There’s a lot of misinformation circulating the internet about gaining access to Thailand without a return flight. Everyone you ask provides a different answer from the last, including the all-knowing Google.
Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to present a 2013 mini-guide dealing with the facts. My visa was organised on the December 18th 2012 with no problems whatsoever.
As there’s no definitive answer, I can’t and won’t provide advice about actual visa-on-arrival shenanigans. The facts are, if you have an onward or return flight and fall under one of the many visa exemption countries, you can arrive on the border, visit for 30 days and leave with no problems. Over there you’re able to extend your visa to the same 60 days I just organised.
Down an uninviting staircase of the London Thai embassy is the stuffy, tired visa processing office.
Getting Your Wings
The on-arrival process mentioned above is a proven, UN guaranteed fact. Where the cloudiness occurs is if you’re arriving without an onward flight. That’s not to say immigration or prior-to-flight-embankment staff will ask for evidence, but while extremely rare, it can happen.
If like me, you don’t want to risk being denied entry, the safest, cheapest and most efficient way is to apply for a standard tourist visa. This is cheaper than a throwaway Air Asia flight like many recommend, and it means you have guaranteed entry pre-organised.
- A tourist visa can be organised for 60 days and costs £25
- The queue is minimal and fast moving (I arrived at 9am and there were three others)
- You fill a straightforward form supplied on the website and affix two passport photos
- You apply downstairs in the embassy between 9.00am – 12.00pm
- You bring your receipt and collect two days later (1 day if after the 8th December, up to Christmas) between 11.00am – 12.00pm
The London branch, the Royal Thai Embassy, is five minutes from South Kensington tube station. You take a ticket, sit down, go to ‘desk one’s’ attendant and pay your money.
When I was there, I didn’t get a single question about where I was going next, how long I was planning on visiting for or even what my name was. That’s not to say you won’t be asked, but out of the five people doing the same thing, all of us were seen in roughly two minutes.
If you prefer to be safe rather than sorry, going through the above offsets any chance of border complications, even if the majority of people say not to worry about it – it’s always better to have these things in order, and hopefully this article debunks some common myths about the Thai visa process in the UK.
The only thing left is to actually get to Thailand…