BEST WORK-FRIENDLY CAFÉS IN CHIANG MAI FOR DIGITAL NOMADS – THE 2019 GUIDE
Our personal favourite Cafés to work from in the Nimman, Old Town and Santitham neighbourhood
With it’s cheap accommodation and food options, beautiful surroundings to explore, strong and reliable Wi-Fi connections, good community feel, plenty of days of sunshine as well as tons of hip and cool coffee shops to work from while sipping some great coffee it’s no surprise that Chiang Mai has become one of the most popular digital nomad hot spots in the world.
We always love coming back to Chiang Mai and checking out all the new and amazing cafés that have sprung up in the past months.
Chiang Mai had already a vibrant coffee scene going back in 2017 when we first visited and stayed for a few months but when visiting again in 2019 we were surprised to see how many additional hip cafés have opened their doors recently which not only serve amazingly delicious coffee and have a super cool and relaxed vibe but are also perfectly catering to all your digital nomad needs.
It’s every coffee-addicted digital nomads dream!
So here comes our fresh and updated 2019 list of our top 10 cafés to work from in Chiang Mai’s favourite neighborhoods Nimman, Old Town and Santitham.
The Nimman area is by far the most popular Chiang Mai neighbourhood for digital nomads with plenty of cafés, shops, restaurants, bars and co-working spaces as well as good accommodation option to base yourself for a few weeks or even months.
Being a digital-nomad-hub you’ll find tons of work-friendly cafés in Nimman, so it was hard to pick but here it comes:
Opening Times: 7am – 8pm, Monday – Sunday
One of our favourite cafés to get some work done is Roastniyom which belongs to a Thai coffee chain. This place works especially well in the early morning as it already opens at 7am or in the afternoon as they mainly offer cakes and pastries and no breakfast or lunch options.
We like this place because it has a very cozy feel, is well-located within the Nimman area, offers decent Wi-Fi and delicious cake and coffee creations. We also like the “modern-café-with-a-vintage-touch”-vibe of this branch with their dark wood & leather chairs, the old TV and the tree which is bursting through the center of the café.
The café isn’t huge and can get pretty busy but all seating inside is pretty much laptop-friendly with their tables being the right eight for working. Some tables at the back also come with power outlets but are usually quickly gone however we loved to sit by the window to do some people watching while working.
- Bright and well-lit
- Nice ambience
- Good location within the Nimman area
- Opens early (7am)
- Limited seating options, can get crowded
- Not many power outlets
- No breakfast option – best to come for an afternoon work session
2) CAMP at Maya
Opening Times: 24hrs, Monday – Sunday
Located on the top floor of Maya Mall you’ll find C.A.M.P – a bright and airy co-working space managed by AIS (one of Thailand’s biggest telecom providers) which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a weeks.
It offers a beautiful interior design and a very work-friendly environment providing different kinds seating options (from large shared tables for study groups, normal desks for 2-4 people to individual little 1-man huts), private meeting rooms to rent as well as tons of power outlets attracting not only the digital nomad crowd but also many Thai students that come here for studying.
We loved coming to CAMP as it has a “modern-office-vibe” and a good work atmosphere which is usually getting us in a productive mode! Also there is an excellent food court in the basement to grab a quick and cheap lunch snack and a SFX cinema right across should you every need a little work break! 😊 You can also get some lunch snacks at CAMP but the selection is rather limited and prices a bit higher than what you’d normally pay (e.g. Camp special – simple chicken and rice dish – 75 THB).
There is no free Wi-Fi, but for every 50THB you spend on coffee or snacks you’ll receive a WI-FI code which is valid for 2 hours. As the provided Wi-Fi however wasn’t anything to brag about – especially once it got crowded from around 10am – we usually just used our own data allowance (we bought a Dtac SIM card with an unlimited data package when we arrived in Thailand).
