All you need to know about visa runs in Thailand (1)

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All you need to know about visa runs in Thailand (1)

If you are an experienced traveller in Southeast Asia, you have probably heard the term ‘visa run’ before, and know more or less what to do when your stamp date is coming closer. If you are new to this adventurous life style, you must be feeling a little lost. Don’t worry, in this little mini-series we will make things easier for you.


DISCLAIMERPlease bear in mind that we are NOT immigration law specialists and this information is purely based on our personal experience. There are different rules and regulations for different Nationalities and because things keep changing all the time, we highly recommend using a visa/travel agent, such as Island Travel on Koh Tao or Jim’s Place in Penang for example. Not only will they be able to book your travel tickets for you, but are usually up to date with the latest ins and outs of visa rules.

You can also visit this page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information on visa laws.


Let’s say you had planned a little trip to learn to dive on our beautiful island Koh Tao, but you have enjoyed your PADI Open Water Diver course so much that it soon became the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course too. Now you are in love with this little piece of paradise and the underwater life, and you are about to sign up for your PADI Rescue Diver course and so sure that once is done you’ll move on to complete your PADI Divemaster training – because why not? Believe me, it happens a few times a week on this island. But the issue is that your visa is about to expire and you definitely need more time. What to do? That’s when the visa extensions, border bounces and visa runs come into play.



If you have entered Thailand on a tourist visa (the one where you get an actual sticker in your passport) you are most likely eligible to extend your stay by another 30 days at the nearest Immigration office, which for our case is Koh Samui.


Extension of stay at your closest immigration

This is the so-called ‘extension of stay’ and can normally be scheduled as a day trip. If you have been on Koh Tao already for a little while, this is also the perfect time to stock up with your favourite treats from back home and all the stuff you can’t buy on Koh Tao, as you can generally find bigger supermarkets and expat shops on Koh Samui.

If your final stamp date falls on a weekend or a Thai holiday, it is recommended to plan your trip early (you will still get an extension of the full 30 dates, starting from your stamp dates) rather than going late – so do make sure to factor this in with your planning…


Border bounce at your closest border

Once you have “used up” your visa and can’t extend it any further, it’s worth thinking about a ‘border bounce’ to Myanmar. The favorite border to do that is in Ranong and the place is known as the “Andaman Club”. Rules and regulations vary for different Nationalities, for example most South American Passport holders will receive an additional 90 days with this border bounce, whereas most European passport holders will only be granted an additional 30 days.



At the time when we wrote this article, there was a limited amount of times you were allowed to enter Thailand on a land border and you are required to show proof of the following:

  • Flight ticket out of Thailand
  • Local address of where you’ll be staying in Thailand
  • 20,000 THB in cash, this to prove that you can support yourself for your trip in Thailand.

All of these points are equally important and will avoid issues as possible entry refusal at the border. Also bear in mind the more respectful you behave and dress (girls, please cover your shoulders and don’t wear the shortest shorts) the more respectful the Immigration officers will treat you.

What’s the best way to do a visa trip in your opinion? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.

This was the first of two blog posts, explaining the ins and outs of visa runs. In this post we will be explaining everything you need to know about so called ‘extensions of stay’ and also ‘border bounces’. The second post, which we will post next week, will be an in-depth report of an actual ‘visa run’ to a neighbouring country (Malaysia in our case).



(Photo credits: private, Master Divers & unsplash)

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