Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Thailand: how to extend your visa


Getting to Thailand is easy; flights to Bangkok seem to keep getting cheaper and cheaper, and us Brits are lucky enough to get a free thirty day visa on arrival (correct November 2016).

And initially we planned on staying for a month in Thailand. Until we arrived. And quickly fell in love. Soon, thirty days had passed and we were still in the south of the country; still planning on visiting Chiang Mai, Pai and Chiang Rai. Oops. So we needed to extend our visa.

UK travel advice for Thailand.

After a quick internet search, we found out there were a couple of ways of doing this. First, make a border run - go to the closest border, cross, get a new visa stamp, come back. You'll need to pay for transport, which can be costly unless you get a group of people together. Alternatively, visit an immigration office and pay to extend your visa. We chose the latter, as we were in Krabi at the time where there is an immigration office. One of the things I found out first hand whilst travelling is that a lot of online information is either outdated, conflicting or just plain confusing. So I thought this would be a good space for me to share how we did it, in the hope at least one person finds it useful.

Here goes...

1. We started on Railay, meaning we needed to start by getting a boat back to Ao Nang. We walked to west beach and paid for a longtail taxi boat at the stand near the entrance to the walking street. It cost 100 baht (£2 in March 2016) each and we had to wait a few minutes for the boat to fill up with six others - as we were going across in the morning this wasn't much of a problem as there were others waiting to cross too. We did have to wait longer on another occasion.

2. Once in Ao Nang, we walked up to the main road and to a bus stop, where we got a local bus to Krabi town, costing 50 baht (£1) each. This was a bus with an actual route, rather than a songtheaw. There should be information at the bus stops saying where they go, but if unsure ask the driver - most people had fairly good English. The driver dropped us at the stop closest stop to the immigration office and kindly called us a taxi to take us the final stretch. This turned out to be a motorbike taxi (these are common in parts of Thailand), cue hilarious three people on bike scenario.

3. The taxi guy took us to the immigration office, waited there for us and took us back to the bus stop for 200 baht (£4). He did offer to take us all the way back to Ao Nang but the thought of the whole journey squeezed on a bike.... no.

4. When in the immigration office it's pretty simple. Take a ticket (like Argos) and wait until your number is called. Then, complete the appropriate forms - bring a passport photograph with you or you get charged a small fee for another - and they should stamp your passport for you! It cost 1900 baht (around £43 in March 2016) for an extra thirty days. They shut for lunch between and 12 and 1pm.

5. Back on bike, back on bus, back on boat, back to pool. Success!

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