Bootstrapping Your Startup In Bangkok

Lifestyle businesses are in. Ever since Tim Ferriss launched The Four Hour Work Week in 2007, people of all walks of life have been scrambling to create their “muse,” the term that Ferriss coined to describe a web-based passive source of income.

Having built mobile sources of income through the web ourselves, we thought we’d share what we consider to be some of the best destinations for those who are bootstrapping their web-based business. In this entry we’ll focus on Bangkok, Thailand specifically, an incredibly popular choice among location independent entrepreneurs.

Ah, Bangkok. This is probably my favorite city in Asia for every reason across the board. Bangkok is the pulsating capital of Thailand and a major Asian metropolitan center for commerce, tourism, nightlife, transport and FUN.

You can definitely do Thailand in under $1000 USD a month, but you would definitely have to be watching your budget. The proportion of rent-food-miscellaneous would be approximately the same as $300 for rent, $400 for food, $300 for miscellaneous – but your standard of living, eating, and socializing would be noticeably lower than that of Chiang Mai.

You would by no means be suffering, though. The area where Bangkok will really hit you is your party budget. Partying in Bangkok is noticeably more expensive than it is in Chiang Mai. The cost, however, is justified in the sheer number of options and variety of venues offered by Bangkok.

Bangkok is a world class city delivered at 3rd world prices. We strongly recommend considering this as your Asia hub. This city offers networking opportunities with thousands of other bright expats and locals as well as an incredibly diverse range of social scenes.

Bangkok is right for you if you don’t mind being in a concrete jungle. This city is not naturally beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, particularly if you live in developed areas of the city such as Asok or Thong Lo. What it lacks in greenery it makes up for in convenience, superb public transport and infinite options for shopping and nightlife.

This city is good for you if you can stay disciplined and focused on your projects during the time you allocate for your work. This is also a great city if you take advantage of the social opportunities provided by being in a city of 10+ million people. Bangkok also has the fastest internet speeds in Thailand – hands down, no questions asked. I had a reliable 20 MB/S connection while I lived at a serviced apartment. As a frame of reference, that meant I could host videoconferencing with no interruptions and stream live videos with minimal problems.

The visa situation is neither terrible nor great. If you plan to stay 6 months or fewer, you can get by doing visa runs for a while. Your options are to apply for a tourist visa at a Thai embassy abroad, which will provide you with 60 days. You have the option of extending this by 30 days at the local immigration office, which will run you about $60 USD. It is a bit more inconvenient and time consuming to extend your visa in Bangkok, mostly due to the immigration office inexplicably being located about a full hour outside Bangkok’s city center.

One major benefit that Bangkok has over other destinations is the sheer number of destinations you can get to via direct flight. I have an abnormal level of fear and dread about flying and like to minimize the number of connections necessary when I need to pick up and go. In Bangkok’s case, you can get to these international destinations within a 3 hour radius of the city:

  • Phnom Penh
  • Hong Kong
  • Shenzhen
  • Guangzhou
  • Macau
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Penang
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Hanoi
  • Ho Chi Minh City

Bangkok is f*cking sweet.

OVERALL PROS:

  • Although more expensive than Chiang Mai, you get more value due to being in a major metropolitan center
  • Insane nightlife, INSANE NIGHTLIFE.
  • World class restaurants and dining options
  • Many world class hospitals
  • All the convenience of living in a city like Singapore
  • Superb public transportation and cheap/plentiful taxis
  • Good networking opportunities
  • Major air and transportation hub

OVERALL CONS:

  • Concrete jungle
  • Traffic, Crowded
  • The city is one giant distraction
  • Air pollution
  • Flooding

Michael Park Photo Source: Tumblr & GuidePal

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