Arriving in Thailand FAQ

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, it's 500B per day and longer overstays can result in deportation and blacklisting. The fine has to paid at Immigration when leaving the country.

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. All in all, don't overstay your visa!

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 ?

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 and 1 litre of wine or spirits 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...)

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...


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