The Best Meetups in Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads 2019
Everybody’s gotta have friends, and few things are more painful and awkward than making friends as an adult. When you’re living a lifestyle that has you constantly on the go and you don’t settle in to any one social circle, boy oh boy does this get even harder.
Most adult friend groups are formed at work and in the absence of an office, coworking spaces can be the next best thing. People go to coworking spaces to, well, work though, so it’s not always the most conducive to having the conversations that lay the groundwork for becoming best pals. Sooooo what’s a lonely nomad starved for social interaction to do?
Welcome to Chiang Mai, land of meetups! If you want to hang out with your fellow location-independent peoples in an environment designed for socializing and bonding over shared interests, here’s a list of the best meetups in Chiang Mai for connecting with digital nomads.
Remote Collective Popup Coworking
Hosted once a week during “the season” (roughly September through February), this popup event takes over a lesser known cafe or coworking space in the city. Free to attend, it’s a great place to meet new people or to reconnect with those you’ve met but haven’t yet had a chance really speak with.
Remote Collective is a media brand led by the inimitable Brittnee Bond, and if you’ve ever been to one of her events, you know she’s gonna make you talk and open up. At the popup coworking days, she invites attendees to share a little about themselves and what they’re working on, so it’s a great place to get a sense of what others are doing and find potential collaborators.
After the initial intros though, everybody is free to hang out or focus on work as they choose, or connect further and enjoy chitchatting. People come to work, to have meetings or just for the social aspect. It’s super low key so you can decide what feels best for you.
This year the popup coworking days have been held every Thursday in the lobby of the drop-dead gorgeous Home Chiang Mai Hotel. Check the Remote Collective Facebook Page for the latest details and to RSVP.
Chiang Mai Entrepreneurs Meetup
A good networking event has to have either alcohol or activities, and this monthly meetup has both. Billed as “the networking event for people who don’t like networking,” this meetup happens every second Friday of the month at Burisiri Hotel (which happens to be a super chilled coworking space by day).
The Chiang Mai Entrepreneurship Association (CMEA) which hosts these has a stated aim to build a bridge between Thai, expat, and nomad entrepreneur communities, so you get a more diverse mix of people than at your standard digital nomad event.
If you’re interested to learn more about the city, connect with local business owners and diversify your network, this is the meetup for you. Participants can join the event for a 100baht cover and in addition to the usual mixing and mingling, they also facilitate “Speed Networking.” While it may sound intimidating, the format is actually great for getting past the usual awkwardness of networking and making quality connections in a short amount of time.
CMEA is also the group currently lobbying the government for a digital nomad visa and they have ties to startup agencies and institutions, so if you’ve thought about building a business base in Thailand or tapping into local resources, they’re the people to talk to.
Also held at the Burisiri Hotel, the CNX Socials happen every other Friday during “the season.” Super laid back, these are organized by the vivacious Serena and tend to draw an eclectic crowd. A 50baht cover keeps away the truly miserly, but don’t break the bank.
With no set agenda, the meetup has a totally chilled out vibe and hey, if you want to jump in the pool, no one minds so long as you’re dressed for it! Many a new best-friend group has formed at this gathering and while the attendees aren’t necessarily all digital nomads, there’s a strong feeling of being with like-minded people.
Stay tuned to their Facebook Page for event updates. CNX Social also puts on other great nomad-focused social events and professional workshops.
Digital Wombats Meetup
If you don’t know what a digital wombat is, no stress, you’re still welcome to show up at this friendly meetup hosted by the delightful Beki Adams. The meetup up goes where she goes so you may have seen it in Budapest or elsewhere in Europe, but for the next few months you can join her crew in Chiang Mai.
The Wombats meetup wanders around town too, usually opting for a rooftop bar. It’s free to attend and you can grab a drink, hangout and make some new friends. On quiet evenings about a dozen people will show up, but as we roll into high season the meetup is becoming more popular too.
“Digital Wombats is a relaxed meet up that is focused around meeting new friends who are staying in Chiang Mai for a longer time. There’s a lot of meet ups for backpackers but this meet up is all about meeting new nomads and connecting over your current projects!”
The meetup is usually held bi-monthly on a Monday and you should join the Digital Wombats Facebook group to hear about upcoming events.
Passion Project Digital Nomad Meetup
New on the meetup scene this year, Passion Project Cafe has started hosting digital nomad meetups in conjunction with Nomad Radar, an app for finding - you guessed it! - digital nomads a la Happn.
Perhaps a bit redundant in a town like Chiang Mai where you can hardly go anywhere in high season without being surrounded by nomads, but one can imagine it’s useful in big cities that are more densely populated or up and coming nomad towns
Regardless, the Passion Project Cafe is a gorgeous space and a favorite of nomads since it opened last year. If you haven’t checked it out before, their coffee is great, their food’s delicious and you can spend the afternoon comfortably working there before packing up your laptop and grabbing a cocktail to socialize once the meetup kicks off.
Held so far on Wednesday evenings, things are in full swing by 8pm so best come early. RSVP to the Facebook Event for times and updates.
Language lovers unite! If you’re looking for conversation partners to practice a new language with or you’d like to internationalize your circle of friends, the Mundo Lingo events are right up your alley.
Delighting the child within all of us, attendees are invited to play with stickers. A flag sticker for your home country goes up top and additional flags for any languages you speak can also be chosen. Grab drinks, mix and mingle in whatever language you like best! These meetups have great attendance and the format shakes it up nicely from the usual night out.
Mundo Lingo is available around the world so if you’re a fan, you can look them up in other cities to meet locals and nomads alike.
Held on Tuesdays at November Bar by the river, you can look them up and RSVP on their website.
Digital Nomad Coffee Club
Join nomads, entrepreneurs, and marketing professionals on Fridays to meet and learn with the Digital Nomad Coffee Club. The group’s been running since 2015 and each meetup has a different theme and speakers who will share their wisdom and insights.
“Come, Learn, Mix and Mingle with the Nomads of Chiang Mai in a social environment where you can actually hear each other =) and learn stuff to help you in your business. Afterwards, many continue on together and share their experiences over a meal.”
The organizers are loose about the format and others are invited to run their own events, lunches, and meetups under the umbrella.
Join their group for updates, but you can hardly miss the events as they’ll be posted far and wide on le Facebook in the days leading up.
Weekly Bitcoin Mixer
Founded by crypto enthusiasts Boban Milošević and Stefan King, these meetups have become a staple of the digital nomad social scene in Chiang Mai.
Whether you’re deep into investing or a total newbie to cryptocurrency and the wonders of blockchain, this is a great place to learn and make friends. All that’s required is curiosity and a willingness to learn, but deep wells of nerdiness will get you far with this crowd.
RSVP to the event on Meetup.com or just show up every Thursday. Stefan typically runs a “crypto and blockchain for dummies” session prior to the mixer so anyone who’d like to be better informed before the jump into the fray can get some solid background.
Ladies Lunch at Free Bird Cafe
If you identify as a lady, a woman, or a girl, you’re cordially invited to the weekly lunch held at Free Bird Cafe. Held from 12-2pm every Wednesday, this is a casual gathering of women that draws a mix of locals, nomads and other travelers.
Their menu is all plant-based featuring Shan Burmese inspired noms and wholesome treats like smoothie-bowls and kombucha.
Free Bird is a social enterprise cafe supporting education for Burmese migrants and refugees, so in addition to eating food that’s good for you, you know your money is going to people who will do good with it. Onsite they also have a donation center, second-hand shop, and zero-waste refill shop. It’s all the good things you can do for your body, soul and planet all in the same space!
Owner Lisa Byrd has really stepped it up of late with the activities, so be sure to follow the Free Bird Cafe Facebook page to find out about movie nights, fundraisers, open mics, and more.
Corner Bistro & Small House Kafe
Honorable mention on this list goes to a pair of bars that every nomad should know and love. While they don’t host events for digital nomads per se, their proximity to nomad hangouts means that on any given night, you’re likely to be rubbing shoulders with your crowd.
Meeting people at bars is about as old school as you can get, but there’s a reason classics become classics. If you’re not into the structure of meetups or just can’t make the timings, then try these bars on for size.
They’re located directly opposite each other a block behind Huay Kaew Road so if you’re not feeling the vibe of one, just run across the street to try the other.
Corner Bistro has an insanely active events calendar! Hosting open mic nights, stand up comedy, pub quizzes, movie nights and more. Their staple event is Friday Fries & Hip Hop, a great place to sip and sway to your favorite bootie-bouncing tunes.
Owners Kevin and Sa put a lot of love into this space and even in the off season you’ll find stalwart patrons dutifully perched on their regular barstools so anytime of year, it’s a good place to meet people. Follow their Facebook page to stay tuned for the latest events and specials.
Small House Kafe basically takes the opposite approach to marketing. They’re a simple bar for simple folks, and owners Chris and Dao are happy to keep it that way. The latest event they put on was the delightful It’s Tuesday…
“Facebook likes to remind us that we don’t really exist unless we host more events, so we’re hosting one. This coming Tuesday we are celebrating our existence. We will be open on Tuesday. We were open last Tuesday and we will continue to be open on future Tuesdays. Come celebrate all of our existences this Tuesday or any other Tuesday. All nights only, (except Sunday and Monday, we cease to exist on those days.) Drink all you can afford and ignore the people who annoy you. We’ll be open late! (Or midnight whatever comes first.)”
If your humor has a sarcastic streak, this is the bar for you. Follow their Facebook page for basically no notifications ever (except maybe for Dao’s birthday).
If you’ve done the rounds on the above events and you’re looking for something new or the idea of putting on a name-tag to meet people makes you cringe, might we suggest you give our very own Facebook page a follow at CoCo Chiang Mai? We regularly host events, activities, and excursions designed just for nomads!
Chiang Mai is a great place to meet people whether you prefer to do so in a structured environment that helps you get over those awkward hellos or you’re a social butterfly seeking a new circle or admirers. So put down that phone, clean your nose, fix your hair and say hello to a new friend today!