Since August 13, 2014, Thai Immigration no longer allows crossing the border at Mae Sai and back for the purpose of getting a new visa exemption (aka “visa on arrival”). You can only exit and re-enter through Mae Sai if you already have a valid visa for when you return to Thailand. If you don’t have a multiple-entry visa in your passport, this method will not work and Thai Immigration will prevent you from leaving through the Mae Sai-Tachileik checkpoint.
If you’re staying in Thailand for an extended length of time, there will come a day when you need to do a border run and refresh your Thai visa. If you’re based in Chiang Mai, the most convenient border crossing is the border town of Mae Sai, right across the border from the Burmese town of Tachileik. You can do this run on the same day, leaving in the morning and coming back early evening.
Border Runs Explained
While a visa run involves leaving Thailand to apply for a Thai visa abroad or simply get a new visa exemption, a border run just involves stepping out of Thailand so you can activate a new entry on an existing visa.
One instance when you will need to do a border run is with a multiple-entry tourist visa. Each entry is valid for two months, and can be extended to three months. But once that first entry expires, you’ll need to leave Thailand to activate the second entry, and so on.
For instance, let’s assume you have a Thai double entry tourist visa; you will need to pay close attention to the following dates:
Day 1: Enter Thailand
Day 60: Extend Thai visa by 30 days
Day 90: Border run; new visa valid for 60 days
Day 150: Extend Thai visa for 30 days
Day 180: Leave Thailand for a new visa run
When calculating the date of your border run, pay close attention to the “Enter Before” date. You need to re-enter Thailand before this date, otherwise your Thai visa will be expired.
Got all that? Alright, let’s get down to business!
Step 1: Visit the Bus Terminal Ahead of Time
You will need to buy your bus tickets in advance, as tickets sell out quickly. Ideally, go two or three days ahead, especially if you plan on traveling around holidays or long weekends. You have two options when traveling to Mae Sai for a border run.
The first one involves booking a seat on a minibus, which can be done through various tourist agencies in the Old City. This option is slightly cheaper. They’ll pick you up at your guesthouse and drive you all the way to immigration, but there are some drawbacks. For starters, minibus are cramped and make for a very uncomfortable ride. Second, the minibus drivers are notorious for driving like maniacs.
A more comfortable and safer option is to book a ticket with a reputed company such as Green Bus. You will need to get to the bus station by yourself, but that’s a minor discomfort considering the eight hours of travel you need to do to get to Mae Sai and back. I’ll only discuss the Green Bus option in this blog post.
Green Bus departs from Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3, northeast of the Old City. This terminal is also known as the Arcade Bus Terminal. Terminals 2 and 3 are at the Arcade Bus Terminal, across the street from one another. (Terminal 1, covering travel within the province of Chiang Mai, is just outside the Old City’s north gate.)
To get to Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3, flag down a songthaew and ask for “Arcade Bus Terminal.” If they agree and don’t quote you a price, jump on board and expect to pay 20B. Otherwise, they may quote you a high price, which you should bargain. For one person it would be unreasonable to pay more than 40B, especially if you speak a little Thai. If you’re leaving from the Old City, it’s entirely possible to pay 20B.
Step 2: Purchase Bus Tickets
When you come into Bus Terminal 3, the Green Bus counter is immediately to your left.
Green Bus are your standard Thai VIP bus line. The buses are air conditioned and drive pretty safely by Thailand’s (admittedly low) standards. They serve a small snack including a bottle of water on the bus.
VIP seats are larger and more comfortable, and cost around 360B, while regular seats are more cramped and will set you back about 230B. In my experience, because the VIP seats are at the front, the VIP seats have bone-chilling AC while the regular seats will have you simmering in your own sweat. My recommendation is to splurge on the VIP seats and bring warm clothes. I’m not kidding: plan as if you’ll be sitting in a fridge for four-five hours.
