Thailand is a huge tourist destination and entering Bangkok is generally very straightforward.
- White-uniformed customs officers prohibit the import or export of the usual array of goods – porn, weapons, drugs. If you’re caught with drugs in particular, expect life never to be the same again. The usual 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco are allowed in without duty, along with up to 1L of wine or spirits.
- For customs details, check out www.customs.go.th.
- Licences are required for exporting religious images and other antiquities.
Most nationalities can receive a 30-day visa exemption on arrival at international airports or a 15-day visa at land borders; a 60-day tourist visa is available through Thai consulates.
- Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversees immigration and visa issues. In the past several years there have been new rules almost annually regarding visas and extensions; the best online monitor is Thaivisa (www.thaivisa.com).
- Citizens of 62 countries (including most European countries, Australia, New Zealand and the USA) can enter Thailand at no charge. Depending on nationality, these citizens are issued a 14- to 90-day visa exemption if they arrive by air (most nationalities receive 30 days) or for 15 to 30 days by land.
- If you need more time in the country, apply for a 60-day tourist visa prior to arrival at a Thai embassy or consulate abroad. For business or study purposes, you can obtain 90-day nonimmigrant visas but you’ll need extra documentation. Officially, on arrival you must prove you have sufficient funds for your stay and proof of onward travel, but visitors are rarely asked about this.
- If you overstay your visa the penalty is 500B per day, with a 20,000B limit; fines can be paid at any official exit point or at the Bangkok Immigration Office. Dress in your Sunday best when doing official business in Thailand and do all visa business yourself (don’t hire a third party). For all types of visa extensions, bring along two passport-sized photos and one copy each of the photo and visa pages of your passport.
- You can extend your stay for the normal fee of 1900B at the Immigration Office. Those issued with a visa exemption can extend their stay for an additional 30 days if the extension is handled before the visa expires. The 60-day tourist visa can be extended by up to 30 days at the discretion of Thai immigration authorities.