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Asia Guide
STAFF EDITOR
Username: Asia

Post Number: 66
Registered: 10-1997

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Votes: 0

Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 3:43 pm:   

As you may already know, if you've come to Thailand without a tourist visa, your stay is limited to 30 days, plus a 10 day extention for 500 baht if you wish. If you've come to Thailand on a tourist visa, you have 59 days, plus you can extend that for another 30 days at 500 baht, and then again (rules sometimes changing) for another 15 days for 500 baht more. After that you must leave the country. (There are other options including business visas and retirement visas if you are over 55 years of age and have 800,000 baht or more in a Thai bank. Consult your nearest Thai Consulate for details).

Now, here's the beauty of living in Chiang Rai or within vicinity. You can do a visa run at the border of Mae Sai (Burma) and get 30 days on your passport. You need only visit the Thai immigration office in Mae Sai, then walk across the Burmese border for a quick afternoon of shopping in their very limited market. Within as short as 30 minutes, you can then re-enter Thailand and presto, you have 30 days. You can do this ad infinitum. Thus tourists who live up here can virtually stay in Thailand for the rest of their lives without having to leave the country but for a very short afternoon.
Note: you can take the public bus up to Mae Sai from CR for 50 baht. It's about a 50 minute ride, fairly scenic and enjoyable.

You have two choices when entering Burma from Mae Sai (Mae Sai is the last town in Thailand, "The most northern part of Thailand" as the sign reads right at the border).

First, you can simply pay the $5 or 250 baht immigration fee into Burma and that will give you a one day pass only (you must return by 5 p.m. that same day). This will not affect your stay in Thailand whatsoever and will not interupt your Thai visa. In other words, it will be as though you never really left the country of Thailand.

Second, you can get a stamp at the Thai immigration "passport control" main office in Mae Sai (about a mile before the border). This will allow you a 30 day tourist visa back into Thailand as you enter Burma and then return that same day. This is what you must do if your visa is about to expire and you therefore must leave the country of Thailand.

I just did my visa run today. It took only a few minutes at the Thai immigration office in Mae Sai. Following, I entered Burma for a quick shopping spree, then re-entered Thailand whereby they stamped my passport and gave me another 30 day stay, NO FEE.

The total process, starting from the bus station in Chiang Mai (25 baht for the fan bus), to my arrival at the bus station in Mae Sai (about a 75 min. ride), to the Thai immigration office in Mae Sai (via a "baht bus" from the Mae Sai bus terminal; 5 min. ride; 5 baht per person), on into Burma (10 min. stop at Burmese immigration border where you present your passport and pay the $5 or 250 baht one day only pass), back to Thailand the same day, stopping at Thai immigration (where they stamp your passport for another 30 days), back to the Mae Sai bus station, onto Chiang Rai, ALTOGETHER cost me 320 baht and took about 3 hours. It was actually a fun trip.

By the way, they are doing some major construction at the border presently, so we'll see if things pick up for tourism in Burma in the upcoming years. Maybe they're starting to realize there's big money in attracting tourists to their country.

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