Bangkok Visa Run - ThailandThis is something of a nuisance to people living in Thailand for any length of time, and a rule which doesn't really make a lot of sense, other than maybe it stops the visitor who stays in Thailand for ever, contributes nothing to the country other than beer money and who has some social interaction with the local population.
However, there it is, and visitors have to deal with it.
Anyone on a 30 day tourist visa has to leave the country on or before the 30 days stay is complete.
They have to then leave Thailand to renew a visa and return, even if it is the same day.
The same applies for those with Non Immigration B visas, who have to leave every 90 days.
A 30 day tourist visa can only be renewed 3 times consecutively, after that there has to be a 90 day gap before returning on a 30 day visa.
The situation does change but the chances are that the Visa Run will be with us for some time.
There are plenty of ways and places to do this.
It doesn't have to be a bus to Cambodia, which is a favourite amongst expats living in Thailand.
With some planning, a touring visitor can simply make sure the next port of call, say Vietnam, is on the itinerary after 29 days in Thailand.
So, make the trip to Vietnam or wherever and return to Thailand as normal.
There may be somewhere you would like to spend a weekend, in Laos or another nearby country. The final option is to take the visa run, which compared with other options such as flying to Malaysia for a day, is very cheap.
A trip to Penang will cost around 5,000 Baht plus hotels, whereas the Cambodian trip is 2,000 Baht and takes just a day.
One such trip goes to a fairly new border crossing for Cambodia which is not mentioned on the company website so presumably the operators want to keep it for themselves.
The bus leaves from Ekamai Baanrai coffee shop on the corner of Soi 63 Sukhumvit at 9.30am. The bus is parked in the car park of the coffee shop.
Bookings can be made by phone and you will be asked to bring one passport photo and obviously your passport.
They check your passport and visa details before taking any money and before you get on the bus, so there's no question of arriving at the border to be told that you cannot return to Thailand.
The operators know the regulations and are honest about any difficulties.
The bus is comfortable and there are on board western movies. The whole journey to Cambodia takes 4 hours, but at almost exactly the 2 hour mark there happens to be a gas station with large 7-11 store, toilets and some local food stalls.
The two ladies who accompany the bus will have asked you what lunch meal you would like from a choice of fried rice, pork, chicken etc.
They then phone the order ahead of arrival at the gas station and when you return to the bus at the comfort stop, your lunch is waiting on your seat.
This is included in the cost, as is a bottle of water. When the bus arrives at the Cambodian border, passengers go the immigration booth and exit Thailand.
The 2 ladies from the bus company then collect all the passports, walk across into Cambodia, and return about 30 minutes later, with Cambodian visas in the documents.
Passengers do not go into Cambodia, but wait in the neutral territory between the two countries or go to the simple but well stocked duty free shop.
Having been given your passport back, you then re enter Thailand where a new 30 day or 90 days visa stamp is issued and everyone goes back on the bus to return to Bangkok.
One of the oddest and funniest things about this charade is that if you do not have an air ticket showing a future date of departure from Thailand, then you have to buy a fictitious tour ticket (200 Baht extra) to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
This is asked for by immigration when re entering Thailand.
Now, he knows you haven't been to Angkor Wat because he's only just stamped you out of Thailand, and he knows you have been standing around waiting for your passport to be brought back from the Cambodian immigration.
But, so be it, you have a tour bus ticket to go to Angkor Wat which he also stamps along with the passport.
Mad? Of course it is.
The bus gets back into Bangkok around 6.30 pm so it's a whole day, but that's better than some of the other runs where you have to wait in line at the border and it gets very crowded.
There are no casinos or big commercial concerns at this border post, just a big market on the Thai side, and a lot of children asking for Baht coins (mostly Cambodian kids).
The schedule is now Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend is probably better when there is less traffic on Sukhumvit.
This about as good as it gets on visa runs, but there are others and some people take a bus to Nong Kai in the north, then go into Laos across the friendship bridge.
On this there are Laos visa costs to consider, as well as the hassle of doing it independently.
Because the operators of the Thai Visa Run are knowledgeable and handle all the paper work , all you have to do is sit on a nice bus for 4 hours each way and hang around the Thai Cambodian border for 30 minutes.
Overstays are charged at 500 Baht per day, but there is a 24 hour allowance in place so it is possible to stay an extra day without charge.
Another option is to extend your stay at the Thai Immigration office, and pay 2400 Baht for an extra 30 days, but this can only be done once, and there should be a valid reason for the extension.
I'll health is considered reasonable.
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