If you are visiting Thailand as a tourist, you may be eligible to enter the country under the ‘Visa Exemption’ rule. If you are eligible to enter Thailand under this rule you will be granted a stay of a maximum:
- 30 days if you enter Thailand via an international airport (e.g. Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai etc.)
- 15 days if you arrive in Thailand via a land border checkpoint from a neighbouring country (with some exceptions e.g. Malaysian passport holders permitted a 30-day stay).
Visa exemption rule for Thailand:
If you meet all of the following criteria, then you do not need to apply in advance for a visa.
a) You are a passport holder from one of the 48 countries listed below:
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.
b) The purpose of your visit is strictly tourism
c) You possess a passport with at least 6 months validity
d) Must be in possession of a confirmed flight ticket (e-ticket acceptable) to show you will be flying out of Thailand within 30 days or 15 days of entry, as appropriate. Open tickets do not qualify. Travelling overland out of Thailand by train, bus, etc to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia (including en route to Singapore), Burma etc. is not accepted as proof of exiting Thailand. You may be asked to show your flight ticket on entering Thailand. If you do not possess a flight ticket to show you will be exiting Thailand within 30 or 15 days of entry you could be refused entry and may not even be allowed to check in for your flight at your departing airport.
e) When you enter Thailand, you may be required to provide proof of adequate finances for the duration of your stay (i.e. cash or traveller’s cheques equivalent to 20,000 Baht per person or 40,000 Baht per family). Although this seems to be rarely requested by immigration officers, it does still remain as an official requirement.
If you don’t meet all of the criteria for a visa exemption, you are advised to contact your nearest Thai embassy or consulate and apply for the appropriate visa before you travel. If your country is not listed as one of the 48 countries above, check to see if you can enter Thailand under the visa on arrival scheme. Also note that some countries have slightly different local agreements in place with Thailand. For instance, Malaysian passport holders are permitted to stay for up to 30 days (not 15) if arriving via a land border checkpoint. If in doubt, check with the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country.
This information was updated on May 2012 to reflect current regulations. When updating this article it became apparent that some Thai embassies and consulates have some outdated information listed on their websites (e.g. relating to the proof of onward travel and finances required). The information here is based on the latest advice (dated March 2012) as issued by the Royal Thai Consulate in Hull, UK who I have always personally found to be very good. However, I would also advise checking with your local Thai embassy or consulate in your home country.