Time-wise, your best option for a one-day border run is to book the 8:00 a.m. bus to Mae Sai, and return on the 3:30 p.m. The ride takes approximately four and a half hours, leaving about three hours to cross the Thai-Myanmar border and back. That might sound like a lot, but considering you’ll have to go twice through Thai immigration, your schedule might be tighter than you’d think. Not only that, but you have to go to and from the border by songthaew. You can make it back for the 2:30 p.m. bus but you won’t have time to relax. Better to leave three hours and grab an iced tea in Myanmar, in my opinion.
Once you have you’ve made your choice and booked your bus ticket, you can grab a songthaew back into town. Avoid those in the parking lot next to the bus station, as they’ll quote you an outrageous price. Instead, flag a songthaew as it drops passengers right in front of the main entrance.
Step 3: Make Your Way to the Border
Don’t be surprised if the bus departs a bit late. Expect to get to Mae Sai in around four and a half hours. Enjoy the Thai mountain roads, and don’t stress too much about the driving! The bus stops in Chiang Rai, but they really don’t stay there very long. Don’t linger too long in the terminal or you’ll risk the bus leaving without you.
Once you get in Mae Sai, you’ll have to grab a red songthaew that will take you to the border. As indicated on signs everywhere, these songthaews cost 15B one way, so don’t expect to pay a baht more.
At the border, you’ll go through the typical Thai immigration exit checkpoint, turn in your departure card, and get stamped out. Next, walk across the bridge, admire the “Northernmost Point in Thailand,” and go through Myanmar immigration.
Step 4: Enter Myanmar
Getting the Myanmar entry visa will cost you 500B, payable in baht. Here, you have the choice of going right back out, or going to Myanmar for quick shopping or eating.
If you want to visit the Burmese border town of Tachileik, tell the immigration officers you’re going shopping, and they’ll probably exchange your passport for an entry permit with your picture on it. They’ll give your passport back when you leave Myanmar. Sometimes they’ll just give entry and exit stamps right away, so you don’t even need to stop on your way back out. If you just want to re-enter Thailand right away, tell them you’re doing a border run, and they’ll let you hold on to your passport and exit right away.
I personally recommend visiting Tachileik at least once. There’s not that much to do, but it’s still a nice break from sitting on a bus for hours. All the shops near the border take Thai currency, and the prices in shops are about the same as in Thailand. There’s a market and a few interesting stores; when I visited Tachileik with Helene, we found a cool little Indian sweets shop, as well as a good Burmese restaurant within walking distance of the border crossing. It made for a quick but memorable hour in Myanmar.
Whatever you do, plan to go through immigration again at least an hour before your bus is scheduled to leave Mae Sai. This will give you time to go through Thai immigration and catch a songthaew back to the bus station. Thai immigration can be notoriously slow, so better safe than sorry. This is especially true on weekends.
Step 5: Catch the Bus Back to Chiang Mai
Go through Myanmar immigration again, and trade your entry permit for your passport, if they issued a permit. Otherwise, you can just go through.
On the Thai side of the bridge, look for the counter giving out arrival cards, and fill one out.
The songthaews back to the bus station depart at the same spot they dropped you at, on the left side of the street coming from the border. The ride back is also 15B, and takes about fifteen minutes depending on traffic. The songthaews depart when they have enough people, so you might have to wait a few minutes.
Back at the bus station, the only thing left to do is freeze or sweat, depending on which seat you bought.
Lots of effort for a little stamp, eh? I like to think of it as a tax for living in Thailand. Makes the ride a little more bearable.
Any questions? Any other tips or updates to this border run guide? Please share in the comments below!
Thanks to Helene for the pictures!
Planning to stay in Chiang Mai for about 4-5 months so will be doing the border trip above after I get the 30 day extension. My question is if I book my air return ticket for 4/5 months after I first arrive in Thailand from the UK will the Thai authorities question this date on first entry considering the visa they are giving me?
No, I really don’t think the Thai authorities will give you any trouble. Although the immigration requirements demand a return ticket, I’ve never heard of Thai authorities checking this. Besides, if you’ve got a double-entry tourist visa in your passport, 4-5 months is perfectly legit.
