Often the first port of call for newbie nomads and those launching their round-the-globe remote work experiences, it also remains a long-standing favorite of seasoned location-independent entrepreneurs: Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Tourists and travelers know it as a city filled with temples, culture and delicious street food, but for us nomads it’s also the great coffee, fast wifi and coworking spaces we come for. As a well known hotspot, Chiang Mai’s also worth visiting just for the incredible opportunities that come with being surrounded by your tribe. Every nomad you meet is a chance to learn more about countries and cultures around the world as well as how to level up in your career and business.
Thanks to this bounty of talent and passion, the city has an incredible community and roster of events that make it well worth spending time in even when the Nomad Summit train has rolled out of town. Broaden your horizons by meeting other nomads and also getting to know other social groups in town. Here are some of the can’t miss annual events and the awesome Chiang Mai communities that make them happen.
Nomad Summit Chiang Mai Conference Jan. 2019
It’s the city’s premier nomad gathering – duh! An annual event drawing digital nomads from the world over, Nomad Summit was born right here in Chiang Mai. Thanks to a critical mass of remote workers, online entrepreneurs and the like, the conference could fill up without even needing to fly more people in. While the Summit has gone global to Las Vegas, Cancun and beyond, there’s still something special about the Chiang Mai editions.
Selling out more than 400 seats year on year, Nomad Summit in Chiang Mai takes over the Shangri La hotel, but you’ll find event attendees scattered across town exploring and taking in the vibe. Speaker presentations and workshops are great for learning the ropes of the lifestyle, but it’s the networking and lifelong connections that make this event something really special.
Nomad Summit 2020 in Chiang Mai takes place January 17-21, get your tickets here.
Woke Folks Festival
Woke Folks Festival is “an inclusive space for people of all cultures and colors to be unapologetically themselves” and you’ll meet nomads and expats of all backgrounds at this annual city festival. Going into its third year, this is one of the most culturally and artistically diverse events in Chiang Mai. The governor of Chiang Mai was so impressed with what they pulled off their first year, he gave the founder a visa just so he could stick around and do it again.
It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what content this festival promises since it aims to represent a broad spectrum, but if you’re at all into poetry, music, mindfulness, enlightenment and the arts, you’ll find something to love. By day you can enjoy activities and workshops across town, and the evening brings performances, music and dance.
Born out of a weekly open mic night held at the infamous Healing House, this festival has a lot of heart and you’ll undoubtedly experience more than a little bit of weirdness along with a heaping buttload of talent.
Woke Folks Festival 2020 runs from January 22-25 (right after Nomad Summit!). You can learn more and buy tickets here.
Jai Thep Music and Arts Festival
https://www.facebook.com/JaiThepFestival/photos/a.1011711719020247/1011713985686687/?type=3&theater (📷 by DoiLife Photography)
Take some of the weirdness and magic of Woke Folks, add glitter plus camping, ratchet it up to 200% and you might begin to describe Chiang Mai’s best music and arts festival. While not designed for nomads, you’ll find plenty of your tribe hanging out here as well as a variety of artsy Western expats, Japanese hippies, and Thai hipsters.
What started as a day festival by the lake has turned into a weekend-long lineup of Thai rock bands, yoga and spirituality workshops, DJs backed by spectacular stages and lights, and performances ranging from poetry, to stand up, to oh-so-much fire dancing.
If you’ve ever been curious what Burning Man might be like but would prefer to try it out with just a couple hundred people, then Jai Thep is just what the doctor ordered. The festival is plenty artsy fartsy and the camping and emphasis on zero-waste living offer a chance to get out of your comfort zone. Even if the music lineup doesn’t seem quite to your taste, the relaxed and happy vibes alone will make it special.
Jai Thep Music and Arts Festival 2020 happens January 31st – February 2nd. Learn more and buy tickets here.
CM SEO Conference
Spend any time in Chiang Mai’s nomad haunts and you can’t help but pick up a little bit of SEO knowledge. When you work online, it’s highly relevant and can make or break your business. If this is something you’re trying to level up in or build a career out of, there are few places better than Chiang Mai to do so, and there’s a perfect event to get you started on the right track.
Created by SEO rockstar Matt Diggity, the annual Chiang Mai SEO Conference is a can’t miss event for anybody in the SEO and affiliate game. Similar events may be bigger and flashier, but CM SEO delivers exceptional value in content while being a raucously good time and also not overwhelmingly massive.
If you’re interested in going, sign up to be notified when tickets go on sale because this event sells out months in advance every year! Top tier SEOs can also look forward to an exclusive Mastermind event open only to 6-figure and up income earners.
Chiang Mai SEO Conference 2020 dates haven’t been announced yet but it’s expected to take place in again November. Stayed tuned to the CM SEO Conference website for updates.
TEDx Chiang Mai
A staple favorite of nerds and quasi-intellectuals, TED Talks are held around the world and Chiang Mai’s local event is a great way to learn more about the community and Thai takes on global issues. This independently organized TED event is held every year with the last one taking over the new Northern Science Park south of Chiang Mai University.
At this bilingual event, you can wear a headset for live translations and feel like a fancy UN representative. Past speakers have covered topics ranging from the food cultures of northern Thailand, to marijuana legalization, to how women tech founders are changing the game in Southeast Asia.
The crowd is definitely going to skew older and more local than other nomad and entrepreneurship events in Chiang Mai, but the event is world-class and worth planning your travel around if you can. There’s a really interesting crowd of people in the Chiang Mai nomad scene, but if you widen the net to the larger international and expat community, you’ll discover the city’s a nexus for talent across industries and lifestyles. Breaking out of the usual nomad bubble to join an event like this is culturally and intellectually rewarding.
TEDx Chiang Mai 2020 dates have yet to be announced, but past events were held in September. Check out their website for info and updates.
Whatever the time of year, you’ll find nomads to connect with in Chiang Mai and exciting events to attend. If you’ve only come for Nomad Summit, then you’ve barely scratched the surface.
Spending quality time here is a chance to more fully explore what Chiang Mai has to offer beyond just crushing it at work and networking with like-minded people. The city is creative and eclectic, and trust us – you’ll thank yourself for the chance to dive in deeper and expand your horizons.
To read even more about the regular nomad events happening right now in Chiang Mai, check out the latest blog post at CoCo Chiang Mai, The Best Meetups in Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads 2019.
This guest post is written by Lily Bruns, the creator of CoCo Chiang Mai, a relocation service for digital nomads, and a founder of the Chiang Mai Entrepreneurship Association.