- Nice office vibe with a good work-friendly environment
- Open 24hrs – perfect for all early birds and night owls
- Located in Maya Shopping Mall with Shops, Fitness Center, Cinema and Food Court nearby
- Not the strongest WI-FI and no free access – 50THB / 2 hrs
- Gets very crowded from around 10am
- Prices are slightly higher than elsewhere
3) Norn Nee Nor
Opening Times: 7am – 10pm, Monday – Sunday
We probably wouldn’t have noticed this place if it wasn’t for the fact that we were staying at the Norn Nee Nor Hostel and noticed their “bed and coffee” sign on the door.
We gave it a try one day and absolutely loved it. Their coffee and sweetened iced latte (iced drinks are btw the same price as the corresponding HOT option) is absolutely spot on and although the café is quite small with just a few tables you should always get a good seat as it’s not that well-known.
The general ambience is really nice with brick walls, a little vintage touch and dark furniture. We especially liked the big windows which they open-up completely at the back of the café so you always have a nice breeze instead of a freezing cold A/C.
In terms of work-friendly seating options, they offer around 4 places to sit that have power outlets as well as a fair amount of good (but small) desks to work from – ideal for solo digital nomads.
- Natural breeze going instead of freezing AC
- Strong Wi-Fi and good seating options for solo digital nomads
- Delicious coffee with iced drinks priced the same as hot drinks
- Rather small café with limited power outlets and fairly small tables
- Café serves also as reception for hotel guests so can get busy if there is a small group arriving
- No food or snacks options available
Although Old Town is the most attractive part of Chiang Mai with it’s many old temples, vibrant markets and cute little alleys and narrow lanes it’s probably a rather expensive place for long-term stays and not ideal for extensive work-sessions in local cafés as these tend to get very crowded with short-term tourists and day trippers.
Also – mainly simply due to the architecture and layout of Old Town – most places here are charming and cute BUT SUPER TINY with some coffee shops offering just enough space for 3-4 people.
If you however want to go for a fun day out exploring a bit of old town paired with a couple of hours of work in between than these three work-friendly café suggestions should do the trick:
1) Into the Woods
Opening Times: 9am – 8pm, Monday – Sunday
We came across this café when looking for a suitable place with proper good-sized tables and chairs in Chiang Mai Old Town to get some work done. Although Old Town is packed with cute coffee shops you’ll quickly notice that most of these are small, some even tiny with just very few chairs and (if at all) only a limited amount of small tables available.
In contrary to those typical Old Town cafés into the Woods feels super spacious and has quite a few proper desks seating 4 people, comfy chairs (FINALLY), good Wi-Fi and even a few power outlets available – ideal if you want to get a few hours of work done!
Also, the general design of this place is really cute with a Alice-in-Wonderland-kinda-décor, a nice little reading corner with tons of books available that you can borrow and a washroom disguised as a closet. The funky design however doesn’t stop there! The owner is also a pretty skilled coffee artist and we were super amazed by our “almost-too-cute-to-drink”-foam animal creations in our cups!
They also offer a selection of breakfast sets including coffee or tea and lunch options (however not many vegetarian dishes), flavoured coffees (incl. gingerbread, apple pie and rose) plus some creative signature coffee creations which you’ve probably have never even heard of such as “Rumpelstilzken” (Espesso, Chilli Honey, Milk), “Voo Doo Child” (Espresso, Matcha Green Tea, Milk). Or “Circus” (Esresso, Popcorn Syrup, caramel, Popcorn,Milk) priced at 80THB (hot) / 90THB (iced).
- Spacious layout with proper desks and comfy chairs
- Good variety of different coffee creations at reasonable prices
- Selection of breakfast and lunch options available
- Generally lacking a bit of a cozy vibe
- Food portions are fairly small for the price
- A/C is really cold, bring a jacket or scarf
Opening Times: 9am – 6pm, Tuesday – Sunday
Although it’s a cute but fairly small coffee shop you should always get a table as it’s hidden in a narrow street nearby Wat Lam Chang Temple and therefore doesn’t get too crowded with day tourists.
Tables are super small (fitting max. 1 Laptop) and there are no proper chairs available just little benches to sit on but the vibe and feel of this place is really cool, kinda like your own little work studio with big windows all around giving it a bright and airy vibe.