The ones who do sometimes check for return tickets are the airline. They want to make sure you’ve paid for a return ticket, so that if you get turned back at the airport, they can fly you back home on your own dime. (They have a legal responsibility to fly you back if you get denied entry.) So if your ticket is 5 months down the line, it doesn’t matter to them.
I’ve never had an airline, nor a Thai immigration officer, check for onward tickets for me coming into Thailand, considering how frequent it is for tourists to leave Thailand via land borders. If someone asks, explain your plan to stay in Thailand 3 months, visit a neighboring country overland, then come back before catching your flight home.
Hope that helps!
It certainly does thank you. Thanks to this page and help from other forums setting me straight on what I can and cannot do. From what I’ve subsequently learnt airlines only seem to insist on return tickets if you are entering Thailand without a visa and are relying on the standard short term tourist visa you get as you go through immigration.
Ah yes! I forgot that detail. Indeed. They’re only concerned about you not being able to enter the country, and if you have the visa in advance, that’s not a problem.
Have a great trip!
Great website. I have a single entry 60 day tourist visa due to expire on june 27. I only want to stay an extra week in Chiang Mai before flying back to australia. I planned to do a border run via the green bus on the weekend before my visa runs out . This would give me a visa exempt 15 days which would cover my extra days. Is this correct. I would rather do this and see some country side instead of going to the immigratiom office in Chiang Mai…thanks for your help..
Yes, you’re correct. Since you have a tourist visa, Thai Immigration at Mae Sai should let you through and back. I say “should” because the situation is a little volatile right now, and there’s no 100% guarantee that they will, but from everything they’ve been saying, that is OK to do. Doing one border run after a tourist visa should be fine.
I’d recommend bringing a copy of your flight booking in case they have any issue with your border run.
Personally, I’d just take a few hours at Chiang Mai Immigration to extend the visa, and I’d go check out the countryside another day… 🙂 You don’t get much time to see Mae Sai on a border run, and frankly there isn’t that much to do there. But if you’re determined to do the border run, you should be absolutely good!
I’m on a double entry tourist visa and I’m staying in Songkhla. My 30 day extension ends on the 26th so I want to do a border run (to activate my second entry) on the 24th. Can I just go to the Sadou border (not sure about spelling, lol), step into Malaysia, get an entry stamp and come straight back into Thailand or do I need to do something else?
Next question. ..a friend came in on a single entry and went to Malaysia to apply for a new visa(which she got), but when she came back to the border to get her stamp they wanted to see 20000 baht. This only happened to her and none of the other tourists. I think it’s because she has a South African passport, which I also have. Will they ask me to show 20000b even though I’m on a double entry?
Yes, you can just go across the border in Malaysia and come back to activate the second entry of your tourist visa. That’s exactly what they expect you to do. 🙂
As for your friend being asked for 20,000B… This has been happening recently with a number of foreigners, yes. Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether they’ll ask you to show this, as it seems pretty arbitrary. They’re likely NOT to ask you, especially considering the visa, but I’d arrange for it just in case!
Ok great! Thanks so much for your help. 😀
What’s the deal for staying longer in Burma?
Could I cross that border and then spend 10 days on the 500 baht visa and then come back?
If I went on a 60 day TV then reentered 10 days later I take it I would only have 20 days left on the TV? Or a further 30 days?
Thanks if u can verify:)
Hi! I’m not 100% sure about this so I recommend you double-check; but the 500B you pay in Thachileik (over the border from Mae Sai) is strictly a day pass. You CAN travel onward to Burma, but only if you have acquired a tourist visa in advance. If you’re of a nationality that cannot get a visa on arrival at the Burmese border, then you’re not gonna get one at the Mae Sai-Thachileik border.
As for the Thai visa: once you exit the country, your current Thai visa (i.e. the entry, not the whole visa) is over. Say you have a double-entry tourist visa, with each entry good for 60 days… When you exit Thailand, the first 60-period is automatically over, and coming back will activate the second 60-day period.
Hope that makes sense! Let me know if it’s not clear.
