Where have I been?ThailandMalaysiaSingaporeBali, IndonesiaVietnamCambodiaPerth, AustraliaJapanThailand (Reprise) - Chiang Mai, Phuket & BangkokSo, what’s next?
Thirty two flights, 1345678 Nasi Gorengs, twelve sim cards, eight countries, seven islands, six new clients, five power cuts, four new notebooks, three stops at security, two swollen eyes 😂 (a story for another time) and one happy digital nomad.
It’s all been happening.
Here are some of my recommendations from the last 9 months of working and travelling. I could write pages and pages of places to visit, but you’d probably get bored quite quickly, so I’ve pulled out my top three places for ‘work’ and ‘play’ for each spot.
But before we get into it, the question is how and why did I start my journey? How did we get 9 months down the line? I’ve always loved to travel. My dream was to see the world and eventually end up on a beach somewhere…
Mid/late 2021 I started making this dream a reality, with the help of some of the best people. I go into a lot more detail about this in my post My thoughts: working for yourself vs working for someone else.
I decided to start my travels in South East Asia. It’s a beautiful part of the world and I’ve been lucky enough to travel here a few times in the past, so I wasn’t going in blind. I had a vague idea of the route I wanted to take, this led me to start off in Thailand. But this wasn’t just travelling, it was working + travel, a unique experience.
I started off in Bangkok back in April. I wanted Bangkok to be my first stop to see my brother (he’s been living in Thailand for over a year). Two days into the trip I had already decided that I would be moving back to Bangkok in the future, (you’ll start to see a trend here). Bangkok is a beautiful, hectic and kind city. It welcomes you with open arms and makes it very hard to leave.
It’s a big city but that didn’t put me off. I felt extremely comfortable walking around by myself and exploring everything that it had to offer.
There are so many ways to get around the city. Get yourself a Grab car, jump on the back of a moped or hop on a bus. If you aren’t in the mood for traffic, take a trip on the BTS (The Bangkok Mass Transit System/Skytrain). It’s easy and affordable.
Bangkok is a great city to work from. It’s full of co working spaces and coffee shops with great wi-fi, so you don’t have to worry about being caught out. The hustle and bustle of the city got me in the mood to work. So find yourself a nice air-conned space and get cracking.
Here are some of the co working spaces that I visited:
- The Work loft - a great co working spot, with quick wifi! A day pass will set you back 400TB (£9.36) but you can get the first day free!
- The Hive - They have a number of locations in South East Asia, so if you’re a fan you can hit up the spaces in other cities! A day pass at the Hive is 330TB (£7.72).
- Common Ground - A gorgeous office space, full of other hard workers. A real fun and upbeat feel! This is 450TB (£10.53) for the day. Both Common Ground offices are super close to the Skytrain too.
- The Grand Palace - touristy, but highly recommended!
- Khao San Road - touristy, but the place to go if you want to get wild 💃
- Lumphini Park - I’m a big park fan, keep your eyes out for turtles and monitor lizards!
While in Thailand I also visited Koh Samui. A gorg Thai island that’s just over an hour flight away. It was a bit of a joke how stunning it was. Close your laptop and treat yourself to an island, you won’t regret it.
Malaysia has always had my heart, (I’m lucky to say I’ve been there a few times in the past and it just gets better and better). I love it. The people, the food, the adventure. It’s always amazing to spend some quality time there.
I did a fair bit of exploring, (and working!), whilst in Malaysia:
- Kuala Lumpur - The capital city, a big and busy city that you won’t want to leave.
- Langkawi - A beautiful island, grab yourself a jet ski and do some island hopping.
- Malacca - South of KL, Malacca is a super interesting city as it has a very unique history.
- Borneo - A beautiful island that harbours many interesting facts… for instance - Borneo isn’t a country. It is in fact an island that is administered by 3 different countries – Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.)
- Penang - I went in 2019 and I loved it, mix of old and new, it’s a fast paced little Digital Nomad scene.
- My hostel, Check in Lodge in Borneo, had it’s own desk in the room, which was perfect for work! You can get some really great private rooms in hostels for very reasonable prices. Definitely something to consider if you’re on a budget. The guy who ran the hostel was lovely and was always on hand to help.
- Cafe ETC - I loved this spot, it can be found in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur. Put yourself up for the morning, get some work done and then do some exploring!
- Black Kettle - A gorgeous cafe where you’ll be surrounded by other remote workers. A nice quiet break from the busy streets of Penang.
- Petronas Twin Towers - Kuala Lumpur. Go on, go up them, you’ll have a great view of the city!
