Travel and accommodation guide for Phuket Thailand

Making a visa run to the Burmese border to extend your Phuket holiday

Your Phuket holiday is fantastic, you love the place, the food, the people and the nightlife but unfortunately you are running out of time on your visa and would like to stay a bit longer. Here is how you can extend your visa to stay longer:

Scenario 1: You entered Thailand with a tourist visa from a Thai embassy back home which granted you a visa for up to 60 days. You can easily extend this period by an additional 30 days by going to the Phuket Town immigration office and request this extension. The fee is 1,900 Baht plus a few more baht to make copies of your passport. Simple procedure.

Scenario 2: You entered Thailand by plane without a tourist visa and at the airport immigration you received a simple visit pass stamp which gives you permission to stay in Thailand for 30 days. Generally these can only be extended within Thailand for 7 additional days at the cost of 1,900 Baht or under special permission for medical circumstances.

Thai immigration office in Ranong

Visa run boat from Thailand to Myanmar

Here is the trick, you simply need to exit Thailand momentarily and reenter the Kingdom with an additional 15 days extension.

From Phuket, you will find many tour operators that can offer you the complete “visa run” service to go to Myanmar (Burma). It will take you a full day to acquire these precious additional 15 days but the trip is quite original and definitely an adventure. Starting at around 7am, a mini bus will pick you up at a designated pick up spot organized by the operator. The mini bus will have about 12 other passengers in the same situation as you, picked up from different points in Phuket. The bus will take the road going North through Phuket, passing the Sarrassins Bridge and goes north toward Ranong passing Phang Nga and Kao Lak. Going through Kao Lak is quite interesting as the scenery greatly changes from the country side to the Andaman beach side. No time to stop anywhere between your pick point and Ranong. The trip to Ranong takes approximately 3:30 to 4:00 hours, so be sure to have a good stop of MP3, book, magazines or patience.

Arriving at Ranong, the visa run operator will take care of all the administrative formalities required to properly exit Thailand, get the extension and return to Thailand appropriately. While they are preparing all the requirements, you will be dropped off at a small street side restaurant for a quick meal and drink. You will have a few moments to enjoy the surroundings at the wooden pier; the smell will remind you that you are in a large fishing town. Hopefully you remembered to take you camera because it is well worth it; you will have amazing scenes to photograph.

You will embark on a wooden boat that will take you to the Thai immigration office to decorate your passport with an exit stamp as you are about to leave Thailand for another country. The immigration office is sitting on stilts in the middle of the muddy waters off Ranong. You will stay on the boat while the tour operator goes with your passport inside the office and once stamped, the boat will continue its way to the Burmese town of Kau Thang. On the way you will pass a small island with a massive Buddha statue, pass merchant boats and other floating devices. Once you arrive at the Kau Thang pier, you will be submerged by Burmese who will try to sell you a myriad of products, such as alcohol, cigarette and medicine, simply say no as most of the products are copies. Walk towards the Burmese immigration bureau and put away your camera as they do not appreciate being photographed.
Burmese Temple
Welcome to Myanmar

The Burmese immigration officer will ask for some money to stamp your passport but this is paid by the tour operator as it is included in your visa run fee of 1,500 Baht. You will not be able to visit the town as the boat will leave once 10-15 minutes after arriving. The boat will now leave and make a small stop once you enter Thai territorial waters, at a military/immigration post sitting on stilts in the ocean before making your way back to the pier. Next stop will be at the Ranong immigration office where you will be able to get your 15 days extension, before sitting back in the mini bus to return to Phuket. You will reach Phuket at about 18:00pm, tired but happy to have 15 more days to enjoy your Phuket holiday.

Town of Ranong Island Temple near Myarnmar

Final notes:

Please note that the price of the visa run service is generally 1,500 Baht and you can find this type of service on most beaches of Phuket or at a travel agency. The price indicated is inclusive of the transportation, visa fees and small meal. The itinerary may slightly change depending on the operator you choose but most are very similar.

You can also travel to Singapore to make your visa run but at a much higher cost. Silk Air a regional Singapore Airline carrier has regular flights from Phuket to Singapore. Worth the trip but plan to stay a few days to visit Singapore as well.

Many companies also offer visa run to Penang in Malaysia. This service is for longer visa extension and will require 3 days of your time to renew a tourist visa. Resources are listed below.

If you need more information about visas for Thailand, a good source is Thai Visa. They have a forum with lots of experiences from end users.

Visa run resources:

  • Thai Visa Run Company - the company is located in the center of Phuket, in Kathu on the road to Patong Beach before the mountain. They offer a fast and efficient visa extension service with good mini bus and full-on service. They also offer visa runs to Penang which we have not covered in this article but this is another option.

  • Thai Visa - a great web portal offering tons of information about visas and visa runs. There is a blog and a discussion board with lots of info from end-uses. Good resource.


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