How To Stay Online While Exploring Southeast Asia

Traveling and staying in touch has become easier over the years, even in remote locations.

More often than not, getting disconnected requires a very conscious effort, and a fair warning to

Staying online when traveling also requires a conscious effort. You can’t land in a place like Phuket or Manila and expect WiFi to be good enough for a quick video conference with the mothership.

I knew a guy who found the only decent signal while hanging out halfway from his third story hotel balcony. Don’t be that guy.

Staying in Touch Lets You Get Away

As counter-intuitive as it might sound, if you can figure out reliable ways to stay connected, it might open up new horizons for you. Reliability is a key word here because, in the end, you are only as reliable as your ability to stay connected.

Whether you are talking about a portable WiFi booster, hanging out in obscure internet cafes (yes, they still exist) or being tethered to a tourist resort or a hot spot out there somewhere. You have to be reliable.

This is especially true in Southeast Asia, where there might be a disparity between the popular tourist and business hubs, and more secluded beaches and villages where you can get away from the more popular tourist traps (and still try to get some work done).

Places like Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos have graduated from being regarded as hardcore travel destinations for the adventurous, to a very prominent point on everyone’s bucket list. But this doesn’t always mean perfect WiFi.

The Most Reliable and Popular Ways to Keep Connected

  1. Hotel and resort WiFi – This is a go-to for most newbies or people who travel to get away and don’t have the pressing need to “be at work.” Why? Because while it exists, you might only be able to catch it in certain places. With public WiFi, you are not in charge.
  2. Restaurants, cafés, and public transit – in cities, these all have WiFi. It seems that WiFi is almost everywhere, even some buses or trains. But again, don’t count on it being fast. It’s good enough if you want to tell your mom, “I love you and I’m alive,” but it might not be good enough to crank out some real work.
  3. WiFi boosters – I personally prefer those, because while you’re still dependent on finding a WiFi signal, you solve the problem of “slow” and “too far away.” You can sit in peace and work. It’s one less thing to worry about.
  4. Your phone – this is probably your first go-to source of staying in touch, and I can’t stress enough to prepare ahead of time. Do not bring a locked phone – it will cost you an arm and a leg. The best way to go is to get an unlocked phone and get a prepaid SIM card as soon as you land. You will be relatively self-reliant this way and will be able to use local apps and check bus schedules on the fly.

Digital Nomad Life

Southeast Asia is a never-ending sensory adventure of food, sights, and experiences. Don’t let bad WiFi get in the way and plan well ahead before you go. Take it from the bloggers who travel for a living (cough cough)!

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