Like I mentioned earlier, I went about on a trip with some good friends to Phuket over the Easter Long Weekend. I flew GoAir between Mumbai and Phuket to get there. While Thailand per se is value for money as a destination, the visa fee can be a bit of a deterrent for the value seekers. I’ve paid all the way up to 2,000 Thai Baht to obtain Visa on Arrival in Thailand.
Thailand is giving out Visa-free of cost to Indians and passport holders of 20 other countries through October 2019. They also recently launched an e-Visa platform, where you can pay an additional 600 Thai Baht as the service fee of VFS, and get a visa quickly at home. But I wanted to see the full process, so I skipped the e-visa process and decided to do it all by the (slow) book.
Getting a Visa for Thailand, on arrival, is a two-step process. You first need to queue up to get a Visa stamped on your passport, and then head to the immigration counters and complete the process of immigration. You also need a Thailand Arrival Card, which was provided to us on the aircraft itself.
Shipra and myself, we had carried printouts of the Visa on Arrival Forms from Mumbai itself, which we completed on board the aircraft. You can download the form here. If you don’t have the form before you arrive, you can fill it up at the airport itself. If you need a picture, there is also a photo booth.
Once you complete the form, you queue up at the Visa on Arrival Counter. In Phuket, there were two kind of counters, one for regular admittance, and one for big groups. We queued up for a good 20 minutes, and the queue moved quickly. On arriving in the front of the line, the form and the passport were collected. No questions asked verbally. All the details required were on the form.
After about ten minutes of processing, the passports were sent out to be distributed to us. This is a bit of an area of concern, at least in Phuket. The officer would hand over passports to one waiting person, and he/she would be responsible for handing out passports to everyone. There is an element of risk here, of misplacing a passport. Here is an image of how the Visa stamp looks, courtesy the internet.
Once the passport was collected, we headed down to the immigration queues, where, again, we were quickly processed and waived through.
The time it takes you depends on the number of flights that arrive with yours. For instance, in our case, all the three GoAir flights from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore arrive around the same time, apart from some other flights as well. One of my friends, who arrived about 30 minutes later from Australia via Singapore, just took 5 minutes to go through the whole process.
The process of getting a Visa on Arrival in Thailand is simple but slightly time-consuming. You can buy the premium service and get in quickly, or spend about 15-20 minutes in the queue and get it done free.
What has been your experience with Visa on Arrival in Thailand? Any tips/tricks and insights? Do share.