The coffee is also really good and well-priced with an Americano for only 45THB and Cappucino/Latte for 50THB. I also gave the signature “ZMOY Coffee” a try (Espresso, Milk, Butter Scotch, Cinnamon – 65THB) and liked it a lot.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any power outlets but since you probably can sit it for ages we say come with a charged laptop for a little short and sweet afternoon work session have a coffee, enjoy the vibe and then leave again.
- Well-priced coffee
- Good ambience – cozy, bright
- Doesn’t get too crowded as it’s hidden in a small street
- Very small with limited seats available
- Not the best work environment with no proper chairs and no power outlets
- No breakfast/lunch options available
3) Terracotta Garden – Clay Studio Coffee
Opening Times: 8am – 4pm, Monday – Sunday
Terracotta Garden is a true hidden gem and pretty much exactly what it says on the tin – a tranquil garden with tons of terracotta sculptures standing and laying around. 😊
It is simply magical, a quiet oasis in the middle of the rather noisy and crowded town centre and the perfect place if you want to spend some time “in” nature as well as squeezing in a little work session in their beautiful and tranquil garden.
There are plenty of big wooden tables and chairs available as well as decent Wi-Fi however, as it’s all outdoor seating (with exception of a few tables in the Clay Studio) you won’t find many power outlets so make sure to come with your equipment fully charged and pack a mosquito spray!
We especially love coming here in the early afternoon (attention – they close already at 4pm!) and enjoy a coffee and fresh baked pastries or cake but they also offer delicious breakfast and lunch options.
- Work in Nature in a beautiful tranquil setting
- Breakfast and lunch options available as well as pastries and dessert
- Limited power outlets
- Closes early – 4pm
- As most seating is in the garden tables and chairs can be a bit “dirty”
Santitham is an up-and-coming area between the Old Town and Nimman which offers cheaper rates for accommodation and has more of a local feel to it.
This was also the area that had surprised us the most during our recent trip to Chiang Mai with some fantastic newly-opened, work-friendly cafés that easily topped most of the Nimman cafés in style, charm and work-friendliness as well as being way less crowded adding to a more relaxed work atmosphere.
1) Ombra Caffé
Opening Times: 8am – 10pm, Monday – Sunday
We LOVE Ombra Caffé!!!
This cozy, warm and welcoming Santitham Café is hidden at the very end of xx road and is a great place for working remotely and drinking excellent coffee, what else could you want?
They offer the perfect work environment with lots of different seating options to choose from (high tops, long tables, couch), a cool vintage style, very strong free Wi-Fi and plenty of power points to charge your laptop or mobile phone during your work sessions.
Lighting inside is a bit low which we however prefer as it adds to the coziness of this place. However, if you require proper lighting to work this might not be the right place for you.
It also can get very busy at peak times however, as this café is one of the few that stays open until late (10pm!) it’s the perfect place for all night owls who work best in the late afternoon & evening hours.
- Quiet, warm and relaxed atmosphere
- Strong Wi-Fi and lots of different seating options
- Opens from 8am until 10 pm every day
- AC is set to freezing temperatures – can get cold depending where you sit
- No proper lunch options available (but delicious pastries and snacks)
- Lighting a bit low at some desks
2) Passion Project the Café
Opening Times: 8am – 6pm, Monday – Sunday
Passion Project is this absolutely gorgeous new café and co-working space located in a very quiet street in Santitham. It just opened a few months ago but it’s gonna be a hit with the digital nomad crowds – for sure!!
It has a very light, airy and spacious feel which we absolutely love. You could easily spend hours here working on your latest project while enjoying their delicious and well-presented food (try Smoothie Bowl or the Avocado Sandwich – YUM!), the hip and chilled out vibe, the calm greenery from the upstairs café as well as the general great ambience of this beautifully designed place.
