlimited internet packages for your phone for 700 baht.
6. Most signs are in English… and Greek!
Thailand is under no misconception that tourism plays a large role in their economy.
To make the life of this massive contributor to their GDP, most street and shop signs are in English.
What was more surprising was that in Patong, one of the major tourist areas on the island of Phuket, most signs were in Greek as well!
Maybe it’s where a lot of them fled when the Greek economy started to collapse… Who knows? It was a little weird though.
7. Accommodation is CHEAP
When I travel to a new country, I like to have the first few nights of accommodation booked before I land. I find it allows me to get settled and gives me the space to focus on other things – like getting an internet connection up and running.
Before we left for Thailand, I jumped on AirBNB.com and grabbed a $15 a night (around 450 baht)deal at one of the local hotels in Patong. I expected to get what I paid for – cheap, rough, and simple.
I was very surprised.
The hotel was new, the room was clean, the staff was great, and the amenities were excellent.
The only issue was that they didn’t have their own internet connection and we had to log into the neighbouring hotel’s WiFi but that was it. Everything else was great.
Our $20 (around 600 Baht) a night place on Phi Phi island was (a LOT) noisier than we wanted but the room itself was still great.
We’re currently paying $33 (1000 Baht) a night at Railay Beach for a room with two double beds and that includes a full buffet breakfast.
You can certainly pay $300/night for a fancy hotel but there’s definitely no need to.
8. You can eat the street food
Before we left Australia, I was warned that if I ate the street food, I’d get sick. This meant I stayed away from all the delicious looking charcoal grilled chicken for the first three days.
After this, I got over it and started eating everything I wanted.
What a great idea! Delicious food at cheap prices.
And funnily enough, the only time I’ve had issues with my stomach was from eating food from one of the fancier restaurants we’ve been too…
So, don’t listen to anyone. You can eat the street food. Obviously, you have to be careful and vigilant and not eat anything that looks dodgy but if you exercise any degree of common sense, you’ll be fine.
9. Bottled water is cheap
Given that it’s not safe to drink the local water, I expected the prices of bottled water to be through the roof.
Turns out it isn’t.
You can get a 1 litre bottle of water for $0.30 (10 Baht) and an 8 litre bottle for $1.50 (45 Baht).
10. Sunscreen isn’t.
Water might be cheap but if you need sunscreen, be prepared to pay for it. Store owners know that the only people buying Sunscreen are rich tourists who’ve paid $1000+ dollars for their flight and can afford to pay for sunscreen.
In a tourist area, you can expect to pay $10 (300 Baht) for a tube of sunscreen so small you could take it on an international flight and not have to worry about getting it confiscated.
It’s not uncommon to see the bigger bottles for between $20 and $30 (600 to 900 Baht).
If your skin is any lighter than the dark depths of space, I HIGHLY recommend you grab sunscreen before you leave.
11. No waves
If you’ve seen the incredible photo’s of waves in Indonesia and are expecting the same kind of watery adventures in Thailand, you’ll be extremely disappointed.
My swim in a local ocean POOL had more swell and larger waves than any of the beaches I’ve been at in Thailand.
If you’re looking for surf, stay in Indonesia. Thailand has nothing to offer you.
12. You can haggle, but you don’t need to
One of the first lessons I learned in Bali was that the locals could spot a tourist from miles away and all they saw was money bags. As soon as they realised that you weren’t a local, the price increased by 5x.
This is what I expected when I landed in Bali and surprisingly, I was COMPLETELY incorrect.
Yes, there are always going to be people who’re going to try and rip you off, but from what I’ve seen, the majority of people will quote you the actual price for anything you ask about.
The prices for travelling around Thailand? They’re usually fixed prices and the same at every travel store you go to.
Taxi and TukTuk fares? Ask three different drivers and you’ll usually get the same price.
There will be some room to haggle (you might be able to knock 10% – 20% off the price) but in most situations, they’ll stick to their guns.
13. Massages are cheap
One hour Thai massage? $6.90 (200 Baht) please.
14. Renting a scooter is the cheapest way to travel
You can rent a scooter for US$5 (150 Baht) a day. That’s about the same price as two plates of noodles.
If you’re going to be staying for a long time, you can talk them down to US$50 (1500 Baht) a month without too much trouble.
That’s how you live like a king in a tropical paradise for less than $2000 a month. Get your online company up and running and move to Thailand.
You won’t regret it.