Hi.. That’s clear thanks!!
I did a little digging after I asked and the visa issued may be a 14 day one but you are not permitted to travel on without a guide as of August 2013.
I fancied doing a little cycling but think that’s only possible to do in that particular region.. Need to look up on this o_O”
Thanks 4 getting back 🙂
I see, thanks for the info! I didn’t know that.
You can’t plan to be able to do a quick border run to extend your stay now. It seems Immigration has decided to get tough. Better to try to extend your current entry or visa long enough from inside the country.
Yeah, I saw the articles go by. I’ll add a note up top. You have to to a border run eventually even on a tourist visa, though… Not sure what that entails just yet.
Thanks Daniel, this is very helpful and very nicely explained and written – makes my life easier. Wishing you everything of the best.
You’re most welcome! Glad I could help!
We’re currently in Chiang Mai and are considering doing a border run. The guesthouse owner we talked to, however, told us another option is to join the Golden Triangle day trip for 800B and this will already include getting an in-out stamp and refreshing our VOA for 15 days (we’re Filipinos). We’re thinking this is a good deal as apart from securing our transport going to and back, we’ll also have opportunities to see some sights along the way including a few hill tribes.
Yeah, an organised tour is one way to get your visa exemption refreshed. Note that the visa exemption (AKA “visa on arrival”) is free and necessary when you re-enter Thailand, so that’s not a “benefit” of the tour.
Anyone done this visa run recently? Visa is up next week and wondering if it’s still valid..
I haven’t personally done it recently, but my understanding from what I read online is that it’s safe to do it if it’s your first or second visa exemption. Getting a third visa exemption this way is risky but possible. Getting the next leg of your multiple-entry visa is still perfectly feasible this way.
Since you’re not technically allowed to enter Myanmar this way, if there’ a problem with getting another visa exemption, you’ll be told when you’re trying to exit the country and won’t be allowed to leave. I’m told refreshing a multiple-entry tourist visa is risk-free, but getting a new visa exemption is “risky.”
Ah okay, cool. Getting the third entry of a tourist visa. Should be fine by all accounts! Thanks very much for the post, a mine of great information, Patrick.
Absolutely. And you’re most welcome!
So, lemme get this strait. I have extended my one month visa exemption once, for a total of 60 days. My expiration is coming up and I want to head to Tachilek to extend it for 14 more days before I leave Thailand. What are the chances this will work? Thanks for all the info here btw.
It SHOULD be fine. It usually is. But sometimes the Immigration people at Mae Sai act contrary to expectations… It’s a harder spot to do a border run because you can’t just exit the country there… They know you’re coming back on the same day for the express purpose of doing a border run.
Wanted to say a BIG thank you for this post. We went yesterday to activate 2nd of triple entry visa. Followed steps above and was flawless and easy.
Time saving tip I would add to post above: download the greenbus App on iPhone (English is included). I booked tickets and chose seats (like booking a flight online) and paid with credit card from comfort of coffee shop. Then you just show screen print of ticket to driver and they let you on, no lining up or having to go to ticket office to get your ticket (which had big line up).
Really glad the post was helpful! And that iOS app sounds like a real time saver! Do you know the exact name of it, and/or perhaps the developer? I’m trying to find it (and check if it’s on Android as well) so I can recommend it in the post.
Hey folks, quick warning about the Green buses if you are going to Mae Sai that way.
DO NOT show up on the morning and expect there will be seats, otherwise you’ll have what happened to me happen. Showed up this morning only to find the 8:00am bus had sold out, so had to go with the 9:30.
The 9:30am bus gets into Mae Sai at around 2pm on a good day, which gives you just 90minutes to run across the border.
Now you could be lucky and find it not too busy like it was today with me (or have worse traffic), but it’s not something I would risk.
Plus the short time window mightn’t give you enough time to get lunch, which will leave you starved like I was arriving back in CM.
Other than that the trip takes 9 hours overall and is relatively pleasant but make sure you have a sweater and trousers for the VIP seats(as said in the main post by Daniel) as it gets quite cold by the end of the trip.
