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From end of Oct 2023, I am staying in Thailand without getting any long stay visa. I plan to stay up to 6 months in Bangkok this time so I record my visa run (border run) record for your reference.
I mention here the fact all happened to me based on real experience. However please be noted that entry to Thailand is determined solely by immigration officer so it may not be applicable to your case.
- What is visa run (border run)?
- Visa run policy in Thailand
- Visa run guide per stay period
- My 6 month visa run strategy
What is visa run (border run)?
Visa run is an act that you stay in a certain country without obtaining appropriate visa by exiting and re-entering. For example in Thailand, Japanese national can stay in Thailand for 30 days without visa. Before reaching maximum permitted length of stay, you leave Thailand first then come back so that you will be granted another 30 day stay without visa.
Border run means almost same as visa run in a broad sense.
Visa run policy in Thailand
Visa run is completely legal yet Thai government encourages to apply for appropriate visa in case you plan to stay long in Thailand. Visa run by air and sea has no limitation in official but limited 2 times per calendar year for entry by land.
Immigration officer can deny your entry or require to get visa in next travel if they assume that you are actually staying in the Kingdom not for short term tourism purpose.
General visa policy in Thailand
Visa exemption stay period by country
Visa run guide per stay period
Visa run stay less than 3 months
If you stay in Thailand less than 90 days in total by visa run, I would say there will be no issue at all. You can do visa run 2 times by land, sea or air. For much safer way, you can apply for tourist visa (60 days) before coming to Thailand, then extend the period 30 days more (cost 1,900 THB) in Thailand to complete your stay without visa run. In this way, you do not get out from Thailand during your length of stay up to 90 days.
Tourist visa application guide
Tourist visa normally should be applied where you reside or work before entering Thailand.
Visa extension guide
Visa extension 30 days is only allowed once per entry. In Bangkok you can apply for extension in IT square Laksi
Visa run stay from 3 to 6 months
At first, I plan to do visa run by air 3 times and 2 times by land for my 6 month stay. As reading some blogs for border crossing experience and impression from immigration officer that I received when I did visa run so far, I felt 5 times visa run might be risky to accomplish so I quit to try visa run 5 straight times. Instead, I will apply for tourist visa also to make sure my entry to Thailand be allowed.
If you plan to stay more than 3 months, I would say considering to get tourist visa (1,000 THB) and staying period extension (1,900 THB for 30 days) might be much safer than reset stay period by crossing boarder.
Theoretically, you can apply for tourist visa more than once per year since there is no restriction officially. However, I read the story that American guy was denied to get tourist visa second time in a calendar year so it would be better to have tourist visa one time only in a same year.
I also found that Thailand has multiple entry tourist visa valid for 6 months. Getting this visa will definitely ease your stay for 6 months. Well, is this visa for real? I cannot find any blog that mentions getting this visa.
Visa run stay over 6 months
I do not recommend you dare to stay in Thailand without visa more than 6 months. Immigration officer definitely will point out that you are staying in Thailand not as tourist so they may deny your entry in high possibility. For more than 6 month stay, please consider to get long term visa not visa run.
As far as I know, enrolling in Thai language school and get education visa is the easiest way to stay more than 6 months to one year for 20,000 to 30,000 THB. When I did 3rd visa run at Don Mueang airport, immigration officer also recommended that I should get education visa to stay long in Thailand.
Thailand elite visa
Thailand elite Visa also might be your choice depending on your budget.
as of Jan 2024
Long stay visa
In case you are above 50 years old, getting long stay retirement visa is easiest option to take. You just need to deposit 800,000 THB in local bank account to obtain visa.
Multiple entry tourist visa
Oh I found Thailand also has multiple entry tourist visa (5,000 THB) that allows you to stay in Thailand up to 270 days maximum by boarder run. Unlike single entry tourist visa, multiple one requires more documents submission for application such as employee certificate and bank statement with higher amount. And basically you can apply in your home country or the country where you work.
With this visa, you will be permitted to stay in the Kingdom for 60 days per each entry within 6 months. Every stay can be extended 30 days more by paying 1,900 THB of course. Before 6 month period ends, you re-enter Thailand and extend stay so that you can remain here up to 270 days at longest (90 days + 90 days + 90 days)
Required documents differ depends on Thai embassy located in each country. Please check each embassy site by yourself, below is one example in Thai embassy Los Angeles.
Does anyone succeed to obtain this visa at all?? I could not find any application experience in web. If you could get, please tell me your story.
