Thailand is one of the most popular digital nomad destinations for a reason. The country boasts an exciting mix of cultural richness, tropical climate, and a welcoming environment for digital nomads. In particular, the lower cost of living and countless coworking spaces are a huge draw for digital nomads from all walks of life. I mean, who hasn’t fantasized about sipping on a coconut while working remotely from a laptop under the Thai sun, with the bustling street markets in the background?
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about the Thailand digital nomad visa. We’ll not only cover everything visa-related, but we’ll also give you a glimpse of what life looks like in Thailand by going over the pros and cons, cost of living, taxes, and more. Ready to live your best life in the Land of Smiles?
Does Thailand Have a Digital Nomad Visa?
As of now, Thailand does not have a dedicated digital nomad visa, but don’t worry! That doesn’t mean your dreams of working remotely in Thailand won’t come true. While there isn’t a specific visa tailored for digital nomads, Thailand offers alternative visas that you can apply for.
The primary visas for digital nomads in Thailand are the SMART visa and the Long Term Resident (LTR) visa.
Who Can Apply for the Thailand Digital Nomad Visa?
But, first things first, who can apply for this “digital nomad visa”? The answer to this depends on the type of visa you are applying for. But whatever digital nomad visa alternative you opt for, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- You cannot be a Thai citizen
- You must meet the criteria of the specific visa you are applying for
- You must provide documentation
Yes, we know those are all very broad claims, but we promise we’ll go over specifics depending on what you apply for!
Thailand Digital Nomad Visa Alternatives
Here are the alternative visa options digital nomads can go for in the absence of a Thailand digital nomad visa.
SMART Visa Program
Thailand’s SMART Visa program is tailored to attract investors, executives, highly skilled manpower, and startup entrepreneurs in several key industries within Thailand. Although Thailand currently doesn’t have a specific digital nomad visa, the SMART Visa can serve as an alternative for digital nomads who meet the criteria.
The targeted industries for the SMART Visa program are:
- Next-Generation Automotive
- Smart Electronics
- Affluent, Medical, and Wellness Tourism
- Agriculture and Biotechnology
- Food for the Future
- Automation and Robotics
- Aviation and Logistics
- Biofuels and Biochemicals
- Medical Hub
Interestingly, there are 5 different types of the SMART Visa. Although the application process is the same, they each have separate requirements. So, make sure you know which one you qualify for and should apply for.
SMART T (Talent) Requirements
- A work contract for at least a year with a Thai company
- A monthly salary of no less than THB 100,000 (approximately USD $2,775)
SMART S (Startup) Requirements
- For the 2-year visa: hold at least 25% of the company’s shares or be a company director, have a minimum THB 6,000,000 (approximately USD $166,500) deposit in a Thai bank account (held for 3 months), and carry health insurance
- For the 1-year visa: participation in an approved program or funding and the same financial and insurance stipulations as the 2-year visa
- For the 6-month visa: Plans endorsed by relevant agencies and health insurance for the entirety of the stay
SMART I (Investor) Requirements
- A direct investment of at least THB 20,000,000 (approximately USD $554,785)
- Invest in organizations that use technology
SMART E (Executive) Requirements
- A bachelor’s degree or above
- At least 10 years of work experience
- A monthly salary of no less than THB 200,000 (approximately USD $5,500)
- Be in the targeted sectors
SMART O (Other) Requirements
- For spouses or kids and other legal dependents of the primary SMART Visa holder
- The completed SMART Visa application
- Your current passport
- A notarized police clearance certificate from your home country
- A health certificate, no older than three months, confirming you’re free from certain major diseases
- Documentation of your educational and professional expertise (SMART T and E visa only)
- Employment contract (SMART T and E visa only)
- Evidence of past employment
- Proof of health insurance for the entire duration of your anticipated stay in Thailand (SMART S and O visa)
- Your employment and educational record.
- Submit the most recent annual report of the employing company (Not necessary for SMART O visa)
For a more detailed breakdown of the SMART Visa program, check out Thailand’s official SMART visa hub.
How to Apply for the Thailand SMART Visa: Step-by-Step Guide
The following will give you a general idea about applying for this specific visa. However, it’s worth noting that these steps can vary depending on your circumstances.
