Southeast Asia Digital Nomad Visas: Planning a Workation Itinerary

Several countries in Southeast Asia have rolled out a digital nomad visa in the last two years, giving you a choice of where to base your workation lifestyle in the region.

Having toured this region several times, we recommend you only get one digital nomad visa for your base Southeast Asian country, then use a tourist visa to visit the nearby countries. Or, at least, don’t get more than one digital nomad visa at once to avoid wasting time and money.

In this article, we’ll guide you in choosing which country to get a digital nomad visa based on your income profile, priority and other factors. Remember to bookmark this guide, too, so you can be updated once the other Southeast Asian countries launch their remote work visa soon.

Southeast Asia Digital Nomad Visas Table of Contents

Step 1: What countries have a digital nomad visa in Southeast Asia?

As of this writing, you only have three options for a digital nomad visa in Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

  • Malaysia – It provides the DE Rantau Nomad Pass, also known as the Digital Nomad Visa, which permits qualified digital nomads to reside in the country for an initial period of 12 months, with the option to renew for an additional year. This pass falls under the specialized Professional Visit Pass category.
  • Indonesia – It offers the Second Home Visa, which caters to various individuals such as digital nomads (with sufficient funds), investors, tourists, and retirees. The Second Home Visa allows a stay of five or ten years and can be extended to family members.
  • Thailand – It has introduced the Long-Term Resident Visa (LTR Visa), often referred to as the Thailand digital nomad visa. It enables remote workers, retirees, affluent individuals, and highly skilled professionals to reside in Thailand for a renewable period of 10 years.

The Rest of Southeast Asia

  • The Philippines – Currently in the process of planning a digital nomad visa, with a bill under consideration. This might take a year or longer, as it will have to pass through the country’s senate and then must win the nod of the president.
  • Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – All favorite destinations for their mysticism and culture, but they have not announced any plans to implement a digital nomad visa.
  • Singapore – Unlikely to join the fray. As it stands now, its tight space is maxed out accommodating the daily influx of tourists and business people.
  • Burma and Brunei – Simply out of the loop.


Step 2: Which ones do you qualify for?

The first thing to look at is the minimum income requirement. Remember, countries offering digital nomad visas want your money (or the money your skill will create), not your charm.

Minimum Income Requirement

Thailand and Indonesia have really set the bar high for regular digital nomads, at $80,000 and $130,000, respectively. If you’re earning just over $24,000 a year, your only bet, for now, is Malaysia. Not bad, really, as we’ll explain below in the itinerary section.

Health Insurance

All three countries require you and your dependents to have health insurance coverage. But only Thailand has the specifics laid out.

  • Thailand – Coverage can be in the form of either A) an international health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of 50,000 USD for hospitalization throughout your stay, B) proof of valid social security benefits that cover treatment in Thailand, or C) financial evidence of a deposit of at least 100,000 USD (or 25,000 USD for dependents) held for 12 months. All documents must be in English or Thai language.
  • Indonesia – You need to provide proof of health insurance that covers both yourself and your family while in the country.
  • Malaysia – Same with Indonesia, you are required to have a valid medical insurance enrollment certificate that covers you and your family while in Malaysia.

Potentially Difficult Requirements to Consider

For ease of requirements, Malaysia tops the other two countries.

  • Thailand – You must provide immigration authorities with either an audited corporate annual financial statement or any financial report that shows the company’s revenue surpassing 150 million USD in the past three years. Alternatively, you can provide evidence of the company being listed on a stock exchange.
  • Indonesia – Your national passport is valid for at least 36 months.
  • Malaysia – No out-of-line requirement here, so expect to breeze through the application process.


Step 3: Which one aligns with your priority?

Suppose you qualify for Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand digital nomad visas. The next step is to consider the digital nomad visa that aligns with your priority. Think of your priority, but in our experience, we usually think of two things: length of stay and strategic location.

Length of Stay

For the length of stay, Thailand and Indonesia allow the longest stay. This is only a major consideration if you plan to stay for years in the Southeast Asian country of your choice. A scenario we often see is one’s kid enrolled in a locally based school. You might think reapplying for a digital nomad visa will allow you to stay until your kid finishes middle school, but remember, every time you hand over a visa application, there’s a chance you can be denied, albeit unlikely (unless you did something bad while drunk). Still, placing your years of stay at the whim of the immigration office has its risk.

