Practical Options for Digital Nomads in Thailand - 2021

The dream of being a Digital Nomad in Thailand has been dashed since the beginning of 2020. In this blog we will lay out some possibilities for you that will make this possible.

How can we help you?

Just before Covid, being a digital nomad in south-east asia was a pretty good life. 

All your business was online, all your money came from online and you could work from your laptop anywhere in the world.

The typical digital nomad lifestyle was like this…

  • Spend 2 or 3 months in Thailand. 
  • Then when the visa expires, go spend a month in Vietnam. 
  • Then another month in Bali on the beaches, or in the mountains of Ubud. 
  • Then maybe explore Malaysia. 
  • Or perhaps a short trip to Nepal!
  • Get a visa at the Thai embassy in another country.
  • And Finally return to civilization in Thailand and repeat! 

However…

Covid ended all of that.

While Thailand was open for foreigners since sometime last year summer, you had to do 14 days of quarantine.

And The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia or Bali are -- as of the date of this video -- still closed for normal tourists.

Unless you had a business visa, or a work permit, it is difficult to enter any of those countries today -- except for Thailand.

So what’s a digital nomad to do?

It does not make sense to just fly to Thailand for a couple of months on a tourist visa, spend 14 days in Quarantine and then fly all the way back home.

Digital Nomads want to spend a bit more time than that so they can focus on work and enjoy the country for a while.

And even though Thailand has super-fast internet, good facilities and the ability to live for a lower cost than back home… The restrictions to travel around South East Asia and in and out of the country has made being a digital nomad almost impossible.

So is that life over?

What are some alternatives?

Sponsored Work Permits

You’ve seen some of these companies advertising on Youtube about sponsored work permits. These companies will hire you and you pay them a substantial amount every month to handle taxes, payroll and other tasks.

Basically, your monthly income has to be deposited with them, and they pay you from it while taking a nice chunk of it for them.

Just how much do you pay them?

Well, that varies from company to company. You have to go into their process to find out.

But one downside of this, is that you have to be careful. Some of these companies operate in a gray area.

You had best be sure that you are indeed working for their company and getting paid the right amount of salary. Or it could come back to bite you later when you have to do things like Permanent Residency in Thailand.

The government pays a lot of scrutiny to these kinds of operations. But if you just plan to be in Thailand for a few years and have no plan to live here on a more permanent basis, it could probably work for you.

Start your own company

Did you know that Baan Smile was started by a Digital Nomad?

One of the best ways to be in Thailand these days is to start a company. 

Assuming you have a decent enough online business, you could hire some part time or full-time Thai staff to help you.

Your online business could pay your company to do these tasks.

Then your company can pay you.

And not only could you get a business visa, but you can also get a work permit too. You no longer have to leave Thailand every few months, and you’re contributing to the economy too.

Thank you very much!!! 

The downside is that you do have to pay some taxes and do the proper bookkeeping every month.

And you do have to have 4 Thai staff. Some of these can be full-time and part time.

Running a business is not an easy task and to be honest, it’s probably not right for most digital nomads who only make a couple thousand dollars every month..

But it’s the most sustainable and legal way to stay in Thailand for as long as you want -- or as long as your business survives.

Get an Education Visa

If your work online is not full-time, you can sign up to study Muay Thai boxing, or learn the Thai language.

You would get a visa for at least 6 months at a time.

But you do have to demonstrate some competence in what you are learning.

For example, Thai Immigration will speak to you in Thai language if you are studying Thai.

Maybe they might want you to demonstrate some moves for the boxing [haha].

And you do have to actually attend classes two or three times a week, usually for about 2-4 hours at a time.

But between classes you can go back to your room and do your work.

It’s a good low cost way to stay in Thailand legitimately.

At the time of this video, most schools are just opening after Covid, so if you do plan on doing this, then start emailing some of the schools to inquire what you need to do.

Please contact us for a list of schools for both Thai Language and Muay Thai that offer the education visa as part of their program.

Proposals from the Government

Recently the Tourism Authority of Thailand has put out a very interesting proposal for a “Digital Nomad Visa”.

What do you have to do to get this visa?

  • You need to be making at least 40,000 US Dollars per year.
  • You need to also have health insurance.
  • You also need to have a bachelors degree and at least 5 years of experience in your field.

But the cherry at the top of that pie is that if this proposal is accepted, you could get a 10 year multiple entry visa.

You would have to pay taxes in Thailand like a normal Thai person though. And the proposal would even enable you to buy land in Thailand.

Now don’t be too cynical.

A lot of proposals in Thailand tend to get eventually become law.

But it’s clear that the Tourism Authority of Thailand is seeing how the ability to work remotely is changing the world and it’s clear that Thailand wants to get in on that action.

Just imagine, if you work at a big company that allows remote work from anywhere and you get a salary of at least 40,000 US Dollars per year, you could, potentially be eligible for that 10 year visa.

We will see what happens in the next year!!

Summary

Thailand has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world.

It also has really fantastic beaches and great cities too.

Good food from all over the world is here.

People are very friendly.

The weather is awesome most of the time.

And it’s easy to travel here.

That's why we were recently voted as the top destination for Digital Nomads around the world.

I hope this blog has been really helpful for you.

If you want help to setup a local business in Thailand to help serve as the back office for your online business -- you’re in the right place.

How can we help you?