Also perfect for any IG-shots if you want to get some real office-of-the-day-envy going 😉
There is also ample of different seating available in their upstairs and downstairs café (including some outside seating) as well as plenty of outlets and strong Wi-Fi! And let’s not forget the super delicious food on offer – Sandwhiches, Smoothie Bowls and Salads, everything is super fresh, yummy and absolutely IG-worthy-looking! Definitely one of our favourite places in Chiang Mai to work and feast in style! 😊
- Super “Instragrammable” design, food and general ambience
- Different work-friendly places to sit upstairs and downstairs (including outside seating)
- Delicious and well-presented breakfast and lunch options
- Prices are a bit on the expensive side
- Can get crowded around noon and a bit noisy in the upstairs café (loud mixer)
- Cats roaming around freely – not ideal if you have an allergy to fur
3) MDL Organic Café
Opening Times: 9am – 6pm, Monday – Sunday (inside area with A/C opens at 10am)
Americano: 40THB (all day deal: 99THB)
MDL Organic Café is the new kid on the block and absolutely rocking it!
It’s a bit of a walk coming from Nimman area making it a bit harder to get to if you’re not based in Santitham but that also means it’s not crowded that you’ll struggle finding a seat at all if you show up at 10am– at least NOT YET! Because this café is a little digital nomad’s dream! Comfortable inside and outside seating, lots of outlets to charge your phone and laptop, decent Wi-Fi, friendly staff and delicious and reasonable priced organic coffee!! YAY!
We especially loved the general atmosphere of this place – it’s very quiet, bright and spacious which makes getting a few hours of work done feel like a breeze. They also offer super work-friendly desks to sit and work from and a view into their little green garden patio. From around noon they turn on the water fountain that runs down the big windows adding to the cool and relaxing vibe.
Definitely our go-to café in Santitham for our morning work sessions!
- super work-friendly environment with lots of seating options and power outlets (feels more like a cool co-working space than a café)
- Reasonable priced organic coffee
- Relaxed ambience with water fountain and lush garden patio for outside seating
- Limited food and snack menu
- Not the strongest Wi-Fi
- Closes already at 6pm
The following links are affiliate links as well, which means that if you book a stay through these links, we’ll get a small commission. Don’t worry–the price is still the same for you.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai?
The best areas to stay for digital nomads are the Nimman Area as well as the more local Santitham neighborhood. Although Old Town is absolutely beautiful we wouldn’t recommend staying there long-term as prices seem to be much higher, it’s much more crowded with tourists and there aren’t that many work-friendly cafés around.
Click here for all Chiang Mai Hotel deals*!
Should you plan to stay long-term (1 month+) there are several modern apartment buildings in the Nimman area where you can get a nice apartment from 13,000THB / month. What we’d suggest is to book a hotel for the first few nights and go on an apartment-hunting-tour around Nimman checking for availability and prices. This is how we secured our cozy apartment last year when we stayed in Chiang Mai for 6 weeks.
This year, when we visited Chiang Mai for only 2 weeks in February 2019, we decided to split our time into 1 week Nimman and 1 week in Old Town Chiang Mai and can highly recommend you the following two places:
For Nimman we can highly recommend the NORN NEE NOR* which not only offers affordable and boutique style accommodation and a chic design, but it’s also in walking distance to some of our favourite digital nomad hot spots in Chiang Mai. It also comes with it’s own work-friendly café – MUSE CAFÉ, the perfect workaction in Chiang Mai.
In Old Town we stayed at the super cute and cozy HUEN CHIANG MAN HOSTEL*! They have this lovely room with a balcony overlooking the neighborhood and offering good seating facilities in case you want to get some work done right there!
Where to stay in Chiang Mai
In Nimman we stayed at the Norn Nee Nor Hotel* which is in easy walking distance to our favourite Nimman cafés for digital nomads including the Muse Café right inside the hotel.
In Chiang Mai Old Town we stayed at the Huen Chiang Man Hostel* – a super cute and cozy guesthouse in a quiet area and walking distance to Zmoy’s, Into the Woods and our favourite Breakfast spot: Blue Diamond.
* = Affiliate links.