The Thailand visa and all the information you could want about getting a visa, an extension, or a re-entry permit. Most people go to
Ranong for a visa run. Try to get a multiple entry visa from a Thai Embassy
"The Americans are credited
with inventing pop culture and the industry which surrounds it.
The Thais should be duly credited for creating a visa culture. Web
sites, forums, and travel agents have sprouted wherever new confusing visa regulations
have been planted."
Thailand is not unique in having visa regulations. Nearly all
countries do. What is unique is the inconsistency in the
way these visas are issued, the mandatory 3-month exit rule for nearly
all long term visitors, and the convoluted immigration rules for those
non-Thais with the legal right to work and/or live in Thailand.
Web sites and forums have sprung up to discuss just these issues,
and no one can be 100% of the answers as speculation and rumors are rife.
Not as easy or as cheap to get as they used to be
For most visitors to Thailand, a visa won't even be
required. They'll be staying two weeks to a month.
Most Eastern European nations, China, India, Taiwan, and
some Middle Eastern nations can apply for a visa on arrival
and stay up to 15 days. The more stable wealthier
nations such as the USA, Australia, Japan, the European
Union, and New Zealand, can stay 30 days, along with Hong
Kong, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Russia, and Vietnam.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, and Peru can stay 90
days without a visa. A complete chart is found
here. Information can AND WILL change without
Here's what that chart doesn't mention. Those
staying periods only apply if you fly into Thailand.
If you come in overland from a neighboring country, most
people eligible for a 30-day stay will now find they can
only stay 15 days.
You will encounter Thai bureaucracy when you intend to stay
in Thailand as a tourist for longer than 30 days
consecutively You must then apply for a tourist visa.
If you've never been to Thailand before, getting a
single-entry tourist visa, allowing you to stay a maximum of
60 days, shouldn't be difficult to acquire.
Regulations do vary between Thai consulates and embassies.
Most will just ask for your passport, visa application
(downloadable from the precise consulate or embassy you'll
apply from -- see list
here), and the equivalent of around USD 35 per entry.
Later, you come back and pick up your passport. If you
don't live near an embassy or consulate, you seriously need
to inquire among the ones in your country what their
individual policies are. My brother inquired
about Thai visas in the USA and asked the Thai Embassy in
Washington plus three other consulates. Some would
ship one's passport home by FedEx if one had a prepaid airbill attached to the application. Others, like the
consulate in Los Angeles, would not. Some accepted
cash, some did not. Some took one day, some took
three. The only consistent thing from one consulate
and embassy to another in a single country is the price and
the way the stamp appears in your passport.
Even the 90-days-without-a-visa visitors cannot pull off a
visa-free trip ad infinitum. They are limited to a 90-day
visa-free visit every 180 days. If a Korean, for instance,
wanted to stay from January to June, he'd have to exit
Thailand and come in with a visa the next time.
Types Of Visas You'll
Be Concerned With
You will be given 60 days. Day 1 counts as the very
day you enter. If you enter at 10:30 PM on March 1,
that one-and-a-half hours you'll spend in Thailand on March
1 is tallied as an entire day. Because Thais round
up a minute on a single day as a complete day, effectively
you will have to exit Thailand on the sixtieth day.
These standard tourist visas can be extended to 90 days by
paying a visit to an
Immigration Office -- see Checkpoints option at the top
of the page. The current fee for
Extension of Temporary Stay," as it's officially known, is
1,900B, but this should eventually go up, as all visa
fees and bureaucratic fees have. In real terms,
90-days in the Kingdom will cost you close to USD 100.
You can apply for your extension at any time before the
expiration of your 60-day tourist visa.
Remember that 90 days is not the same thing as 3
months and confusing the two could result in an overstay for
which you will be currently fined 500B per day. Here's
the difference: three months from March 1 is June 1.
90 days from March 1, including March 1 as the Thai
authorities do, is May 29, a three day difference.
You are given a one-day overstay grace as long as you're
flying out of Thailand. Otherwise, you're charged 500B a day.
Multiple Entry Visas In today's Thai visa climate, you probably won't have
a brilliant chance of getting a multiple-entry visa if you apply in a
country close to Thailand. As a general rule, the
further you're away from Thailand when you apply and/or
the more work required to get to the consulate where you're
applying, the better
chance you'll get a multiple entry, though some consulates
and embassies just won't issue a multiple entry visa.
multiple-entry visa allows you to stay in Thailand for a
maximum of 3 months, leave, re-enter, and get up to 3 more
months on the second visa.
