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Chiang Mai has long been a hotbed for digital nomads. The moderate temperatures, low prices, and interesting mix of cultures keep this city in Northern Thailand one of the top places in the world for those who work remotely.
Co-working is a relatively new idea, but one that is catching on quickly around the world. It looks to solve a problem that freelancers and the self-employed have had for ages: finding a place to work with a quality internet connection that isn’t your hotel room or home.
It’s a shared space for entrepreneurs, students, and the like to have a place to work all day, without the guilt of nursing a latte with micro-sips every 30 minutes. They can also make great places to host meetings, and find other like-minded location-independent workers.
(Fun Fact: Too Many Adapters was founded and launched while drinking smoothies in cafes in Chiang Mai, way back in 2011)
Before we get into the list, we have a couple of techy things to address:
Some co-working spaces only offer internet access for one of your devices, so you may need to use a program like Connectify to share your single connection with your other devices (smartphone, tablet, etc).
Also, connections aren’t always secured, which means the information you’re transmitting online could potentially be viewable by others. We highly recommend you use a VPN, which you can read more about here.
The original co-working space in Chiang Mai, Punspace Nimman has led the way for all of the others after its launch in 2013.
This compact spot with a shared grassy courtyard is quiet outside, and focused inside. More than any other co-working spot in Chiang Mai, there seem to be a lot of regulars here. Not quiet, but not loud, it can get a little lively with a meeting or brainstorm taking place at the back of the space.
Speaking of space, if you like a bit of room to yourself, Punspace Nimman might not be your style. It almost feels like you’re sharing with four people what you’d get for yourself at the Tha Pae location (below). It’s not so good if you like to sprawl out, and to me it actually felt cramped and stuffy. I don’t want to feel like I’m scrunched up.
At least there’s a quiet garden in the courtyard to stretch your legs when you’ve spent too much time inside.
As for the internet connection, not only did I not find it snappy, but my music stream would often stop and buffer, throwing me off my game.
A couple of restaurants and cafes across the courtyard are very conveniently located.
The day rate at Punspace is 289 baht. Meeting rooms start at 250 baht/hour. A weekly membership will run you 1699 baht, and monthly memberships start at 3899 baht.
Regular hours for day visitors are Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm. If you’ve got a weekly or longer membership, it includes 24/7 access to the space and lets you connect up to two devices.
Punspace Tha Pae Gate
An extension of the original Punspace Nimman, the Tha Pae gate location opened in 2014. Down a quiet soi (lane) just inside the old city, it’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.
Head upstairs and you’re in a bright, open space. It feels a bit like a (quiet) startup running in a warehouse.
Upstairs there are several tables with four large workspaces on each, and adjustable office chairs. There is a more casual area on the other side, with a couple of sofas and other chairs for when you need a break from the computer. There is also a covered space just outside which is a nice place to get some fresh air without being out in the elements.
The noise you’ll hear is limited to the odd motorbike going by and birds chirping. This is great until someone starts smoking, which is a total deal-breaker for me.
As with the other Punspace locations, the daily rate includes a login for one device only. If you have multiple devices (phones, tablet, laptop), you can only connect one unless you use a piece of software like Connectify (Windows).
You can use your login/membership at all three Punspace locations (there’s also a space on Wiang Kaew Road, in the northern part of the old town), but I couldn’t find anyone who actually did that.
Clientèle seems to be almost exclusively Western. No-one talked in the 2.5 hours that I was there. No-one. There are nice bathrooms downstairs.
Internet speeds seemed average to me. Workable, but not mindblowing.
Water, tea, and coffee are complimentary. There’s no food for sale here, besides instant noodles and the like. There is a cafe just below with more coffee options, and some snacks. You’re less than a five-minute walk from a host of restaurant options inside the old city.
The day rate at Punspace is 289 baht. Meeting rooms start at 250 baht/hour. A weekly membership costs 1699 baht, and monthly memberships start at 3899 baht/month. As mentioned above, a membership or day rate gives access to all three locations.
Regular hours for day visitors are Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm. If you’ve got a weekly or longer membership, it includes 24/7 access to the space, and lets you connect up to two devices.
One of the newer places in town, this quiet space is conveniently located on Nimman Soi 13.
