The food, the smiles, the sun and endless adventure opportunities make Thailand one of the most hospitable countries on earth. Once you get to Thailand you often end up staying longer than you first intended. The problem that a lot of tourists come across is that they have not thought far enough ahead to get a 60-day tourist visa for Thailand at the Thai embassy before they left home for Thailand. Instead, they simply get the 30-day stamp at immigration when they land in Bangkok. When they realize they want to stay longer, they are in a mess.
Jammie and I freely admit that we belong to this latter group that did not seek a tourist visa for Thailand before leaving home. We had assumed that we would be given a 90-day stamp at the airport. No such luck. All you get in Thailand is 30 days. So we had to leave Thailand on a “visa run” to the Thailand embassy in Laos. Luckily, it worked very smoothly. Here’s what you do:
1). Pick a visa run service. Don’t do a visa run on your own. It is technically possible but it takes longer and it is very messy. If you have an experienced agency working on your behalf you benefit from their experience and connections at the border. You are less likely to be ripped off and there will be less waiting around. We picked Meesuk Travel based on great reviews from friends and we highly recommend their services.
2). Pay up. All told we paid 6,500 baht each (about $220). This was an all-inclusive fee. All the steps that follow (with the exception of a few dollars spent on incidentals) were covered by this upfront fee.
3). Speed through the night. We met the group at a KFC at 7:00 in the evening. Fees were paid and papers processed by 9:00 PM and then we were off to get our tourist visa for Thailand. The trip up to the Laotian border was fast (about 9 hours), even with bathroom breaks every two hours.
4.) Arrive at the Thai/Laotian border before dawn. We were at the border to Laos before dawn. There was an hour-long wait at the border before our papers were processed to enter communist Laos.
5). Let agents work immigration. As mentioned, trying to get your own tourist visa for Thailand on a border-hopping visa run, is a bad idea. Let the agents work their magic. I talked to enough people that assured me that the hookups that the agents bring to the table are worth their weight in gold.
6.) Breeze through the Thai embassy in 15 minutes. We were in and out of the Thai embassy in Laos in under 15 minutes. You have to be physically present to submit your application for a tourist visa to Thailand but as soon as you have done so, you can leave the rest to the embassy and your trusty agents.
7.) Crash at the hotel. We got to our hotel by about 10 AM and were exhausted. So after a buffet breakfast we collapsed in our hotel room until dinner.
9.) Live large in Vientiane. But after dinner we were able to explore Vientiane, the capital of Laos. I’ll talk more about some of the attractions in Laos in an upcoming post but for now I’ll say that it was one of the most charming towns I’ve visited in Asia PLUS it offered great views of the Mekong River.
10). Agents pick up passports. The next day, agents pick up your passport and then it is time to cross the border back into Thailand. This was another hour-long wait but considering we now had our tourist visa for Thailand, we happily ambled around the duty free store, content that the hard part was done.
11). Go home. It was great to re-enter Thailand! We slept much of the trip home but when we stumbled into our Bangkok apartment at about midnight we were very happy campers. Mission accomplished!
Anyone want to add their tips for getting a tourist visa for Thailand? Have any questions? Tell me in the comment section!