Arriving in Thailand FAQ

Is it a problem if I arrive on a one-way ticket ?

In theory, if you arrive and get issued with a visa on arrival then you must also have a valid ticket out of the country. In reality, as long as you look reasonably smart then this is hardly ever checked.

A bigger problem than Thai immigration is likely to be the airline. If they fly you in and you subsequently get rejected at immigration, it is down to the airline to take you back to where you came from. This responsibility means some airlines won't let you on board without a return ticket (Indonesian airline Garuda, for example, often does this), but most are more lax about checking. If the airline will take you without a return ticket you have a very good chance of getting in, as problems at Immigration in Thailand are highly unlikely.

'Open jaw' tickets (e.g. flying into Bangkok, but flying out of Singapore) should be okay, but it's worth checking with the airline first.

Entering Thailand overland from one of it's neighboring countries without a ticket out is almost certain to be okay. You're only likely to be checked if you give Immigration a reason to want to reject you e.g. dressing untidily, looking like you have no money etc...

Getting a tourist visa in advance provides exemption from the need for a return ticket, but the airlines may still require one even so.

Do I need a visa ?

Nationals of 56 countries will receive a 30 day pass on arrival in Thailand. These are:

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • Fiji
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • U.S.A
  • Vanuatu
  • Western Samoa
  • Yemen

Due to mutual agreements with Thailand, citizens of Brazil and South Korea get 90 days on arrival, instead of the 30 days issued to everyone else. Citizens of countries not on this list will receive a 15 day visa on entry or will have to apply for one.

Until the start of 2001, New Zealand citizens also received 90 days on arrival. Due to new immigration policies in New Zealand which restrict access to Thai, this has since been rescinded and New Zealanders now only receive the 30 days on arrival visa like everyone else.

Even if you are eligible for a visa on arrival, it's possible to apply to the Thai Embassy in your home country for a tourist visa. These are valid for 60 days and are not difficult to obtain. Non-immigrant visas can be applied for if you wish to work in Thailand and/or stay for a prolonged period of time. These are more difficult to get, and are only issued when there is a good reason for doing so.


What happens if I overstay my visa ?

If you overstay by one day, there is no charge. After that, it's 200B per day, so 2 days is a 400B fine, 3 days 600B etc...The fine is up to a maximum of 40,000B (approx US$1000).

Paying the fine is simple. When going through Immigration, they will notice the overstay and take you to a desk to pay it, taking about 5 minutes in all. Fines can also often by paid in advance at any Immigration bureau.

Warning - Note that overstaying is technically breaking the law and while there is little problem with it if you 'surrender' yourself to Immigration at the airport, it can be a very different story if you are stopped by the police beforehand for whatever reason and are found to have overstayed - no matter for how long. This may well lead to you being detained in one of the feared Immigration Detention Centers for a few days while your case is processed. Needless to say, this is an experience you can well do without, as conditions inside have been described by Amnesty International as 'cruel and degrading' and 'seriously overcrowded'.

Though the chances of ending up in this situation are very small, you'd still be well advised to not overstay your visa if at all possible. If you do overstay for any reason, obviously you should steer well clear of any kind of activities that might attract the attention of the authorities.

How can I extend my visa ?

Visas can be extended by going to any Immigration office. In Bangkok this is on Soi Suan Phlu, off Sathorn road. The on-arrival visa can be extended for 10 days, the tourist visa by up to a month. It normally takes under an hour, and costs 500B.

Extensions are given at the discretion of the immigration officer and there's no guarantee you'll get one - Dress smartly, smile a lot and be polite while you are there to get the best results.

Alternatively, just cross a border out of Thailand and re-enter to get another on-arrival visa. There is no limit to the number of times this can be done, it is free and will give you another 30 days. The most common places for doing this are Penang in Malaysia, Mae Sai on the Burmese border, Vientiane in Laos and Poipet in Cambodia. Malaysia is furthest from Bangkok but is the only one that does not require a visa to enter.

Is getting through customs and Immigration a problem ? What if I have my own medicines ? Can I really only take 5 rolls of film in with me ?

Generally, no it's not a problem. On the airplane on the way into the country you are given a landing card and customs form. These are simple to fill in, but you will be asked for an address where you are staying in Thailand. If you haven't booked in advance, just write down the name of any hotel. Most likely, you'll have no problems at all.

If you have your own medicines, it's worth bringing the prescription with you just in case they get suspicious.

The regulations state that 200 cigarettes, 1 litre of wine or spirits, one camera and 5 films (or a video camera with three films) can be brought in duty free. In reality, you seem to be able to bring in basically limitless numbers of film without problem. They are really only concerned about people trying to import and avoid paying duty, if it is obvious you are not doing this you will have no problem. Unlimited foreign currency can be brought in, though over US$10000 must be declared.

The whole procedure can take under half an hour on a good day or much longer on a bad day, mainly dependent on the queue at Immigration.

Is there a left-luggage facility at the airport ?

Yes there is, but it's quite expensive at 70B per piece per day and with a maximum time of 4 months. More details are on the Airport page.

What's the exchange rate like at the airport ? Are there ATM's there ? Is the exchange booth open 24 hours ?

There are currency exchanges at the airport both before and after Immigration, open at any time of day or night. The rates offered are generally very good - probably better than the rates offered by hotels. With a bit of searching, you may be able to find better in the city center but it won't be by much.

There are numerous ATM's and all the major cards are supported (Visa, Cirrus/Maestro, Plus etc...)

What's the best way to get to the city center from Bangkok airport ?

This is described in detail on our taking a taxi from Bangkok airport, the airport bus, and the other options downtown pages.

Are there guesthouses and hotels open even if I arrive in the middle of the night ?

Yes. Bangkok is pretty much a 24 hour city, and you won't have any difficulty finding a room in the main tourist accommodation areas of Khao San road, Sukhumvit road etc...

Is there accommodation near the airport ?

Yes, but it's generally overpriced - perhaps 25% more than in the city itself. If you've got the time go downtown instead, as there's a far greater range, better surroundings and better value.

Some of the options near the airport are:

  • The 110 room "Louis Tavern Dayrooms Transit Hotel", which is inside the international airport terminal transit lounge. They are expensive at US$40 for six hours, but are clean and comfortable with good facilities (aircon, bath, TV). You can get a 50% discount if you can show them a Thai Airways ticket.

  • The nonprofit We-Train International House, which is the main budget option with reasonable rooms starting at 550B, dorm beds at 165B. It's about 3km away, more details are on their website at http://www.we-train.linethai.co.th/.

  • The Comfort Suites airport hotel, with rooms starting from around 1400B. This is also around 3km away, and provides a free shuttle bus to/from the airport.

  • With similar rates and facilities, the Asia Airport hotel, is about 3km from the airport. It's rooms are probably a bit nicer than those of the Comfort Suites and also provides free airport transfers.

  • The Amari Airport hotel is the luxury accommodation option. It is very close to the airport, just across the walkway from terminal 1. It's overpriced at US$155++ a night for a single (Internet rate), but there are reduced rates for short stays. More details are at http://www.amari.com/airport/index.htm.


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'
What happens if I overstay my visa ? If you overstay by one day, there is no charge. After that, it's 200B per day, so 2 days is a 400B fine, 3 days 600B etc...The fine is up to a maximum of 40,000B (approx US$1000). i was under the impression that if you overstay your visa in thailand the fine has a limit which is 20,000B. am i wrong?
' Chris
'
What is the airport tax? I want to come on educational-cultural exchange programme to a school at Phayao. What tax I should pay at Suvarnabhumi airport?
' murli menon
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