Yikes! Yeah, that’s why I recommend going to the bus terminal ahead of time. I’ll make this more explicit in my post.
I’m in Chiang Mai and was wondering if this works if I have a 1 multiple entry business visa? Would I be alright to do a border trip to Myanmar? It’s my first time and I’ve got conflicting information from several people. Also, if it is okay does anybod have any information on a tour of the golden triangle that was mentioned with which I could get the necessary bordering crossing stamp as well? I’d much rather take a tour than just ride a bus back and forth all day if at all possible. Thanks for any help in advance.
I’m in Chiang Mai and was wondering if this works if I have a 1 multiple entry business visa? I don’t have a work permit do I have to do the border trip ever 90 days. Would I be alright to do a border trip to Myanmar? It’s my first time and I’ve got conflicting information from several people. Also, if it’s okay does anybody have any information on a tour of the golden triangle that was mentioned with which I could get the necessary border crossing stamp as well? I’d much rather take a tour than just ride a bus back and forth all day if at all possible. Thanks for any help in advance.
Hi! Yes, Mae Sai is fine to activate the next leg of a visa. Note that Mae Sai Immigration was iffy in the past… Sometimes the immigration officers went “crazy” and changed the rules. This might be why you got conflicting reports. It’s always riskier than a “real” border (i.e. one where you can legally enter the neighboring country), so it’s best to check a few days before on a place like ThaiVisa.com.
As for the tour, sorry, I don’t have that information!
Its great that you provide all of this information, so glad this site exists.
I currently have a query that I hope you can answer for me; I entered Thailand at the beginning of November 2014. Due to a decision to concentrate on my artwork and embark on a printing course, I decided to sack off my return flight and extend my tourist visa by another 30 days, which I did at the Chiang Mai immigration office. I no longer have a return flight to the UK.
Things are going well so I want to stay here for as long as possible. But I’m having trouble getting 100% confirmation on extension of visa.
I am hoping coincide a visit to see friends in Vientiane for Christmas, with a visa boarder run.
Will a social event such as this put me in better stead for a new tourist visa when I return to Thailand?
Also, my visa dosent expire until 1st Jan. If I spend Christmas in Vientiane and return to Bangkok for New Years, will I get an extension at least until 1st Feb?
Thanks for reading that long one, I look forward to your response.
I’m guessing you currently have a visa exemption (sometimes called “visa on arrival”) which you got when you landed in Thailand. Correct?
Once you exit Thailand, that visa exemption will be over. When you return to Thailand, you’ll be given a new one. It could be 15 days or 30 days, depending on your nationality.
What I recommend is to go and get a double-entry tourist visa from the Thai consulate in Vientiane while you’re there. That’ll be valid for two entries of two months each, which you can extend by 30 days each. (For a total of six months.) You’ll only have to exit and re-enter Thailand once during this time, but you’ll need to visit Immigration twice to get an extension.
Here’s a post of mine explaining the visa application process in Vientiane:
Daniel, I arrived in Chiang mai Dec. 3, 2014, I recieved an immigration stamp in my passport for 30 days dated Jan 1, 2015. I. Am not scheduled to leave until Jan 29, 2015. Would I be able to do 2 trips to Mae Sai on Dec29th and again on Jan 14th to get two 15 Day extensions to get me to my Jan 29th departure date.
thank you in advance.
thanks for your useful website!
I have a question about my ‘visa’ situation:
I entered on the 30 days visa exempt stamp two weeks ago and am planning to get the extension for another 30 days so I can stay until the end of January.
Today I realized I want to be in Thailand at the end of Febuary as well for an event – so I’m wondering if I could leave Thailand after a total of 60 days of visa exempt, then go to Burma for a few weeks and return to Thailand and get another 30 days visa exempt?
My problem is that right now I have only three empty passport pages left – two would be needed for Burma and the Thai exempt stamps (+ extension???) only require little space, right?
