My Experience of Doing a Visa Run from Bangkok

My Experience of Doing a Visa Run from Bangkok

Thai Visa Run

I’ve been living and working in Thailand for twenty years now and have changed my job twice. I last did this about seven years ago and even though I still had a few months left on my visa, Immigration cancelled it and said I had to leave the country within 7 days. This is because the work permit is tied to the visa and is only available for that particular job. Immigration told me to leave the country and come back with a 30 day visa exemption stamp which can then be changed in Bangkok Immigration to a Non Immigrant B Visa. Last time I flew to Luang Prabang and made a holiday out of it. But this time, I just wanted to do the quickest way. So, that is why I signed up for the services of a “Thai Visa Run”.

Thai Visa Run

Many people go on visa runs or border runs every day. There are a number of different companies that can help you with this. Just Google “thai visa run” and the city you want to start from like Bangkok or Phuket. On my coach to the border there were about 30 other people. Some of them were extending multiple entry visas to get another 90 days. Others were tourists and wanted to get another 30 days. You need to check first if you can get 15 days or 30 days at the border. People from the UK and G7 countries can now get 30 days at both land and airport border immigration.

Thai Visa Run

The ride down to the Cambodian border took over five hours. They only gave us one stop for toilet. For lunch they phoned ahead and the food was waiting for us. Which we then ate on board. There are other borders nearer than the one we went to at Ban Pakkad. But, the visa people argued that not many people crossed here and so no queues. Which they were right. We went through Thai Immigration very quickly and then ended up at this small cafe a short distance away. We then handed our passports to this guy who sorted out the arrival and departure cards for Cambodia. They wrote these for us. We just signed them.

Thai Visa Run

What I didn’t know at the time was that this was still no-man’s land. Unbeknown to me, while I was in the rest room, this guy on a motorbike took all of our passports up to the Cambodian border checkpoint. Where they were then stamped with entry and departure stamps and then brought back. I cannot fault the efficiency of it all as we were at the border less than 30 minutes before getting back on the coach. Though I wish I had known before that my passport was going to leave my hands in this manner. It’s sounds a bit dodgy but it was all done with the knowledge of both the Thai and Cambodian immigration.

Thai Visa Run

If you have overstayed your visa then you can pay the fine here first before leaving.  It’s 500 Baht per day up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht. Even if you have overstayed, there is no problem in coming back. I’ve known people who overstayed, payed the maximum fine and then came straight back.  I should point out that overstaying is risky. Immigration police sometimes do sweeps of guesthouses and police sometimes ask for passports. If they find out that you have overstayed you will be arrested and sent to Immigration Detention Center where you will stay until they take you to court to pay the fine. You will then stay in IDC until someone on the outside helps you buy an airplane ticket to your home country. Once done, they will escort you to the airport and stay with you until you depart. This could mean 5-7 days in detention. Some have been there years as they don’t have money to buy a ticket home.

If you have any experience with different Thai visa run services then feel free to post them in the comments below. But please, only genuine visa runners and not visa company employees pretending to be tourists.

37 thoughts on “My Experience of Doing a Visa Run from Bangkok

  1. I’m surprised you are still doing Visa runs, given your long history in Thailand and the apparent recent support from Thai tourism officials. If anyone needs to be let loose, it’s the few farang that actually promote tourism in Thailand. Shame on them fools

    1. It is a silly bit of bureaucracy. This is actually the first visa run like this I have done. Immigration told me that I had to leave Thailand and come back again before they could proceed with my application for a new visa and work permit at a different company. Once this is sorted then I will just go to immigration here once a year. Until of course I change companies again and they will kick me out of Thailand again.

  2. I m 58 years old not married to my thai partner and have a7 year old son all I get is a double entry tourist , I m here at the moment on my last entry and have to leave the country in 60 days I don t have the 800.000 bht needed to be produced so I have to leave for the uk , what a nightmare trying to bring up your child , any suggestions would gladly be appreciated

        1. Short term secured loan. Show it to them, and pay it back afterwards. The interest will be much less than a return ticket to the UK.

    1. Hi,
      a close friend of mine, also a German is doing the following (once a year, every year): A local lawyer pays 800.00 into a savings account which then will be shown to the authorities etc.. A few days later, after the vias is there, the lawyer takes back the (his)money – voila. The lawyer charges approx. 4.500 Baht for this service as far I remember. Try doing the same, ask someone you trust. Not everybody who is doing this will tell it to others! Give it a try. It would be much much easier and cheaper too.
      Good luck.

