Visa Run From Bangkok, Thailand To Cambodia - One Persons Experience
When the vast majority of Westerners visit Thailand they arrive at Bangkok international airport and are granted a 30 day stay ( in effect a 30 day visa exemption ). Normally these 30 days are all that is required and most people return home within the time allowed. However, many want to remain for a period in excess of the 30 days.
Unfortunately, some people wanting a longer holiday just overstay with no regard to the length of permitted stay on their entry stamp. If you are thinking of doing this please note the following :
In Thailand it is illegal to overstay the period allowed which is shown on the entry stamp in your passport. Thailand is not the same as many places in the West, and immigration status IS an issue and breaches of the rules ARE enforced.
If you overstay, and you come to the attention of the police, you make yourself liable to arrest and detention, fined, and then subject to deportation - and it actually happens.
In addition, if you avoid the police and turn up at an exit point from the country having overstayed, you will be fined 500 Baht for everyday you have overstayed. You will also be detained until the fine is paid. The maximum fine is 20000 Baht.
It is also at the discretion of the immigration officer dealing with your case whether he just imposes a fine. He could detain you and place you before a court as well. Although this is highly unlikely, but I hasten to add that it is not unheard of !
To avoid these 'overstay' scenarios you can just do a 'visa run' by air or land prior to your permission to enter Thailand expiring.
A 'visa run' is a trip out of the country for the purpose of obtaining a visa, or 30 day entry, and coming back into Thailand. It sounds simple and it is, although it can be time consuming.
My first experience of a visa run was some 6 years ago. I had come into Thailand on a 30 day entry stamp and wanted to remain another 30 days. Friends pointed me in the direction of a company in Bangkok who provide escorted visa runs to Ban Laem on the Cambodia / Thai border. The ball was soon set rolling.
I telephoned the company and booked a place on the next run. I was told to meet them at 8.45am the next day, in a coffee shop on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 63 and Sukhumvit Road, more or less adjacent to the Ekkamai skytrain station. They also told me to bring my passport ( pretty obvious I would have thought ) two passport photos, and 2000 Baht.
I got to the coffee shop at the appointed time and joined the ten or so other people who were sat at tables outside the main shop, filling out various forms. A man came up to me, who turned out to be the owner of the visa run company, took my 2000 Baht, and checked my passport. He handed me a partially completed application form for entry into Cambodia, and an Arrival/ Departure form for re-entry to Thailand. I filled them in and that was that.
The coach arrived at precisely 9.30am and off we went. We stopped once on the way to Ban Laem ( I actually had no idea where Ban Laem was ) and were able to use the toilet and buy water, snacks etc. There was no need to buy food as we were provided with a Thai meal and soft drink on the coach. Whilst I am on the subject of drink, on all the visa runs I have done over the years, the consumption of alcohol on the coaches is strictly forbidden.
After about 4 hours or so we arrived at the border and walked over to the Thai Immigration Post. The 'overstayers' went to the overstay counter and duly paid their fines, the others ( including me ) just went to the normal Immigration counters, handed over our passports and were booked out of the country. When we had exited Thailand the visa run company staff took our application forms for Cambodia, and our passports and led us across a bridge into Cambodia.
We had nothing to actually do at the Cambodian immigration control point, the company agents did it all for us. While we waited to get our pasports back some people went in to the nearby market, others just sat on the seats near the immigration point.
After about 45 minutes the company agent gave our passports. A quick perusal of mine revealed that a Cambodian entry visa had been affixed to one of the pages, and another page had Cambodian entry and exit stamps already inserted. With all the formalities done in Cambodia we all walked back over the bridge and into Thailand.
I handed my passport and completed arrival and departure form to the officer at the Thai immigration entry counter and received another 30 day permission to stay stamp. The whole process at the border took an hour.
Then it was back on the coach for the journey back to Bangkok. Traffic was a bit heavy going into the Thai capital but we managed to arrive at 7.30pm.
That was my first ever 'Visa Run'. It was like a step into the unknown, especially when we gave our passports to the company agent at the border, but it all went smoothly.
The same company is still running the same service now and nothing has changed in how it operates.
It might be worth mentioning at this point that the Thai Immigration rules have changed and if you are relying on 'permission to stay' stamps as opposed to a normal visa, then a visa run to a LAND border will only get you a 15 day entry stamp.
If you want a 30 day stamp you have to leave and come back into Thailand by AIR.
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