We kick started 2020 with a four-day trip to Thailand. Four days is not good enough to visit any city, let alone an entire country. But, we were keen to explore Bangkok and Pattaya, which is just 150km from the capital city.
As usual, we planned our itinerary well in advance for the two cities as we were keen to make the best of it when Thailand offered free visas for us. Normally, a Thai visa is THB 2000, which is roughly a little over INR 4,000 per person.
Our point of entry into the country was the Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok. All you have to do is fill in the visa application, attach a photo and then stand in the queue. The queue will be a long one and might take you hours to get the visa. It took us three and a half hours (NO KIDDING) to get our passports stamped and we finally made it inside the country.
It was an utter disastrous start to our trip but as the day went ahead, things fell into place. After we returned from our trip, Sakshi discovered something that drove her crazy for a few minutes. Yes, there was a way by which we could have avoided the nightmarish experience during immigration.
IMPORTANT TIP: There is a VIP section in the airport, where you can acquire the Thai visa for just THB 200 (INR 460 approx). You will still save a lot of money when compared to Thailand’s usual visa price.
Trust us, shelling out THB 200 per person will be worth it. You definitely will not want to begin a vacation on the note we did. YES, IT WAS THAT HORRIBLE.
From what we saw, Thai immigration is not very strict when it comes to the photo dimensions, but we recommend you go with 4 X 6 cm photographs with a white background, with a neutral expression. Also, ensure that your head is not covered and you don’t have any jewellery on.
If you forget, there is a photo studio at the airport, but that will cost you THB 200 for four photographs, which is totally not worth it, in our opinion.
According to the rules, you must carry THB 10,000 per person – all in cash. Even though the officials generally do not ask you to produce the money during immigration, we recommend that you carry that much money at least, just in case. You do not want to start your trip by being an unlucky exception.
If you do not exhaust your entire money, you can always return home and get it exchanged to INR. We carried THB 20,000 for the two of us and we eventually brought back THB 5,000.
The visa forms can be found on several counters in the airport. It took us a while to get it as several people were filling in their forms at the counter. As a result, we couldn’t spot any empty forms, but we found them eventually. Also to save time, carry your own pen (blue or black) and also glue, to stick the photograph on the visa form. BTW, you need just one photo.
These are all very small details but very crucial to save your time. In the chaos there, you would want to get done quickly and head to the city as soon as possible.
Countries giving out visas free to Indians have really caught on now. Now, along with Thailand, countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia also have started to give out visas for Indians free of cost, only if you are a tourist. In fact, after Sri Lanka and Thailand extended free visas on arrival for Indians until April 31, Malaysia went one step further and has announced a free visa on arrival for a few countries, including India for the entire 2020.
For Sri Lanka, you can just fill-up the form at the airport, however, for Malaysia, you will have to fill up an e-visa form, download that and produce that at the immigration – quite similar to that of Hong Kong. They do so to promote tourism in their countries and free visas are the best way to do so.
To find out more about our Malaysia trip, click here.
To find out more about our Sri Lanka trip, click here.
To find out more about our Thailand trip, click here.