Yes, you can definitely do what you described. The only thing to watch out for is whether you’re allowed 15 days or 30 days when you come back. If you’re coming by air, then you’ll definitely get 30 days. If you’re coming overland, you’ll get 30 days if you’re a member of a G7 country (US, Canada, France, Italy, UK, Germany, Japan), otherwise you’ll get 15 days. Both can be extended by 30 days at an Immigration office.
The visa exemption just requires about half a page in your passport. That’s for the entry and exit stamps, as you see with your current exemption. As for Burma, I’m not sure… Pretty sure three pages would be enough!
I replied to you on the Mae Sai topic, here:
thanks for the reply!
what if I go to Burma or Laos for only a few days and try to get a new visa exempt then – no problem?
I’m basically trying to find a cheap and easy way to leave and re-enter to get another visa exempt – without any problems and fear of being rejected to re-enter.
all those reports about people being rejected at the border are quite scary :3
Yes, a few days in another country then back should be quite alright! Keep a copy of your flight ticket home in case, so you can show that you’re just a tourist enjoying Thailand. 🙂
I have a triple entry tourist visa. I began the 1st entry when i landed in BKK 6 months ago,activated my 2nd at Mae Sai and have been told i will not be able to activate my 3rd entry at Mae Sai. Im close to Chiang Mai. Where do i go and how pls???!!!???
Yes, you can activate a tourist visa entry at Mae Sai. Who told you you can’t?
It’s a risky spot for visa runs (i.e. jumping over the border to get a visa exemption), but it’s usually perfectly OK for activating a new visa entry.
Otherwise, it’ll be a longer journey, but you can take night buses pretty much everywhere, including up to Vientiane. Check the tourist bus agencies for details. If you’re not tight on cash, you could also fly out to, say, Kuala Lumpur on a cheap Air Asia or Nok Air flight!
Just came back from a successful visa run today. Thanks for the awesome guide!
Glad to hear it! You were picking up a new visa extension, or activating the next part of your existing tourist visa?
Here’s a terse update: Went to CM Immigration Office at 10am, got a ticket, told to come back at 1pm, did that, waited until 4:30pm – paid the hefty fine $500, girl at counter giggled at me handing over cash, suffered mild embarrassment/self-disgust, got my 30 day extension 29 days after my visa expired, went to Mae Sai next day, activated the second part of my visa after some perplexed looks from border officers looking at my date stamps. Stressful couple of days, LESSON LEARNED!
Hi Gavin! Thanks for the update! Really glad things worked out in the end. That must’ve been stressful indeed…
I currently find myself in a bit of a bind. I’ve a double entry tourist visa, but I’ve overstayed the first leg of my visa by 26 days (expired March 9th). I foolishly (and irresponsibly) thought I needed to activate the second part of my visa after 90 days (not 60) i.e. I completely forgot I had to extend my visa by 30 days at the immigration office, after 60 days.
I really have no idea how I should approach this problem. Should I go to the immigration office in Chiang Mai (and pay ~15,000 baht fine) now or just do a visa run, pay fine at border and activate the second part of my visa. Will I even be allowed to re-enter as a consequence of overstaying?!
I’m loving Chiang Mai and wanted to stay another couple of months but my naivety in this situation has really upset me. I was planning on going to Japan in June but I fear my future travel plans will be disrupted.
Any help would be immensely appreciated.
I second Rob’s suggestion… Maybe someone over at ThaiVisa.com can give better advice than I on this. I’d definitely go to Immigration if I were you… Be open about it and don’t try and dodge the fine, because you won’t. Overstaying a visa a month is pretty serious so I’m not sure how it will impact your future travels… Again, maybe someone at Thai Visa can advise you on this.
Best of luck!!
You’d be better off posting on Thaivisa for more accurate faster reply but can go to imm office yes.. Reactivate.. Not sure :/
I have a visa exemption which will be due on the 25th april, and i was thinking of doing a visa run at the Mae Sai border for an extension of another 15 days. However, there are news about the thai government restricting travellers from doing that and travellers will end up getting stranded in Myanmar. Do you have any advices? Thank you! 🙂
Rob is right. If this is your first border run, you’re very much likely to be fine. And like Rob says, if there’s a problem with Thai Immigration, they’ll simply prevent you from leaving. There’s no possibility of them stranding you in Myanmar because it’s not a real border crossing, strictly speaking… It’s a day pass to go shopping in Myanmar for the day.