Mana Co-Working is a small, bright co-working space with room for 14 people. There are a few adjustable office-type chairs with decent lumbar support that are worth scouting out. It was quiet each time I was there, with only one or two other people working.
They charge by the hour or the day here, with discounts available with purchase of the moderately-priced drinks or desserts. There are two meeting rooms available for rent but they are fairly uninspired compared to the rest of the place. Multiple power plugs are available in case you’re holding a team meeting.
The single bathroom outside is nothing fancy, and the internet speeds seemed about average to me.
Coffee / Latte 40-60 baht, smoothies 65 baht. Drinking water and tea provided at no charge, and the staff bring it to you.
Desserts and cakes start at 45 baht, but there’s no larger menu. Seriously though, it doesn’t matter. Leave your laptop (staff are always here) and walk 10 meters to the vast number of eating options on Nimman. Mana is sandwiched between two popular and well-regarded vegetarian places too.
Hourly rate is 19 baht/hour, or 99 baht/day. You’ll pay a bit extra if you want coffee with that. There are two meeting rooms available for rent from 19baht/hr for a single person Skype room, or 100 baht/hour for a room that holds 4-5 people.
Printing / scanning 5b/page. Copies for 2 baht.
Monday to Friday: 9:30am-9:00pm
While it’s not technically a co-working space, Wakeup Coffee acts so much like one that it’s worth including on this list. Spread over several levels in a building on Nimmanhaemin Road, the third floor is designated as a quiet work zone, and is popular with both digital nomads and Thai students.
With numerous tables and power outlets, plus a dedicated meeting room and a focused vibe, it’s a good middle ground between a standard cafe and a place solely aimed at co-working. If all the desks are full on the third floor, there’s plenty of room on the second level, including bench space ideal for those working solo.
Internet speed is fine for general purposes, although uploads could be faster.
There’s a wide selection of drinks, from coffee to smoothies, teas, juices, and more. Food is limited to cakes and other sweet options, but there’s a Subway in the same building, and plenty of good local and international options within a two-minute walk.
You’ll receive a login for the Wi-Fi network, valid for four hours, with any purchase of 50 baht or more.
As the name suggests, Wakeup Coffee is open 24/7. The dedicated working area on the third floor opens at 11am, and closes at 3am.
CAMP (creative and meeting place) is a large space on the top floor of the Maya mall, at the intersection of Nimmen and Huew Kau. It’s open 24/7 and has internet access available through both its own network and the super-fast AIS Wi-Fi (the Thai telecommunications company is also a sponsor).
Working at CAMP is free, but after the first hour, internet access is not. You’ll get a voucher for two hours of internet access with a purchase of 50 baht or more at the cafe. Drinks range from 20-105 baht and include water and soft drinks, plenty of coffee options, and smoothies.
Food is your basic snack and fast food-type fare. For a meal, you’ll want to head down to the fourth floor for a selection of restaurants, or the basement level of the mall for the food court.
While the price is right, the ergonomics aren’t. Most of the chairs and tables were designed with a funky look in mind, rather than with preventing a funky pain in your back after a couple of hours.
It’s also a relatively quiet space (no Skype calls or loud talking allowed) but headphones are recommended if you would like to block out the world. Power outlets are fairly accessible, though the meeting rooms could use some more.
The demographic at CAMP appears to be about 75% Thai students, and 25% foreign.
Five private conference rooms seating 6-10 are available for three hours with a 500 baht minimum purchase.
Bonus: SFX cinema is 20 steps away if you would like to take a break from your computer screen to watch a movie on the big screen instead.
Basic snacks available for purchase, as well as coffee, smoothies, and the like.
You get one hour of free access to that super-fast AIS Wi-Fi, or two hours if you have an AIS SIM card. At 300Mbps, it’s some of the fastest Internet in town. After that, two hours of internet access on CAMP’s own network is included with purchases over 50 baht.
My favorite spots were two of the quieter places, Mana and Punspace Tha Pae. If you’re a social butterfly, then CAMP might be more up your alley. Try out a few and let us know what you thought.
Do you have a favorite co-working spot in Chiang Mai? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks to James Schipper of LiveCollarFree.com for extra images.