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Visa Run 1

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 10, 2018

March 2nd, 2018

How to get to the Koh Samui Immigration Office

Mark and I were in Thailand for 2 months and we needed to extend our visa. We had an extra day to play with, because of a tiny loop-hole. Our visa expired on a holiday. That gave us 1 extra day to get a new visa. Getting a visa renewed on the day after a holiday also means that the immigration office is very crowded.

So, the question was, “How do we get to the Koh Samui Immigration Office?”

The easy answer is that you can buy a ticket from any travel agency. That same place where you get your boat ticket to Koh Samui and back, is where you can get a van ride to the Immigration Office. If you do this, from Koh Tao, you will set out on the first boat in the morning (6:00am) and be back to Koh Tao sometime after noon. Easy peasy.

There is a KFC that sells delicious egg tarts somewhere inside.

That’s not what we did.

We wanted to go shopping in the afternoon. There is very little non-dive related shopping on Koh Tao for people not interested in purchasing genie pants or Beer Chang t-shirts. We wanted to do things we couldn’t do on Koh Tao like shop and eat fast food. So, we just bought round-trip tickets to Koh Samui. We left on the first boat and returned on the last boat.

At the dock on Koh Samui we were rushed by taxi drivers quoting us 500THB for a ride to the immigration office. That’s 15USD for a 22 minute drive. “What is this, Miami?” I thought. “There is no way we’re paying that much for a cab in Thailand.” It might have been worth it, if we had 2 other people to off set the cost. This is what the taxi drivers seemed to be going for, since they all had SUVs or minivans.

It was just the 2 of us, so we started to walk. Mark thought that we could catch a cheaper taxi from the main road. He was wrong. All the drivers we stopped wanted us to pay more than 500 THB or they flat-out refused to take us. So we kept walking as the day grew hotter and hotter.

Mark paying for a songthaew ride to the mall

We tried to keep in the shadows of buildings as we made our way. Then we heard someone yelling at us from their car. As we turned around to see who it was, the man pulled over. “Where you go? I take you, yes! 50 baht, come on!” It was a songthaew driver. We didn’t bother to argue with the man. He was smart enough to know 2 tourists that needed him when he saw them and he quoted us a fare price. We hopped in, thankful to be out of the sun.

A songthaew is like a bus, in that you share the ride with many people going to different places. But, it’s also like a taxi, in that it will stop whenever and wherever you want it to. It’s a modified pick-up truck with 2 side benches and handrails installed in the back.

On Koh Samui the cheaper songthaews stick to the main road. They costs 50THB for short trips, like the dock to the immigration office, the mall, the Big Buddha, or Chaweng Beach. But, longer trips may cost more. To get a songthaew, just wave one down or, like in our case, be found by a driver who demands you get in his truck. Just make sure you tell the driver where you want to go and settle on a price before you get in.

When you near your destination, tap on the glass and the driver will stop. Get out and go to the front passenger window. Here you can pay and thank the driver, like Mark is doing in the photo above. He just saved you a bunch of money on transportation costs.

Another thing to note, is that many songthaews on Koh Samui have destinations painted on them. This is a general idea of where the songthaew driver is willing to go. But this is Thailand. If you pay more, he will take you anywhere, especially if he has no other passengers. He will still stop to pick up other people though.

If you have a big enough group, it might be better to take a taxi. With about 4 people going a far distance, it might even be cheaper than a songthaew. Plus, they have air conditioning. The problem with taxis on Koh Samui is that they all have signs that indicated that the car is a metered taxi, but the drivers never want to use their meters. We found a metered taxi to take us from the Central Festival Mall to the dock with his meter turned on, but he was the 10th guy we asked.

How to extend your Thai Visa on Koh Samui

  1. Get these documents/ items together.
    • Your passport.
    • 1 passport photo
    • A copy of your passport photo page
    • A copy of your visa. If you have one.
    • A copy of the entry stamp in your passport. (It’s usually on or next to you visa if you have one. So, these can be in the same photo copy.)
    • A copy of the immigration card you received when you arrived to Thailand.
    • 1 filled out extension application form

If you don’t have any copies, an application form, or the passport photos, you can get them right outside the immigration office for a fee. (The application form is free.) On a busy day, you will have to stand out in the blazing sun for over 20 minutes, so it’s better to have these before you go.

2. Check the website to find the best date for you to go there.

One common problem that tourists have is not being aware of Thai holidays before setting out on their trip to Koh Samui.

3. Don’t forget a pen!

I was surprised at how many people asked to borrow my pen while I was at the immigration office. It was a very crowded day and there was a short line to use my pen. Save yourself lots of hassle; bring a pen.

4. Bring 1,900 THB.

Or whatever the amount you need after you’ve checked the website to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

5. Bring easy to take off shoes.

There was one lady who wore gladiator sandals. You have to remove your shoes before you can enter both the immigration office and the photo copy room. She fell a good 10 places behind in line because it took her so long to get her shoes off.

When you take your shoes off, I would recommend either placing your shoes in your bag or finding a shady spot to put them. If not, your shoes will be too hot to put back on when you’re done if there are really long lines.

6. Stand in line.

If you don’t have all your documents, stand in line at the little room in front of the immigration office and get your things copied, ect. If you have everything, go straight to the immigration office by entering via the stairs on the right. Go through the door and stand in the line on the right side of the room. Read all the signs to make sure you are in the correct line. You can waste hours of your time, if you are in the wrong line.

7. Once you’ve paid, take your ticket and wait.

Remember to ask, “How long will this take?” You can then sit in the nicely air-conditioned office, have a coffee at the cafe, or go back to the main road to find a restaurant. Remember to come back in time to pick up your passport. It will be on the left side of the room.

8. Pick up your passport.

Make sure the dates and everything is correct. Leave.

heading back to Koh Tao


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.
  • Visa laws change frequently.

Phone:

Data:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Scams & Dangers:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Samui Immigration Office

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Visa extension: 1,900 THB
  • Photo copies & passport photo: 100 THB
    • You can get this done somewhere else to save yourself money.
  • Overstaying your visa – 50THB/day up to 20,000THB for 40+ days
    • Overstay more than 90 Days –   1 year ban from Thailand
    • Overstay more than  1 Year  –    3 year ban from Thailand
    • Overstay more than  3 Years –   5 year ban from Thailand
    • Overstay more than  5 Years – 10 year ban from Thailand
    • The above fines and ban above are only for people who voluntarily go to the immigration office. If found by authorities with an expired visa fines can include arrest and detention.

Hours:

  • M-F 8:30 ~ 12:00 & 13:00 ~ 16:30
  • Closed on holidays
  • Busiest Days:
    • Fridays & Mondays
    • The day before a holiday
    • The day after a holiday
    • Mornings tend to be busier than afternoons
    • (Tuesdays are the least busy days.)
  • Always check their websites for their hours before you make plans to go or not go.

Notes:

  • Always check the official website. Laws and policies in Thailand change often.

Map:

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