It is actually quite easy to get a Thai visa in Delhi. First of all, you have to decide if you actually want the visa.
Do I need a Thai visa?
Nationals of 41 countries, mostly Western countries, won’t need a visa for Thailand. These countries are listed here: http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/changes-visa-exempt.php
These nationals can get a stamp on arrival in Thailand which allows them to stay for a maximum of 30 days. The current rules allow you these 30 days only when you arrive in Thailand by air. If you arrive by bus, which is highly unlikely if you are backpacking from India, you will only get 15 days.
However, there are a few good reasons to consider getting a visa in advance:
- Extending the 30 days can be quite a time consuming and expensive process. There is a possibility to extend the 30 days by another 15, but this costs around € 50,-.
- Another way to get another 15 days is to travel up and down to, for example, Laos. This will most likely cost you one or more days and again, including the visa fee for Laos, will cost you around € 50,-.
- One of the requirements of using this way of entering the country is to carry a confirmed and paid ticket out of Thailand within 30 days. As far as I could find out from other traveller’s stories, in practice it is not the border security but the airline who will refuse you if you are flying into Thailand without having a ticket out of Thailand. This happens a lot more often for intercontinental flights than for flights out of Asia. The reason they might refuse you is because they have to pay a ticket back for you if you get refused at the border. The only way to get around this is to book a cheap ticket to a neighboring country (Singapore is a cheap place to fly to) which will cost you, again, around € 50,-. Of course, you could take the chance and just try to get in. Based on what I’ve read, you will roughly have a 4 out of 5 chance to get in without any problems.
Basically, if you want to stay longer than 30 days and/or want to enter Thailand with a one way ticket I would definitely recommend you to get a visa. This is not only a cheaper option (around € 35,-) but also is a lot more convenient because there’s nothing else to arrange when in Thailand, such as visiting a visa center or doing border runs.
So what exactly do I need to get the visa?
You will need the following:
- Your passport, which should be valid for 6 months after departure from Thailand. You don’t need to copy it, but it might be convenient to take a copy for yourself as you will have to leave your precious travel document with them for 3 days.
- A confirmed and paid flight ticket to Thailand.
- A reservation for your first night stay in Thailand. A reservation on Hostelworld worked fine for me. Make sure you know the address of the hotel, you will have to enter this on the form.
- An address in Delhi. The address and phone number of your guesthouse or a friend should be good enough.
- A confirmed and paid ticket out of Thailand as proof that you will be leaving, OR:
- A letter which contains:
- Your full itinerary on a week-by-week basis.
- A declaration that you will not stay in Thailand for more days than allowed by your visa.
- A declaration that you have no intention to live or work in Thailand on this trip.
- A declaration that you have sufficient funds to live and travel in Thailand and pay for the way out.
- Your name, home address and signature.
- You can download a copy of the letter that worked for me here: Thai visa example letter. Just don’t forget to change the parts marked in red.
- Bank statements (or Internet Banking screenshots) which show your name, some recent dates and a sufficient amount. If you own different savings accounts at different banks, include all of them. If you are unable to access your bank accounts, copies of credit cards might also be accepted. Also in this case, if you have multiple credit cards it is wise to include copies of all of them. Note: be careful when accessing Internet Banking in internet cafés as many computers seem to contain malware which might record your keystrokes. Use similar caution when copying (Xeroxing, as they call it in India) credit cards as you wouldn’t want dodgy Xeroxing shops to end up with your credit card details.
- Two passport-sized pictures with a white background.
- 2360 INR cash for a single entry visa or 4360 INR cash for a double entry visa. They don’t accept credit cards or any other form of payment instead of cash.
- A pen to fill in the visa form. They will not provide one for you so bring your own.
- Once you have everything sorted out you are ready to apply for your Thai visa.
So, when and where do I have to go?
In Delhi there is no way to apply for the visa directly with the Thai Embassy. Instead, use the official company affiliated to the Thai Embassy which is called VFS. Don’t apply through a travel agent, unless you want to pay extra cash to have them apply for you at VFS themselves.
The VFS office is opened for visa applications from 8:00 until 11:00 in the morning, from Mondays to Fridays. Make sure to apply for the visa between Monday and Wednesday as it takes 3 business days to process. For example, if you apply on a Wednesday you will get your passport back on Friday. When you apply on a Thursday, you’ll have to wait until Monday to get your passport back. Be sure to check the VFS website for public holidays. It doesn’t get that busy, but allow at least one hour for waiting for your turn. It’s smart to be there as early as you can.
If you are a backpacker, you are probably staying in Pahar Ganj. From there it is a 15-20 minute walk to VFS. It is also possible to take a rikshaw which should cost you around 30 to 50 INR one way. When in Delhi, be prepared for rikshaw drivers who don’t speak English very well, pretend to know where VFS is but really don’t have a clue and who will try to rip you off as in many places in India.
An easier way to reach VFS is to take the metro to Rajiv Chowk. From there ask walking directions to Janpath, which is a 5 minute walk from Rajiv Chowk. The street connecting Rajiv chowk to Janpath is a straight road that will bring you along a Sony Center, Pizza Hut and finally a McDonalds. At McDonalds, turn left to Tolstoy Marg. VFS is located in a building called Tolstoy House which is the second or third building after the McDonalds. Sign in with the security guard who will point you to the ‘second first’ floor which is actually the first floor of the building. From there it’s easy, just follow their directions, fill in the form and wait for your turn. You will have to leave your passport with them until you can pick it up two days later.
(Map not to scale)
When will I get my visa?
VFS states it takes 2 to 15 working days to get the visa. In practice, you will get your visa on ‘the day after tomorrow’ from the day applying for the visa. So if applying on a Monday, you will get it on Wednesday. When applying on a Thursday, you will have to wait until Monday because they are closed in weekends.
What’s all the fuzz about single, double and multiple entries?
Basically the single entry gives you, as the name might suggest, a single entry into Thailand for up to 60 days. You will be able to extend your visa with another 30 days when in Thailand, but expect to pay around € 50,- for this.
A double entry basically gives you the same as two single entries. This means you can visit Thailand for up to 60 days, leave the country and visit Thailand for another 60 days upon returning to Thailand.
I didn’t look into multiple entries, but I assume it works in the same way as the double.
So what’s the best choice? I can only tell you this from my perspective. For me the single entry was good enough, as I will spend my two months in Thailand and will continue to travel through the neighboring countries after this. If I decide to travel to Thailand again and need another 60 days I will just get a brand new Thai visa from one of their consulates in Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam.
As far as I know, the visa has a ‘validity’ of 3 months, which doesn’t mean you can stay in Thailand for 3 months, but it means that you have to enter Thailand within 3 months after applying for the visa.
I am just another blogging backpacker and I don’t have any experience with Thai visas apart from my own. Most of my information is gathered from various sources on the internet so it might not be completely reliable. Please continue your research after reading this blog, things might have been changed, misinterpreted by me or might be based on mistakes.