December 9, 2008

Thailand Gives Most Farang the Finger
Kazanlăk, Bulgaria

In a move akin to shooting oneself in the foot, Thailand has recently changed its immigration policy to give travelers the boot after only 15 days.

Thai Immigration changes the rules for all foreigners
04 December 2008 [source]

In order to limit the amount of foreigners using "back-to-back" border runs, Thai Immigration has issued a new regulation regarding the 30-day tourist exemption.

Effective immediately, travellers without visa will get only 15 days of stay if they are arriving via a land border checkpoint from a neighboring country.

Passengers arriving via an international airport will obtain a 30-day stay, and for them there is no change.

For those unfamiliar with the previous iteration of the immigration policy, Americans (such as myself) and most other nationalities were allowed to spend a total of 90 days out of every 180 inside the country. Those days could be distributed over the 6-month period however the traveler saw fit, but any consecutive stay over 30 days required the person to leave the country and return. This is known as a 'border run' or a 'visa run'.

But the 90/180-day rule is officially dead. It's no more. Perhaps aimed at keeping foreigners from living full-time in the country and not paying taxes, this new twist on immigration policy is poised to bring in more cash (and a paper trail) from official tourist visas, and cause serious headaches for both regional travelers and expats alike.

It would appear that both Chile and Peru have bilateral agreements with Thailand that will remain in place, allowing normal passport holders to obtain 90 days at any point of entry without a visa (presumably they could live there permanently, leaving only 4 times a year to refresh their visa exempt entry stamp)! This is great news for my girlfriend and our infant son (who both have passports for Chile and Peru), but shit for me.

From a neighboring country (like Laos or Malaysia) I can secure a proper 60-day tourist visa for the cost of 1,000 baht (≈US$30), with the option of extending it for 30 days from within Thailand for an additional 1,900 baht fee (≈US$55). Without doing such a thing, it's going to be practically impossible for me to spend and tangible time in Thailand in places off the tourist trail.

Perhaps that's also one of the intended goals of the policy: To keep tourists on the tourist trail.

Given the recent airport disruption (that impacted both the Thai economy and its international reputation), I'm simply in awe that the government gave this a green light. I think it's a clear sign that Thailand's getting sick of the ever-present farang (the Thai word for a foreigner of European ancestry—used like gringo in Latin America), and has set in motion another mechanism to keep all but short-term holiday-makers from dumping their cash into the country.

Farang in Thailand are only tolerated, at best. Don't get me wrong, I love Thailand, and keep going back to it. It can truly be a 'land of smiles', but that's just because I believe them to be of a culture that would prefer to smile at your face and stab you in the back. It's hard to get a genuine opinion on what it's like to live in a country with such rampant tourism.

ThaiVisa.com has a thread in their forum that's absolutely saturated with comments on the subject. Some folks are up in arms, whilst others are quite sympathetic.

Comments:

Australia

lara dunston

February 4th, 2009

I've just discovered your blog via your comment on the Tourist Vs Traveller debate at Eric's site. Great stuff! It seems we have very similar lives - and blurbs! :) I've written about Eric's post on my own blog and linked to you too today. Cheers.

Turkey

Craig | travelvice.com

February 5th, 2009

For those that don't know, Lara's an accomplished traveler and writer (who also sports a blog that's certainly worth adding to your feed reader, linked to in her name above).

The debate she's referring to is over at TravelBlogs.com:
http://www.travelblogs.com/art.....travellers

Turkey

Wade

February 8th, 2009

"I believe them to be of a culture that would prefer to smile at your face and stab you in the back. It's hard to get a genuine opinion on what it's like to live in a country with such rampant tourism."

Right on, Craig. In such places that have a rampant and deeply instilled tourist industry, it is difficult to get behind the mask.

Thailand

Craig | travelvice.com

June 13th, 2009

Immigration crackdown on border runners

BANGKOK (thaivisa.com) — Thai Immigration Bureau has issued a new regulation to be enforced from today, June 1, 2009.

In a crackdown on foreigners who regularly abuse the tourist exemption rule of getting 15 days stay at border entry points, the Immigration Bureau has confirmed and informed thaivisa.com of the following new regulation:

A foreigner who has entered the kingdom four (4) consecutive times on 15 days tourist exemption stamps, will not be allowed to leave the country and reenter Thailand. The only option is to exit Thailand and re-enter via an international airport, which will allow a further 30 day stay.

Thaivisa.com has today confirmed the new regulations with the Immigration checkpoints in Pong Nam Ron and Aranyaprathet at the Cambodian border. We have also got confirmation from bus visa run companies that the new regulations are enforced from today June 1, 2009. Immigration checkpoints bordering Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia are expected to enforce the regulation shortly.

The new rules does not affect holders of visas issued abroad. Foreigners are advised to apply for a Tourist visas or Non-Immigrant visas at a Royal Thai Embassy or consulate outside Thailand instead of abusing the 15 day exemption rule.

As usual, holders of Tourist visas will be given 60 days stay while Non-Immigrant visa holders will be allowed 90 days stay.

– thaivisa.com 2009-06-01

The United States

a

March 18th, 2010

And how easy is for Thai person to get a visa for USA?

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