When you get into Thailand, you get 30 days in the country automatically without a visa. They give you a stamp with an entrance date, and the date you need to get the fuck out. This is called a visa exemption. You’re exempt from needing the visa.
As of this year, you can extend this exemption period by another 30 days. All you need is 1,900 Bhat, 45 minutes, and to get yourself to an immigration office.
So off we went to the office in Koh Samui.
We tried to get there in the morning. The office is off the main ring road in Na Thon, about an hour from Chewang Beach. Google Maps has the wrong location, use Apple Maps.
It was torrential downpour–naturally–so Max and I rented two scooters and set off. We got lost, and ended up doing a perfect loop, ending up exactly where we we started–the hostel. I felt like we were making good time, but my heart sank after seeing the signs for Chewang beach reappear. Can’t trust a Google Map.
Since the office closes for lunch, we take a coffee break and chat about visa stuff. No one online–or offline–can give you a solid answer on the current visa laws! We briefly discuss an app idea for this kind of information. I don’t think Thailand or Myanmar for that matter have an API, so dynamic updates might be difficult.
Round 2 commences. We ride an hour in torrential downpour. I’m now eating my post visa lunch and it’s a beautiful sunny day. Our timing could not have been worse.
It’s important to dress respectfully. Things will be smoother. All it takes is just a t-shirt instead of a tank top. They don’t answer general immigration questions. Infact you don’t do much talking. Just run the gauntlet and pass the forms around and it will move fast. They’re paper pushers not guidance counsellors.
Immigration is easy. Fill out the form. Make sure you write a Thai phone number under your photo on this form–use your hostels if you don’t have one. Tell them you love The Kingdom of Thailand and want to spent more time here under the reason for extension field.
A guy has a stand at the neighboring business where he photocopies your passport and prints four photos of you for 120 Bhat. Use the glue stick to affix your poorly taken photo to the form. Scribble your signature anywhere on the photocopies made of your passport pages. Shove the other three photos in your wallet and convince yourself you’ll need them for something.
Stand in line outside of the little window. Hand the forms to the officer. If completed fully and properly, they issue you a number.
Go inside, and at the front facing counter you pay the 1,900 Bhat. You get a new number and new documents.
Take a turn to the desk on your right and hand them all of your documents, including passport. You get yet another number and then you wait outside while they process your extension.
I chatted up a cool looking traveler and within 10 minutes they called my number. The guy hands over your passport, and that delicious stamp is now in it.
Congratulations, you just got another 30 days in The Kingdom.