So, in short, you’ll be fine. 🙂
U won’t get stranded in Myanmar.. They just won’t let u out. If u haven’t done it b4 you’ll be fine.
I have a double entry tourist visa I entered 22February and extended for 30days after my two months which kept me till 22nd may..now I want to do a re entry but my enter before date shows 5th April…I don’t understand want to do now do I have some fines to pay at the immigration before opening my second visa?pls help
That “enter before” is essentially your visa expiration date. If you don’t re-enter Thailand before that date, you lose your second entry, I’m sorry to say. I don’t think there’s any way to “salvage” your second entry, although it’s worth asking on ThaiVisa.com, as rob suggests.
I believe you’ll have to either re-enter on a visa exemption (AKA visa on arrival) which will grant you either 15 or 30 days depending on your nationality. Another option is to get another visa done, say, in Vientiane.
Again, go to ThaiVisa to get fast/best answer. I would say your re-entry date sounds odd. If you border b4 22 may it should activate 2nd TV
I entered Thailand on a 30 day tourist visa and then extended it at the Immigration office in Chiang Mai. Next weekend I’m planning on doing a border run to Mae Sai to get another 30 days, but I was told I might not be able to because I already extended my visa at the immigration office. Will I be okay to do the border run or will they not let me? I’ve also heard that walking across the border you only get 15 days but others say you get 30.
I would advise against attempting a border run at Mae Sai, as you are likely to be blocked from leaving Thailand (on the grounds that you would not be able to re-enter and get a new visa exemption). Mae Sai is best reserved for people who already have a 60-day visa, not a visa exemption, which I believe is what you have.
You can do a border run elsewhere across a land border, though. This is still tolerated, though not 100% certain to work. My recommendation would be to go get a proper tourist visa in a neighboring country. In general, though, it’s fine, especially the first time you do the out-and-in border run for visa exemption.
As for visa exemptions granted when you cross overland, this depends on your nationality. Citizens of G7 countries (U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan) receive 30 days by land, while most others get 15 days.
Thanks for your help.
I’m only in Thailand for another month so I really only need another 30 days. What other border crossing would you recommend? Can I go to the Golden Triangle?
I’m not 100% sure, but I believe it’s not possible to enter Myanmar “properly” overland. Mae Sai is a special zone: you only get a special one-day permit that doesn’t allow you to leave the general area of Tachileik. I believe to enter Myanmar you have to do it by air.
What you can do instead is cross into Laos in Chiang Khong near Huay Xai, Laos. I haven’t done it myself, but it’s become the alternative since border runs were blocked at Mae Sai.
Here’s a great blog post about this border crossing:
Note that there’s a fee for visas on arrival to Laos. Details here:
Hello, have heard so many recent rumours about visa extensions, hopefully you might clear things up with the latest news from the north 🙂
I have 60-day Thai Visa expiring mid-January.
Mai Sai/Tachileck is open for crossing/re-entry?
If so, 30 days granted or is it more likely 15 days?
Burma charges 500 baht? Can pay in other currency/USD?
Any costs from Thai side for 15/30 day extension?
Many cheers for the information and valuable web site 🙂
You can go to Mae Sai for the purpose of activating a new entry on a multiple-entry visa, but they no longer allow people to do “border runs,” i.e. go in and out to get a new visa exemption. In other words, you need to have a valid visa for your return in order to go in and out at Mae Sai.
So no, sorry, you’ll have to cross somewhere else to do this. One alternative is to extend your 60-day tourist visa by an extra 30 days, at the cost of 1900 B.
If you do a border run somewhere else than Tachileik, you’ll get either 30 days if you’re from a G7 country (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan), or 15 days otherwise. Flying in and out will grant you 30 days regardless of your country of origin. This is free.
