Lifestyle businesses are in. Ever since Tim Ferriss launched The Four Hour Work Week in 2007, people of all walks of life have been scrambling to create their “muse”, the term that Ferriss coined to describe a web-based passive source of income.

Having built mobile sources of income through the web ourselves, we thought we’d share what we consider to be some of the best destinations for those who are bootstrapping their web-based business.

In this entry we’ll focus on Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok as locations to bootstrap a startup in Thailand.


Ah, Bangkok. This is probably my favorite city in Asia for every reason across the board.

Bangkok is the pulsating capital of Thailand and a major Asian metropolitan center for commerce, tourism, nightlife, transport, and FUN.

You can definitely do Thailand on under $1000 USD a month but you would definitely have to be watching your budget. The proportion of rent-food-miscellaneous would be approximately the same at $300 for rent, $400 for food, $300 for miscellaneous – but your standard of living, eating, and socializing would be noticeably lower than that of Chiang Mai. You would by no means be suffering, though. The area where Bangkok will really hit you is your party budget. Partying in Bangkok is noticeably more expensive than it is in Chiang Mai. The cost, however, is justified in the sheer number of options and variety of venues offered by Bangkok.

Bangkok is a world class city delivered at 3rd world prices. We strongly recommend considering this as your Asia hub. This city offers networking opportunities with thousands of other bright expats and locals as well as an incredibly diverse range of social scenes.

Bangkok is right for you if you don’t mind being in a concrete jungle. This city is not naturally beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, particularly if you live in developed areas of the city such as Asok or Thong Lo. What it lacks in greenery it makes up for in convenience, superb public transport, and infinite options for shopping and nightlife.

City in Thailand

This city is good for you if you can stay disciplined and focused on your projects during the time you allocate for your work. This is also a great city if you take advantage of the social opportunities provided by being in a city of 10+ million people. Bangkok also has the fastest internet speeds in Thailand – hands down, no questions asked. I had a reliable 20 MB/S connection while I lived at a serviced apartment i. As a frame of reference, that meant I could host videoconferencing with no interruptions and stream live videos with minimal problems.

The visa situation is neither terrible nor great. If you plan to stay 6 months or less, you can get by doing visa runs for a while. Your options are to apply for a tourist visa at a Thai embassy abroad, which will provide you with 60 days. You have the option of extending this by 30 days at the local immigration office, which will run you about $60 USD. It is a bit more inconvenient and time consuming to extend your visa in Bangkok, mostly due to the immigration office inexplicably being located about a full hour outside Bangkok’s city center.

One major benefit that Bangkok has over other destinations is the sheer number of destinations you can get to via direct flight. I have an abnormal level of fear and dread about flying and like to minimize the number of connections necessary when I need to pick up and go. In Bangkok’s case, you can get to these international destinations within a 3 hour radius of the city:

-Phnom Penh
-Hong Kong
-Kuala Lumpur
-Ho Chi Minh City

To put it bluntly: Bangkok is fucking sweet.

Benefits of living in Bangkok

– Although more expensive than Chiang Mai, you get more value due to being in a major metropolitan center
– Insane nightlife. INSANE NIGHTLIFE.
– World class restaurants and dining options
– Many world class hospitals
– All the convenience of living in a city like Singapore
– Superb public transportation and cheap/plentiful taxis
– Good networking opportunities
– Major air and transportation hub

Downfalls of living in Bangkok

– Concrete jungle
– Traffic, Crowded
– The city is one giant distraction
– Air pollution
– Flooding

This is overall a great place to develop your location independent arsenal of digital skill sets.

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Chiang Mai

Located in South East Asia, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and commonly referred to as the country’s northern capital. Chiang Mai is laid back and an excellent place to crank out a massive amount of solo work such as coding or product creation. Alternatively, you could get your start by teaching in Thailand – it’s a great way to pay the bills while you try to get a business off the ground.

Chiang Mai offers incredible value for its price. You could easily get by on $1000 USD here. You can reasonably expect to pay $300 for a monthly hotel or apartment, $400 on food (assuming you eat out at mid-tier restaurants a lot), and $300 on miscellaneous costs like local transport and nightlife. The weather is a plus as well, as it is consistently warm but noticeably cooler than other major Thai destinations such as Bangkok and Phuket.

