Here are just a few "frequently asked questions" (FAQ) about Thailand, with our answers, which we hope you will find useful. We chose to focus on Health, Safety and Visas. This page is for information purpose only (please read our disclaimer), and serious matters like health, safety and visas should be verified with the relevant authorities before you travel.
Is Thailand a safe country?
Yes and no. Like many things in Thailand, it depends on how you look at it. Thailand gives the impression of being a very safe country, because you can get around easily and you hardly ever feel threatened. There are security guards everywhere (most of them looking very bored), and people still talk to each other. However, things can get hot very quickly. The murder rate is high, and the newspapers are always full of stories of people getting killed, sometimes for trifling matters.
So Thailand is safe provided you're not looking for trouble. Provoking or humiliating a Thai is looking for trouble. Behaving like a moron in a bar is looking for trouble. So don't switch off your brain at the boarding gate (!) and try not to take unnecessary risks. Thai men may look small and harmless, but they all know at least the basics of Thai boxing, and they don't believe in the old-fashioned one to one duels, they will go ten to one against you.
For information about scams and rip-offs, see our page about "dos and don'ts" in Thailand
What about the roads?
The roads are not safe, with more than 13,000 people dying every year (nearly three times as much as France, for about the same population). People drive recklessly and most of them don't have a driving licence. There has been campaigns recently against drunk driving, and a law has been passed to ban the use of mobile phones while driving, but it is still a slaughter every time there is a special occasion, like New Year holidays (in January and in April). As a tourist, at least make sure you wear a helmet if you ride on a motorbike. We see too many tourists riding motorbikes with no helmet and bare-chested. We also see many of them with bandages or limping after an accident, and these are the lucky ones.
Do I need a visa to visit Thailand?
It depends on your passport. Passport holders from Western Europe, North America and Australia/NZ can enter the kingdom without any visa and stay for 30 days. Passport holders from some other countries must apply for a visa on arrival and are allowed to stay for 15 days. And passport holders from other countries must apply for a tourist visa before they leave their country.
People who can enter Thailand without a visa and stay for 30 days must hold a passport from either:
- USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK
- Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korean, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam
- Bahrain, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
- Brazil, Chile, Peru
This list is given for information only, please check the complete list of countries at Thaivisa website
What if I want to stay for more than 30 days?
The easiest solution is to apply for a tourist visa, at the Thai embassy of your country, before you leave. A tourist visa will grant you a permission of stay of 60 days. You can also apply in a neighbouring country (make sure you have all the required paperwork).
How can I extend my visa tourist without leaving the country?
You can have your tourist visa renewed in Thailand (just find the closest Immigration Bureau). A renewal will grant you another 30 days, so on a whole you can stay three months on a tourist visa. You can then apply for another one or two extensions, 15 days, then one week, but it's not always granted, and after that you must leave the kingdom anyway.
Can I stay permanently on back-to-back tourist visas?
You can go abroad and apply for another tourist visa, for instance in Laos, Malaysia or Cambodia. This is called a "visa run" and it usually takes two days, as the visa is not issued immediately. There used to be a lot of people doing visa runs every three months and living in Thailand several years on tourist visas, either working illegally or living on various revenues. Now the rules have tightened, so getting back to back tourist visas is no more a solution to stay in the country indefinitely. You may get a maximum of three tourist visas, but chances are that the fourth one will be rejected, especially if you apply in the same consulate in a neighbouring country.
If I don't have a visa, can I just get out and get in again?
If you are eligible for an exemption of visa, you can go out and re-enter the country and be granted a permission of stay of 30 days at your arrival at the airport. If you cross a land border, you are given only 15 days and no more than 4 times in a row. So border runs are not a solution to live in Thailand permanently, unless you are ready to fly out and back in every month.
I have a two-month tourist visa, can I go out of Thailand for a few days during that time?
If you have a single entry visa, then you must ask (and pay) for a re-entry permit, or else your visa will be voided. If you have a multi-entry visa, then you can go out and come back without any formality. You can get a re-entry permit at your local Immigration office a few days before or at the airport on the day of departure (there is a desk inside immigration area at Suvarnabhumi). To avoid the hassle, we suggest that you buy a multi re-entry permit at the same time when you renew your extension. So if you have to go abroad at short notice, you won't have to care about your re-entry permit.
How do I know exactly how much time I'm allowed to stay?
Be careful: the period of validity of your visa and the period for which you can stay in Thailand are two different things. For instance your visa can be issued in January and it can be used for three months, but it doesn't mean you can stay in Thailand until March. It means you have until March to enter Thailand and use your visa (only once if it is a single entry, or several times if it is a multiple). What matters is the date that is stamped in your passport when you first enter the country. It usually says "permitted of stay until" or "extension of stay". This is the date that matters. You must always be careful not to overstay this permission.
What should I do if I overstay my visa?
It's not a big problem if it's just a day or two, just pay the fine when you leave the country. If it's a long overstay period though, you should report to the Immigration Bureau as soon as possible, pay the overstay fine and be prepared to leave the country.
If I want to stay permanently, what can I do?
Apply for a retirement visa if you are over 50, or for a business visa and a work permit if you are working, or for a marriage visa if you plan to get married. There are not many other options, as Thailand strongly discourages foreigners to live in Thailand. Those who choose to live here must also accept the fact that they won't be granted any rights (notably foreigners can't own land). Most of the foreigners living in Thailand have nothing more than a one-year visa, with the obligation to report to the Immigration Bureau every 90 days. Only very few of them have a residency permit, and very, very few are granted the Thai nationality (it's a very long and difficult process, which includes singing the Thay hymn in front of a crowd, taking an exam in Thai, etc.).
What if I am young, unmarried and rich enough not to have to work?
Well, you should enjoy Thailand as a holiday destination. But be careful, many ladies will try to marry you!
Can I accept a job while on a tourist visa?
Never engage in any working activity (even by Internet, even for a foreign company, even for a non profit organization!) while on a tourist visa. If you are taking up a job, make sure your employer provide a proper visa, with a legal procedure. Working illegally is a serious offense and can get you into a lot of trouble (you can be jailed, fined, deported and blacklisted).
Where can I get up-to-date information?
Laws can change very quickly in Thailand, and procedures and paperwork can also vary from one embassy to another. If you need to go on a visa run to renew your visa, make sure you read the latest reports from other people, for example in the Thaivisa forum. You will be aware of the required paperwork, prices, scams, etc. Some agencies also organize visa runs, which is convenient if you don't have your own means of transportation.
Thaivisa.com: latest news about visas, visa runs, work permit, and residency in Thailand
Thaivisa.com Forum: visas, residency and work permits