I’ve lived in Thailand for more than a decade and during that time, while in between jobs and work permits, I’ve stayed in the country for months at a time on tourist visas. I wasn’t working, so that was allowed.
With Thailand’s rules about the length of stay a tourist is allowed in Thailand changing every few years, however, it can be difficult for someone not familiar with the ropes to figure out just how long they can remain in the Land of Smiles. Luckily, that’s how I can help.
If you’re planning on a visit to Thailand of more than just a few weeks, here are the latest rules you need to know about — rules that have actually been in effect now since 2010 — as well as what you need to do to stay in Thailand for as many days (weeks, or months) as you want and all completely legally..
The 90 days out of 180 days no longer applies – Beginning in 2006 and running through most of 2008, the Thai authorities instituted a new law that you could only remain in Thailand for 90 days within a 180 day period. Once those 90 days were up, you had to leave the country and weren’t allowed to return until the end of a 180 day period (which included the original 90 days you were in the country).
Happily, this rule didn’t last long before Thai authorities realized they were losing tourist money and, in 2008, the 90 days in out of 180 days rule was scrapped. Rumors still abound all over the internet, however, that this rule is still in effect. It categorically is not.
That means, in 2013 and onwards (until the rules change again, of course), you can stay for prolonged periods of time in Thailand as a tourist and come back as often as you want to. So how many days is a tourist allowed to stay in Thailand every year?
Tourists can stay indefinitely – technically – The good news is, if you love Thailand and want to travel around for months or even longer, or you’re independently wealthy and want to live here but are not old enough to apply for a retirement visa yet, you can stay in Thailand as a tourist indefinitely. Technically.
The bad news is it will require doing a visa run to a neighboring country every 90 days. If you do that, however, as long as you have triple-entry tourist visas and keep applying for new ones, you can stay in Thailand just about permanently, as well as completely legally.
How to stay in Thailand as long as you want – Here is the easy way to stay in Thailand as long as you want and, I stress again, this is absolutely legal as long as you don’t work in Thailand while you’re doing it. (If you want to work, you must get the proper visa and a work permit as you are not allowed to work on a tourist visa).
Apply for a triple-entry tourist visa – Before you leave for Thailand, you need to apply for a triple-entry tourist visa at a Thai embassy in your home country. You’ll find a list of Thai embassies in every country and their websites here.
What that triple-entry tourist visa allows is three stays in Thailand; stays that can be as long as 90 days each (an initial 60 days plus a 30 day extension you can apply for at an immigration office in Thailand).That means, with just the one visa you will be allowed to stay in Thailand for 270 days. Technically. You will, however, have to do a visa run once every 90 days, when your 60 days plus 30 day extension expires.
Visa runs – A visa run just means you will have to leave Thailand once every 90 days on a ‘visa run’., and head to a neighboring country.
There are services in every major Thai town that do this. You just meet the service where their bus departs from, they drive to the closest border (usually Cambodia), and they shepherd you across. You then spend an hour in a hotel eating breakfast while the service gets your visa for Cambodia organized, and then back you go across the border into Thailand where, if you have a triple-entry tourist visas, you will be stamped in for another 60 days (total 90 days with another 30 day extension at the Thai immigration office in Bangkok or whichever other Thai city you’re staying in).
With a triple-entry tourist visas, you will do a visa run twice. Once at the end of your first 90 days and again at the end of your second 90 days. At the end of your third 90 days, however, you will have to fly or go by road to a neighboring country with a Thai embassy that will issue tourist visas.
Apply for a new triple-entry tourist visa – Once your first 270 days are up, you must leave Thailand and go to a neighboring country with a Thai embassy or consulate. Here, you will apply for a second triple-entry tourist visa. Once you receive that, you can head back to Thailand where you repeat the whole scenario again (60 days plus 30 days extension plus visa run, 60 days plus 30 days extension plus visa run, 60 days plus 30 days extension plus leave Thailand for a neighboring country for another tourist visa).
As long as you keep doing this, making sure your visas don’t expire, you can continue to come and go on tourist visas for Thailand as long as you please. Some people have been doing it for years.
So, how many days is a tourist allowed to stay in Thailand every year? Just about as many days as you want.