When entering Thailand from most countries no visa is required. You are given 30 days upon arrival. At the end of the 30 days those who wish to remain in Thailand for a longer period of time have a choice of applying for an extension or leaving Thailand and then returning. In the past many farang were bypassing Thailand’s laws about long term stays by leaving Thailand and immediately returning, often only minutes after leaving. It became a revolving door and many were living in Thailand by this method.
Thailand has since cracked down on this and now restricts the number of days per year and the number of times per year the authorities will accept these types of entries from those who do not hold a long term visa.
In any case, when it becomes necessary to leave Thailand in order to reenter for an additional 30 days or in order to obtain a new tourist or non-immigrant visa, you are now making a visa run. You can simply leave Thailand on your own and return later, after obtaining your new visa, or you can also employ the services of professional visa run services.
When leaving Thailand on your own in order to obtain a new visa, be careful about where you are going. Different Thai consulates and embassies have their own policies about granting new visas. Some are quite easy to deal with and others are very difficult. At present the Thai consulate in Penang, Malaysia seems to be the most difficult.
You also have the option of using visa run services. You cannot, repeat cannot, give your passport to another party to get a new visa for you. Don’t let any visa services talk you into it. That is totally illegal and can easily result in your arrest and deportation. You must personally go on a visa run.
Visa run services are usually very good and quite reliable. In most instances a passenger van is used. You and others also going on a visa run are either met at your accommodation or given instructions about where to go and what time to be there. The visa run vans leave early in the morning and return the same day.
Many who do these visa runs enjoy them. They make new friends in the van, get to see the countryside, make stops for lunch, and are in the hands of people who know what they’re doing and can help you through any unforeseen problems that might occur. Often, upon entry into the country where you will obtain the new visa, the company representative will collect the passports and applications and handle the formalities himself. He does it all and you do not have to be personally involved unless a problem comes up. You do, however, have to physically be there.
One of the most popular visa runs are the runs that go from Thailand to Cambodia. You arrive at the Cambodian border within a few hours. While the company representative is handling the formalities you have time to look around, do some shopping, or whatever you choose to do. There will be groups of children and beggars trying to get you to give money to them. Be wary of that and be wary of pickpockets.
When deciding upon which visa run company to use it is a good idea to shop around. Different companies charge different prices. The more luxurious the transportation and the more competent and cooperative the company representative, the more expensive the visa run will be. Many people who do multiple visa runs stick with the same company once they find a company that truly satisfies them.
How do you find visa run companies? Travel agents. One of the easiest things to find in Thailand are travel agents. There are great numbers of them and they all can arrange visa runs for you. Some companies advertise. Word of mouth is a good way when you are hearing from people who are familiar with the various companies.