Step One: Prepare Your Documents
Create an account in the SMART visa hub. Ensure all documents are scanned, translated (if necessary), and in PDF format.
Step Two: Submit Your Documents
Once the documents are prepared, submit them through the online portal.
Step Three: Wait for an Endorsement
Receive an endorsement letter from the SMART Visa Unit after pre-qualification. This allows you to go forward with the application process.
Step Four: Book a SMART Visa Application Appointment
If endorsed, you must apply for the SMART Visa at designated points like Thai embassies, the OSS in Bangkok, or the EEC Labor Administration Center in Chonburi. You can book your appointment here.
Step Five: Meet with an Immigration Officer at Your Appointment
At your appointment, you will meet with a SMART visa employee who will walk you through the rest of the process. They will help you lodge your paperwork, get your fingerprints done, photos taken, and then you will pay the application processing fee of THB 10,000 (USD $281) per visa year (payable in cash).
Step Four: Report to the SMART Visa Unit within 30 Days of Arriving
Upon arrival in Thailand, report to the SMART Visa Unit within 30 days and then annually.
Long-Term Resident Visa (LTR)
Another great alternative to the Thailand digital nomad visa is the long-term resident (LTR) visa. Released in 2022, this 10-year visa is aimed at wealthy expats and digital nomads. The aim is to help drive up the Thai economy. There are four categories of long-term resident visa holders:
- Wealthy global citizens
- Wealthy pensioners
- Highly-skilled professionals
- Digital nomads
Of course, we’ll take a look at only the fourth category: the LTR for digital nomads or work from Thailand professionals.
Advantages of this visa include a fast-track service at international airports in Thailand, only 1 year reporting at immigration (as opposed to every 90 days), permission to work digitally in Thailand, tax exemption for overseas income, and multiple re-entry permit.
LTR Visa Requirements
- Personal income of at least USD 80,000 a year for the past two years
- If annual income was between USD 40,000 and 80,000 for the past two years, applicants must have a master’s degree/own intellectual property/receive series A funding
- Must work for a public company on a stock exchange or a private company with combined revenue of at least USD 150 million in the last three years total
- At least 5 years of work experience in the relevant fields over the past 10 years
- Health insurance with at least USD $50,000 coverage
You can probably tell just by skimming through these requirements that this visa rules out a huge percentage of digital nomads. Unfortunately, the LTR visa will only apply to a very specific demographic of remote workers.
- Copy of passport with at least 6 months validity and 2 blank pages
- Passport sized photo
- Health insurance policy with USD $50,000 coverage
- Proof of previous employment in related field for at least 5 years in the past 10 years
- Employment letter from the company
- Individual income tax return
- The company’s annual financial statement or financial report showing revenue of more than USD $150 million in the last 3 years
- Employment contract
- Police certificate (if requested)
- Master’s degree (if applicable)
- Evidence of intellectual property ownership (if applicable)
- T.M.6 Card (if applicable)
How to Apply for the Thailand LTR Visa: Step-by-Step Guide
Here’s our handy step-by-step guide to help you apply for the Thailand LTR Visa for digital nomads.
Step One: Gather the Documents
Make sure you get all the documents listed above before you begin your application. This will make for a much smoother application process.
Step Two: Apply Online
Register and submit your online application. During this time, you will also upload any supporting documents.
Step Three: Pre-Approval
The application will be sent to the relevant agencies, and within 20 days, you should hear back about the qualifications endorsement result, AKA pre-approval.
Step Four: Attend Visa Appointment
After pre-approval, you must make an appointment for the LTR Visa at the Royal Thai Embassies or Consulate Generals (if overseas) or the One Stop Service for Visa and Work Permit Center (in Bangkok) within 60 days.
At this point, you will pay a visa fee of THB 50,000, or roughly USD $1,400.
Step Five: Congratulations!
And that’s it! Your LTR Visa is now issued. Congrats, and welcome to Thailand!
Extending the Thailand Digital Nomad Visa
The Thai SMART visa can be extended at least 60 days before the active visa expires. SMART visas can be issued for between one and four years. So, the amount of time your visa is extended depends on the duration of your work contract. The extension costs for the SMART visa are the same as the standard fees, which is THB 10,000 per year.
