Visitors to Thailand say that the restarted visa runs to Pong Nam Ron (Hot Water Spring) on the Cambodian border are much more straightforward than before. “The border post was quiet without long queues and we only needed our passports, not even a photo,” said Mr and Mrs Turner on a long vacation from London. They added that they began their journey from outside Jomtien Immigration in a minibus at 8 am and were back before 5 pm.
During the Covid crisis, border runs were mostly off-limits or required two or more nights of accommodation on the Cambodian side whilst applications and health records were checked. The bureaucracy has now vanished. However, the longstanding Thai rule that a new land entry stamp to the country is restricted to two in a 12 months’ period remains intact. Entries by air are not formally restricted.
The latest visa runs are designed for two groups of foreign visitors: those who entered visa exempt and were given 30 days (45 days from October 1) at the airport and those with non-immigrant visas with double or multiple entries. However, foreigners entering with 15 days visa on arrival (30 days from October 1) – mostly Indians and Chinese nationals – cannot be processed through the Cambodian visa run route.
Jessataporn Bunnag, owner of Thai Visa Center Company Ltd located next to Jomtien Immigration, said, “We are finding that the pre-Covid departure time of 6 am was too early and unpopular. It’s far better that we start from the immigration bureau at 8 am.” He added that those who cannot do the land visa run, for whatever reason, can join another new program. This involves travelling to Vientiane, capital of Laos, by air and obtaining a new visa of any type with travel, hotel and embassy contact already arranged.
More details are available from Mr Bunnag on 087 513 3333. The inclusive cost of the one day visa run to Pong Nam Ron is 5,500, including lunch, currently running Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For the Vientiane air trip, it’s 35,000 baht including all travel, hotel and embassy charges. Both services require prior payment at the visa and law office next to Jomtien Immigration.