That said, Malaysia has the shortest length of stay clause: one year, which can be extended to another year (subject to approval). So, tops, you have two years to bask in Malaysia as a digital nomad. On the other hand, Thailand and Indonesia have a better deal: 10 years! But it comes with a price, as we’ve pointed out above.

Strategic Location

Strategic location can mean by the number of tourist attractions nearby or by business importance.

  • By attraction – Thailand is simply unbeatable here. Voted by a BBC survey to be the no. 1 choice in the region among travelers from North America and Europe, the country boasts world-famed destinations such as Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Count in nearby favorites Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in the southeast, Vientiane, Laos in the northeast and Langkawi, Malaysia in the opposite westside, all of which are just a bus ride from their respective Thai borders. Not least, Thai food is celebrated worldwide.
  • By business importance – Malaysia is appealing since it’s just a stone’s throw away from Singapore, a testbed for tech startups and a world-leading business hub. In fact, you can cross over to Singapore in an hour outside of the rush traffic to conduct business, then be back in the neighboring Malaysian city of Joho Bahru by afternoon. With the Malaysia digital nomad visa’s multiple entry clause, you can go back and forth between countries every day. Let’s not forget Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur is a regional business powerhouse in itself.

What about Indonesia?

It’s a hard sell since its main attraction, Bali, is a bit far from the Southeast Asian tourist route, plus nowhere in the country can match the business prowess of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur duo. But if Bali is the one you want, by all means, make it your digital nomad base. The island is fast becoming a world-renowned remote work destination.

To sum up, here’s how the digital nomad visas of the three countries stack up against each other:

Comparison of Southeast Asia Digital Nomad Visas

Thailand Malaysia Indonesia
Minimum annual income $80,000 $24,000+ $135,000+
No. of years you can stay 10 Up to 2 years

(1 years + 1 year of extension subject to approval)

5 or 10
Strategic location by priority


Convenient for tourist attractions. Convenient to conduct business. If Bali is all that matters.
Health insurance  

International health insurance ($50k minimum), valid social security benefits or financial evidence ($100k deposit/$25k for dependents) held for 12 months.


Not specified, just proof of health insurance that covers both yourself and your family while in the country. Not specified, just proof of health insurance that covers both yourself and your family while in the country.
Potentially Difficult Requirement Requires your employer’s audited financial statements showing revenue over $150 million in the past 3 years or proof of stock exchange listing. No major obstacle to hurdle. National passport is valid for at least 36 months.


Suggested Itineraries

The better to visualize your decision on which Southeast Asia digital nomad visa to take, we’ve prepared the following itineraries. The one in bold green is your digital nomad base and the arrows point to Southeast Asian countries nearest to your base moving farther away either eastward or westward. You’ll also see your transportation options to the bordering countries enclosed in parentheses.

For countries without a digital nomad visa, you can easily apply for a tourist visa.

Thailand as your Digital Nomad Base

Indonesia (Batam) ← Singapore ← (via bus or plane) Malaysia ← THAILAND DIGITAL NOMAD VISA → Siem Reap, Cambodia (via bus or plane) or Vientiane, Laos (via bus or plane) → Vietnam → Philippines

Why this is good: Several popular destinations are nearby.

Malaysia as your Digital Nomad Base

Indonesia ← Singapore (via train, bus or plane) ← MALAYSIA DIGITAL NOMAD VISA → Thailand (via bus or plane) → Cambodia or Laos → Vietnam → Philippines

Why this is good: You can do business in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with ease.

Indonesia as your Digital Nomad Base

Vietnam ← Cambodia or Laos ← Thailand ← Malaysia ← Singapore (via plane or but if you’re in Batam, via ferry) ← INDONESIA DIGITAL NOMAD VIS A → Philippines (via plane)

Why this is good: If Bali is your ultimate goal, this is it.

Let’s Go!

Southeast Asia beckons with its intoxicating blend of ancient temples, bustling markets, and mouthwatering cuisines that will have your taste buds dancing wildly. Choose your digital nomad base, Southeast Asia is waiting to sweep you off your feet faster than you can say “I need a visa extension!”

Happy travels!