The Thailand Visa Exemption extension Saga 2015

visa

So as most backpackers know, the VISA EXEMPTION RULE allows tourists from 52 countries, to enter Thailand without a visa. They are granted a maximum stay of 30 days, but only if entering Thailand via an international airport. If you wish to extend for another 30 days, you can, by visiting various Immigration offices throughout Thailand. I chose to extend mine in Bangkok

*Dramatic pause*

This is my story.

The plan was to go to Myanmar middle of March for 3 weeks to break up my time in Thailand, before heading to Chiang Mai to meet some friends for Songkran (A massive water fight festival to celebrate Thai new year) mid April. But as always, my travel plans changed.

passportFlights in and out of Myanmar were working out expensive and reports from fellow travellers and research on the internet had proved the daily living cost there to be a bit out of my budget. All of that plus the factor I bloody love Thailand led to the conclusion it would be cheaper and more time efficient to stay in Thailand. I would only end up with two weeks in Myanmar, so I concluded I should save it for another trip.

This left me with 2 months in Thailand. As I had not planned ahead, I only had the 30 day visa exception that you get free on arrival. If I had thought about this before entering Thailand I could have obtained a 60 day tourist visa from a Thai embassy in a neighbouring country. But of course I do not plan ahead!

So where did that leave me. I had to visit the Immigration office to extend my visa exemption for another 30 days. As this has only been possible to do from 29th August 2014 a lot of people were telling me I could not do this. A lot of people were telling me it was hard to do. I heard many horror stories about Visas and extentions being denied and in true Sally fashion I began to worry and panic!

Bangkok Immigration office - The Government Complex!

Bangkok Immigration office – The Government Complex!

Firstly I could not find my departure card. On arrival in Thailand they give you a arrival and a departure card to fill in. The first time I came to Thailand they stapled it into my passport. This time they did not. Oh OK, I am suppose to keep this tiny bit of paper safe for the next 30 days. It is a lot harder then it sounds. Thai airport Immigration please invest in some staplers! I would be extremely grateful and I am sure a lot of others would also!

I read online that you can get a new one at the Immigration office but they will send you to the back of the line to fill it in and you will have to wait your turn all over again!

I also learnt the night before I needed passport photos. Bad planning again from me. This leads to a late night trip to Tesco Lotus across the street and some amazing looking photos as I was already tucked up in bed when I discovered the need for them.

You also need an onward ticket to extend your exemption. Booking a flight back to England at 11pm, on a Bank Card that you have forgotten the pin too and blocked the night before is fun!

Oh and you need 1,900THB (£38). Off to the cash machine I go. Oh but yes, like I said, I have blocked my bank card! Good job I have the bank of Mum on the other end of the phone! She rang up and got my card all unblocked and sorted for me (Love you Mumma).

So I am stressed and panicked. It takes about an hour to get there and the whole way I worry. The taxi driver does not know where it is! We eventually find it. Go in, collect our application form and queue ticket and within an hour we are seen. I inform the Immigration officer I have lost my departure card and her reply… ‘Do not worry. Just get another at the airport when you decided to leave Thailand’.

sallyvisa

Visa Exemption extension granted. Another 30 days! Pheeew! Easy Peasy!

Why was I worrying!

Below is a little guide I have written to help you if you too need to extend your exemption:

Getting there: There is an Immigration office in most of the big towns in Thailand including Koh Samui, Krabi, Phucket and Chiang Mai. The easiest way to get to the one in Bangkok is to take the BTS to Mo Chit or the MRT to Chatuchak Park and take a taxi from there. It is know as the Government Complex, Building B, Immigration office. The Taxi cost me 130THB from Mo Chit station.

What you need:

Passport and a photo copy of your passport (Main page and page with your visa exemption stamp photocopied)

Departure card

Onward flight ticket

1,900THB

Passport size photo

Best days to go are Tuesday and Thursdays, about 1pm. The office closes for lunch 12noon-1pm.

Don’t panic! Everyone I encountered was really nice and helpful. Not scary at all. The King of Thailand likes tourist and can see the benefit it has on the country, so encourages tourism. This has in turn made the procedure for tourists to enter and travel Thailand are very simple and user friendly! A very mutual beneficial partnership!

 

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel March 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Glad to see you didn’t get kicked out of the Land of Smiles! I had some worries about this too as we are heading to Chiang Mai this time next year and want to make sure we’ll have everything we need. Have you heard anything about the new enforcement of one-time only visa runs?

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sallymunt sallymunt March 18, 2015 at 6:48 pm

I heard such horror stories, I think people were just trying to scare me! It was a pretty laid back experience compared to other countries I have been in!

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Doreen Pendgracs March 19, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I’ve not yet been to Thailand, but am sure I will get there eventually. But right now … I’m hot on the trail of travelling to where chocolate is front and centre! Enjoy your travels, and stay safe.
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sallymunt sallymunt March 20, 2015 at 5:03 am

The chocolate is not great here haha!

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Rachel March 20, 2015 at 11:27 am

It’s amazing how worked up you (I!) can get about something that might never happen! Glad that it worked out!
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sallymunt sallymunt March 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Yes haha, I do not know why I was worrying!

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Tracie Howe March 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Glad it all worked out in the end! It’s not fun to stress about something like this when you’re traveling!
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Chris March 21, 2015 at 9:27 pm

You’ve gotta love the misadventures of travel!

Some good advice for others, just a shame you missed Myanmar!
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Natalie Deduck March 24, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Great that everything worked for you!
I have some friends that had trouble extending their stay in Thailand, especially through Chiang Mai Immigration Office, and especially after staying and renewing visa over three or four months…
I believe in Bangkok they are straight forward due to the massive amount of traveller they receive everyday!
Enjoy Thailand and Chiang Mai, I left the country last monday and I´m already missing this amazing land!
Nat :-)
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sallymunt sallymunt March 25, 2015 at 3:28 am

There were so many travellers there. It was full of elephant pants haha. I only have a month left, don’t make me leave!

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Wayne Seto June 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

I just extended my visa in Chiang Mai. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. However, I got there 2 hours before it opened and there were about 60 people already in line, luckily people were there for various reasons. It turned out I was only number 5 for visa extensions. I’ll book mark this if I ever have to do an extension in Bangkok. Thanks for the post!
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Correy Smith September 3, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Sally, does Thailand also offer family visas for families who plan to stay there for awhile? It would seem like after the 30 days of the extension that the government would do something with families to apply for an extended visa. Well, that’s just me wondering about and also this is something that a friend of mine is having concerns about.

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sallymunt sallymunt September 3, 2015 at 8:30 pm

That is a good question… Let me ask some people in the know and get back to you! I do not know the deal on children visas!

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Sheri October 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Hi Sally! Do you know if this is still relevant? I keep reading the extension is only good for 7 days and not 30. Thanks!
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sallymunt sallymunt October 13, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Hey, yes you can still do this :)

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Saul December 14, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Is the onward ticket thing necessary?

I heard that it’s not always checked. Did they check yours?

I normally don’t book flights until a few days beforehand.

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sallymunt sallymunt January 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Not for Thailand really, you would have to check with your individual airline as it differs with each company!

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Laura Allen January 3, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Hi there I don’t want to extend a visa just leave the country however also have no departure card you said early the lady in immigration said you could have obtained one in the airport is this correct ? Kind regards Laura

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sallymunt sallymunt January 21, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Ahhh sorry for the delayed reply, Have you left? Yes they may tell you off a little but you can get one at the airport :)

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