You will need to have all your travel documents for Thailand in order if you want to have a successful trip. Some of these documents can take some time to get in order, so give yourself plenty of leeway to get things squared away before your trip.
You will need a passport for entry into Thailand. Their current rules state that you need at least 6 months of validity from the start of your travel and have free pages available for visas and entry stamps. Don’t risk cutting it close, renew your passport early as it often can take several weeks to a month to process and have it returned.
There are several other reasons to renew your passport before your Thailand trip outside of the entry requirements for the country. It will save you a lot of unneeded hassle having an up to date document.
Airlines will require a passport number when booking an international flight. If you need to renew your passport it is advised to do so before booking any plane tickets. You may run into problems changing the number with the airline once the flight is booked.
Make sure your photo on your passport still looks like you. If, for example, you have an 8 year old passport with a photo that no longer looks anything like you, say you gained 30 lbs, shaved a beard, and went gray – it’s time for a new passport. It is not a requirement per se, but this will prevent any associated hassles with immigration and border security both on your way into Thailand, and getting back into your own country.
Traveling with your Passport
Your passport is your lifeline when traveling to Thailand or anywhere overseas and you need to keep it safe. Some people like to use a money belt of some kind or a variety of other ways to keep it secure, like hidden compartments in a backpack or carry-on bag.
Only take out your passport when you need to show it, and make sure you return it to it’s secure location immediately when done. If you choose to keep it in a secure spot in a bag, make sure that bag always stays on your person or within your view when going through security checkpoints. If a thief gets away with your bag, it is game over for your trip if you haven’t made it to Thailand yet. If you get your passport stolen or lose it while in Thailand you can get it replaced.
When traveling in Thailand it is required for you to keep your passport on you. A lot of people find this prospect too risky and choose to keep it locked away in the hotels in room safe. They will ask the front desk to make a copy of the passport and the entry stamp page and carry it with them as well as having a copy on their smart phone. This may-be acceptable in most cases, and this is what I do myself as well as having another form of ID from home on me, but you do run the risk of running into some hassles if asked for ID by local police. You have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. If you are driving a car or a motorcycle you must have the real passport with you.
Replacing a lost Passport
If your passport is lost or stolen in Thailand you need to replace it immediately or as soon as possible. You can do so by visiting the embassy or consulate – usually in Bangkok. It is helpful if you have a copy of your travel documents and a couple of passport photos at the ready.
Thailand Tourist Visa
Aside from your passport the other required document is your Visa. There are several types of Visas available and we’ll cover a few of them hear. For the most up-to-date information, please see the Thai Consulate or Embassy website for your country.
Thailand has a Visa Exemption program with many countries that will allow you to stay in Thailand for 30 days without a visa for tourism purposes. If your country is on the exemption list, this means you can show up at the immigration line with a valid passport and a return ticket and they’ll stamp your passport. It is definitely the easiest option for those not needing to stay longer than 30 days.
Tourist Visa 60-Day
To get a Tourist Visa you need to fill out a form and submit it along with your passport to the local Thai consulate nearest your location. It is valid for 60 days and can extend your Thai tourist visa an additional 30 days for a small fee (about 1900 THB or 55 USD currently) while in country. It can take several weeks for a visa to be processed so do this well ahead of your planned departure date.
6 Month Tourist Visa – Multiple-Entry Visa
The 6 Month Thailand Tourist Visa is relatively new. It allows multiple entries into Thailand over the period of six months. You can stay up to 60 days per visit, and then need to leave the country to activate the next 60 day stay. This is a great option for those looking to vacation in Thailand for six months at a time, or those looking to travel around South East Asia while being able to return to Thailand anytime during the duration of the visa. The price is slightly higher (currently about 5,000 THB or 140 USD).
Other Visa Types
There are other types of visas available to visit or live in Thailand. There are business, education, and retirement visas available. As Pattaya Sanook is mainly about travel and tourism to Pattaya, we won’t cover them in detail and will advise checking out your local Thai Embassy or Consulate website.
International Driving Permit
If you plan on renting a car or motorbike, you will want to get an international driving permit before you leave. They are easy to obtain (no tests) and you can pick them up at AAA before your departure for a small fee. Note, if you are looking to drive a motorbike, you will need to have the appropriate license in your home country.
Now that being said, a lot of people I’ve talked to said they have rarely been asked to present one to rent vehicles or motorbikes, and rarely asked for if stopped for police. But this is one area I would rather not take the chance. Get it before you leave.
Copy Key Documents
Before your trip, make copies of all your important travel documents. Save them to a secure cloud service like Dropbox or you could also email them to yourself as well, just as long as you can get to them in the case of an emergency. Some items to consider are your passport and visa page (a must), hotel or rental car vouchers, plane tickets, prescriptions, and emergency contact numbers. Also consider bringing a couple of extra passport sized photos which will help make replacing a lost or stolen passport easier.
If you choose to bring actual photocopies, make sure you hide and guard them as if they are the originals. I prefer to use Dropbox and have the first hotel I check into make a copy of my passport and entry stamp for me when they go to make a copy for themselves.