Earlier this year I travelled Thailand on Visa on Arrival. It appeared like a good deal - cheaper and quicker. You can land in the country whenever you wish to, escaping the long embassy applications. Just pay 1000 Baht (INR 200), at the airport, as the Visa fee and be done with it. You're free to rule the country for 15 happy days.
Well, it's not as good as it seems! And I realised that as soon as I landed in Bangkok.
After having a terrible 3 hours layover in Chennai, India, starting 1 in 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 the application process, at Suvarnabhumi, might take another few good hours, before I can take any rest.
Before I travelled Thailand, internet said Visa on Arrival (VOA) counters can have long queues, but odd morning/evening can be different. My experience - odd morning/evening hours are not very different. I waited for almost 90 minutes before I had my passport stamped. There were at least a hundred people waiting in VOA queue. Almost 70% of them seemed Chinese, rest Indian.
And then a VOA rules in Thailand are not as easy as they're in Cambodia. I was asked for a return ticket as well as all my hotel booking in the country. During recent times, and with increasing tourism inflow, the immigration authorities have made verification process as strict as in Malaysia and Singapore. So be watchful.
VISA Fee From 1000 to 2000 Baht
From September 2016, Thailand has literally doubled its VOA fee from 1000 Baht to 2000 Baht (or 4000 Indian Rupees). Where the VOA fee has been increased, for no good reason, the transit/tourist visa, obtained from the Embassy, is still the same price. It moreover offers a longer period of stay of 45 days in the country.
15 Days on VOA Might Not Be Enough For Thailand
VOA offers you only 15 day travel period - which, I think, is not enough for a country so perfect for backpacking. I could not experience the islands because of having only 15 days of travel period. I explored a bit of North, the Wild West Bangkok, and a few other cities, and my stay period was already over.
Next time, I am getting something that gives me more travel time. I think I'm going to have a 3 month tourist/transit visa.
Have you been to Thailand on Visa on Arrival? How was your experience?
This blog was originally published on 'Footlose Dev'