Are you planning on visiting Thailand as a tourist? Or as an expat? What is the purpose of your visit in “The Land of Smiles” and are you planning on staying in country more than 30 days? Then this post is for you and we’re telling this from our point of view and how we did everything.
As you might know; we came here to work. When we first arrived to Thailand we arrived with the tourist visa stamp that gave us 30 days permit of stay in the country. And that’s what we got when we cleared the immigration gate at the airport.
PS: Remember that we have a Finnish passport. This 30 days permit won’t apply for every country in the world. So check your country requirements. You can check them at the MFA.go.th. This link opens a .pdf file that shows the required info for you.
There is a possibility to get 60 days Tourist Visa but you’ll have to apply it before arriving in Thailand. We didn’t do that so lets skip it. If you require more info about the Tourist Visa you can read about it here.
After your 30 days permit of stay is expiring it’s time to take a visit to Koh Samui’s Immigration. Why? To extend the stay. You can do that pretty easily. You need few (might be one or two but take three just to be sure) passport photos, filled application form, 1900 baht of cash and a calm mind. Remember that you won’t be alone at the immigration. There will be alot of foreigners doing just the same thing (or has something to do with staying in Thailand). This process might take 15min or three hours so don’t make too much plans for the day of visit. After you’ve succeeded you’ll have the extended 30 days of stay.
Planning to work in Thailand?
But what if you want to stay longer than two months? You can’t extend your stay more than once in Immigration. So after a two months you’ll have to exit the country. No exceptions. BUT. Here’s the catch. You can do a visa run or “border bounce”. If you’re planning to work in Thailand or to start a business you have to do visa run. There are many ways for this since you can do it by yourself but we must say: Don’t.
Easiest way is to use Visa Run Companies. They will handle everything for you except the paperwork. You’ll have to deliver the required papers (including medical certificate) but usually the company you’re willing to work for will deliver the required papers for you. If they don’t you should definitely re-consider working for them.
After you’ve delivered the papers it’s time to hop into the van and head to another country. Usually visa runs are headed to Malaysia’s Penang, Laos’s Vientiane or Ban Laem in Cambodia. We headed to Penang and that’s usually the case with Koh Samui and the company we used was Samui Visa Run – Visa Services. Big shoutout for them since everything went smoothly and there were no complications or misunderstandings.
Visa runs are actually very nice for you since all you’ll have to do is sit in a van while heading to another country. When we left Koh Samui it was evening and we drive to Penang through all night. On the morning we arrived to hotel around 10am and after the check-in you’re free to do what you want. You’ll have 24 hours to hang around the city sightseeing, eating great and cheap street food and do what you’d like. On the next morning the van will come and pick you up and you’re heading back to Samui.
After this process you’ve received a Non-B-Visa to your passport. Now you can stay in Thailand for the next 90 days. After this process the company you work for will apply the work permit for you. Once you’ve received it you can extend your stay for one year.
Visiting as a tourist?
After your 60 days have passed you’ll have to leave the country. But you can come back with a 30 days stamp and reset the whole process. This is called “border bounce”. It doesn’t mean you can come back immediately after crossing the border (there actually are couple of border stations that accept this but usually they don’t) since you have to stay in another country for overnight. So you can buy a cheap train ticket or bus ticket to some neighbor country or maybe fly somewhere and then come back. This is a great way to see different countries since you’ll have to leave Thailand for every 30 or 60 days. Sure you can always apply for new 60 days tourist visa (that you can extend for 30 days extra) but then you have to be in another country longer since the process might take 3 to 5 days. Or even longer because of Thailand.
Notice: If you arrive the country by land or sea you can come back only twice in a year. If you arrive by air you can arrive max six times in a year.
This is how you can stay in Thailand. But notice that this is written from our point of view. We know there are many other ways to do things and the rules for visas change pretty often. How things will work now might not work after two months. So be aware of that. Or ask Visa Run Companies since they usually know the present rules for these.
Hopefully this helps someone who’s wandering about the visa complications in Thailand. And if you have ANYTHING on your mind that you’d like us to answer; Please ask. If we don’t know we will find out.