Chiang Mai has been a well known digital nomad hotspot for a few years now. Most nomads choose to live in Nimman — North West of the Old City, because this is where most of the good cafes for working are.
We last visited Chiang Mai nearly 3 years ago. It was the first place in SE Asia where we spent an entire month in one place, though we remember getting bored after a month, so we were super excited to go back and see if it had changed.
We had just spent 2 months in Bali, where everything changes super fast, so it was interesting to see that Chiang Mai was still basically the same! We found ourselves a condo in Nimman started exploring the best cafes. There are a few co-working spaces, but the cafe culture is so great that we didn’t feel the need to signup for one.
Here are our favourite cafes to work from in Chiang Mai:
This was our favourite place to work from in Chiang Mai. Downstairs is a co-working cafe with AC and upstairs is just a cafe. It’s bright, comfortable, and well equipped for working. The coffee is excellent and the breakfast is a huge portion.
Pros: specifically for working, comfortable seating, great coffee, plenty of power outlets, AC, huge breakfast portions, fast wifi with separate connection for the co-working, free water
Cons: closed on Mondays!
Nice cafe with loads of seating. Each item you buy gives you a wifi code which lasts for 3 hours.
Pros: Lots of seating and power outlets, tables for standing, nice coffee, free water, AC
Cons: 3 hours of wifi using a code, limited food options
Chill cafe with several different AC rooms for working around a cute courtyard with a Koi fish pond. Lots of locals come here to study or play computer games.
Pros: Great wifi, nice coffee, lots of sockets, AC
Cons: Seats are uncomfortable, no free water
Our second favourite place to work and definitely the best coffee in Chiang Mai. Small place with limited seating but lots of power and the staff are super friendly and don’t mind you working. It shuts at 6pm but there’s a cute courtyard outside with a couple of food trucks and a nice wine bar for when you’re done with work!
Pros: amazing coffee, some seats are height adjustable, power outlets (even outside), free water, AC, super friendly cute staff
Cons: not many tables, very limited food options
Big and bright cafe that is actually the entrance for the hotel. Lots of tables, cold AC, and nice coffee — though a little pricey.
Pros: Lots of tables and a big sharing table upstairs, good wifi, quiet for working, AC, lots of natural light
Cons: quite expensive, everything is white so it’s quite sterile/almost too bright (lol)
Lobby/common area for a ALEXA hostel with loads of tables that are usually full of people working. They’re open late and serve beer (after 5pm of course) so it’s a good evening place to work.
Pros: cheap, bright, a good breeze (or AC if they have the doors closed), lots of tables, open late
Cons: varied seating (some is bad like big benches), noisy/busy as lots of people are coming and going, average food, limited power outlets
Super cute hidden place to work with lots of tables, different rooms, great AC (very cold), and good coffee. There are limited power outlets and it can feel a little dark depending on where you sit. Note: this is a different cafe to Ombra No3 (next on the list) which can be confusing!
Pros: quiet and chill for focused work, good tables and seats, cold AC, nice coffee, good wifi
Cons: limited power outlets (especially on the sharing tables), a bit dark, difficult to find
Another Ombra cafe very close to the one listed above which can make it confusing to find. Popular with digital nomads with good coffee and lots of tables. We didn’t like working here, we found there were too many distractions, the AC was brutally cold (like arctic cold), and the wifi was unreliable.
Pros: lots of tables, good location, nice coffee, open late
Cons: all iced drinks are always served in plastic cups even for eat-in, AC is brutally cold, wifi is unreliable, too noisy
Hotel lobbies are cool new work spot in Chiang Mai and this one is quite spectacular. There’s tonnes of natural light and it’s very relaxing. There are limited seats on the big table but there’s lots of power outlets. They have huge Koi fish pond in the garden and the sofas are nice to chill out. The main negative is the coffee is super expensive at 125thb!
Pros: great wifi, loads of natural light, lots of power outlets, beautiful setting, very quiet, good AC, open late — since it’s a hotel lobby you can work there 24/7 if you want!
Cons: sun shines on the table/in your eyes at certain times of the day, expensive coffee
That’s all of our favourites. These were also on my list in Nimman but we didn’t try them:
Let me know what they are like for working!
We don’t work from many places in the old city but sometimes we fancy a change and work from either our favourite relaxing place, Fahtara Coffee, or Artisan Cafe.
This is a spa with a coffee shop which we LOVE working from. It’s such a relaxing place to work from with great wifi. They have an AC room inside with 2 big tables and power sockets. If you get too cold you can also work outside for a bit (although it’s not particularly ergonomic). The best part is the toilets are incredible, the whole place smells of lemongrass/ginger/flowers, and we feel very zen.
Pros: beautiful and zen location, great wifi, power sockets, nice AC room that is usually quiet/empty, excellent coffee
Cons: outside is not very ergonomic, can get busy at lunchtime
Cute cafe with good wifi, great coffee, and lots of tables South of the old city. They also have an air purifier which is really good to know if you find yourself in Chiang Mai during burning season or on a bad AQI day.
Pros: good coffee, fast wifi, lots of tables, power sockets, decent breakfast, AC, air purifier
Cons: limited food selection and quite far from Nimman
There used to be a few more but they have since closed or are not really suited to longer work sessions anymore. The places have been recommended to us but we didn’t try them out:
We loved being back in Chiang Mai — the temperature was really nice, it was lovely to be able to walk everywhere, and Thai food is our absolute favourite and it’s so, so cheap! We met loads of Twitter friends, and had a busy couple of weeks drinking too much Chang and doing to little work!
However, once again we found ourselves getting bored as we came towards the end of our 2 months (especially as our friends had left). There’s lots of nomads in Chiang Mai, great cafe culture for working, but we found the social scene was lacking.
If you’re looking to meet people it’s definitely possible if you find nomad meet-ups and events at co-working spaces, but we didn’t manage to make new friends just hanging out in cafes. Chiang Mai is a great place to knuckle down, focus, and get some work done, but we prefer Bali — nothing beats a sunset beer on the beach and we’re much closer to places to scuba dive on the weekends!
You can check out my other articles for how much it cost us to travel the world for the year 2019, and some other cafe recommendations in Thailand; being a digital nomad in Koh Tao and places for remote working in Koh Phangan.
Subscribe if you want to read more about our travel adventures and favourite nomad spots. I’ll be putting together a cafe guide for Bali soon.