Before we came to Chiang Mai, we thought we were pretty easy-going when it came to our wifi-café criteria: all we wanted was a place with good wifi and drinkable coffee.
Not anymore – we’ve changed. Either we’ve got snobbier, or the huge number of options in Chiang Mai means we’ve got fussier, or we just took a heap of stuff for granted when in other countries. But whatever the reason, we have very strong ideas about what we want and don’t want out of a wifi café:
- Comfy seats
- Amazing wifi
- Lovely staff
- Plug points
- Awesome air conditioning
- A huge range of drinks
- Great coffee – if it’s a coffee place
- Food – just in case we get peckish
- Outside space – preferably with plug points there too
- Open late – until at least 8pm
- Non-distracting music (or at the very least, Adele covers that aren’t sung by screaming cats)
Did we find anywhere that ticked all these boxes? Almost…
Here’s our rundown of all the Chiang Mai places where we took our laptops and tried to get some work done. (There’s a map and everything – check out the bottom of this post.)
South of the Old Town
Brand new at time of writing. It looks tiny, but there’s a huge upstairs area. Owned by an American man and his Chinese wife, which means you get more “Western traditional” cappuccinos and coffees (rather than everything with condensed milk), as well as loads of bubble teas. Cakey things and croissants too. The upstairs is quite loud because of all the open windows and traffic on the street below.
Location: Chang Lor Road, 50200
Opens early, good coffee, comfy seats. Tiny place though – and can get a bit crowded (but that’s mainly due to the staff – there are way too many of them).
Location: Chang Lor Road, 50100
Good Morning Chiang Mai
A beautiful big house built by the owners, with lots of lovely outside space (and plug points outside too). It’s great for working with a coffee, as well as for huge Western breakfasts and Thai lunches. There are both indoor and outdoor plug points, which is awesome. The servers are utterly hopeless though – you might need to go and find one to take your order, and then take back your food/drink a few times when they get it wrong.
Location: 29/5 Ratchamanka Road Soi 6, 50200
Oh god, it’s on the dreadful backpacker road. No idea why we came here really – it’s full of people with dreadlocks and BO who insist on putting the world to rights very loudly. Totally our fault for thinking we could get work done in this place. Sticky tables – not great if you’re protective of your laptop. Juices overpriced and over-iced.
Location: Ratchaphakhinai Road, 50200
Middle of the Old Town
Comfy seats both inside and out, a server so lovely we wanted to adopt her, great air-con, decent wifi, and a good assortment of drinks. For some reason the customers are awful - mostly British/American/South African and rude, loud, condescending and demanding.
Location: 175/1 Ratchamanka Road, 50200
Really comfortable seats, excellent wifi, plug points and great air-con. A couple of seats outside, but it’s quite noisy on the street. There’s a huge range of hot and cold drinks (try the iced cappuccino and mango shake), as well as hot food and cakes. Says it closes at 8pm but starts giving “subtle hints” to bugger off at about 7pm (e.g. turning all the chairs up on the table, cleaning out the coffee machine, and bringing all the signs in from outside). Feels a bit like the lobby of a business hotel.
Location: 145/4 Ratchadamnoen Road, 50000
Terrible wifi (sometimes didn’t work at all), but good Thai iced coffee and regular drip coffee. The seats look comfortable but don’t be fooled: after about five minutes your whole body will ache.
Location: 80/5 Rachadamnoen Road, 50200
Black Canyon Coffee
Great range of drinks, plus an extensive food menu (which we didn’t try). Kudos for the free mini biscuits that come with hot drinks, and extra kudos for the free glass of green tea (which seems weird, but we’re not going to complain about a free beverage). Can be very busy – often full of a mixture of tourists and Thai families. Quite similar to Starbucks in vibe (but without the sofas). Hilariously bad cover songs played – which may or may not be too distracting for you.
Location: 1-3 Ratchadamnoen Road, 50200
This place is definitely more for food than coffee/work, but there’s a lovely, comfortable indoor area with good tables for laptop working. Porridges and smoothies are out of this world, which makes up for the lack of decent wifi and surly staff (“No, there’s nothing wrong with the wifi. It works – OK???”)