Although the LTR visa is technically for 10 years, it is actually divided into two 5-year terms. So, after the initial 5 years, you can extend for another 5 years, provided you still meet the qualifications! The total length of stay cannot extend past 10 years.
Cost of Thailand Digital Nomad Visa
So, how much does it cost to get a Thailand digital nomad visa?
- SMART Visa: 10,000 Baht per year or roughly USD $281.
- LTR Visa: THB 50,000 or roughly USD $1,400.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Thailand?
Here are the processing times for the following visas in Thailand:
- SMART Visa: The processing time for all types of SMART Visas varies depending on where you lodge your application. You should expect the entire visa process to take between 30 and 60 working days.
- LTR Visa: 20 working days to process the application. Then, you’ll need to make an appointment within 60 days. So, all in all, it could take anywhere between 1 to 3 months to get your LTR visa.
Other Alternative Thailand Digital Nomad Visas
There are a couple of other alternative visas you can apply for as a digital nomad in Thailand: the 90-day non-immigrant B visa or the elite visa.
90 Day Non-Immigrant B Visa (Short Term)
The 90-Day Non-Immigrant B Visa is ideal for digital nomads from Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, and Europe looking for a short-term stay in Thailand. It requires a valid passport, a business invitation letter, and a fee of THB 2,000 (USD $56).
To apply for this visa, you’ll need to demonstrate financial stability, and you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Work in a Thai company
- Be on a paid internship for a Thai company
- Work in a Thai educational institution
- Conduct business
- Invest in Thailand with a face value of no less than THB 3 million (USD $84,500)
Also called the Privilege Entry Visa, the Thailand Elite Visa is a popular alternative for digital nomads and expats wanting to live in Thailand. This visa allows multiple access to the Kingdom for 5, 10, or 20 years, depending on what membership they get. Other perks of this “membership” include lounge access and VIP immigration.
Anyone can apply for the Thailand Elite Visa, as long as they are not a Thai citizen. The applicant should also pass a criminal background check and must not have overstayed in Thailand in the past.
As for how much this visa costs, it depends on the membership you get:
- Gold Membership (5-year visa): THB 900,000 or roughly USD $25,000
- Platinum Membership (10-year visa): THB 1,000,000 or roughly USD $28,000
- Diamond Membership (20-year visa): THB 2,400,000 or roughly USD $34,900
Can You Live in Thailand as a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?
Officially, no. You cannot live and work in Thailand on a tourist visa – even if you’re a digital nomad working online for a foreign company or for foreign clients. Many digital nomads in the past have overlooked this rule and worked as digital nomads despite this being illegal. However, the Thai government is increasing its efforts to prevent this kind of unauthorized work, and penalties can include fines or being deported from the country. Yikes!
While there is no way to really police this unless you actively and publicly announce that you are working as a digital nomad during your stay in Thailand, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, it’s always better to be lawful when visiting other countries.
Remember: You are a guest!
To be able to work in Thailand as a digital nomad without breaking the law, get a visa. Although there is no official digital nomad visa as of yet, there are alternatives you can opt for in the meantime.
Tax Requirements for Digital Nomads in Thailand
Wherever in the world you move to, you need to have an understanding of the tax requirements. In Thailand, as with most other places in the world, you automatically become a tax resident when you stay in the country for more than 180 days in a year. And as a tax resident, your income earned in Thailand is subject to taxation.
As a tax resident, your income is taxed according to Thailand’s progressive tax rate:
- Up to 150,000 Baht (USD $4,200) – Exempt
- 150,001 to 300,000 Baht (USD $4,200 – $8,400) – 5%
- 300,001 to 500,000 Baht (USD $8,400 – $14,000) – 10%
- 500,001 to 750,000 Baht (USD $14,000 – $21,000) – 15%
- 750,001 to 1,000,000 Baht (USD $21,000 – $28,000) – 20%
- 1,000,001 to 2,000,000 Baht (USD $28,000 – $56,000) – 25%
- 2,000,001 to 5,000,000 Baht (USD $56,000 – $140,000) – 30%
- Over 5,000,000 Baht (USD $140,000+) – 35%
Pro tip: Double-check whether there’s a double tax agreement between Thailand and your home country. This way, you can avoid paying taxes in two different countries. And if your country does not have a double tax agreement… well… our advice? Stay fewer than 180 days in Thailand.
