Earlier this year I decided to travel Thailand on Visa on Arrival as it appeared like a good deal – cheaper and quicker. You land in the country whenever you wanted, avoiding the long embassy applications. Just pay 1000 Baht (INR 2000) at the airport (as the Visa fee) and be done with it. You’re free to wander across the country for 15 happy days.
Well, it’s not as good and convenient as it seems! And I realised that as soon as I landed at the airport in Bangkok.
After having a terrible 3 hours layover in Chennai, in India, starting 1 in the night, I reached Suvarnabhumi Airport around 7 in the morning. I was already pretty much cracked up, due to lack of sleep, and I realised that the application process, at Suvarnabhumi, might take another few good hours, before I can take any rest.
Long Queues For Thai Visa On Arrival
Before I travelled to Thailand, the internet said that Visa on Arrival (VOA) counters can have long queues, but odd morning/evening can be different. My experience – odd morning/evening hours are not very different. I waited for almost 90 minutes before I had my passport stamped. There were at least a hundred people waiting in VOA queue, with almost 70% of them being Chinese, and the rest, Indians.
And then the visa on arrival rules in Thailand are not as lenient as the rules for Cambodia Visa On Arrival are. I was asked for a return ticket as well as all my hotel booking in the country. During recent times, and with increasing tourist inflow, the immigration authorities in Thailand have made the verification process just as strict as in Malaysia and Singapore. So be watchful! And be ready to be questioned!
VISA Fee From 1000 to 2000 Baht: Another Disappointment!
From September 2016, Thailand has literally doubled its VOA fee from 1000 Baht to 2000 Baht (or 4000 Indian Rupees). Where the VOA fee has been increased, for no good reason, the transit/tourist visa obtained from the Embassy costs is still the same price. It moreover offers a longer period of stay of 45 days in the country.
15 Days on Visa on Arrival Is Not Enough For Thailand
Visa on arrival offers you only a 15-day travel period – which, I think, is not enough for a country so perfect for backpacking. I could not experience the islands because of having only 15 days of travel period. I explored a bit of North, the Wild West Bangkok, and a few other cities, and my stay period was already over.
Next time, I am getting something that gives me more travel time. I think I’m going to have a 3-month tourist/transit visa.
Have you been to Thailand on a Visa on Arrival? How was your experience?