Say No to Going Home: How to Extend Your Thai Tourist Visa
Wondering how to extend your Thai tourist visa? Look no further.
Thailand is a bit addictive. Come here once and you’ll never want to leave! The standard tourist visa never quite seems to be enough. Inevitably, there’ll come a time when you’ll legally need to further your stay. What your need is our guide to extending your tourist visa in Thailand!
Extending your visa gives you more time to visit more beaches, more cities and explore the whole country. More time to chill out on the beaches, more time to relax in temples and more time to soak up the Thai life. Most importantly, more Leos and more fun!
The issue comes when you’re trying to get good, reliable information from other travelers or locals. Everyone has an opinion and different method when it comes to extending visas. Seeing as the laws are constantly changing this isn’t surprising (bear this in mind if advice you’ve followed before isn’t working anymore!). The following guide is mainly aimed at those travelling on American passports. European passports will follow a very similar system but you’ll want to check with your own nation’s advice as well.
Option 1 – Official Visa Extension
Find out where your local Thai immigration office is and book in a visit. This is by far the most straightforward method but also the most expensive. You’ll receive an official 30-day extension on your visa but will have to part with a pricey 1900 baht.
Time your visit properly and there can be very few people there making for a quick and simple visit. Get it wrong and you could be queuing for hours and hours. We suggest turning up early in the morning, before the queue has a chance to grow, or taking a risk and turning up around 45 minutes before closing time.
Most major cities have a working immigration office. In Bangkok there’s a brand-new ticketing system at Chaeng Wattana that means that you can reserve your spot from 7am so that when they open at 8:30 you’ll be able to skip the queue. On the other hand, this means that unless you show up for 7am, you’ll have to wait longer once the office opens.
In Chiang Mai, the office is out near the airport which is a fair distance outside of the main center. If you have your own scooter it shouldn’t take you too long. Otherwise you’ll have to pay for a songthaew or private taxi.
Phuket offers the quickest and easiest of all the immigration offices that we’ve visited. The whole process usually takes between 15-45 minutes and the office is right on the beach. In fact, it barely impacts on your day! More time for grabbing a beer and getting back to the sea.
You should bring:
- Your passport – goes without saying…
- Photocopy of passport ID page
- A set of passport pictures – some agencies require 2, others 4, some even more. Take a good few to be sure.
- Photocopy of your visa page
- Your departure card – don’t forget this, no card, no visa.
- 1900 baht in cash, some agencies might take card but the majority will not.
With regards to the photocopies, when we’ve been to immigration offices before there is almost always someone (official or not) offering a photocopying service.
Hand in all of the documents, take a seat and you’ll have your nice, new stamp in no time at all!
Option 2 – The Infamous Visa Run
These are a little harder to give advice on. Essentially, you’ll need to cross a border, likely spend a night in the other country, then cross back into Thailand. By doing so you’ll receive a new stamp and 30 further days in Thailand.
The runs vary depending where you are in the country. If you’re in the south of the country then Malaysia is likely to be your best bet. If you’re in the north then Myanmar or Laos are your closest options. Bangkok offers some of the cheapest flights out of the country for a quick visa run.
There are hundreds of companies offering visa run packages, and some even include accommodation on the other side of the border. Minibuses load up with eager westerners, speed down to the border and then speed back. Their aim is to get as many people down to the border and back again in as little time as possible, so be prepared for a wild ride.
Taking a visa run is something of an experience but by far (usually) a cheaper option.
#BodegaHostels Insider Tip
Talk with people that you get to know in your hostel. They’ll offer personal experience and plenty of stories. Remember, visa regulations change regularly so always check the latest advice before heading out on an extension mission.