From the historic lands of the Magyars in Europe to the sun-kissed sands of the Andaman coast, this list of 10 top destinations for the budding remote worker is sure to have something to tickle your fancy. So, grab a brew, prep the flight booker, and let's get picking that next nomad destination…
Budapest spreads out over the hills of central Hungary in a medley of gilded Habsburg palaces and old Soviet-style tenements. The largest city and the capital of the country, it's famed for its wild nightlife and cultural heritage. It's also got a hefty café culture to rival even Vienna (it's old twin town that sits just down the Danube to the west), which means countless coffee shops offering WiFi and plugs. Rent is uber-affordable too, and nights flitting between the famous ruin bars of Pest district, guzzling vodka and Magyar brews, cost just a handful of forints. And when the hangover rears its ugly head? Make a beeline for the thermal baths – the other great secret of this nomad gem.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur is the paradise you've never heard of. A sun-kissed town on the southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua, it's a charming place that ticks over to surfer vibes and the rhythms of laid-back living. Incidentally, that also makes it a perfect choice for the remote worker in search of sun, sand, sea, and something a little less demanding than the big city. The infrastructure for the digital nomad is brill, with everything from bargain hostels to dedicated nomad co-working spaces (like LBW's own nomad.life, for example!) on the menu. After a day's work, opt to kick-back with a cold one by the pool, or head to the beachfront for some wave riding, Pacific style!
Ah, Madrid: that age-old city of bull fighters and conquistadors. It seems a little fitting that digital nomads are now tapping away on their ultra-books where the master Cervantes once scrawled with his pen. Head down to the winding lanes of the Bairro das Letras to work where the great maestro of the modern European novel did, or go for the al fresco cafes of La Latina to enjoy the warmth of the Iberian sun. Madrid has some of the most affordable rental prices for shared apartments of any European capital, while evening tapas and sangria on the cobbles of Malasana won't cost you much at all. A beber y a tragar, que el mundo se va a acabar – as they say!
A perennial favourite of the remote worker and a town of bucket-list-breaking attractions in its own right, Ubud is one of the most enthralling destinations in all of Bali – and that's really saying something! A rumbling taxi into the volcanic hills at the heart of the Isle of the Gods from Kuta, it's bathed in a laid-back, hippy vibe. It comes without the raucous hedonism of the coast, and imbued with an interesting, mystical Hindu character. Rent is nice and affordable, the air is clean, and there are oodles of earthy little warungs (local Indonesian kitchens) to settle down in for that lunchtime sate or bout of gado gado salad. Mmmm.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
For many, Chiang Mai was the original nomad destination. A combination of cheap rents and off-the-beaten-track charm, mixed in with a burgeoning food scene – think veggie cafes and hipster delis – made this one a real magnet for the budding remote worker. Fast forward to now and things really haven't changed. Nomads flock to this far-flung gem between the hills of northern Thailand, and the resident crowd of folk tapping away on their laptops in the coffee shops by day is only getting bigger. Why? Well, is might have something to do with the success of Chiang Mai's airport, which now offers oodles of bargain connections to Bangkok, the southern beaches of the Land of Smiles, and other metropolises across Asia besides. Oh, and yes, we do pass this way on our Treasures of Thailand odyssey - just sayin'!
International travellers converge on Berlin like hornets to a nest. And the great German capital is all the better for it! Yes sireee, this massive city of the Brandenburg Gate and the iconic Reichstag is now one of the top destinations for digital nomads seeking a lively, lived-in, and cutting-edge place to work in for a spell. Two of the most famous districts are hipster Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, where the old scars of communist East Germany have now been transformed into electro clubs and boho-beatnik cafes. Oh, and there are strict rent controls, so you'll never be duped by a greedy landlord!
Porto has risen and risen in recent years to become something of a hotbed for startups and entrepreneurship. Thanks to its low-key rep and off-the-beaten-track character (forged largely thanks to the high profile of Lisbon to the south), this second city is a real corker for the remote worker. Not only do the historic areas around the UNESCO-attested Ribera neighbourhood offer countless bargain digs with real character, but there are oodles of cheap bakeries known as pastelarias selling cheap coffees and snacks up and down the streets that line the Douro. Add in good proximity to the Atlantic surf spots, and a lively crowd of international students on the European Erasmus exchange program, and it's easy to see why this one's such an attractive prospect!
The second spot in the fabled Land of Smiles to make this list comes in the form of sun-splashed Phuket. Hailed as the Jewel of the Andaman, there's no denying this one's beauty. Along its western shoreline, beaches of sparkling white sand come fringed with swaying coconut palms, while hidden coves nestle between the jungle-dressed karst cliffs. That sounds great for holidaymakers (and it is, just check out our Island Teaser West itinerary!), but what about digi nomads? Well, those guys enjoy a wealth of cheap accommodation choices, along with huge expat communities and oodles of international bars in places like Patong and Phuket Town. Oh, and that's not even mentioning the proximity to the paradisiacal Phi Phi archipelago – there are worse places to spend a weekend, trust us…
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City throbs and pulses with life. Its streets are packed with purring scooters and groaning buses. Its parks are laden with kebab sellers and ad hoc beer bars. Its markets burst with the pungent aromas of fish and five spice. And then there are its resident expats, who range from sleazy Brits abroad to adventurous young'uns on the trail. We're not saying this huge megalopolis is for everyone, but a combo of wallet-friendly apartments, 50-cent evening street food meals, and proximity to the South China Sea and Mekong Delta can't be all bad, right? (Why not check out our Vietnam Explorer trip if you fancy trying this one out before you make the move?)
Hong Kong, China
And finally comes Hong Kong. This mighty city is a world apart from China, the country it's ostensibly a part of. For westerners, working visas and travel permits are much easier to come by here, and there is something of a more liberal, international attitude to life. Food courts and street bazaars offer cheap food, while areas like Mongkok and Sheung Wan have become hubs of cool coffee shops and brunch kitchens – perfect for tapping away on the laptop for a day (or twenty). The only real issue is the soaring rental prices, but even that's mitigated by great hostels and a low cost of living.
Are you a digital nomad? Can you think of any more jewels waiting to be discovered by the budding remote worker? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below…
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