- Semenggoh Wildlife centre - sadly there aren’t too many places left in the world where you can see Orangutans, but this is one of them! This was one of my best days since I’ve been travelling. (Sarawak, Borneo).
- Bed Attitude Hostel - Langkawi. Yes this is a hostel, but I had lots of fun! This hostel holds lots of different events and is a great space to meet people. Whilst I was there we had a few nights out, went island hopping and went sunset kayaking, all with a beer in hand.
I stayed in Singapore for 3 weeks, (and again later on in my travels), and lots of people laughed at me for this. It’s not the biggest place, but it’s the perfect city to take time and reset in a clean, safe, modern environment. I loved my three weeks, it allowed me to become familiar with my surroundings, build a routine and see some old friends.
Unfortunately/fortunately I didn’t need to work from any spaces in Singapore. I mainly worked from the hostel where I stayed, (Circular House) or my friend's apartment. A great way to save your pennies especially in Singapore, (which can be a bit expensive until you get the hang of it).
- Sentosa - An island resort just off of the mainland. It’s a mad place that feels a bit like Disneyland, but don’t be put off, there’s a lot happening and It’s got a great beach club, Tangjong Beach Club if that’s the vibe.
- Now, obviously you have to hit up Raffles’ Long bar for the famous Singapore Sling and don’t forget the peanuts! It’s a bit pricey, but it’s totally worth it.
- Marina Bay Sands - the Tourist trap of Singapore, but it’s got to be seen!
After two days in Bali, I had fallen in love. I extended my Visa for another 3 weeks (you come into Bali with 30 days, paying for your visa on arrival, which is about £30). You can only extend this once. I quickly decided that yep, this is another place that I will be moving to full time.
Bali is absolutely beautiful. The perfect place to restore balance, explore and live. I did a lot of exploring when I was in Bali. I hit up:
- Nusa Dua - In the South East of Bali, apparently it’s known to be the exclusive side of Bali but don’t let that put you off. It’s gorgeous, has amazing beaches and you can get some pretty great deals on little villas.
- Uluwatu - My favourite place! Come here if you’re a surfer, it’s an extremely chill and beautiful part of the island, full of amazing restaurants and the best beaches.
- Canguu - There’s a lot going on! Some great beach clubs - stay here if you like a party.
- Seminyak - Similar to Canguu! A lovely long beach perfect for a morning stroll.
- Ubud - Beautiful and green. Full of temples, waterfalls and rice terraces (the spiritual heartland of Bali) Go to yoga here.
- Gili Islands (T & Air) - LOVE. The Gili islands are breathtaking. The place to go if you want to switch off, sit on the beach and recharge.
- Nusa Penida - Famous for it’s beaches! The beaches don’t feel real.
Fun fact: a few months later I went back to Bali for another 2 month stint…(obsessed).
- Ulu Garden - My all time favourite place to work from ever. Also in my favourite place, Uluwatu. It’s an open café/restaurant but they are very happy for you to set up shop and work there all day. You’ll feel right at home!
- Habitat Village - Again another great space in Uluwatu. You pay 100k (£5.37) to work from the space and you can use this as credit towards food and drink. The space is above the main restaurant, so you’re away from the hustle and bustle and have a dedicated space to get your head down with your fellow remote workers. They also offer co-living, it’s a great one stop shop.
- Biliq Bali - A great spot in Seminyak. Biliq have a pay as you go approach if you don’t want to commit to a monthly membership. This worked really well for me as I like to mix it up every few days. There’s a quiet indoor area, a lovely open outdoor space, phone booths and speedy internet. What more would you want?
- The Mount Batur sunrise hike - We did this through AirBnb Experiences. We were extremely lucky as we managed a clear night, (which is very rare!), tiring but beautiful.
- Uluwatu, grab a surfboard and hit the waves. The best place in Bali for surfing.
- The Gili islands are the best place for snorkelling and diving. We swam with turtles, I won’t be forgetting that in a hurry.
I fell in love with Vietnam. Straight away I felt so comfortable. Bahn Mi’s were being eaten every day, (sometimes twice a day..). I started off in Ho Chi Minh City and then flew on up to Hanoi. Hanoi was my favourite place because it was so green and felt completely different to HCMC, calmer, and supremely walkable..
- Godmother - A boujee spot in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. A great place to work from if you want amazing western, fancy food, great smoothies and strong wifi. There were a few people working from Godmother when I arrived
- The Workshop Cafe - Another spot in Ho Chi Minh CIty and just around the corner from Godmother. The Workshop Cafe is perfect if you’re a coffee lover and a remote worker as they have a dedicated area for people and their laptops.
