Thai Visa Run – Interns Thailand
Information courtesy of Alex (dive intern).
The scuba diving internships run here at Mermaids dive academy are superb in their intensity and the total immersion of the scuba world. The shortest internship that we have is 2 months in length (this is coming to us as a non-diver) and hence there is a good chance that you will have to make a visa run. A visa run is a bounce to the border where you are “signed”: out of Thailand and then back into Thailand and hence “activating” your next 3 months of your visa.
A border run or “visa run” is if you already have a Thai visa and you need to activate the latter part of it – there is information here also for obtaining a visa from other Thai embassies (consulates) in neighboring countries.
A Thai consulate can issue a “3 month non-immigrant education visa”, which means you can stay in Thailand for 90 days without doing a ‘visa run’. To obtain a visa it is necessary to leave Thailand and visit a neighboring country which has a Thai consulate. The application takes 24 hours to process, so a stop over in the country is required. The Thai consulates are only open Mon-Fri and the initial application must be handed in before midday, then collected after midday the following day.
To apply for the visa you need: a letter from Mermaids Management (ask a few days before you leave and we can print the necessary “letter of intent to study” and the company registration for you), your passport, photocopy of your passport, 2 x passport photos and the equivalent of approx 2000 Baht in whichever currency the country uses.
Traveling to Thailand’s neighboring country’s by train is usually the cheapest, easiest and most comfortable way to travel. However it can be time consuming so it is always worth checking www.airasia.com to see if there are any cheap flights (always remember to add approx 500 Baht departure tax onto any flight prices for flights to anywhere outside of Thailand). To book train tickets you can ask Malai (Mermaids secretary – superwoman!) and she can have the tickets delivered to Mermaids dive training academy in a few hours costing approx 10 Baht for delivery.
Most trains leave from Hualampong station in Bangkok, to get there from Jomtien / Pattaya is cheap and easy. The bus station on Sukhumvit Road has buses leaving every 30 mins to Bangkok-Ekamai bus station costing approx 100 Baht. From Ekamai bus station there is a BTS Skytrain station right next to it. Take the BTS to Asoke approx 20 Baht, here you can change to the MRT underground train to Hualampong station approx 20 Baht.
Vientiane – Laos
Overnight sleeper train from Bangkok (Hualampong) to Nongkhai costs approx 700 Baht. At Nongkhai take tuk-tuk/taxi to Friendship Bridge (ignore the drivers trying to sell you a visa) approx 40 Baht. At Thai immigration your passport and departure card are required. To go over Friendship Bridge there is a bus provided costs approx 10 Baht. At Laos immigration you need your passport, 2 x passport photos and entry fee of approx $30 (payable in US Dollars or Baht). Once in Laos the currency is Kip but they accept Baht and US Dollars everywhere. From immigration it is possible to take a bus to Vientiane for approx 40 Baht or a tuk-tuk/taxi for approx 100 Baht. The Thai Consulate is on Tha That Luang a 15 mins walk from Patuxai monument (taxi drivers know).
Accommodation is easy to find there is a range from budget upwards. I personally recommend Chindamay Guest House on Tha Setthathirat it is cheap, clean and rooms have attached bathroom with hot water and air con.
The return journey to Bangkok can be booked at any of the travel agents, alternatively there is a bus which is cheaper and slightly quicker but much less comfortable!
Note – There are no ATMs in Laos only banks to change money so make sure to take enough cash!!
Penang – Malaysia
Overnight sleeper train from Bangkok (Hualampong) to Butterworth cost approx 800 Baht. Alternatively check airasia.com for cheap flight, if booked in advance the flight costs almost the same as the train and only takes about one hour. The train stops at the border along the way, here it is necessary to get off the train walk through immigration and get back on the train. Passport and departure card is required, there is no entry fee for Malaysia. At Butterworth there is a ferry across to Penang for a small fee but i t must be paid for in Malaysian Ringgit. The ferry arrives in Georgetown where there are many guesthouses and restaurants within walking distance of the pier.
I recommend Love Lane Inn guesthouse (54 Love Lane firstname.lastname@example.org ) the owner of the guesthouse will sort out the visa for you. He takes your passport and completed application to the consulate and collects it the next day for a nominal fee. Most of the guesthouses offer this service. The owners of Love lane Inn are very helpful, have excellent English and will help you with whatever they can.
The return journey can be booked through the guesthouse and the owner will even drive you to the pier in his ‘taxi’. The return ferry is free so the price is approx 800 Baht by train.
Kota Bharu – Malaysia
Overnight sleeper train from Bangkok (Hualampong) to Sungai Kolok cost approx 650 Baht. Sungai Kolok station is short walk to immigration (border) or tuk-tuk / taxi is approx 30 Baht. Walk through Thai immigration show passport and departure card then walk over a bridge go through Malaysian immigration and then take a taxi to Kota Bharu approx 300 Baht (there is a currency exchange next to immigration in what appears to be a Fujicolour shop). Thai consulate – 4426 Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Several guesthouses around Kota Bharu many aimed at backpackers. Note – Very strong Muslim population it is necessary to be respectful and women should dress modestly, also alcohol is difficult to obtain and expensive! Return journey can be booked in travel agency in Kota Bharu or take a taxi back to Sungai Kolok and buy train ticket before boarding (slightly risky as trains may be fully booked, there is accommodation in Sungai Kolok).
I must at this point say that if you are intending to go to Kota Bharu it would be a shame not to visit the nearby Perhentian Islands, cost approx 300 Baht in a taxi from Khota Bharu to Kuala Besut pier. The islands are absolutely gorgeous, beaches are stunning and the crystal clear waters are full of amazing marine life! – Scuba diving is very affordable approx 1400 Baht for 2 boat dives or 400 Baht for a beach dive. I recommend staying at D’Lagoon on Kecil Island it is a secluded bay with fantastic snorkelling / dive opportunities and cheap accommodation – provides a relaxing break for a few days away from Pattaya.
A visa trip can indeed be a good excuse for a short travel break.