Is Thailand a Good Place for Digital Nomads?
Absolutely! What is not to love? The land of smiles is stocked full of delicious food, serene beaches, and bustling cities. Additionally, Thai people are truly some of the kindest people in the world. Digital nomads will feel right at home in Thailand. It is no wonder that Chiang Mai is often considered to be one of the first digital nomad destinations!
|Affordable cost of living. It’s no secret that Thailand has a low cost of living, making it an ideal destination for digital nomads on a budget who would like to grow their savings.
|Visa restrictions. Unfortunately, there’s no real Thailand digital nomad visa at the moment, so staying long-term in Thailand might be a bit more difficult than other destinations.
|Social life. There’s plenty to keep you occupied in Thailand, including meetups, yoga classes, pubs, clubs, and more – it’ll be super easy to make friends in Thailand.
|Language barrier. Thai is a very different language than English, so if you don’t speak it, you might struggle a bit. But don’t let this dissuade you from learning the local language!
|Digital nomad amenities. As Thailand is a very popular destination for digital nomads, there are plenty of digital nomad amenities to make your life easier here, including tons of coworking spaces and cafes with good wifi access.
|Extreme weather. Thailand’s weather is made up of extremes. The weather is hot and humid all year round, and the rainy season can bring forth a lot of heavy downpours and thunderstorms.
|Amazing food. Thai food is famous around the world for a reason! You’ll be able to enjoy dishes such as drunken noodles, pad thai, tom yum, and more! Plus, Thailand is incredibly vegetarian-friendly.
|Touristy. Thailand is a popping tourist destination, which can be annoying during the dry season. Accommodation prices tend to rise around this time, too.
Best Places to Live in Thailand for Digital Nomads
So, you’ve weighed your pros and cons and have decided that you want to make the move to Thailand. Congratulations! Now that you’ve bought your ticket, it’s time to choose where to go. Here are some of the best places to live in Thailand for digital nomads:
Of course, one of the best places to live in Thailand as a digital nomad is the capital city, Bangkok. There’s a reason this city consistently ranks as one of the best cities for digital nomads around the world. What draws people to this bustling city is its great quality of life. Digital nomads will have a field day choosing from the many coworking spaces, wifi hotspots, amazing food, and good public transportation.
A city that never sleeps, Bangkok has an incredibly vibrant nightlife as well. There’s something for everyone – from street parties to rooftop bars. You will definitely not be bored living in this city, with plenty to do every weekend! In addition to the nightlife, you can explore the gorgeous temples and palaces and eat delicious street food.
Chiang Mai is one of the OG digital nomad hubs, sporting a remote work community well before the post-pandemic boom! If you want to live in a city but want to avoid Bangkok’s craziness, Chiang Mai is a great choice. The cost of living is much lower here than it is in Bangkok, which is a great draw for digital nomads on a budget. Thanks to the relatively large but close-knit expat and digital nomad community, you’ll be able to make friends almost instantly. Chiang Mai is also a great jumping-off point for discovering northern Thailand and its gorgeous nature. The weather is much more pleasant here than in the islands as well.
Just like Bangkok, Chiang Mai boasts endless coffee shops and coworking spaces – perfect for digital nomads. You’ll also find plenty of elephant sanctuaries in the area.
Are you after a laid-back island vibe with a low cost of living and great nightlife? The small Thai island of Koh Phangan might be for you! Koh Phangan is one of the most popular digital nomad destinations in Thailand for a reason. You’re never too far from nature here, as the island boasts gorgeous beaches and dense jungles. The blue waters are perfect for beach and water activities, such as snorkeling and swimming.
While small, the island boasts a bustling digital nomad community, with plenty of cafes and coworking spaces catering to digital nomads from all over the world. You’ll find a variety of events throughout the week, so meeting like-minded people will be a breeze. Of course, Ko Phangan is famous specifically for its Full Moon Party, if that’s your thing.
