A tourist visa obtained from a Royal Thai embassy or consulate, preferably in a Western country or your home country, is likely your best visa option if you wish to stay in Thailand for an “extended” period of time but don’t qualify for a Non-immigrant visa of either type.
Tourist visas are available as single- and multiple-entry visa. Double-entry visa are no longer available since November 13, 2015.
As the visa sticker points out, employment is strictly prohibited with this type of visa, and work permits cannot be applied for. If you qualify for a business visa, a change of the visa type is possible, however.
Tourist visa holders initially get a 60-day permission of stay (per entry) starting from the date of arrival in Thailand. This period can be extended for another 30 days at a local Thai immigration office. The extension fee is 1,900 Baht. Documents required for a 30-day extension include a fully-filled extension form (TM. 7), a copy of your passport and a passport picture 4x6cm.
In Pattaya, the local immigration office is situated on Soi 5 off Jomtien Beach Road. Operating hours are weekdays from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. The office is closed over the weekend and public holiday periods (including substitution holidays when a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday).
If you have obtained a multiple-entry visa, each re-entry into the country will give you another 60 days, i.e., as long as your visa remains valid (six months).
- Where to Apply for a Tourist Visa?
- Visa Fees, Application Process, Requirements
- Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa
- Tourist Visa Long-Stayers! Where to go for a Visa Run?
Thai tourist visa are available as single- and multiple-entry visa. Nationals of most Western countries can apply for a single-entry visa at any Thai embassy or consulate worldwide. Multiple-entry tourist visas can however be applied for exclusively in your home country or country of residence, and applicants will need to show a bank deposit of at least 200,000 Baht (or the equivalent in their respective currency) in a bank account in their home country.
While single-entry tourist visa are easily available at Thai embassies and consulates in the South-East Asian region and there is no official (!) limit to the number of back-to-back visas applicants may apply for, individual consulates may set their own limits and restrict applications to no more than three consecutive tourist visa.
If you’ve already got “too many” back-to-back visa stamps from the same consulate in your passport, some may reject your application altogether. It’s therefore generally advisable to obtain a tourist visa at a Thai embassy in your home country or country of residence, or visit a different consulate every now and then.
If you’re already in Thailand and still prefer to do a “visa run” to a nearby country in the SEA region, please note that the Thai embassy in Phnom Phen (Cambodia) has a relatively bad reputation, at least for issuing tourist visas. The consulate on Penang (Malaysia), formerly popular with frequent “visa runners”, reportedly restricts tourist visa applications to a maximum of three consecutive visas, after which they’ll place a red stamp in your passport, virtually banning you from future applications. The Thai embassy in Manila on the Philippines is reportedly a total waste of time and to be avoided.
Despite a “crackdown” on back-to-back tourist visa applications (announced and increasingly enforced since September 2009) the Thai consulate in Vientiane, Laos, still seems to be one of the more “lenient” consulates in the region, i.e. unless your passport shows “too many” consecutive tourist visa stickers.
The most “tourist-friendly” Thai consulate in the region currently seems to be the one in Savannakhet, also in Laos, just across the border from Mukdahan province in Isaan. Not only do they issue tourist visas without any further questions and requirements other than your passport, passport copies, photographs and cash for the visa fee; there are also hardly any “visa runners”, so you won’t have to queue up for hours for your application to be processed. (As of 2015, you will however have to spend a night in Savannakhet and wait one working day for the consulate to issue your visa).
Tourist visa fees vary slightly from country to country. The standard fee for a single-entry visa is 1,000 Baht or whatever the equivalent amount may be in your home currency. Please note that the visa fee, as well as official visa requirements, may change without prior notice.
In most Western countries, visas should be issued on the day of application. In South-East Asian countries, the application process usually takes one working day but may take up to two working days or more.
Documents required for a tourist visa application generally include your passport, a visa application form completely filled out, and a recent photograph. Further official requirements may include an air ticket (return), confirmed hotel reservations, and proof of sufficient financial means to cover your expenses in Thailand. For more details, please contact your local Thai embassy or consulate in advance.
Please note that in recent years, Thai embassies and consulates exceedingly in the Southeast Asian region have become increasingly tough on back-to-back 60-day tourist visa applications. In 2009, it was announced that tourist visa applicants would now face stricter “screening measures” to make sure that they are genuine “tourists” and use their tourist visa not as a way to work illegally in Thailand. Applicants with “too many” back-to-back tourist visa stickers or stamps may have a red warning stamp put in their passport and/or have a new application refused.