      1. hi rene thanks for the info shame you can t find out the lawyers name , I ve heard of this but they are charging 20,000 bht and I m worried that if caught I would be thrown out of the country kind regrds john I m I n pattaya

        1. Hi John, 20.000 Baht is too much and is negotiable for sure.
          Don’t be anxious to be caught. A laywer knows what he is doing. Remember: If YOU will be caught, the lawyer will be caught as well and will loose his license. The only thing you have to do is to show a savings book with your name on it with a little more than 800.000 baht. If no lawyer can be found, ask someone you know for a 7-10 day loan and offer him/her 10.000 baht interest. You have got 6-7 weeks from now to solve your problem. Try your very best !! Think about your partner and your son !! Again: Good luck.

    2. I myself am 58 and have a Thai wife and two sons living here in Thailand. For the past few years I have always used a non-O Visa when visiting for a 15 month. With the new rules of August 2014 I can only now get a multi entry tourist Visa with a total of 180 days. I also do not have enough money in a Thai bank to obtain a non-O Visa of 400,000 baht if married to a Thai or 800.00 baht if single.

  3. Another great article. If you are doing this to obtain a 30 day tourist visa – do you need to show onward travel details?

    1. It’s not a visa – it’s a visa exemption stamp at the border. For the visa you would need to go to the embassy. And no, I didn’t have to show onward travel details. Though they knew we all just arrived on the visa run bus.

  4. Did a visa run last Wed flying to Kuala Lumpa and returning the same day. A little more expensive than the border runs from Bangkok by bus but quicker and far more comfortable. There is no need to pass through Immigration and Customs in KUL airport – which saves a page in your passport for visa/entry/exit stamps and the need for form filling, photos etc. – you can check in for the return flight in the Transit Lounge. Egypt Air and Royal Jordanian fly the sector BKK – KUL 3 times a week with timings that allow same day return. The sector is usually light on pax both ways and wide bodied aircraft are used so the flights are comfortable and boarding quick. Both airlines serve complimentary meals and drinks on both legs + KUL Terminal has a good selection of places to eat and drink with free wifi throughout. Last time I flew Royal Jordanian for THB3740 return, leaving BKK at 1615 and returning 2325 giving 2hr45m in KUL, Thankfully those times also seem good for getting to and from BKK and fairly quiet at immigration and security, Tickets can be bought online or at the airline offices in Bangkok,

  5. I have been using Bangkok Buddy, formerly Jack Golf. I have been extremely happy with their service, and really like the fact that they leave Bangkok very early in the morning at 5am, which means a much earlier return time at approx. 1:30 – 2 pm. The van is for the most part comfortable, but I would not want to be in it much longer than the prescribed round trip length, mostly because I’m bigger body size. Poipet is a very dirty and smelly place, but I spend the wait time in the casino and the True Move cafe while the visa process takes place, and there is a free breakfast buffet that is not bad at all, and the girls are cute and sweet.

    The only things I can say that I don’t like are that a) Cambodia appears to have no small passport stamp, and has to take up a whole page each time with their big visa sticker, and b) that Poipet is a pretty nasty place at the border area.

  6. Hi Richard,

    So when you got to Cambodia, they stamped you with a 30 day visa exemption stamp – when and where did you then change it into a non immigrant b visa?

    I resigned from my previous employer in December and they told me they would cancel the work permit within 7 days, so I went to Lao and got a 60 day tourist visa. Then after that I got the 30 day extension After that, I went to Singapore on holiday and came back into the country on the 3rd March. However once I got to immigration at BKK airport, the officer assumed I was still on my non-imm b visa as apparently it looked like it hadn’t been cancelled! So he actually stamped my passport as though I was still on that visa and allowed me entry until December (when the work permit would have originally expired).

    I have now been offered a new job but obviously cannot start until I verify whether my old one was properly cancelled.

    Whether it has or hasn’t, I still need to leave the country and apply for a new non-imm b visa. Do you have any advice, would I be able to apply for this on the Cambodia visa run? Do you know the costs?

    Sorry for the essay, I am in a very weird situation!!

    Thanks in advance.

    migration told me to leave the country and come back with a 30 day visa exemption stamp which can then be changed in Bangkok Immigration to a Non Immigrant B Visa.

    1. If you are able to cancel your visa and then apply for the new job at the same time you don’t apparently need to leave the country. For me, my documents weren’t all in order and I was running out of time. So, I left Thailand on this visa run. I came back the same day with a 30 day visa exemption stamp. You then have to go to the main Immigration office in Bangkok to change this to a Non immigrant B. You must apply when there is still at least 15 days left on the visa exemption. There is a long list of 17 documents that you need to submit. The list is on their website in English and Thai. They have now accepted my application and I have to then go back in about ten days to see if it is approved. The next step after that is to then go to my local Immigration where I will apply for the one year extension and also do the work permit.

      My original Non Immigrant visa wasn’t officially cancelled by Immigration in Bangkok. I just presumed it was at the border as I left the country without a re-entry permit. If that is an issue I will let you know later this month. Your case sounds strange. Be careful as you are technically in the country illegally on that non immigrant. It is tied to your work permit and job and should be cancelled at the same time. When you go to cancel your work permit and visa, Immigration will ask to see the previous month’s tax payment. They will expect to see your name on it paying tax and at least 4 Thai employees.