Krabi is a region in the southwestern part of Thailand. The region is home to Koh Lanta, Krabi town, as well as tons of amazing beaches and nature. Does working along the coast surrounded by thick jungles and gorgeous ocean views sound like the right fit for you? Krabi offers all this while providing a large community of like-minded people who work together while enjoying the simple life. The main place that expats stay is in Krabi town. From there, you can explore the islands, hike, see temples, explore caves, and relax on the beaches. The Krabi airport comes in clutch as well, making it easier to move around to other destinations in Thailand and Asia.
The cost of living is relatively low here – especially compared to the islands such as Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.
The largest island in Thailand, Phuket, is a great digital nomad destination for tropical beach lovers. The island attracts a lot of tourists, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great base to explore the rest of southern Thailand, and the airport on the island makes it easier to explore other destinations around the country or even the entirety of Asia.
You’ll find everything you need here, from shopping malls, motorbike rentals, healthcare, gyms, grocery stores, and even public transportation. As one of the best islands for digital nomads in Thailand, Phuket boasts a wide variety of coworking spaces and cafes – all with super-fast wifi. The lively nightlife is a huge draw to the island as well.
Cost of Living in Thailand for Digital Nomads
Wherever you live in the world, one of the first considerations when it comes to the cost of living is accommodation. Although Thailand may be more affordable than other popular digital nomad destinations, this is the case for this country, too. So, what can you expect regarding accommodation, and how much should you budget for it?
Well, there’s a huge range of accommodation in Thailand, and how much you spend is entirely up to you. For example, you can pay as little as USD $250 to $500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. However, if you want to live a bit more luxuriously, you can spend $1,000. Note that living on the islands costs a bit more than living in Chiang Mai, for example, but, nevertheless, you can easily find accommodation that fits most budgets – especially outside of the tourist high season.
Food is also as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. While some digital nomads might be able to spend as little as THB 5,000 per month, others can spend as much as THB 20,000 (in USD, that’s $140 to $550 a month). But most digital nomads will probably spend around THB 10,000 total per month (USD $280). This vast range is because many digital nomads don’t cook at all in Thailand. In fact, most will instead opt to eat out for every meal. And, especially if you mix in some Western food in there, you can definitely spend much more than you would cooking at home.
As a top tip: Grocery stores are not where you get a bargain in Thailand! Instead, go to the local markets.
Healthcare in Thailand for Digital Nomads
While healthcare may not be something you generally think about, it’s an absolutely crucial part of living somewhere. For digital nomads in Thailand, it’s imperative that you have health insurance to help with medical costs. In fact, a Thai visa requires applicants to have health insurance with a minimum of $50,000 coverage.
Check out our list of the 10 best insurance options for digital nomads!
The public healthcare system in Thailand does not cover medical costs for digital nomads, emphasizing the importance of having adequate health insurance.
The cost of healthcare for digital nomads in Thailand can vary significantly based on several factors, including the type of healthcare facility chosen, insurance coverage, and individual health conditions. Here’s a breakdown of some of the costs associated with healthcare for digital nomads in Thailand.
The average cost of personal health insurance is around THB 50,000 per year (approximately THB 4,200 per month or around USD $120 per month). But you can pay as little as THB 25,000 per year (approximately THB 2,100 per month or around USD $60 per month) for those aged 25 years old.
But if you happen to pay for something out-of-pocket, don’t worry too much; prices are much cheaper than in Western countries. For example, a doctor’s appointment may cost around USD $15 to $50 or THB 550 to 1,800.
Best Coworking Spaces in Thailand
There are plenty of coworking spaces in Thailand to choose from. Here are some of the best ones:
- The Great Room – Gaysorn Tower (Bangkok) – from THB 8,000 (USD $225) a month for hot desking or THB 950 (USD $26) for a day pass. Breathtaking views of the skyline, great location, fast wifi, 24/7 access, exclusive events, and more.
- Yellow Coworking Space (Chiang Mai) – THB 5,990 (USD $170) a month, THB 13,900 (USD $390) for 3 months, or THB 429 (USD $12) for a day pass. Shared and private office spaces, recreational zones, YouTube streaming rooms, event areas, English-speaking staff, and more.