- An Cafe - My friend recommended this spot, it’s a cute little tea room off the side of the busy street. Don’r be put off by its tiny storefront, they have more room down the alley! Great wifi, plenty of plug sockets and a cosy atmosphere.
- Banana Mama - A beautiful roof-top bar with a great view! I visited one evening and you could see the storms and the lighting roll in from miles away, it was very cool.
- Day trip to Tam Coc - boat trip around ‘Halong Bay on Land’, (Hoa Lu Ancient Capital of Vietnam). This was amazing, we went on a bike ride and a boat trip. It was brilliant and I’d highly recommend!
- Food tour - Our tour guide, Minh was amazing. We stopped at 10 different local joints and she filled us to the brim. I met some amazing people on the tour.
I was only here for a short week and the one thing I wanted to do was visit Siem Reap and the ancient Angkor temple complex, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done/seen. My dad went on and on about visiting Siem Reap, so I booked the flights and I’m so glad I did, he is a trustworthy travel rep.
- Not much to add to this (sorry!) I stayed at a hotel for my week in Cambodia, so I just worked from my room - I had a desk so I was winning.
- Siem Reap - Siem Reap was ridiculous. This area of Cambodia is famous for being the gateway to the ruins of Angkor (9th–15th centuries temples). You’ll never visit any where else like it. I joined an Airbnb experience sunset tour which was the perfect way to see all the temples. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, think Indiana Jones/Lara Croft!
After Cambodia, I headed back to Bali for another two months…(classic me). We then went to Perth for a long weekend, (I know it sounds mad), but it’s actually totally doable from Bali. The flight was only 3.5 hours long and wasn’t too expensive. Perfect for a little getaway! As we were meeting up with friends, I decided to have the weekend off to really enjoy the trip.
- No work!
- Fremantle - Fremantle is a port area of Perth. It’s known for it’s maritime history, Victorian architecture and remnants from Australia's days as a British penal colony. It felt very similar to Bristol, UK to me. (I used to live in Bristol, and Bristol has my heart so I was very happy about this!) Check out Gage roads brewery.
- Kangaroos - There’s a secret island, Heirisson Island which weirdly my Auntie who has lived in Perth for 10 years has never heard of, where you can find Kangaroos basking. I was determined to see Kangaroos on our little Aus trip and I am chuffed to say we saw 7!
- Pub hopping in the city - Anywhere! There are so many great pubs in Perth, you won’t get bored.
I went to Japan for 10 days as a holiday, (time off) and I visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka - I was constantly on the go and it was amazing. One of the most unique places I’ve ever been, the familiar mixed with the totally strange.
- Bullet Train/Shinkansen - a great way to travel from city to city. You can easily pick up a ticket from the main train stations for a pretty good price! I paid around about £80 quid for my journey from Tokyo to Kyoto, which sounds a bit much but it makes sense when you realise there’s 283 miles between the two cities. Before my bullet train experience, I had just watched Bullet Train, the latest Brad Pitt movie, so I felt like I was living out my assassin dream…
- TeamLab Planets - is an interactive museum/gallery in Koto City,Tokyo. It’s an influencers dream, but for a reason. The museum is broken up into a range of different spaces all focused around a different theme. At one point you’re told to remove shoes, socks and roll up your trousers as you step into a pool of water that has projections of different coloured fish swimming around. I loved it and would highly recommend if you’re into your art and something a bit different.
- Higashiyama District, Kyoto - You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine. The Higashiyama District in Kyoto is beautiful. Set on the side of the mountains, you can walk around the historical area in awe. You’ll come across many different temples as you explore. I visited the area at dusk and it felt so magical. Do not miss.
I wrapped up the end of the year back in Thailand. I headed to Chiang Mai for a week and of course I fell in love with it straight away. I’m looking to spend more time here at the end of this year, so I’ll share my top 3 places to work and play then! After Chiang Mai I headed to Phuket to join my brother for Christmas. This was a quick turnaround, so I didn’t have the chance to check out anywhere to work (and I was fully in Christmas mode!). I finished off my 9 months of travel back in Bangkok before flying to the (cold) UK on 1st Jan.
Don’t worry the digital nomad life is definitely not over. It’s only just starting for me. Here’s the plan(ish):
- I fly to Argentina in February!
- I want to document more of what it means to be a digital nomad, the ups the downs and the major learnings (so keep your eyes peeled!).
And that’s it!
I’ll keep you posted and I’ll be sharing some learnings from my digital nomad journey so far.