Last updated in January 2014. I am often in Thailand and I have used the visa on arrival facility at many Thai airports and land border crossings. I am hoping that this guide will help fellow travellers. I will concentrate on the Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok) as this is where most tourists come in. The information will also help you at other airports and border crossings where visa on arrival is available. The visa on arrival counters are open 24 hours at the airports.
A. What you need for the Visa
A1. Completed visa form. You can get this form at a desk near the visa on arrival area. Fill the part until the signature. The part that says “For Official Use” and the back of the form is for the Thai visa officer’s use. Fill in everything that I have marked in the image below.
Make sure that you fill in the section that asks for the address in Thailand. They are very particular about this. Fill in the name of the hotel you are staying at. If I am staying in multiple hotels in multiple cities, I will fill in the place where I am staying first or the longest. If I am staying at a friend or a relative’s place, I will fill in their address. Some people ask me if they can print and use the visa form they find on some website. I would recommend that you use the form that is available at the visa on arrival (VOA) counter. I have had some travellers tell me that they did not accept the printed forms and requested the travellers to fill a fresh form.
A2. Your passport (you need at least six months validity from the day you enter Thailand). There should be at least one blank page on your passport. Thai visa and the immigration stamps take up one full page.
A3. Your boarding pass stub (this will have your flight number)
A4. Arrival-Departure card. You will get this card before you leave the plane. Fill all the areas except the part that asks for the visa number. The second page of this form asks for identical information, the only thing different is your departure flight. The form also asks for some personal details. Fill everything that applies to you. The From/Port of embarkation is the city where you started your journey. Next City is the immediate next destination after Bangkok. So if you are going to say Phuket after Bangkok, then you should write Phuket. If you are only staying in Bangkok and going back to your home city (or city you started your journey from) then put that city.
A5. Proof of ability to stay in Thailand: 10,000 THB (about 340 USD) per person or 20,000 THB per family (people who are related, having same family name etc.) . They will not take this money. They just want to make sure you have enough money. This can be in any currency as long as it is equivalent to the Thai currency above. I have shown them US dollars, Singapore Dollars, Japanese Yen and Chinese RMB. They do not acknowledge credit or debit cards. In Bangkok (Suvarnabumi) airport there are ATMs before the immigration where you can withdraw cash. And yes, Indian Rupees (INR) is fine too.
A6. Your return or onward ticket or e-ticket printout. Your return date must be within 14 days from the date of entry (visa on arrival allows 14 days stay only).
A7. One recent photograph, Thai immigration website recommends that the photo be 4 x 6 cm. I have used a photo that is similar in size to the photo in Indian passports and they were fine with it. There is a photo counter nearby that will take your photo for a fee.
A8. The visa fee: Visa fee is 1000 THB (Thai Bahts). If you do not have Thai currency, you can get it at the 24 hour money changers near the visa on arrival counter at Suvarnabhumi airport. If you decide to take the express (premium) queue, then you will have to pay 200 THB extra.
B. The procedure
Look for the Visa on Arrival signs, they will lead you to the Visa on Arrival area. If you arrive on a plane from China or India, most people will be going to this area.
Below is the plan for the Visa on Arrival area at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Walk to the visa on arrival desk. (A in the figure). Collect and fill the Visa On Arrival form. This counter is open 24 hours. The official at this counter can usually speak some English and Chinese. Give your photo to this official and she will staple it to your form.
Next, choose between regular queue (B) or premium or express queue (C). You will have to pay 200 THB for the express queue. You may use this option if you are in a hurry to get out.
Procedure for regular queue
- If you have chosen the regular queue, your documents will be checked at (B). The officer here will issue you a token with your number on it.
- Sit down at the waiting area (D) until your number is called at the immigration desk (E)
- Once your number is called, proceed to area (E). This is where you will pay the visa fee (1000THB). The office here stamps the visa.
- Once done, you will find the baggage area just behind the immigration counter. (F)
Procedure for express queue
- If you have chosen the express queue, your documents will be checked at (C). The officer here will issue you a token with your number on it.
- Sit down at the waiting area (D). They will process your visa and once done, your number is called at (C).
- Collect your passport and head to the express immigration counter (C2). The entry stamp is made on your visa and you can proceed to counter (F) to collect your bags.
A. My wait times have ranged from 10 minutes to 2 hours. (Though in recent times – in 2013- they have become faster at this). It all depends how many flights from India and China arrive at the same time as yours. Before you leave your home airport, just check the flight arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport for the day. You can check the arrivals at http://www.bangkokairportonline.com/node/129 (it shows departures but you can switch to arrival view). If you find some flights from China/India/Parts of Africa and Central Asia landing just before your flight then be ready to wait longer. The wait is a good opportunity to practice your Chinese/Russian/Swahili language skills with folks around you. Load up some games on your iPad to keep the kids busy.
A. If you happen to land at a busy time , the express queue won’t help you much as it will have the same number of people as the regular queue. But if you land at a less busy time and you are in a hurry then express queue is a good choice.
A. Much less compared to Bangkok.
A. If you have smaller children or senior folks in your party, I would recommend getting the visa in advance. Otherwise visa on arrival is fine.
A. You can contact the Thai embassy or consulates in India. VFS Global is also able to assist for resident of select cities. See http://www.vfs-thailand.co.in/