These Pay Our Bills
Over the last month I’ve been bouncing from cafe to co-working space to find a decent place to work. Sure, Thailand has way better Internet than I’ve been accustomed to back in Australia however I’ve managed to find myself in a bit of a pickle. The “high speed” WiFi that comes with my apartment is technically high speed, as long as I work from the toilet and everyone in the building has gone to bed (and stopped torrenting). Aside from my deplorable home Internet, my mobile Internet is in a similar conundrum. I broke my phone mere days before I left Australia and have been waiting for the right time to buy a new one. Or so I thought. Alas a myriad of different circumstances have stopped me from getting a new phone so I’m working with my backup smart device which firstly is 3G (so no touching that juicy LTE) and secondly, mobile reception in my apartment is about as dependable as the WiFi.
Setting up a base of operations isn’t too difficult in Chiang Mai tho, Digital Nomads have swarmed from all over the globe to work in this region and the local businesses have realised this. Co-working spaces have popped up all around the place and a lot of local cafes have accepted the fact that people will camp and use their wifi whilst downing multiple beverages and snacking on whatever is thrown at them.
There is a problem though – fast that it may be, Internet access isn’t always reliable. One day a cafe might have blistering speeds, the next it might grind to a halt. Routers break, cables get cut or fall out of walls. What’s worse is that some co-working spaces have been filling up, resulting in incredibly poor speeds. Wee bit difficult to push that git update when people can barely read email.
So over the past few weeks I’ve been gathering a small database of data collected from my own cafe/co-working visits as well as those from fellow digital nomads. This data barely scratches the surface of suitable places to grab wifi in this city, but I realised that the data that I already have might be of use to some people so I’ve plotted it on a map and shared it below. Hit the full-screen button and poke away at the dots. I’ve colour-coded them to represent the quality of the wifi for you. Darker is faster.
For those wondering, my personal two recommendations are MANA Co-working & Reading space and Coffee Monster. Mana is a teeny little co-working space that will probably get too popular soon, but in the meantime I love it. The staff are very cool, it is slightly Japanese themed and most importantly – its silent. Yes, it advertises as a co-working space but the main room is all about headphones and no talking. Not that great to collaborate, but for me, it is bliss. Coffee Monster on the other hand is just a really big space that has good Internet, coffee and food. Plus it is a bit of a distance away from the city so it rarely gets busy.
Oh, if you happen to be in Chiang Mai and would like to contribute, you can fill out this form. That would be super cool of you.
For those interested, each venue has had multiple speed tests and the numbers shown are averages taken over the last 5 visits. Thanks to these averages, the number shown will be a lot lower than optimal bandwidth enjoyed at these venues, but its a good enough indication. Also, speeds will vary due to where the tests physically are taken – in the cafe across the road to me there is 80% decrease from sitting next to the bar compared to sitting near a window. Finally, speed is never a good indication of a good place to work, but it does show that the owner has put money towards a decent connection, suggestion he/she wants to provide a decent venue for digital nomads.
Header image from moveast.me under CC0 license.
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