- Inner Space Coworking (Koh Phangan) – THB 350 (USD $10) per day, THB 1,600 (USD $45) per week, or THB 4900 (USD $138) per month. 24/7 access, high-speed wifi, chill areas, office equipment, 4K projector, and more.
- KoHub (Koh Lanta, Krabi) – THB 400 (USD $11) per day, THB 2,000 (USD $56) per week, THB 6,500 (USD $183) per month, THB 11,500 (USD $323) per 2 months, and THB 16,000 (USD $450) per 3 months. High speed internet, 24/7 access, various rooms, ergonomic chairs, free coffee, tea, and water, and more.
- Let’s Work (Phuket) – THB 500 (USD $14) per day, from THB 1,750 (USD $50) per week, from THB 3,500 (USD $98) per 10 days, and from THB 5,000 (USD $140) per month. HHigh-speedinternet, free printing, unlimited coffee/tea/water, networking and social events, and more.
How to Find a Place to Live in Thailand
One of the first things you will be figuring out after you step foot in Thailand is finding a place to live. Here are some of the things you should look out for to find digital nomad-friendly accommodation:
- Strong internet connection: A digital nomad is just a traveler without a good wifi connection! If the internet is included in your rent, make sure it is fast and strong enough to handle the work you have to do.
- Location: Some digital nomads prefer being in the middle of the action, while others prefer to be in the outskirts. Consider your own preferences when finding a place to live in Thailand.
- Furnishings: Most Thai accommodations will come already furnished, but make sure to assess the quality of the furnishings. If a bed is too old, for example, you might be dealing with some back problems down the line.
- Kitchen: Many apartments and condos in Thailand don’t come with full kitchens. If you like to cook at home and don’t expect to eat out for every meal, you should filter your searches to find a place to live with a full kitchen.
- Washing machine: Another luxury you may not always get in a Thai apartment or condo is access to a washing machine. While not having one at home is not always a dealbreaker for most digital nomads, note that you will need to pay to use a communal one or to use a laundry service.
Where to Find a Place to Live in Thailand
Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, how do you find a place to live? Well, there are a few different methods.
Word of Mouth
This method is best if you already happen to know someone who lives in the area you want to move to in Thailand. If you know someone, hit them up! Use your contacts, and ask them for insider knowledge and tips. They’ll know which condos are best and which should be avoided. They may even know someone who might be leaving just as you are coming in to explore Thailand!
A great way to find an apartment or condo in Thailand is to check out a rental website. The below are the ones we recommend:
Join Facebook Groups
Besides word of mouth and rental sites, a surprising way to find accommodation in Thailand is through Facebook. Check out Facebook Marketplace for your chosen location. Alternatively, the below Facebook groups are a great place to start looking:
- Bangkok condo for sale & rent
- Chiang Mai Real Estate
- Koh Phangan House For Rent
- Krabi / Ao Nang Real Estate [Rent/Sale]
- Phuket Rent and Sale property
Travel Accommodation Sites
Here’s the thing about Thailand: We highly recommend scoping out the place you want to live beforehand. Photos on the internet can be pretty deceiving, and you want to make sure you are getting exactly what you want. For this reason, when you first arrive in Thailand, we recommend using a travel accommodation site for the first week or so. That is, until you find more suitable accommodation.
Trust us, you don’t want to get stuck in an apartment or condo you’ve never visited in person! Unfortunately, we’ve had first-hand experience of ending up in an apartment or condo that was much less ideal! And that was for a 3-month contract! Yikes.
We don’t generally recommend using these sites (for more on this, check out: digital nomad ethics), but they can definitely come in handy! Here are the travel accommodation sites you should check out:
For more info on finding housing as a digital nomad check out our complete guide.
Thailand, a Popular Digital Nomad Destination
Thailand is one of the most popular digital nomad destinations for a reason. The more affordable cost of living, warm weather, delicious food, welcoming culture, and thriving digital nomad community are all big draws for nomads moving to the country. While Thailand may not have a specific digital nomad visa yet, there are several visa options for you.
Not sure if you want to go to Thailand? Check out other digital nomad visas, including ones for Croatia and Brazil. And when you’re ready to head out on your adventure, read our digital nomad packing list.