Hope that helps!
Many cheers for the detailed information.
With regards to a border run somewhere else, do you happen to know about Mai Sot (Tak Province) and if it is currently open for border runs?
Many cheers and best wishes
I understand that the situation is the same at Mae Sot… You can leave and re-enter there if you have a Myanmar visa, but Thai Immigration doesn’t allow out-in hops for the purpose of getting a new visa exemption.
Some details here:
Thanks for the great guide. Am considering doing this in a few days, have a double entry, want to activate the second leg. Do you know if it is still possible for me to get the one day pass to enter Myanmar to do this, can’t find anything official about it anywhere.
Yep! According to recent reports, you can do exactly this: go to Mae Sai, purchase a one-day pass to enter Myanmar without a proper Burmese visa for 500B, and re-enter Thailand to activate the second leg of your tourist visa.
I entered Thailand in the middle of January on a single entry tourist visa that lasts 60 days. Can I do a border crossing in Mae Sai (preferable) or Chiang Khong to get another 30 days?
Yes Hannah, go to Mae Sai and get a 30 day extension. It’s quite a simple process. Where are you now?
Hey Gavi,n, are you sure about that? Your answer seems to contradict Daniel Roy’s answer above dated January 1st…or maybe the situation at Mae Sai has changed since then…
Unless Gavin has some recent information I’m not privy to, you won’t be allowed to do a border hop in Mae Sai. They only allow visa holders who want to activate the next leg of a multiple-entry visa (and even that seems in dispute recently as there are indications Myanmar Immigration no longer issues day passes into Tachileik).
A much better alternative would be for you to go to Thai Immigration (see blog post here) and get your 60-day visa extended by 30 days at the cost of 1900B. Much less of a hassle!
Thanks for the info. One last question: My visa expires on a Sunday, so if I go to the immigration office on Monday and pay the 500 baht late fee will they still give me another 30 days? Or should I go on Friday? I need exactly 30 more days from when my visa expires.
Yes, you could go on the Monday after and pay the fine… Since it’s just one day they’re unlikely to cause trouble for you. However, I’d advise just going Friday. They’ll add 30 days to your visa no matter the day you go… It starts from the day of expiry, not the day you apply.
I am visiting Thailand on a tourist visa. I arrived on May 21, and my visa was valid for 30 days.
On June 15, I went to Chiang Mai immigration to get a visa extension. It became valid for another 30 days. Now my visa expires on July 19, but I plan on staying in Thailand until October.
I would go to Chiang Mai immigration again, to get a re-entry permit and cross the Myanmar border. However, because of the holidays all government offices are closed until July 21.
My question is: is it better for me to wait until immigration offices are open, and pay the overstay fee on my visa before crossing the Myanmar border?
Or should I cross the Myanmar border before my visa expires, without getting a re-entry permit?
Thanks for your help,
If I understand your situation correctly, you currently have a visa exemption for 30 days that you got at the airport. Is that correct?
A re-entry permit is when you want to leave the country and return on the same tourist visa. That’s not what you need, here. If you plan on staying in Thailand until October, you’ll need a single-entry tourist visa, which you you’ll need to get from a consulate abroad.
Your best bet is to go to either Laos or Cambodia, and apply for a tourist visa there. I’ve detailed how to get a tourist visa in Vientiane, Laos in this post:
As noted at the beginning of the post, you can only get a single-entry, 60-day tourist visa this way, but that’s all you need.
Note that the border crossing at Mae Sai will NOT work for you, since you don’t have a valid visa to re-enter Thailand. If you try to do this you will be turned away by Thai immigration when attempting to leave Thailand.
As for your question about overstaying… If it’s a few days because of the holidays, most likely Immigration will understand. You’ll have to pay the fee of 500B/day, but I doubt they’ll do more than that. It’s still better to leave before the due date, but most often they don’t make a fuss about it.
Note that the consulates abroad are also affected by Thai holidays, not to mention local ones!