A multiple-entry visa doesn't possess the staying power it once had
due to the strictness by Thai Consulates and Embassies about
the length of their validity. Let's pretend you drop
your passport off at a Thai Embassy on March 1
after you apply for a double-entry visa. The Embassy
instructs you to come back in 3 days to pick up your
passport. Although you pickup the passport on March 4,
the validity of the double-entry starts ticking from the
date you drop your passport off -- the expiration date to
activatethe second visa is June 1, three months
from the date you dropped off your passport. If you
enter Thailand on March 5 and extend your stay to 90 days
maximum, you must exit Thailand by June 2. But
actually, you'd have to leave Thailand before your first
visa expired and re-enter Thailand before June 1 to activate
your second visa or risk it expiring before it can be used. You
cannot stay in Thailand 3 months, exit and travel a month or
two in another country, and then return to Thailand with
your second visa entry. If you apply for your
double-entry visa in a country far from Thailand, there's a
chance they'll give you a six month validity on the visa,
but the norm is three months. Realistically, double
entries (with 3 month validity) and triple entries (with 6
month validity) must be used back to back.
These are great visas if you can score 'em. The
Non-Immigrant O allows one to stay for a maximum of 15
months. They're good for a year, but if you
exit Thailand just before the visa expires, you can get two
more months, extendable to a third.
But the problem is getting them. Most Thai embassies
and consulates won't give them out to anyone walking in.
When they are issued, they're done so at minor consulates, not
the key embassies. There've been stories that the consulates in
Hull (UK) and Perth (Australia) issue Non Immigrant O's to
most anyone. By the time you read this though, that
probably won't hold true any longer, and the ones in
Madras (India) or Xian (China) may be the issuers. Foreigners
marrying Thai women -- a very trendy thing nowadays, some
say more popular than snowboarding -- can apply for a Non
Immigrant O. The foreign national must still
leave Thailand every three months and is not automatically
eligible for a work permit.
Non Immigrant OA's are otherwise called Retirement Visas
or Long Stay visas.
You must be over 50 at the time of lodging your application, not just be a sun-burned beach bum who
looks over 50, and have either 800,000B (USD 25,000 as of
March 2010) in a
bank account or proof of an income of 65,000B (about USD
2,000 in March 2010). We're equally sure these numbers will change
for the higher. First, as Thailand becomes wealthier,
its currency will appreciate against wealthier countries, so
the baht amounts asked for will cost more to a foreign
retiree. Second, the Thais are likely to raise the
absolute baht amounts because they can.
Someone sponsored to work or setting up a business in
Thailand is eligible to apply for a Non Immigrant B visa.
Such a visa does not automatically confer visa privileges on
the spouse and children. A back door into the Kingdom
is to apply for a Non Immigrant ED visa for little junior to
further his studies in Thailand. The spouse caring for
the tiny tyke becomes eligible for a Non Immigrant O.
You can be certain the Thai authorities will be overjoyed to
take money from you, your spouse, and your kid(s).
Immigration has thought of everything. What if someone
applies for a 2 month tourist visa, but 5 to 6 weeks into
their visit decides to visit Malaysia for a week and then
return to Thailand? Their single-entry visa would
become invalid once they departed for Malaysia. The
traveler might decide not to come back to Thailand and not
to fork out another 1,900B to extend for another month.
Revenues for Thailand down the drain!
Here's where the re-entry permit comes in. You
pay a visit to an
Immigration Office before your departure and hand them
(as of March 2010) your
re-entry application and 1,000B for a single-entry re-entry
permit. They put a stamp like the one on the left in
your passport, which allows your current visa to stay active
during a single departure. When you return to
Thailand, it's as if you've never left.
One used to be able to procure these re-entry permits at
Suvarnabhumi Airport before departure. Then, one day the booth
there closed. It may reopen, it may not; and if
it reopens, who's to say if it'll be open consistently and
at the time of your actual departure? If you're in the
market for a re-entry permit, it's advisable to take no
chances. Buy your re-entry permit at an Immigration
Office well before your planned departure or risk watching
your visas go up in smoke.
If you're staying in Thailand for a longer period on a
tourist visa or a Non Immigration O, you'll eventually have
to start running -- visa running. A visa run is a
departure from Thailand for the purposes of kicking in
another visa already in your passport, procuring a new visa,
or satisfying a Thai Immigration condition that you must
exit the country every 90 days. Foreigners
married to Thais don't get permanent residence permits as a
spouse might get in the United States if s/he married an
American national. These foreigners must go
Many a foreigner complains about the infamous visa run.
The costs can vary from 2,000B for a simple exit and
re-entry that'll waste about a day, up to 5,000B and beyond
for travel further afield to locations of Thai consulates
and embassies in other countries that can consume a week.
Entire industries, web sites, forums, social groups, and
yes, even sexual contacts have evolved around the visa run.
Stoking this raging fire of an industry is the lack of
hard information. For example, you're in Thailand with
your visa about to expire, and you're considering going for
a double-entry visa. If you're like me, you'll
want to travel somewhere halfway exciting and make a
semi-vacation out of it, but you have to travel somewhere
that actually has a Thai Consulate/Embassy and which offers
you a good chance of scoring a double-entry visa.