Location: 20/1 Ratmakka Road, 50200
Sila Boutique Bed and Breakfast
A bit of a hidden gem: a fairly new B&B that’s really modern and quiet and seems to have done no marketing whatsoever. So the lobby area – where you can get drinks and wifi – is empty, as is the amazingly comfortable seating area outside. The wifi outside isn’t amazing (tip: don’t try to download an episode of Modern Family while you’re there), but it works well enough.
Location: 3/11 Samlan Road, 50200
The Sculpture Hostel
A clean, modern hostel with a huge but minimalist lobby area where they serve snacks and drinks. In keeping with the minimalist vibe, there aren’t that many tables and chairs, but there aren’t that many customers either, so you should be fine. The wifi didn’t work for us when we were there, but the servers seemed pretty convinced that it’s normally fine.
Location: Ratchadamnoen Road – towards the east side of the wall, 50000
Very small, and not many seats (and one of them’s always taken by an old American man who stares into space a lot). Looks like someone’s front room. So-so wifi and so-so coffee.
Location: 52/3 Ratchamanka Road, 50200
The Coffee Bull
“Odd” is an understatement. It’s a coffee shop-cum-something, but we’re not sure what the “something” is really. Tiny, hardly any seats, a bit too warm, but hugely friendly and welcoming, and with the best (and cheapest) Thai iced coffee we’ve had in Chiang Mai. Shoes have to be left outside.
Location: Ratchamanka Road (about halfway between east and west), 50000
Peppermint Coffee House
More of a restaurant/place to have breakfast than do work, but there’s wifi so we went. LOVELY server/wife of owner, great food but not-great coffee. Peppermint looks more like your traditional Chiang Mai café, which makes a nice change from all the modern, Starbucksy places. Tortuous seats though.
Location: 1/1 Rachadamnoen Road Soi 5, 50200
North(ish) of the Old Town
Again, not really a place to go and do work, but there’s wifi so we went. You’ll get strange looks if you take a laptop though: the other customers are all hippies who’re travelling around the world to find themselves (we did lots of eavesdropping). Wifi is so-so, but the smoothies are incredible and the woman who owns the place is just wonderful. Go there – even if you don’t take work with you.
Location: Moon Maung Road Soi 6 (opposite Sompet Market), 50200
Very Westernised, but GREAT smoothies-cum-meals (try the smoothie with peanut butter, cereal, bananas, milk and all manner of other things). Good wifi and outside space, and prices that aren’t too insane. Extensive food menu of wraps, salads and sandwiches; we didn’t try the food but it’s meant to be good.
Location: 125 Moonmuang Road, 50200
Ridiculous name aside, how does anyone get any work done here? Ristr8to (do you know how long it takes to type that name correctly?) is a favourite among digital nomads, but we just don’t get it. Yes, the coffee is absolutely amazing, but it’s crazy expensive compared to everywhere else, the seats kill, it’s busy, it’s hot, the wifi doesn’t work properly… Maybe it’s a nice place to go work at certain times of day, but we’re not too fussed about finding out.
Location: 15/3 Nimmanhemin Road, 50200
Another digital nomad favourite that we just can’t understand. Looks really cool and modern on the outside, but inside it’s just a bit meh. There are plug points everywhere – so it’s clearly welcoming of laptop working – but it’s pricey, bland and a bit dull.
Location: Nimmanhemin Road Soi 7 (at the corner with Nimmanhemin Road), 50200
The Coffee Bar
Great place. On the same street as Appsolut, but very few Westerners seem to go there. Lovely outside areas (front and back) and really comfortable, original-looking indoor section too. Good wifi, great air-con, friendly staff and amazing strawberry smoothies.
Location: Nimmanhemin Road Soi 7 (keep walking past Appsolut and it’s further down on your right), 50200
Another digital nomad favourite. Comfortable seats, plug points, crazily annoying pop tunes (mixture of covers and ballad-y originals) and good wifi. It’s a bit pricey and they pump out some sort of weird flowery scent non-stop, but all in all a good place.
Location: Nimmanhemin Road Soi 9 (about halfway down), 50200
You’ll find most of the places listed above:
View Chiang Mai wifi cafes for digital nomads in a larger map