Thai Visa Runs: Over the Border and Back to Backpacker Paradise!
The Best Destinations for Thai Visa Runs
If your Thai visa’s about to run out, you’ve got two choices: head home; or do a visa run. Don’t know about you but there’s still so much more to see in Thailand. You might think of these places as your budget or bust visa run options; it’s so much more. Thailand’s cheap but being frugal is key when making a visa run. You’ve got plenty of options or Thai visa runs, all you have to do is choose! Work your way through your bucket list and fill up your passport with more colourful stamps.
Depending on how much spare cash and time you’ve got, you could head further afield to places like the Philippines or Taiwan. Singapore and Hong Kong are seriously going to cost you an arm and a leg. Otherwise, keep it cheap and cheerful. Stick close to “home” and book a bus up to Laos and Cambodia. You could also go to Malaysia but be prepared if you are heading to Vietnam, you’ll need to buy a visa ahead of time. Luckily, this can be done online without any hassle!
Before you make plans for your visa run to any of these places, you might want to first consider a Thai visa extension. At 1,900 baht, it’s cheaper than a flight and a hostel.
What You Need to Pack for Your Thai Visa Run
Now that you’ve booked your accommodation and your flight is paid for, you want to know what the requirements are for your Thai visa run. It’s time to get organized for a stress-free, smooth visa run. Every country near Thailand has their own rules and regulations (US and UK passports are pretty much covered here; other passports should check their own embassy websites – a quick Google search will suffice). A general guideline is that they all need some of the same basic things. Here’s a general overview of what you’ll need:
- Your passport with 6 months validity and a free page for the visa
- Recent passport photo (bring a couple to be on the safe side)
- A fully completed visa form
- Your address when you arrive in Thailand (if necessary, book a hotel room with a cancellation option to comply with this option)
- 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)
- A print out of your bank account showing adequate funds to support yourself (this isn’t always needed but it’s best to be prepared)
- The visa fee for your nationality (cash is king but check how much)
Obviously, all the countries in this guide have slight variations. Rather than getting caught out, check directly with the local Thai embassy, consulate or visa agency.
Little aside – if you need to sign or complete any forms in pen, make sure you do it in blue ink.
Popular Quick and Cheap Destinations for a Thai Visa Run
Thailand’s cheap but being smart with your money is key when making a visa run. Some of your best options for inexpensive and effortless visa runs are to head up to the northern border of Thailand and nip over to Laos or head down south to Malaysia. While Cambodia is super close and convenient, you’ll have to catch a flight to either Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi in Vietnam even though it is one of the cheapest Thai visa runs.
Low on readies then Laos has to be where you’re headed. Some nationalities can even get a free Thai visa (got your Russian passport handy?), but you’ll still have to get yourself an entry visa. On the flip side, Malaysia has few visa restrictions making it one of the easiest and cheapest countries to enter. Just be careful as KL can turn this cheap visa run into a really expensive option; you’d be better taking the boat down to Penang. Double down on the cheap drinks and accommodation!!
Poipet in Cambodia has one of the quickest visa processes which means you could be home in no more than 48 hours. Before flying to Vietnam, check your visa status. UK citizens can stay for up to 15 days without a visa; US passport holders can pick it up at the airport for 25$.
Read more about Thai visa runs to surrounding countries:
- The Laos-down on Thai Visa Runs to Laos
- How to Get a Thai Tourist Visa in Cambodia
- Thai Visa Runs to Malaysia: Penang and Kuala Lumpur
- Welcome to the rice fields! Thai Tourist Visa Applications in Vietnam
You’re feeling flush and you’ve got time on your hands, go on and splash the cash on your visa run. Heading a little further might turn into a more expensive visa run locations but oh so worth it. If so, Hong Kong and Singapore are going to be your top choices. The Philippines and Vietnam are not far behind.
HK and Singapore are super-efficient and offer a same-day service. Even so, it’s worth planning to stay a couple of days. While you’re waiting in Hong Kong, take the tram up to Victoria Peak for unbelievable views of the city particularly when typhoons are heading into the bay. The must thing to do in Singapore is to visit the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. Peanuts and Singapore Slings are the order of the day, though at $30 a shot, you won’t necessarily be knocking them.
Again, you’ll find the Thai embassies in Manila (Philippines) and Taipei (Taiwan) have a quick turn around on visas. With generally a 2-3 day wait, it leaves you with a lot of time to get to know these brilliant cities. Whether you decide to take in the Bao’an Temple or head to one of Pipe’s trance parties, food in Taipei and a visit to Shilin Night Market should definitely be on your agenda. Me, I’m heading to Chun Shui Tang, home of bubble tea.
Read more about getting a Thai tourist visa in further countries:
- Why You Should Consider Splurging on a Visa Run in Singapore
- Tagalog Tales: Thai Visa Runs to the Philippines
- 3 Days in Hong Kong: The Boujee Tourist Visa for Thailand
- Not Your Usual Border Run: Thai Visa Runs to Taipei