In November 2007, I came up with the idea of accomplishing
these goals in Penang (Malaysia), home to some great and
inexpensive Chinese and Indian food. I went online at
the time to find out if Penang was double-entry visa
friendly. In the end, I could find out nothing solid
and took the plunge and flew to Penang. My loss.
I only got a single entry. On another trip, I
was able to obtain an unbelievably priced roundtrip ticket to
Jakarta (Indonesia). Surely this island nation which
requires more effort to get to from Thailand than Laos or
Malaysia would issue me a double-entry. Wrong.
They only gave out single entries and demanded a plane
ticket out of Thailand before they'd begin the processing.
drinks and lunch included while you run
Prior to the 2000's, visa runs were straightforward
overland affairs. Plenty of people stayed in Thailand
without visas. They got the one month on arrival and
exited the country every month to extend. No one
cared. In the late 2000's, this changed.
One could pull this in and out stunt three times in a six
month period. Two years later, Thailand sealed
the overland visa run option by dictating that visitors
from a border nation, coming in overland, only got 15 days
If you got deep types of pockets, you can do your running
by flying out of the country.
Air Asia offers cheap flights to Cambodia, Malaysia,
Vietnam, Singapore, and China. Each of those nearby
countries has at least one consulate/embassy where Air Asia
flies. The more common visa run is the overland
run. One journeys to the nearest land border by
bus, car, or train, steps over the border, gets the passport
stamped, then returns to Thailand.
one runs depends on where s/he is located. On the
map to the left are 10 common visa-run border locales,
designated by a
For border runs that involve entry into Myanmar (Burma), you
must pay USD 10 as a crisp, fresh-off-the-press ten dollar
note or else an inflated price of 500 baht. Into Laos,
you must hand over USD 35 in U.S. dollar cash notes.
The Laotians aren't as finicky as the Burmese that the bills
look pristine. Into Cambodia, the official line is
that you can pay USD 20 as U.S. cash. The reality is
that they'll accept the pickings only as 1,000 baht, which
at current exchange rates is 50% more. Malaysia,
fortunately, requires no visas or fees from most wealthier
country nationalities. All of this information
could AND WILL change without notice, probably in a way
that'll make you poorer and more frustrated.
1: Mae Sai-Tachileik
(Burma) For those in the Chiang Mai
area. It will only take a few hours to get to the
border and from there, you can just walk across and, if
desired, return minutes later.
2: Mae Sot-Myawaddy
(Burma) Those in Sukhothai and central
Thailand come here. Numerous Burmese and Karen
hilltribe workers reside here. Mae Sot is meant
to be a prosperous small border town.
3: Nan Province-Hongsa (Laos)
This is a rather new and little used border crossing.
Travelers report that it's fun doing 100 meter dashes across
the border here. It could be a nice change for those
coming back to Thailand from Laos who have their sights set
on Thailand's north.
4: Nong Khai-Vientiane (Laos)
A very convenient place for running at mad sprints.
Vientiane is Laos' capital, so you can get a new visa here,
too, making it a very popular choice. Those in the
Thai region of Isaan cite this as their favorite visa run
path. Plenty of travelers come to Vientiane and
elsewhere in Laos, acting pretentious and thinking they're
breaking the travel mold, while watching reruns of
Friends in their guesthouses and eating banana
5-7: Mekong border towns (Laos)
On the Thai side, you could cross the Mekong from Nakhon
Phanom (5), Mukdahan (6), and Chong Mek (7) by boat or
various "friendship" bridges. The Mukdahan crossing
will take you to Savannakhet on the Laos side, site of a
Thai consulate for you to obtain a new visa. The Chong
Mek crossing is the most lively. A few hours
west of Chong Mek is the bustling Thai town of Ubon
Ratchathani and on the Laos side the ruins of Pakxe.
8: Aranyaprathet-Poipet (Cambodia)
This is the easiest option for those in Bangkok. The
road from the Kok is 300 km and takes between 4-5 hours.
Thais love to run this route not for visas they don't need,
but to gamble hard-earned bahts on the Cambodian side in the
casinos set up specifically to attract Thai money.
Gambling is currently illegal in the kingdom.
Ranong to Victoria Point or Andaman Club (Burma)
The single most popular visa run and not because it's
pleasurable. If you consider only the Thailand area
south of Bangkok, Ranong is rather centrally located, so it
functions as a visa run destination for those in a variety
of populated areas: Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan,
Phuket, Krabi, Chumphon.
Click here to see how to navigate this visa run.
Satun or Hat Yai to Malaysia Those in
Krabi could also utilize this option. This is
not a very popular visa run route, as few travelers hang out
at length down in Thailand's Muslim south. It's easier
to get to the Malaysian border at point 10 from Hat Yai than
it is to get to Satun further west, though Satun is the
closer border area.
Thailand is home of the infamous visa run to places like Ranong and elsewhere.
Get the lowdown on a visa, a visa extension,and a re-entry permit. Multiple entry visas are harder to get at a Thai Embassy
but Doug's Republic tells you where to get 'em and get 'em good.