Top 10 Cities in Asia for Digital Nomads - 2023 (part 2)
Asia is a top travel destination for digital nomads, combining cultures, cuisines, and tech-friendly cities. With COVID-19 no longer a pandemic, remote work is rising, presenting a unique opportunity to travel the world while earning a living. Before you book your ticket, get travel insurance, and pack your bag, just remember to do your homework. The first thing on your list? Picking the right digital nomad laptop for your journey.
There's a world of choices out there, and we have discussed many incredible places in Asia to work remotely. This time, we're looking at some unique Asian cities offering a different vibe.
Asia's cultural and culinary landscape is as diverse as it is exciting, ensuring you won't have a dull moment working remotely here. Plus, the continent's compact geography means you can country-hop without busting your budget.
The continent is home to many high-tech cities, catering perfectly to the needs of digital nomads. So when you feel the urge to explore, hopping to the next Asian hotspot is a breeze.
1) Shanghai, China: where East meets West
Shanghai is a thriving, bustling city with skyscrapers, shops, and modern conveniences. There is a long history with plenty of cultural landmarks to visit, museums, and art galleries.
Despite its high population density, Shanghai has many gardens and parks amongst the high-rise where you can picnic or relax and enjoy nature. Walk along the Bund, a famed waterside walkway with spectacular city views and grand, Western-style buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Being a center for modern technology, buying a new device, or finding co-working spaces that provide reliable internet connections, comfortable work environments, and opportunities to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals is no problem in Shanghai. For China, you’ll need a visa for stays longer than 144 hours and the current US travel advisory level is 3 which means to reconsider travel.
Fast facts about Shanghai:
- Population: 29 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,997
- Internet Speed: Fast - 156.94 Mbps mobile, 229.08 Mbps fixed line
2) Osaka, Japan: cosmopolitan hotspot for digital nomads
Osaka is Japan's third most populated city, making finding co-working spaces and fast internet speeds easy to cater to all your needs. The locals are famous for being friendly, and English has been taught in schools for decades, so there will always be someone to help you out while you learn enough Japanese to get by.
In your spare time, go hiking in the countryside, visit Universal Studios, or visit temples and other cultural experiences. Osaka has one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country, Shitennō-ji. Takoyaki (ball-shaped snacks containing octopus) is credited as being invented in Osaka. Japanese theater is also widely available.
Fast Facts about Osaka:
- Population: 19 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 2,530
- Internet Speed: Medium – 43.87 Mbps mobile, 111.26 Mbps fixed line
3) Seoul, South Korea: digital nomad's high-tech haven
Seoul is a central technological hub known for its innovation and advanced technology, with reliable high-speed internet connectivity. This city's co-working spaces, cafes, and libraries equipped with lightning-fast Wi-Fi are as ubiquitous as its vibrant street food stalls. Seoul is your ideal destination if you're a digital nomad in a tech-heavy field or simply seeking a rendezvous with the future.
Despite being a bustling metropolis with lively nightlife, Seoul is surrounded by natural beauty. You can easily escape to nearby mountains, such as Bukhansan National Park, for hiking and outdoor activities. And within the city's boundaries, tranquil parks and green spaces provide a peaceful counterpoint to the thrumming pace of business, offering fresh air amidst the hustle and bustle.
Fast Facts about Seoul:
- Population: 10 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 2,384
- Internet Speed: Fast - 122.76 Mbps mobile, 141.67 Mbps fixed line
4) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: your digital nomad tropical retreat
Kuala Lumpur is a beacon for digital nomads with its high-speed internet services and numerous co-working spaces, cafes, and libraries. These spaces, well-equipped with Wi-Fi, foster an ideal environment for remote work. Enjoy the city's relatively low living cost, making Kuala Lumpur an affordable choice compared to many other major cities. Its status as a central airline hub means easy access to the rest of Asia or beyond.
Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city with a rich blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences. This diversity is reflected in its vibrant food scene and cultural experiences. English is widely spoken by locals making it easy to interact with locals and find your way around.
Like much of Asia, Kuala Lumpur's tropical climate may challenge you if you're unaccustomed to heat and humidity. But if you're a fan of the tropics, the city's warm weather will feel just like paradise.
Fast Facts about Kuala Lumpur:
- Population: 6.7 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,369
- Internet speed: 47.57 Mbps mobile, 93.83 Mbps fixed line
5) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: budget-friendly nomad base
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, unfolds as a budget-friendly haven for digital nomads, offering reasonable prices for accommodations, food, transportation, and entertainment. It allows you to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank. The city has many co-working spaces and cafes providing reliable internet connections, relaxed work environments, and opportunities to network and collaborate with other remote workers.
Ho Chi Minh City is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine. From street food stalls to trendy restaurants, you'll find an abundance of local dishes to tantalize your taste buds.
Of course, as with any major city, Ho Chi Minh has its share of challenges, including traffic congestion and occasional bouts of air pollution. However, its affordable cost of living, vibrant culture, and growing infrastructure are great for digital nomads who seek a cheap base in Asia.
