Earlier this year I decided to travel on Thailand Visa on Arrival. It appeared like a good deal.. You land in the country whenever you want, avoiding embassy visits and visa waiting time. Just pay 1000 Baht (INR 2000) at the airport (as the fee) and be done with it. You’re free to wander across the country for a period of 15 days.
Sounds lucrative, no? Well, not so!
Thailand Visa on Arrival is not as great as it may seem, and I realised it as soon as I landed at Bangkok airport.
After having a terrible 3-hour layover in Chennai, India, starting 1 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 couple of hours, before I can take any rest.
Thailand Visa On Arrival
Before I travelled there, the internet warned me that there can be long queues, but odd morning/evening can be different. My experience taught me that odd morning/evening hours, to obtain a Thailand Visa on arrival are not very different either. I waited for almost 90 minutes (at 7 o’clock in the morning) before I had my passport stamped. There were at least a hundred people waiting in the VOA queue.
The visa rules are not so relaxed either (especially if I compare them with the neighbouring country’s Cambodia Visa On Arrival rules). I was asked for a return ticket as well as all my hotel bookings in the country.
In recent times, and with increasing tourist inflow, the immigration authorities in Thailand have made the Thailand visa-on-arrival verification process quite strict. So be watchful! And be ready to be questioned!
VISA Fee Has Increased
From September 2016, the country has literally doubled its Thailand Visa on Arrival for Indians fee from 1000 Baht to 2000 Baht (or 4000 Indian Rupees). Where the VOA fee has been increased, the transit/tourist visa obtained from the Embassy costs the same. The latter moreover offers a longer period of stay of 45 days in the country.
Note: Please check the updated visa fee on the Thailand Embassy website as it keeps changing regularly.
15 Days Is Not Enough
Thailand Visa on arrival offers you only a 15-day travel period – which, I think, is not enough for a country so distinct and diverse.
I could not experience the islands in Thailand and could only explore a few popular towns because I had only 15 days of the travel period. I spent 3 days in Bangkok, visited temples in Ayutthaya, explored the mountains in the north, and my Thailand visa on arrival was already over.
Next time, I am going to apply for a visa that gives me more travel time. I think I’m going to have a 3-month ordinary Thailand tourist visa.
Also read: Schengen Indian Tourist Visa