Indian bitten by the travel bug would understand the woes of our Navy Blue Passport. We can’t travel on a whim to international locations, definitely not without spending significant time in front of a screen reading up on Visa norms.
Thailand is one of the few countries at the intersection of ‘Countries we can directly fly to’ and ‘Countries that give Visa on Arrival to Indian Passport Holders’. This makes it one of the top tourist destinations for many Indians. Thailand’s unprecedented beauty, variety of landscapes from stunning beaches to beautiful hills, and the kindness of locals makes it all the more enticing. However, it’s important to be aware of the regulations in place to be able to make use of the Visa on Arrival for Indians.
While I sit in front of a stream, watching the changing sky colors from blue to the shades of dusk, here are 8 things that I hope every traveler knows about before taking their flight to the land of Smiles – Thailand.
1. You need 2200 Baht in Cash
While Indian Passport holders do get a hassle-free Visa on Arrival for Thailand, it’s important to note that it’s not free of cost. One is expected to pay 2200 Thai Baht upon arrival in cash and only in Thai currency.
2. There are no ATMs in this area
Unfortunately, there are no cash machines in this area. So, your best bet is to get Thai Baht before boarding your flight to Thailand from India.
Note: There are ATMs right after the immigration zone. So, if you borrow money from someone, you can return it immediately after getting entry.
3. There are currency exchange places though
Thanks to the currency exchange places in the immigration zone at Bangkok, you can at least exchange your Indian currency (or any other) for Thai Baht. Needless to say, you wouldn’t get the best rates here. Another thing to note here is that the currency exchange places usually have bigger currencies like 1000 Baht so you would need to carry that much cash to convert it.
Pro Tip: A currency exchange place I went to at Delhi Airport had a minimum limit of 5000 Baht for conversion. So, carry enough Indian currency if you intend to get Thai Baht at Bangkok airport.
4. You do need to show a return ticket (Proof of onward travel)
A few years ago, Thailand made it mandatory for anyone visiting to show proof of onward travel. As Indians, most of us are familiar with such regulations but at times I have tried to get away with it so for traveler like me, do get this document in place. There’s no way around it.
5. Keep the address of your hotel/hostel/guest house ready for the immigration form
Like most immigration forms, Thailand immigration form (that you need to submit along with passport for VOA), has a field for local contact/local address. One can fill in the address of their hotel/guest house/hostel here. So, do keep that handy. If your Indian number is not on roaming then you may not be able to access your emails. I usually take a screenshot of these things so they are easy to access.
6. You need a photo for the form
I had almost forgotten about it this time, thankfully, I do have a bunch of photographs left from my Visa runs. You’ll need one so do keep it handy as well.
7. There are two International airports in Bangkok
While this is not needed to attain your Visa on Arrival, it’s good to know that there are two international airports in Bangkok. So, when you book your hostel/hotel do keep that in mind.
The first time I arrived in Bangkok, I had booked a hostel walking distance from the Airport, I was just lucky that I indeed arrived at this airport. On my second visit I arrived at the other airport and had to ask around to get to the train station (one airport has it right outside).
8. You get an hour of free wifi at Bangkok airport
While you do get an hour of free wifi at the Bangkok International Airports, this is only possible in the waiting area not the Immigration area.
9. The airlines can ask you for all sorts of documents
While the Thai officials need only the 2200 Baht and your proof of onward travel as essential documents, the airlines you fly with could ask you for all sorts of documents (quite to one’s annoyance). Some of these could include – proof of sufficient funds. I was also asked how much money I was carrying in Thai Baht and at first I was told, I needed at least 10000 Baht in cash but with my appalled and annoyed expression, the person then added or $700 minimum in your bank account.
Fortunately, I was carrying attested copies of my bank statements that I had initially gotten for Visa but I never got that (didn’t have enough time).
Note: I flew with Go First and they asked me for more documents than I have ever been asked by any airlines before.
I hope this list helps Indian Passport Holders or anyone planning to use Visa on Arrival for Thailand. I wish you a great trip.