Everything You Need to Know About Thai Visa Runs to the Philippines
You might not have thought about hitting up the Philippines for your next Thai visa extension, but there’s a whole host of reasons why you should. The country’s got a bit of a mixed reputation due to some hardline government policies and a tendency to get hit by just about every natural hazard going, but the people are warm, friendly and welcoming and the prices are low. Here’s our tips for hassle-free Thai visa runs to the Philippines.
PS: It’s always worth mentioning that getting a Thai visa extension may be the better option for your travels. It’s 1,900 THB and gets you an extra 30 days in Thailand.
What’s the deal with Thai visas in the Philippines?
The Thai consulate is in the capital of Manila, which is one part gritty mega-city and one part gleaming modern metropolis. The most surprising thing that travelers arriving from Thailand notice is that Manila doesn’t feel very Asian, despite being just across the water from Vietnam; instead the Latino influence is strong here and in places you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Central America.
Old US army jeeps rumble through the streets painted every color under the sun, and everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. We love it, and it’s a great place to experience in the middle of an Asian adventure.
How to Apply for a Thai Visa in Manila, Philippines
The Thai consulate is in Makati, the most up-market part of Manila. Head to 107 Rada Street and look for the sign on the building outside. If you don’t want to use public transport then Manila has Grab (the Asian Uber) which is cheap and easy to use, but make sure you don’t try and travel at rush hour as the traffic is infamously terrible!
Visa applications can be submitted Monday to Friday, 09:30am to 12:00pm, and the hand-in process is pretty straightforward. Get there earlier rather than later to reduce the amount of time you have to queue. The processing time is about 2 days for more nationality visas and you can pick up the completed paperwork between 3:00 and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.
Requirements for Thai Tourist Visas in the Philippines
As with all visa applications there are rules and regulations to adhere to, so make sure you’ve got all of the following with you:
- Passport with at least 6 months validity and one free page for the visa
- A printed copy of your bank statement to show you have funds to support yourself
- A printed copy of your flight back into Thailand
- A printed copy of your flights out of Thailand within the period of the visa (60 days)
- 1 passport photo
- The visa fee for your country in cash
Some travelers have also reported being asked for a hotel booking to cover their arrival back into Thailand. If you’re asked for one of these then the easiest thing to do is book a room with a free cancellation policy, in case you don’t need it, and use that as evidence. It’s not worth losing your visa over!
Things to Do in Manila During Your Thai Visa Run
Hopefully you’ll have a bit of time to enjoy Manila while you’re waiting for your visa. Make the most of it, it’s a great town! Head to Intramuros to wander the Hispanic-style streets and learn about its critical role in modern history. The Americans were here in numbers during world war two and there are plenty of cultural references here to prove it.
If you have time for a trip out of town then check out Taal volcano, in the middle of a lake to the south of the city. If you’re feeling energetic then you can take a trek to see the lake in the crater, but even a long-distance view with a camera is an impressive sight.
How to Get to Manila from Bangkok
Flights to Manila are pricier than just making the short hop to KL or Penang, but then you’re going further and it’s more of a holiday than just a visa run. Air Asia has a regular flight schedule, and if you’re heading to Cambodia any time soon then you can fly direct from Siem Reap with Cebu Pacific, the Filipino low cost airline!
Don’t be tempted to fly to the other tourist hubs of Palawan or El Nido thinking it’s a great short cut- they’re several hundred miles and a couple of islands away from the capital, and it can be a pain to cover the distance!
Well worth the trip!
Manila is a great choice for a visa run. The contrast in culture to the rest of Asia makes it a must-see destination in its own right, and you might find yourself coming back again and again.