In the decade I’ve been in Thailand, I’ve done a number of visa runs while not having a tourist visa. Several years ago, that meant if you arrived at a Thai land border coming back into Thailand without an authorized visa you were automatically given 30 more days in the country when you re-entered. In 2008, however, the Thai Immigration Bureau changed the rules and only 15 days was granted to people from most countries.
Fast-forward to 2013, and the Thai immigration laws have changed again, but this time for the better. Well, at least for some nationalities.
How many days will you get at a Thai land border without a visa?
Starting November 1st, 2013, if you enter Thailand via a land border and you are a citizen of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan or Canada (the G7 countries), you will receive an automatic 30 days in Thailand without the need for any visa.
If you are a citizen of Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Korea, or Argentina, you will fare even better as you’ll be stamped into Thailand for 90 days. A citizen from most other countries, however, and you will be worse off, with only a 15 day stamp put into your passport.
How many times can you get 15, 30 or 90 days at a Thai land border?
According to the Thailand Immigration Bureau, the number of times you can cross a land border into Thailand and be given 15, 30 or 90 days in Thailand is now unlimited.
That means, if you are an American or British citizen, for instance, and you decide to do a visa run every month while traveling around Thailand, you can do so indefinitely. Years, it now seems.
Is it better to get a valid tourist visa?
Obviously, if you are in a country that issues tourist visas for Thailand before you come to the Land of Smiles, it makes more sense to apply for a valid tourist visa as that would give you at least 90 days in the Kingdom (60 initial days plus a 30 day extension at a Thai immigration office for a single entry visa, 60 days plus a 30 day extension plus 60 days plus a 30 day extension for a double entry visa).
If you don’t have the time to do so, though, or the money to pay for the visa for that matter, then getting a 30 day stamp at the Thai border is definitely a good option. There are many visa run companies all over Thailand that will also take you to the border every month for around 2,100 baht ($67)all inclusive, so it’s not even that much of a hardship.