Immigration police detail restrictions on Cambodian visa runs from Pattaya

A group of European visa runners pause at the Pong Nam Ron border before returning to Pattaya.

Thai and Cambodian border police at Aranyaprathet and Pong Nam Ron, a three hour drive from Pattaya, have detailed the rules for foreigners wishing to obtain a further 45 days to extend their stay in Thailand. The new entry stamp can later be extended for a further month at Thai immigration offices for 1,900 baht. The scheme is popular with Brits, western Europeans, Americans and Australians.

Borey San, a Cambodian clearance officer, said it was essential that applicants register with a Pattaya tour and minibus operator in advance of travel to the border. The company must then send a passport copy to the border post of choice to check that the applicant is eligible for the new permission. Unregistered individuals arriving at the frontier under their own steam could not be serviced the same day and would need to spend several days or a week in Cambodia on vacation pending a review of their application. The alternative was to remain in Thailand to risk overstay.

A Thai immigration captain explained that most nationalities could take advantage of the visa run scheme, but there were 19 countries whose citizens could not get a new permission at any land border. The countries included China, India, several central Asian “stans” and a dozen states in Africa and the Indian Ocean. Separately, no individual could take advantage of the scheme more than twice in a 12 month period to prevent foreigners living permanently in Thailand by regular border trips. He said prior submission of passport copies was necessary to avoid international visitors wasting their time by turning up unannounced.

Pui, a representative from Thai Visa Center, guides the group through border immigration procedures and deals with any problems.

Jessataporn Bunnag, owner of Thai Visa Center located next to Jomtien immigration bureau, said the new scheme was introduced last month after the Thai government confirmed its willingness for foreigners to stay longer without the hassle of applying for prior visas from Thai embassies in their home countries before travel. “The important thing is to show us your passport well in advance so that you can be sure you are eligible for the extra time by this particular route,” he said.

Thai Visa Center offers the service, including all costs and even lunch, for 5,500 baht. Other companies may look cheaper, but there can be hidden extra costs such as the price of the Cambodian entry visa (US$30 or around 1,200 baht) or the minibus fare. Cambodian visa runs, which can also be done from Bangkok, disappeared during the Covid pandemic as land crossings remained closed long after airports reopened.

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