Fast Facts about Ho Chi Minh City:
- Population: 9.3 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,099
- Internet Speed: 48.60 Mbps mobile, 93.82 Mbps fixed line
6) Kaohsiung, Taiwan: coastal charm for digital wanderers
Kaohsiung is a pretty coastal city in southern Taiwan. As Taiwan's third-largest city, it offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Visit Monkey Mountain for a delightful encounter with its furry residents and awe-inspiring sea views, punctuated by historic buildings and sprawling landscapes.
If a beach escape is more your speed, Cijin Island, just a short ferry ride away, provides pristine beaches and the freshest seafood. Experience the vibrant Taiwanese culture through bustling night markets, intriguing museums, and unique art galleries waiting to be discovered.
Kaohsiung is big enough to have all the advantages of a city you need for working remotely, like easy-to-find accommodation, food, and co-working spaces. Yet, it's small enough for you to explore a wide variety of entertainment, history, and countryside.
Fast Facts about Kaohsiung:
- Population: 2.7 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,671
- Internet Speed: 65.53 Mbps mobile, 174.36 Mbps fixed line
7) Phnom Penh, Cambodia: remote work meets rich history
Situated at the junction of two rivers, Phnom Penh, the vibrant capital of Cambodia, presents a picturesque locale for boat rides, riverside strolls, and café-hopping. The riverbanks, with various shops, cafes, and bars, provide a unique backdrop for work and leisure. While its bustling nightlife is a draw, it's wise to stay alert and ensure personal safety, as with any major city.
Phnom Penh stands out as one of the more budget-friendly cities in Asia, offering a unique mix of affordability and cultural richness. Although internet speeds might not top the charts, they're fast enough for most digital nomads' needs. Add a healthy selection of co-working spaces to this, and you'll find Phnom Penh a compelling option for your digital nomad journey.
Fast Facts about Phnom Penh:
- Population: 2.3 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,130
- Internet Speed: 25.10 Mbps mobile, 21.19 Mbps fixed line
8) Chiang Mai, Thailand: tranquil reset for your digital life
Chiang Mai is a popular destination for digital nomads because the cost of living is relatively cheap for the high quality of life in a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. Chiang Mai is known for its friendly locals, rich cultural heritage, and abundant natural beauty. You can explore historic temples, visit local markets, or venture into the nearby mountains and national parks for outdoor activities.
Chiang Mai has reliable internet connectivity available in most areas. Internet speeds are generally sufficient for remote work, and access to Wi-Fi is prevalent in cafes, co-working spaces, or your accommodation.
When planning your trip, remember to check out Thailand's different visa options based on your intended length of stay. That way, you're all set for your digital nomad journey in Chiang Mai.
Fast Facts about Chiang Mai:
- Population: 1.2 million
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,012
- Internet Speed: 37.32 Mbps mobile, 205.82 Mbps fixed line
9) Panaji, India: life in the heart of Goa
Panaji, also known as Panjim, is the charming capital of the Indian state of Goa. Living costs are relatively inexpensive, allowing digital nomads to live comfortably.
Panaji city boasts a fusion of Indian and Portuguese culture, a laid-back lifestyle, and a pleasant climate that's hard to resist. With its stunning beaches, vibrant local culture, and a strong emphasis on leisure, Panaji is an adventure in itself.
Get lost in the city's historic sites, explore local markets, and savor the distinctive flavors of traditional Goan cuisine. If you time your visit right, you might witness the city's lively festivals and cultural events. Those interested in wellness will find ample opportunities to learn about yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda practices.
While Panaji is smaller than other cities on this list, and its coworking scene is still evolving, it offers work-friendly spaces and cafes. These places provide a decent work environment, Wi-Fi access and networking opportunities. Just keep in mind that the reliability and speed of the internet may differ.
Fast Facts about Panaji:
- Population: 115 thousand
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,466
- Internet Speed: 45.95 Mbps mobile, 44.56 Mbps fixed line
10) Canggu, Indonesia: surf, sand & software
Canggu may be small, but its charm is mighty. At first glance, it might not seem like an ideal workspace or entertainment hub. Still, this little corner of Indonesia has a unique appeal. After a day's work, enjoy the sun, surf, Indonesian culture, and rural countryside.
Indulge in a rejuvenating massage to loosen those work-tensed muscles, then unwind at cozy cafes, tranquil spas, and serene yoga centers. Despite its size and relaxed ambiance, Canggu offers ample co-working spaces to focus on your work before hitting the beach for a refreshing swim, sunset viewing, and socializing.
Unlike the concrete sameness of many urban landscapes, Canggu's natural beauty offers stunning diversity. With gorgeous beaches, cascading waterfalls, scenic walks, and bike rides nestled in a culture that prioritizes health and wellness, Canggu is a gem for digital nomads searching for a unique living and working experience.
Fast Facts about Canggu:
- Population: 40 thousand
- Cost of living per month: USD 1,700
- Internet Speed: 31.40 Mbps mobile, 31.80 Mbps fixed line
Starting your digital nomad adventure in Asia can be exciting and rewarding. Each city has its unique charm and challenges. But with good travel planning, your experience can be a great one. Just remember, wherever you go, be careful and do your research before you leave home.
Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.