You would enjoy Chiang Mai if you need solitude, quiet, really need to keep costs low, and don’t require much of a network to socialize like you’d find in a place like San Francisco or Singapore. This is a city that is naturally beautiful and mountainous, so if you are an outdoorsy type this will suit you well.

The visa situation is neither terrible nor great. If you plan to stay 6 months or less, you can get by doing visa runs for a while. Your options are to apply for a tourist visa at a Thai embassy abroad, which will provide you with 60 days. You have the option of extending this by 30 days at the local immigration office, which will run you about $60 USD.

There is a wide range of destinations you can get to directly from Chiang Mai with Air Asia, a budget airline based in Malaysia. The cheapest and closest destination, however, is Kuala Lumpur.

Benefits of living in Chiang Mai

– Great value for price
– Great weather (watch out for “burning season!”)
– Quiet, clean, and beautiful nature
– Decent nightlife/social scene
– Great place to focus on a long solo project

Downfalls of living in Chiang Mai

– Not a great air hub
– “Burning Season” in early spring fills air with smoke and terrible for your health
– Logistically somewhat difficult if you do not have a motorbike or car
– Lack of startup scene and not a great place to network

Ultimately Chiang Mai is a well known spot for bootstrapping entrepreneurs to build a location independent digital business.

If you need a source of income while bootstrapping your business idea, you should DEFINITELY consider getting a job teaching in Thailand.


Phuket is a tropical paradise on the southwestern coast of Thailand, facing the Andaman sea and the Indian ocean. There are beaches everywhere and it’s island living by every measure of the word.

The major downside of Phuket within Thailand is that it is noticeably more expensive than other Thai destinations but lacks the value accompanied with higher prices. Phuket is expensive due to inefficient infrastructure and transportation and prices being inflated because of tourists. It will cost you $15-30 dollars to get a ride from any point of the island to another and nearly impossible to find a legitimate taxi of any kind. Most “taxis” here come in two varieties – “tuk-tuk” taxis which are essentially motorized rickshaws that have a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. Your other option is to order one from someone on your block, which usually ends up being some random middle class person who happens to own a toyota corolla.

You can definitely get by for $1000 USD here. This depends largely on your lifestyle, whether or not you can get around by motorbike, and how much your party. If you go out frequently, you can immediately bump that budget up to $1500-2000 USD.

Phuket is a beautiful place. Once you have logistics down you will be set. There are a range of nightlife options here but, unlike Chiang Mai and Bangkok, the nightlife options are generally go-go bars or expat bars full of Australian tourists. Alternatively, there are beach concerts and raves on Kata and Karon beach that are definitely worth checking out. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. You have the added benefit of being able to take a boat trip out to one of many island destinations off of Phuket where you can be further secluded if you so please.

The visa situation is neither terrible nor great. If you plan to stay 6 months or less, you can get by doing visa runs for a while. Your options are to apply for a tourist visa at a Thai embassy abroad, which will provide you with 60 days. You have the option of extending this by 30 days at the local immigration office, which will run you about $60 USD.


Like Bangkok, this destination is good if you can stay focused on your work. However, trying to stay indoors working while you are living in this beach paradise can be like torture. The internet speeds are reasonably fast but depend entirely on where you are staying. I’ve been in hotels with great internet speeds and lived at muay thai gyms with speeds that drip as slow as honey. If a strong connection is essential then make sure you shack up somewhere that’ll suit your line of work.

Phuket is the worst option if you are looking to build meaningful work and business contacts of any kind. Everyone in Phuket is there to party or kick back in some day. In that sense, it is like Chiang Mai. If you can allocate certain parts of your day towards cranking out solo work and then exploring the island, you will be better off. I was doing a lot of skype-based consulting at this time and this sort of work seemed good for this particular destination.

If you can get a good WIFI connection, it’s a great place to create your internet business empire.

Phuket is surprisingly good as an air hub. This is mostly due to its status as a major tourist destination across all of Asia. Direct flights include Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.

Benefits of living in Phuket

– Beautiful beach destination
– Decent nightlife scene when you find it
– Lots of other island destinations accesible by boat
– Reasonably good air hub

Downfalls of living in Phuket

– Motorbike definitely necessary and also dangerous
– Expensive by Thailand standards, not much value for price
– Nightlife seedy, expensive, and low class
– World class hospitals but hard to reach in case of emergency