Here are the Top Ten Cities in Asia for Digital Nomads for only USD1,000/month or less with fast internet connection speeds.
Hangzhou, China (USD762/month, 35 MBPS)
If there is one city that I'd love to keep coming back to, it's definitely Hangzhou, the capital and most populous city of Zhejiang Province. And if the West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, itself won't be enough to keep you captivated, the historical relics and the natural scenic spots around the lake will keep you coming back or make you not leave at all.
Residential areas and commercial establishments in the city of Hangzhou are located almost side-by-side making it possible for you to reach your destination either by walking or riding a bike. Good food and great nightlife.
The only drawback is the language barrier as English is not as popular in this city as in Beijing and Shanghai. Also, the lack of freedom of expression and internet censorship, otherwise known as The Great Firewall of China, cause a lot of unease among digital nomads. Not that a workaround is not available, people simply use a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
Zibo, China (USD788/month, 30 MBPS)
Zibo is the heart of industrial transport in Shandong Province. It was bordered by the Yellow River in the north and Mount Taishan in the south making the two natural landmarks a favorite vacation spots among tourists and locals. People are being transported around the city by public buses while a bullet train line connects Zibo to Jinan, Qingdao, and Beijing.
The Yuanshan National Forest Park in the southwest of Boshan District is one of the popular tourist destinations in Zibo. It is made up of Phoenix Mountain, Yuwang Mountain, Wanglu Mountain, Xuejiading and Jiagutai Scenic Resorts. The mountainous terrains is a refreshing distraction from the busy city life in the capital cities.
Chiang Mai, Thailand (USD859/month, 20 MBPS)
Chiang Mai is one of the more popular cities in Asia among backpackers and digital nomads alike. Low cost of living, great food, and fast internet connections are just about anything any digital nomad could even ask for can be found in this northern city in Thailand.
Ironically though, what drive backpackers and digital nomads to Chiang Mai are the very same reasons sending them away. Being the most popular "backpacking hub of Asia," the city is becoming crowded with foreigners that the earlier "temporary settlers" are now moving out of the city.
Shijiazhuang, China (USD580/month, 20 MBPS)
Shijiazhuang is the capital of Hebei Province in the North. It is bounded by the Taihang mountain range which makes the city a popular hiking and cycling destination. After the massive reorganization initiated by the city government was completed in 2011, Shijiazhuang now has more accessible roads, train and subway system, and an airport.
Nanjing, China (USD797/month, 16 MBPS)
Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu Province and the second largest city in the East region of China. It was the capital of 10 Chinese dynasties and the former capital of China before Beijing, which explains the various historical sites all over the city.
Life is relatively laid back in Nanjing but nightlife is steadily growing fast. Two subway lines operate from 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM but city buses and taxis are present, too. Duck dishes are popular in Nanjing as it was said that it used to be the home of the famous Peking Duck before the Emperor moved the capital to Beijing in 1941. Budget hotel chains cost less than USD30.
Some of the popular tourist sites include the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum, the Purple Mountain, and the Nanjing Zhonghua Gate.
Nanjing city has a nice balance of historical landmarks and soaring skyscrapers.
Ko Lanta, Thailand (USD945/month, 15 MBPS)
Koh Lanta is made up of several little islands just off the coast of Krabi. Unlike Phuket and Koh Samui, this city remains a bit less touristy due to the fact that it's still a little bit harder to get into. But once you're on the island, get ready to be amazed by stunningly beautiful beaches, diving sites, mangrove forests, swanky beach bars and great food.
Koh Lanta is more popular among tourists who take a break from the more livelier cities which explains why there are usually older crowds slacking on the beachfront while watching the sunset. However, there still are a wide array of bars waiting for those who'd want to party.
Koh Lanta has become a popular city destination among digital nomads when, a few years ago, a UK-born programmer created KoHub, a coworking community on the island.
Hyderabad, India (USD542/month, 15 MBPS)
Hyderabad was once known for being the only global center for trade of large diamonds, emeralds, and natural pearls and, up to present, many traditional bazaars can still be found around the city. A part of the city is situated on the hilly terrain around artificial lakes while the other end is along the banks of the Musi River. The southern banks of the Musi River are designated as the "Old City" boasting of magnificent antiquated structures, domical mosques, and monuments, while the northern banks compose the more urbanized area designated as the "New City."
While Hyderabad takes pride in their historical palaces and landmarks, the man-made lakes on the north form a large part of tourism in the city. One of the more popular among these artificial water landmarks is the Hussain Sagar with a 19-metre tall statue of Buddha in the middle of the lake.
Nanyang, China (USD397/month, 13 MBPS)
Nanyang may be known as one of China's center for historical and cultural cities this city in the southwest of Henan Province is more popular for its autumn trees when vast forest areas turn red during October to November. Nanyang is an ideal place for nature lovers.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (USD777/month, 10 MBPS)
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam may be initially known for leading the country during the Vietnam War but post-war Hochi Minh City is now a popular hub among backpackers and digital nomads in South-East Asia.
At present, while setting the bustling economic progress for the country, Ho Chi Minh City still takes pride with its French colonial landmarks, including the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the 19th-century Central Post Office. Major tourist destinations are located at relatively short distances and can be reached by walking or bike rides.
Vietnam tourism is currently being promoted worldwide as a major food destination so brace yourselves for the out-of-this-world food experience.
Chiang Rai, Thailand (USD856/month, 8 MBPS)
Chiang Rai is the capital city of the mountainous province of the same name. Located in a remote area in northern Thailand, its relaxed and laid back vibe often dissuade tourists from coming but it's never short on historical landmarks and cultural attractions. The city Chiang Rai is just starting to be developed as a tourism destination which makes it a logical choice if you are to work without many distractions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Noel Cabacungan was born and raised in the Philippines but is currently working in Saudi Arabia. He suspects the universe often conspires to put him in the unfriendliest of places and believes assimilation is the only way to survive. This belief made him capable of seeing the beauty beyond the most dreary locations. His favorite form of entertainment involves observing people do crazy things in the most mundane situations. Read more about his exploits on his blog, Ten Thousand Strangers, or follow his stormtrooper alter-ego on Instagram @troopertravelsph