Getting my Thailand Tourist Visa
August 3rd, 2017 | Back to Blog Listing


A giant building in downtown Houston, TX that houses the Thailand Consulate (it's on the 20th floor)
Normally you aren't required to get a tourist visa to enter Thailand as an American, but because the length of my trip is going to be longer than the standard 30-day "on-arrival" visa, I figured I should check with the consulate; fortunately for me they have one in Houston (just a 5-hour round-trip from Austin) and this is what I learned:

Frustrating as it is to hear a non-binary answer when it comes to the laws of another country, the woman at the consulate (who was the nicest person ever by the way) told me that while I could always just get a flight out of Thailand (say to Vietnam) and then come back in thus renewing the visa, the officials "frown upon this". Again, that's a pretty ambiguous thing to hear. So it's not that they'll say no - necessarily, but rather that they frown upon you taking advantage of extending your 30-day window in Thailand simply by making what are called "visa runs".

She told me that the first time you come back into the country they won't have a problem with it, but if you do it two or three times that again, they will "frown upon it". After doing some research and consulting with friends who have regularly visited Thailand, all research pointed to the idea that it's entirely the discretion of the immigration officials. Meaning, if I took advantage of the system I could find myself stuck on the border between say Cambodia and Thailand unable to get back in. Naturally that's not a position I'd like to find myself in and so I got a tourist visa. It normally takes them three to five days to prepare, but since I drove in from out of town and am leaving this Sunday, they managed to do it in just a few hours for me.


My Kingdom of Thailand Visa in all of its glory!


Unfortunately the Houston consulate is only able to issue one-time-entry visas instead of the multi-visa that I would have been able to get in Washington, DC. Not AS ideal, but this should at least give me the flexibility to do what I need to. When I land, this visa will be used to illustrate that I can stay in the country long enough to catch my return flight six weeks later. When I eventually do travel outside of Thailand, I'll be able to come back in provided that my exit flight is within 30 days of my entry back into Thailand. So that would then be my first "on-arrival" visa. If I leave again and come back, I'll then be at that point whereby they could "frown upon" my entry, but provided I show that I'm flying out of Bangkok within a few days of coming back, I don't think it will be an issue.

The short of the story is that this should give me three entries into Thailand during my trip (inclusive of my initial landing) instead of just two.

The visa itself cost me $40.00 USD in cash, but I also had to spend about $10.00 getting my photos printed out and then another $15.00 in parking fees in the garage. Turns out they would have validated if I'd parked in THEIR garage, but I did not think to ask in advance. Still, $65.00 USD in total is a reasonable fee for peace of mind.


This is just a random sculpture that was outside of the Thai consulate office building.