My 6 month visa run strategy
As mentioned, I originally planned to do visa run 5 times for 6 months without getting any visa but I scrapped this plan because I felt it might not gonna work. Below is my alternative plan as of Dec 2023.
- 1st visa run by air KL to Krabi (DONE)
- 2nd visa run by land from Vientiane to Nong Khai (DONE)
- 3rd visa run by air from Penang to Don Mueang (DONE)
- 4th visa run by land from Vientiane to Nong Khai with tourist visa
I changed to stop 4th visa run entry without visa from Laos. Instead, I will apply for single tourist visa in Laos then come back to stay in Thailand for 60 days. With tourist visa, immigration officer will more likely to accept my entry as I wish.
Remaining concern to me is 3rd entry by air from Malaysia since at this time, my total period of length will be more than 90 days. (succeeded!)
Below is some tips I think it will ease your visa run entry at the border point.
- Not staying up to maximum length
- Stay overseas for several days.
- Hold out-bound ticket when entering Thailand
Ⅰ Staying in Thailand up to maximum permitted length is not good idea so I always have buffer days in case of flight cancellation or other emergency situation.
If you plan to go out on very last day and failed to do so, you will be overstaying in Thailand. Some people says that overstaying in Thailand for several days is no problem at all, just to pay fine 500 THB per day. I DO NOT agree to this opinion. Overstay is a crime definitely not just fine paying thing. You should avoid 120 % otherwise you might be arrested even one day beyond your permitted stay.
Ⅱ Before returning the Kingdom, you better to stay overseas for several days. I saw in some blogs that re-entry in the same day was denied. And it’s more fun to travel in other countries too not just to reset your stay in Thailand.
Ⅲ Officially, it is required to have exit ticket when you enter Thailand without visa as tourist. However this rule is not been implemented strictly, even not checked by airline company nor immigration for out-bound ticket. I flew from Malaysia or took bus from Laos many times already, I have never asked if I had ticket from Thailand by airline check-in counter and immigration officer. To play safe, I always book ticket from Thailand beforehand in case I am asked.
1st visa run entry on Nov 2023
At first, I came to Thailand on 29th Oct then permitted to stay until 27th Nov for 30days. After that, I flew out from Thailand on 26th Nov, one day before my limit then stayed at KL for 5 days. First visa run entry on 30th Nov at Krabi airport.
I wasn’t worried at all for entry permission since it was just first visa run entry. At immigration Krabi airport, officer asked me one question then stamped on my passport.
How long are you staying?
Until end of December.
Another 30 days stay was easily accepted.
2nd visa run entry on Dec 2023
I exited Thailand from Nong Khai border on 28th Nov then stayed at Vientiane, Laos for 3 days. I came back to Thailand by bus on same route. This time, I was a bit nervous during passport inspection by officer, he looked into my passport closely and discussed with other officer too in Thai.
Eventually he asked me one question only then said something to me which I actually didn’t understand, haha. Good to have my passport stamped again.
Where are you going?
I go to Udon Thani then Bangkok.
Again, I was allowed to stay in Thailand for 30 days without visa…
3rd visa run entry on Jan 2024
Next visa run trip is for Penang Malaysia, I will go there by train then come back to Bangkok by air. I hope to enter with no issue next time too without visa.
I managed 3rd visa run entry on 29th Jan 2024 after 2 days stay in Penang Malaysia… This time was really tough moment for me to manage. Good immigration officer staff was so kind to allow me stay another 30 days…
Why are you coming to Thailand?
I just stay to avoid Winter.
Sorry? (I could not hear well)
Come to see (I went close to officer then looked for computer). Look, you are doing in-out for 4 times. To do in-out, at least you should stay out of Thailand one month. Or you should apply for visa next. This time, I give you stamp but next time you need visa.
Oh ok.. I will apply for tourist visa
hmm Education visa is better to stay long.
Oh ok.. I will consider..
This time was really terrible, hehe, immigration officer granted another 30 days visa free stay but the same time, she gave me ultimatum not allow next time so that I need to get visa for entry. She mentioned in-out also, it means same as visa run to stay in Thailand for long by resetting length of period by boarder.
4th visa run entry on Feb 2024
I will go out for Vientiane Laos again but this time, I will apply for single entry tourist visa in Thai embassy. So my last entry to Thailand will be visa run with tourist visa. Not to take risk, I decided to apply for visa for last time.