In August 2011, Thai embassies and consulates have also been instructed to be stricter with requirements for tourist visa applications. Thai embassies would now reportedly also require a “confirmed airline ticket with flight numbers and date of entry/exit” when applying for a 60-day tourist visa, “plus confirmed hotel reservations”; otherwise an explanation letter must be provided.
As of this writing, it appears however that most consulates in the SEA region do still not require an outbound flight ticket or hotel reservations. To prevent the risk of having your application refused, you’re advised to apply for a tourist visa no more than three times at the same consulate, but visit a different consulate after two or three visa applications. While there’s no official limit to the number of back-to-back tourist visas you may apply for, individual consulates may have their own rules and restrict you to no more than three consecutive applications.
On November 13, 2015, the new multiple-entry tourist visa (METV) was launched. The METV, initially (falsely) touted as “six month visa”, is valid for six months in total, i.e., you can enter, exit and re-enter Thailand as often as you like over the six-month validity period of the visa.
Each entry into the kingdom will give you a 60-day permission of stay, which can be extended for an additional 30 days at your local immigration office (fee 1,900 Baht).
But the launch of the new multiple-entry tourist visa has also had a number of negative side effects, which will primarily affect “long stayers” who do not qualify for a Non-Immigrant visa of either type but are forced to do frequent visa runs in the SEA region.
Most importantly, Thai consulates worldwide have stopped issuing double- and triple-entry tourist visa which are no longer available. This unfortunately includes the Thai consulate in Vientiane, Laos:
Applying for a multiple-entry tourist visa is unfortunately also a bit more complicated.
To start with, applying for this type of this visa is not possible in the South-East Asian region (obviously unless you’re a national of these countries) but exclusively in the applicant’s home country or country of residence. For Westerners who are in Thailand already, this means that they would have to travel back to their home country to obtain an METV; a visa run to a nearby SEA country will unfortunately not do the job.
What is more, METV applicants also need to provide a bank statement showing the equivalent of at least 200,000 Baht in a bank account in their home country. In EU member countries, for example, applicants must have a bank deposit of at least 5,000 Euro in their bank account to qualify for an METV. Nationals of certain countries may also have to provide a letter from their employer.
Otherwise the same requirements as for single-entry tourist visa apply: a confirmed outbound air ticket, hotel booking confirmation etc.
The application fee for a six-month multiple-entry tourist visa is 5,000 Baht or the equivalent amount in your home currency. For details, please contact your nearest Thai embassy or consulate.
When your tourist visa has been fully used or has expired, you’ll either have to leave Thailand and obtain a new visa or simply go on a “border run”, i.e. without applying for a new visa.
Note: When you use the “visa exemption” scheme to re-enter the Kingdom via an international airport checkpoint, most Western visitors will be granted a 30-day permission of stay upon arrival. Since the changes to visa regulations in November 2008, tourists from many Western countries (excluding Russia and G7 member countries and Russia) will however be granted only a 15-day permission of stay when arriving via a land border.
Please also note that from August 12, 2014, tourists and expats will reportedly no longer be able to continuously exit and re-enter the kingdom via a land border crossing or international airport in order to extend their visa-free stay in Thailand (visa exemption).
The Nation reported on July 15, 2014: “From August 13, people [who have not obtained a visa prior to their visit to Thailand] will not be able to re-enter the country, regardless of their choice of transport”. In other words: If you haven’t obtained a visa prior to your visit to Thailand but wish to stay longer than just for a holiday, then “border runs” are no longer a viable option to continuously extend your stay in the kingdom.
Another obstacle for Thailand would-be long-stayers who don’t legally qualify for a Non-Immigrant visa of either type, is a vague restriction on the number of back-to-back tourist visas you can apply for.
In 2009, ThaiVisa.com reported that in a new “crackdown” on back-to-back tourist visa applications, several Thai embassies and consulates in neighboring Southeast Asian countries were going to get tough on issuing 60-day tourist visas.
Applicants would now face “stricter screening measures” to make sure they are actually “tourists” and use the tourist visa not as a way to work in Thailand illegally. Applicants with too many back-to back tourist visa stickers in their passports may have a new application refused, the report said.
As it seems, this directive is also being increasingly enforced by many Thai embassies and consulates, at least in the Southeast Asian region. While it remains unclear exactly how many back-to-back tourist visas are “okay” – and an immigration official in Chiang Mai was quoted as saying on August 20, 2014 that “there is no limit to the number of tourist visas you can apply for, nor is there a minimum time limit between each one” – it’s obvious that if you wish to stay in Thailand long-term, back-to-back tourist visas are no longer the best option.