      Immigration at Chaeng Wattana is closed at the moment and so to change your visa you have to go to either Suksawat or Lad Prao. I went to Suksawat as it is closer to me and less people. I am told you cannot change visas at your local immigration.

  7. Is 2000 baht a good price for a visa run from Bangkok to the Burmese border? Everything is included in this price.

  8. Great list of options for visa and travel. I draw attention to the border runs in Thailand are not considered closed and formally after August 12th 2014 (mothers day). Current border runners are getting an I-O in/out stamp in their passport and after this they are turned away at land borders and told to fly in. The once relaxed exit and entry method requires a bit more effort as of this year.

  9. I have 11 to 12 months overstay in my non b thai visa, and I am planning to go to Cambodia via land border. Can I pay for my overstay thai visa at the border and cross right to Cambodia? Please I need your kind advice.

  10. Thanks for your response. Just been afraid of rejectio. Now I have the confidence and can go straight away. I appreciate once more

  11. Hi Richard,

    Due to some mix up’s at the company I work for here in Bangkok (essentially they thought my Visa was still valid, it is not, my ‘must leave by’ is still all legal, but the Visa is kaput since 20 Feb), I now have to go on a trip abroad.

    Further complicating things is my WP was recently renewed, so it’s all good to go, just the Visa that’s an issue.

    Do you recommend that I take all my paperwork to Immigration in Bangkok (dragging said Boss, staff member, etc, along) to apply for the ‘new’ Non-Immi B, then do my run and come back, or do a run, and put the paperwork in ASAP after ?

    I’ve been told you can convert from a tourist visa to a B visa (as per your post here) but nothing about whether I can lodge the paperwork and get the ball rolling before I leave.

    1. I’m pretty sure you cannot get the ball rolling until you come back with the new visa. You may even find that your work permit is invalid if it’s tied to a particular visa that is now expired. But I’m not sure. Haven’t seen that case before.

  12. Hi Richard,

    Please can you give the name of the agency that you used in this story – I have found some agencies but they require that you are out of Thailand for up to 4 days, I would like to do this whole trip in one day like you did, if you could pass on the company’s name.

    Many thanks

  13. Hi all. Help me! Going to Vientiane for Non B visa tomorrow but new employer didn’t provide me the contract paper. Without contract paper is it possible to get a Non B visa as visa run ?

      1. Thanks.
        New employer will provide BOI approved letter and invitation with other company documents except contract paper.

  14. My kids and I entered on a O dependant visa because my husband began working here. Upon finding out from his HR since he is a consultant they do not do visas for dependants. At immigration in BKK we tried to cover the kids visas to an ED visa and I as their dependent but they refused aaying we need my husband’s company’s HR to write a letter instructing immigration to cancel their current visa and then re-apply for the new category visa. So we went back today and theh stamped the kids passports took all documentation. Even went as far as clicking their pics. When the passports went for final signatures the senior immigration officer refused to grant the visa. He put a cross on the new visa they had stamped and has written in Thai “process incomplete.” So now our last resort is to fly out to KL and start the entire process there for a new visa. My question is this observation he has made on tbe stamp will that cause a problem in the new application when the Embassy in the KL looks at my kids passport? I am worried sick!

  15. Hi Richard, I resigned from my school due to emergency on Nov. 4. Despite my best efforts to communicate with the school and work together, they cancelled my work permit and [Non-Imb B + 1 yr extension] retroactively on Nov. 1 but did not inform me until Nov. 16. This means that I am now on illegal on overstay. Bangkok Immigration says that because a week passed after the school cancelled the Non ImmB,, they cannot accept any overpay fines from me or stamp my passport Non Imm B visa as cancelled. They cannot do anything for me unless the school provides a letter changing the cancellation date to later, which they won’t do. So even though the Immigration officials know I want to pay and resolve the situation, they cant or wont. I may be stopped at the border if I tried to leave Thailand with a cancelled visa in the Imm computer but fines not paid. And I will certainly be blocked from ever getting another Non-Imm B visa to teach in Thailand again. So I am caught in a Catch-22. Is there any way the Labor Ministry or a lawyer can resolve this?

    1. Sorry to hear about your problem. That wasn’t nice of them to do that. We never do this to our teachers. In fact, we are no longer required to surrender the work permit. The only time we have told anyone our teacher has left is if they plan to get a job elsewhere in Thailand. This is because everything needs to be done properly. If they are travelling for a few weeks before flying home, it doesn’t seem fair to force them to have their visa cancelled. Are you sure your visa is cancelled? Normally the school would need to go with you to Immigration and present your passport. It seems very strange. Sorry, I cannot be of more help.

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