Friday, January 15, 2010

Thai Visa run

Visa runs are where tourists like us or farangs (foreigners) who are property owners must exit the country for anywhere from 3/4 to an hour or so, to renew their Thai visa. It’s all legal; but that doesn’t mean it’s not a nuisance to folks like our friends who have purchased a condo here. To keep them company we joined them in their air-conditioned hired minivan, driving the 250 or so kilometres from Pattaya to Pong Nam Ron, the border town.

The drive took us past expected sights such as pineapple, banana, and rubber plantations – along with unexpected ones such as a large vineyard. Yes, Thailand is becoming known for its wines – apparently.

Our visa for this trip allows us two entries into Thailand. We procured this in Ottawa prior to our departure. However, we understand that it’s very, very easy to have one’s visa renewed and extended, for a price of course. No need for visa runs such as this, pending what one’s doing/where one is: When we arrived at Bangkok’s airport there was a visa area where people without their necessary papers could get one.

It was odd indeed to arrive at Pong Nam Rong – a dusty/desolate border crossing with Cambodia – and watch as our friends paid and had to physically walk out of Thailand, be processed and walk back into the country. Then off we drove, back to Pattaya.

And so it is in the Land of Smiles: our only question is, if it’s so easy to extend visas, why have them or at least, why have such restricted times, particularly for property owners?