Thai Visa Confusion

Sometimes guidebooks are a good idea to have about an area your traveling to. We had finished traveling through Europe and were looking for guidebooks for Asia. We found out that Footprints had the newest SE Asia book written in 2009, and contacted them. They were sending us a copy by mail to Bangkok, but it wouldn’t arrive for a week.

What’s all this have to do with Thai visa’s? Well when I was looking up for information on the internet, it said that you received a visa upon landing at the airport. Another website said you can extend tourist visa’s for up to 90 days at the immigration office. I figured we’d get this out of the way early and go to Immigration office. We heard stories how it was easily located in Bangkok with friendly staff. But upon looking up the address on google we learned there’s a brand new immigration office that’ just opened a few weeks ago. Of course with our luck, this new snazzy building was located way on the outskirts of Bangkok in a new business development area that taxi drivers did not really know about.

Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s Immigration Office. So new the tree’s are under construction!

We spent the morning getting all of our documents ready, and also dawned on our best backpacking clothes as we heard some reports that if you arrive scrubby it increases your chances of getting denied. We figured the best way to get to this way out of the way office was a combination of transit and taxi. We took the BTS Silom skytrain to the last station, Mo Chit. Then hopped into a cab and gave him the address. Of course he had no idea where it was, but we came prepared with a printed out map.

Bangkok, Thailand

Look at the size of this place!

We arrived to the doors right at noon which meant the immigration office was closed and on their lunch. This gave us a chance to explore this mammoth building and eat some lunch. Soon the clock struck 1 and we headed back to the immigration area. There was already a big line but the wait wasn’t too bad. Once it was our turn to talk to the lady at the main desk we presented our passports with a friendly Canadian smile and ask in the most polite manner to get an extension. Amazingly, it was rejected instantly! Apparently when you land on an airplane you get a “entry stamp“, which is only good for 30 days and cannot be extended. The tourist visa’s are only available from embassy’s and these are all located outside of the country. We just made the trip way out to the new immigration office to eat some noodles for lunch.

Now we have to leave Thailand within 30 days to do a visa run. Sometimes the information on the internet isn’t as clear as it is in a guidebook, because when we did get the book in the mail it outlined this all for us.

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