In any case, you’re advised to apply for a tourist visa no more than three times at the same consulate, but visit a different consulate after two or three visa applications. While there’s no official limit to the number of back-to-back tourist visas you may apply for; individual consulates may have their own rules and restrict you to no more than three consecutive applications.
In August 2011, Thai embassies and consulates abroad have also been instructed to be stricter with requirements for visa applications. Thai embassies would now reportedly also require a “confirmed airline ticket with flight numbers and date of entry/exit” when applying for a 60-day tourist visa, “plus confirmed hotel reservations”; otherwise some kind of explanation letter must be provided. As of this writing (2016), it appears however that most consulates in the SEA region do not require an outbound flight ticket or hotel reservations.
The biggest drawback though is obviously the launch of the new multiple-entry tourist visa (METV) which can be applied for only in the applicant’s home country. As a result, the formerly popular double-entry tourist visa has been abolished altogether. With only single-entry visa available now for foreign applicants in the SEA region – a restriction that automatically necessitates more frequent visa runs – chances that back-to-back applicants may sooner or later get rejected have obviously risen considerably.
If you’re traveling with multiple-entry tourist visa, a one-day “visa run” to the Cambodian border, or any other land border checkpoint, is fully sufficient to renew your permission of stay for another 60 days, i.e. provided your visa is still valid. You will not have to apply for a new visa as long as your existing visa remains valid and has not been fully used.
Please note that all entries must be made within the time frame determined by your visa (visa validity). This time frame starts from the date of issuance of your visa, not the date of your first entry into Thailand. All re-entries must then be made before your visa expires. Do not mix up the total validity of your visa and the permitted duration of stay (per entry) which is only 60 days each time. Even if you’re traveling with a multiple-entry tourist visa, you’ll still have to leave the country every 60 days (or 90 days if extended) in order to renew your permission of stay.
Multiple-entry tourist visa are valid for six months, starting from the date of issuance. Do always make sure you make your last entry before the visa has expired!
Applying for a tourist visa is usually the easiest in your home country or country of residence. While there is no official rule (!) restricting the number of back-to-back visits to Thailand when you’re traveling on “simple” tourist visas, it’s unclear how many consecutive visas may be issued from individual consulates in South-East Asia.
In any case, you’re advised to apply for a tourist visa no more than three consecutive times at the same consulate, but visit a different consulate after two or three applications.
Individual consulates may have different rules and some restrict you to no more than three applications (after which you’re free to apply for another tourist visa elsewhere in the region.)
At the moment, there seem to be only little problems with obtaining back-to-back tourist visas at the Thai consulate in Vientiane (Lao PDR).
Applicants with “too many” consecutive tourist visa stickers in their passports may, however, have a red warning stamp put on their latest visa, indicating that future applications may not be accepted. As a rough rule of thumb, three consecutive tourist visas are “okay” in Vientiane; after that you’re at risk of having a new application rejected and better try your luck at another consulate.
The most “tourist-friendly” Thai consulate in the region currently seems to be the one in Savannakhet, also in Laos, just across the border from Mukdahan province in Isaan. Not only do they issue tourist visas without any further questions and requirements other than your passport, passport copies, photographs and cash; there are also hardly any “visa runners”, so you won’t have to queue up for hours for your application to be processed. (As of 2015, you will however have to spend a night in Savannakhet and wait one working day for the consulate to issue your visa).
The Thai consulate on Penang (Malaysia) reportedly also restricts tourist visa applicants to three consecutive single-entry visas only. If the consulate decides to restrict your visits, they will place a red stamp on your last visa stating that future applications will get refused. As of February 2008, the Thai consulate in Georgetown will reportedly also only issue tourist visas to applicants who can produce a fully paid onward air ticket, departing again from Thailand to an international destination, not within Southeast Asia.
Due to their bad reputation, the embassies in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and in Manila (Philippines) should be avoided. While chances in Phnom Penh may be 50/50, Manila is reportedly a total waste of time. On the other hand, the embassies in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Singapore appear to have a relatively good reputation yet imply higher travel costs.
To stay up-to-date with the latest visa regulations and see how strictly they are enforced at certain embassies and consulates in the region, it’s always a good idea to have a look around some threads on the popular ThaiVisa.com forum before going on a “visa run” to a certain country. As with all visa regulations and rules, there are always noteworthy exceptions; and as strict as some rules may appear, it’s always a separate question how strictly (or laxly) they’re being enforced by individual embassy officials.
To read more on alternative visa categories available for Thailand and find out which type suits you best, please also check the following links in the visa section on our website: