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Top 30 Coffee Shops in Chiang Mai - Part 1

Part of our travels is to find a good spot to work on with a descent internet speed to meet client deliverables and update social community profiles. Considering Chiang Mai as one of the best place for digital nomads, we visited different coffee shops and checked out their services, the blend of their coffee and speed of their network.

Here are a few on the bucket list, arrange to which we were closest to from where we stayed.
Free Bird Cafe
Download: 4.7 Mbps | Upload: 0.4 Mbps | Ping: 49 ms
Overall rating: 2 cups | Wifi rating: 1 bars
Free Bird Cafe is the best place in Chiang Mai if you want to try Burmese and Shan cuisine. The place is nice and simple, with many pictures and drawings on the wall. It reminds me of a primary school or a place where kids would play and learn. There’s a reason for that: the cafe’s profits go to the Thai Freedom House, a non profit learning center that helps Burmese and other minority refugees in Thailand. The restaurant also sells second hand clothes and again, the profits go to a good cause.

As far as working here goes, it’s not the best option around: the wooden benches get uncomfortable pretty fast and the Wifi is slow and unreliable. The food is excellent though and you would contribute to a good cause so you have to stop by!

Download: 9 Mbps | Upload: 0.5 Mbps | Ping: 46 ms
Overall rating: 2.5 cups | Wifi rating: 2 bars
Pacamara is situated on a central street in Old Town and offers perfectly made coffee and tasty cakes. Unfortunately the size of the actual cafe is limiting for its workability. The inside seating areas consist of a small corridor with a few smalls tables and one bigger one at the very back. On the side of the corridor there is the counter with a few stools and, when it gets busy, you will have people all around you hitting your table. It’s quite a small space.

There is a seating area outside as well, but the situation doesn’t get much better: even if there’s much more space, you are on the side of one of the main streets, with noise, people and heat.

Unfortunately the internet connection wasn’t very good either, so it’s really not an ideal working spot. The coffee is excellent though, so if you need your caffeine kick, definitely stop by!

Cozy Coffee & Bakery
Download: 27 Mbps | Upload: 1.6 Mbps | Ping: 24 ms
Overall rating: 4 cups | Wifi rating: 4 bars
This cafe is located outside the south walls of the city, in a street rich with hostels and backpackers, but the vibe is totally different from its surroundings. The cafe has a big garden with a fountain in the middle and white, romantic furniture that will make you feel you’re in a British garden more then a backpacker hub of Chiang Mai.

There are a few bigger tables outside but the majority of the seats are inside, where you will find two carefully decorated rooms with different sizes and heights tables. One of the rooms has big windows on the side to add a garden feeling, and both of them are really cozy. Yes, the Cozy Coffee and Bakery is all about coziness.

The wifi is fast and reliable and you have a discrete selection of food. The only fault of this place was the coffee during my visit; you might be better off getting a tea and having your caffeine hit somewhere else. 

Kafè Roubaix
Download: 29.6 Mbps | Upload: 1.9 Mbps | Ping: 20 ms
Overall rating: 2.5 cups | Wifi rating: 4 bars
When I visited Kafè Roubaix the internet was driving me crazy: every 10 minutes I had to reconnect. After less then an hour I had to leave because I wasn’t able to work. When it was working it was fast but it’s connection stability was too poor. It might have been just a bad day.

There are a few small tables at the entrance and a second room with a few more options. The cafe has a clean and modern design, nice background music and excellent coffee. They don’t serve food and the seats aren’t the most comfortable but they’re okay. The seats in the back room are better but it can get busy back there.

With a more reliable connection this cafe would definitely be a solid choice.

Coffee Monster
Download: 30.4 Mbps | Upload: 11.4 Mbps | Ping: 35 ms
Overall rating: 4 cups | Wifi rating: 5 bars
Coffee Monster is a co-working space and a cafe, meaning that there are nearly all the comforts of an office; plenty of plugs, fast internet, good sized tables and also areas where you can relax, including a few sofas and a hammock. Everything is surrounded by fluorescent walls and colorful abstract elephant paintings. There is a big table at the back, ideal for meetings, and a garden with a few seats and a few smaller tables.

There are people that come here every day, so if you want to find a community or find new colleagues, this is the place for you. Although, it seems most digital nomads want to leave the idea of an office and fixed working hours and experiment with something different, so this could feel like a ‘going back’ to a normal life. If that’s what you are looking for, this is the place.

The internet was fast and reliable when I was there but I have heard that is not always the case, depending on how busy it is. They serve food and coffee, but you might want to consider having your coffee somewhere else, the coffee I had was particularly bad.

Focus Gallery
Download: 8.3 Mbps | Upload: 2.8 Mbps | Ping: 18 ms
Overall rating: 2 cups | Wifi rating: 3 bars
Focus Gallery is a cafe and photography gallery along the heavily traffic Huaykaew Road. The majority of the seats are outside, separated into two sections: one just in front of the entrance on a sort of platform that faces the street and another at street level with a leafy barrier that separates you from the carpark and makes the atmosphere a bit more intimate. Inside the cafe is a lounge with some beautiful photos on the wall and low couches with small tables.

Unfortunately the coffee was terrible, the connection only decent and I personally don’t like working from a carpark. Fortunately the food was okay and the atmosphere might be nice in the evening for a few drinks, but it’s not a great place for a coffee and getting work done.

Chuen Juice Bar
Download: 29 Mbps | Upload: 3.3 Mbps | Ping: 16 ms
Overall rating: 4 cups | Wifi rating: 5 bars
With its big glass windows and a minimal yet sharp decor, the Chuen Juice Bar feels like a trendy cafe in the corporate area of a big city. To make it feel even more like a business place it has an excellent, stable internet connection.

It’s a juice bar though, so it’s better if you get your caffeine kick from somewhere else and enjoy a fresh, healthy, sugar-free smoothie here. The absence of coffee, however, may not be your biggest problem: there’s a variety of seats, but most of them aren’t ideal for working long hours. The small sofas and stools without back support can be hard to deal with after awhile and the better tables can still be harsh on your back after a while (at least they were for me).

When I was there there wasn’t anyone else and it didn’t really look like a place that gets very busy, which might be good if you need some quiet to focus and get down to work. They also have a few plugs available and a small selection of snacks.

Cafè De Thaan Aoan
Download: 16 Mbps | Upload: 3.2 Mbps | Ping: 19 ms
Overall rating: 3 cups | Wifi rating: 4 bars
This family owned Cafe is located in the middle of Old Town, which is convenient if you’re planning some temple hopping in-between work. The interior is simple, old style and has more of a restaurant feeling then a cafe. The food is also more restaurant type, offering a wide choice of tasty Thai dishes.

There is an outside seating area that, due to its location at the crossing between two of the major streets in Old Town, can be too noisy and polluted to be able to work from for long hours. The inside is quiet enough and has soft background music. It also offers a few seating options; low sofas and taller, more appropriate, tables.

The internet is free and pretty fast. They have two access points, both with the same speed, and when I was there one of them stopped working but I just needed to switch and it was fine.

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