Welcome to the SkyMap Thailand tourist visa guide. As a foreigner visiting Thailand, the visa type you get will determine how long you will be allowed to stay and under what circumstances you can extend your trip. The Thailand tourist visa type you can apply for depends largely on how much time you wish to stay and what passport you hold. If you come from any of the 50 countries eligible for visa exemption, this could be an alternative worth pursuing. This option grants you less time than a Tourist Visa but is also free and can be obtained directly at the airport you land in providing you can show the necessary documents.
Here a few interesting facts and details to help you decide which visa type is best for you:
If you are planning on staying for more than 2 months, you should consider getting a Tourist Visa before you travel. The process is fairly straightforward and requires a trip to your local Thai Consulate, a small fee and roughly 2 days to complete.
If you acquired a Tourist Visa prior to travelling to Thailand, you will be granted 60 days upon arrival with an additional 30-day extension option. The immigration officer at the airport will stamp your visa with the date that you must either leave the country or file for an extension. A 30-day extension can be easily obtained at an Immigration office within the country for 1,900 baht ($60). While rules regarding Tourist Visas have not changed, travelers are now subjected to an increased level of scrutiny. Most tourists are now required to show a return ticket and evidence of sufficient funds to cover their stay or risk being denied entry even with a valid visa.
Visa Exemption Program
Similar to the ‘Visa Waiver Program’ used in the United States, this program is aimed at travelers arriving via an international airport without a Tourist Visa. With this option you will still be permitted to stay 30 days (15 days if you enter overland for some nationalities). Similar to a Tourist Visa, you can also apply for a 30-day extension from within the country on this type of visa, bringing the maximum time you can stay on this visa to 60 days. Be prepared to show an ongoing ticket to the immigration officer upon arrival.
Visa on Arrival
This type of visa can be purchased at your arriving airport for 1,000 baht ($30) and grants a 15-day visa with no extension option. This option is for the 19 nations who do not qualify for the Visa Exemption Program.
New Rules and Regulations
As of August 2014, several new rules and regulations have come into effect concerning the number of visa runs allowed and how many tourist visas you can legally have in your passport. If you are planning to stay for only 2-3 months, these changes should not affect you and you can enjoy your stay without issue. However, if you would like to extend your trip you might want to take a quick look and see if and how these new rules and regulations could affect you.
Border Runs Overland
Border runs, also known as border bouncing, were previously seen as quick an easy way to extend your stay in Thailand. For about $100 and a 10-hour van ride, you could cross the Cambodian or Laotian border and buy yourself an extra 30 days (15 days for some passports). As of August 2014, all travelers are restricted to one land-entry visa. Additionally, 30 day visas will not be issued at any Thai/Cambodian border so be prepared and plan your trip accordingly.
Back to Back Visas
The days of multiple, back-to-back Tourist Visas are over, or at least trying to look that way. The reality is Thailand needs these people, usually English teachers working in government schools, and this new regulation is exercised with a light and lenient hand. Unfortunately, the decision to shut out a traveler with more than one used Tourist Visa is based solely upon the discretion of the immigration officer on duty.
From July 2014 onwards, all visitors who have overstayed on their visas more than 90 days will be banned from returning to Thailand. This means that if you have overstayed for less than 90 days, you could pay the fine at an airport or land border (500baht/day – maximum 20,000) and still be able to stay in the country provided you acquire a new, valid visa. The ban for overstaying ranges from 1-10 years and the penalty for getting caught on an expired visa is a ban of 5-10 years.