The problem with long-term solo travel is that you are quickly getting used to the constant changes. At one point or another, you simply forget the most essential and obvious things, like making sure you don’t overstay your visa welcome.
And sometimes you simply like a country so much, you want to stay longer. Both happened to me, which left me with one problem: I needed a Thailand visa extension asap. You cannot get it upon entry, you have to apply for it at the local Immigration Bureau. Luckily, Chiang Mai had one.
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Why Do You Even Need an Extension?
The regular tourist visa typically just allows for a 30 day stay only. So if you don’t want to leave the country and return after that duration to be able to travel Thailand for longer, you need a Thai visa extension.
Please note that if you want to teach English in Thailand, you need a business visa before entering the country and then apply for for a work permit after you arrive.
It’s easy to get and many digital nomads or those who really want to stay in Thailand over the warmer months for a while typically get this visa. While the capital is great for networking and big city life, many travellers choose to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for a more laid back lifestyle.
Plus, there are co working spaces, plenty of cafes with excellent wifi, easy nature getaways, yoga retreats and less traffic and commuting time around town.
Three Ways to Get Your Thailand Visa Extenion
I was in Chiang Mai, which left me with three options: doing a visa run, flying out of the country or applying for a Thailand visa extension. For the first one, you need to make sure you are allowed to cross borders.
Maybe you need to apply for a visa in advance? Maybe you need to pay for one at the border, in local currency. Double check the agreements between Thailand and your home country.
The deadline for applying for your Thailand Visa Extension is the last day of your non immigrant visa Thailand. So you can extend anytime before the expiration, even on the first day of landing in the country.
You cannot do that upon landing at the airport though. You can apply for a thirty day visa extension twice, up to a 90 day stay. But not simultaneously.
Flying out of the country and returning later is a more costly version though simpler. Just make sure you don’t do it too often or your visa application could be rejected upon landing as it seems dodgy. The most straightforward option, then, is to simply drive over to the Immigration Police and submit your application. Note, the Thailand visa extension is applicable for pre-arrival visa and visa-on-arrival holders.
How to Get to Immigration in Chiang Mai
The Chiang Mai Immigration was temporarily at Promenada but moved back to its original location by the airport.
To get there, you can jump into one of the red pick-up taxis, called songthaew. This can cost around 200 bath, so try to haggle it down. A better and cheaper option is to download the Grab app. (Uber is slightly more expensive).
The Immigration Office in Chiang Mai is closed on weekends and Thai holidays and open from 8:30 AM to 4:30PM, with an hour long break between noon and 1PM.
During busy times (such as after holidays), you need to show up as soon as possible. Please note, that the airport Immigration office is not meant for foreigners.
Address: Chiang Mai Immigration Building, at 71 moo 3, Sanambin Road, Suthep, Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50200
Division Tel: +66 (0) 5320 1755
What to Bring for Your Thailand Tourist Visa Extension
Before you head over to get the Thailand Visa Extenion application underway, you need to have everything ready. Your visa will be rejected if you forget something. This is what you will need:
- Passport with your valid Thai tourist visa
- Signed photocopies of relevant passport pages (ID page, entry stamps, departure card,
- One 4cm x 6cm passport photo
- An application fee of 1,900 baht, in cash
- Your current Thai address (e.g. hotel) and Thai phone number
The passport photo and photocopies can be gotten next to the Immigration Bureau. To its left, there is a small room reading PHOTO & COPY, where you can have both done in no time.
You pay 200 baht and get six photos, two of which you will need for your non immigrant visa Thailand extension.
The Thailand Visa Extension Process in Chiang Mai
Grab the applicable TM.7 visa application form (Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom) from the reception and fill out everything. Alternatively, you can download TM.7 and bring it with you.
Have your current Thai address (hotel, etc) including phone numbers at hand. If you want to be on the safe side, bring your own pen as sometimes all pens are in use or you cannot find one when you really need it.
If everything is complete, line up at the line saying “Visa Extension” and hand over all documents, pass photos and the fee. You will be given a number and will be told whether you likely will be seen before the lunch break or after.
Depending on how busy it is, your application will be transferred by the receptionist or you might have to bring it to the central desk inside. They will let you know.
Inside, the Immigration bureau, there are different counters for the different kinds of services. Ignore the others and check the number for the visa extension on the right of the central counter.
Once called, you walk up to the right side of the central desk and have your photo taken. (Glasses and hats off!) Sit back down and wait for your name to be called. Then, get your change, passport and new stamp. Double check if the date is correct.
What to Do on Super Busy Days
If you know that the queues will be long, you need to be prepared to schedule in a few hours of waiting. I was lucky and it only took around two hours for me.
A friend, however, who showed up after NYE, had to wait five hours. Your best bet is to not leave your Thai visa extension to the last day. Get it as soon as possible!
You can wait in the seating area in the immigration office or, if there are plenty of other people before you or you ought to come back after the break, you can explore the mall.
There isn’t too much to see. You can get your grocery shopping done, grab lunch or a coffee. Small coffee shops are found aplenty.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai?
Where you should stay totally depends on the vibe you are seeking. The Old Town is more touristy but is close to the main temples, to the night markets and city wall. For a cosy guesthouse, you might want to look into The Scale House. Budget travellers should try the Bann Elephant Home hostel.
If you prefer a more laid back, hipster vibe or are a digital nomad seeking a base, Nimman is a good area. (Also because of the crazy cool Chiang Mai cafe scene.) To be close to the popular Maya Shopping Mall and Nimman, why not consider the futuristic looking The Pacific Cool Chic?
Is Getting a Thailand tourist visa Extension Difficult?
Not at all. It can just be a slight nuisance as you have to drive all the way out of town, queue and so forth. But it’s just normal bureaucracy. As long as you follow all the steps and have all your documents sorted out properly, you are fine.
Always remain patient and polite as utter misconduct can lead to your visa being revoked entirely and you having to leave the country. So sitting in line isn’t so bad when you know that you can stay in beautiful Thailand for thirty more days, is it?
Have you ever gotten a visa extension in Thailand or another country? I’d love to hear of your experiences.
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