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Old 5th January 2020, 08:52   #121
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
1: There is a separate E-VOA line but I did not see it as I do not need a Thai Visa
As for convenience, THB 500 means, you walk through. THB 200 means you spend time looking for an ATM to dispense Baht, lose / pay ATM transaction fee, find a photo booth, and perhaps the host of a whole convention of 50 folks on a dealer incentive visit has opted for the priority lane.

2: THB
When I reached the Visa counters at Phuket, the officials made everyone join the same queue. I told the official that I already have an E-Visa. He still asked us to stand in the same queue. Sad part was that people with Indian passport were made to join one line. People from other nationalities were asked to proceed to counters with hardly any crowd.
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Old 5th January 2020, 09:59   #122
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

I planned a holiday to Thailand from 16-21 Dec. The visit included me, my wife and two teenagers.
Thought process was to come back recharged and refreshed after the holidays and not drained and tired due to visiting as many places as possible. I have tried it many times within India and come to realise that this mode of holidaying can be extremely tiring.
Five days appeared insufficient for more than one location.
Did some research and the choice narrowed down between Patong Beach and Phi Phi Islands.
Spoke to few people and also read travelogues of fellow BHPians to finalise the destination.

One over-riding factor was that we are pure vegetarians. People I spoke to, told me that they don’t remember seeing any vegetarian food anywhere.��
Points considered while deciding between these two places:-
PATONG BEACH-
FOR-
1. Easier access from the airport.
2. Closer to hustle bustle.
3. Option of visiting many locales near and around Phuket.
4. Chances of things not working out are slim due to sheer number of options.

AGAINST-
The points that appeared to be FOR also became kind of against -
1. Didn’t want hustle bustle. Idea was to just chill.
2. Visiting a lot of places was shot down due to the idea of just relaxing.

PHI PHI ISLANDS-
FOR-
1. It is idyllic paradise. People go there for few hours from nearby mainland and leave yearning for more. Why not stay right there and soak it in completely?
AGAINST-
1. Access is difficult. After landing at Phuket you need to take a Ferry Boat to reach the island. Few parts of the island are not connected by land route to the Ferry Terminal. You have to take a Long Tail Boat to reach the area where you are staying. If the flight timings and Ferry timings don’t match then there may be a requirement to stay at mainland before taking the ferry.
2. If things don’t turn out as expected then no other option but to remain stuck.

The idea of being completely cut off kind of excited me. Since chilling was the idea, we decided that Phi Phi it is.

I will elaborate about planning for Air Travel, Stay and VISA in the next post.

Last edited by Highflyer : 5th January 2020 at 10:13.
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Old 7th January 2020, 11:51   #123
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
I will elaborate about planning for Air Travel, Stay and VISA in the next post.
Thanks, will look forward to your post specially the VISA part as i have the trip planned in first week of Feb'2020 and in and out from Phuket airport.
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Old 9th January 2020, 12:29   #124
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

Visa Procedure

Thailand permits Visa on arrival for Indian Passport holders. I contemplated the same. However, on digging a little deeper on the subject, I came to know that few people had to face a lot of hassle and at times wait period was 2-3 hrs at the airport. I came to know that there is provision of e-Visa which can be obtained at a nominal fees of 600 THB through VFS Global. I decided to go for it. Didn’t want to wait at the airport with the entire family.

VFS global is a licensed vendor mentioned on Thai Embassy portal. VFS Global website says that they have a representative at the airport to provide any assistance of required. The process of uploading documents is fairly simple. A point to note is that the documents need to be less than a certain size. Reducing size of Pdf documents is a little tricky. I used an online portal to do the same and uploaded all the documents. The last step is payment of the fees.
The documents required are
1. Passport front
2. Passport personal info page
3. Passport Photographs
4. Onward and Return Flight tickets
5. Hotel Booking confirmation
6. Ferry Booking if stay is at Phi Phi

While submitting these documents you have to also fill all the relevant details on the VFS portal and last step is to pay the fees.
I received all the Visa within 48 hrs.

Did it work? Yes and No.

I took an IndiGo flight from Bangaluru to Phuket and landed at 2000 hrs local time. On arrival you are required to fill a form which is provided either on-board the aircraft or after disembarkation. It took about 15 min to fill these for four of us. Thereafter we reached the counters where they stamp these forms. There was total chaos at the counters. The officials near the counters herded all the Indians to a single counter. Other nationals were asked to approach other counters with hardly any crowd. Indian passport holders with e-Visa and visa on arrival all had to queue up on a single counter. There is a VFS global booth nearby but it was not manned at that time.
I submitted my documents and started wondering if 600THB have gone in vain. After stamping the forms, the passports are kept in basket outside the counters for people to sort out and take their own. I got mine back after about 15 min of submitting it.
So feelings aside, I think e-Visa worked fine and 15min wait can be termed a reasonable time for the same. So I would say it worked because it got over in 15 min and didn’t work because VFS counter was not manned and general chaos on the counter. If I go to Thailand again I would take an e-Visa.

After getting the passports, the counters for biometrics are a little better organised and the process got over for all of us within 15-20 min.

I am posting about visa since BHPian @CarMind has mentioned that he needs the info for his upcoming visit. I will update about other aspects soon.

Last edited by Highflyer : 9th January 2020 at 12:31.
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Old 9th January 2020, 12:58   #125
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
Did it work? Yes and No.

I took an IndiGo flight from Bangaluru to Phuket and landed at 2000 hrs local time.
So feelings aside, I think e-Visa worked fine and 15min wait can be termed a reasonable time for the same. So I would say it worked because it got over in 15 min and didnít work because VFS counter was not manned and general chaos on the counter. If I go to Thailand again I would take an e-Visa.

After getting the passports, the counters for bio-metrics are a little better organised and the process got over for all of us within 15-20 min.
This issue with E-visa not considered fully is limited to Phuket airport I guess.

I too faced this when I landed at Phuket on way from Cambodia. When you walk to the counter, somewhere in the middle of the VOA counters, you can find the E-Visa window. However, there was no one there and when I enquired with the lady who was directing people arriving there, she shouted to someone inside the widows to collect my form.

One major difference I found here, as mentioned by you above is that even if you have E-Visa, they still ask for your passport here and stamp a separate Visa seal in there. Due to this, you need to give the passport to the VOA counter, which defeats the purpose of having an EVisa to an extent.

However, Phuket airport is not that crowded compared to Bangkok, so this is a saving grace.


Few months after the Phuket trip, I had visited Bangkok. The early morning flight which reach Suvarnabhoomi airport meant there was very less crowd.

Here, they did not ask for passport of E-Visa to be shown at VOA counter, instead was asked to walk straight to immigration counter as it should be. Also, they had a separate counter immigration counter for E-Visa too, I was out in couple of minutes.


I have mentioned my experiences here (Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.)and also few posts above that.


With a VoA, in any normal circumstance this should be the steps you should follow -

Disembark from flight > Head to VOA counter > Hand over forms filled & passport > Wait for them to stamp visa and hand back passport > Head to immigration counter > Get visa stamped > Head to baggage belt.

With E-Visa, you should be able to skip the steps in bold , however that is possible only in Bangkok airport. Hence apart from the convenience of having payment and forms done before itself, E-visa does not help much in Phuket. However, I would still recommend it since its less of a hassle and slightly faster.
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Old 9th January 2020, 13:41   #126
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
People I spoke to, told me that they don’t remember seeing any vegetarian food anywhere.��
Just to reassure you - there are plethora of vegetarian options across the country as well as the islands. Even interior areas in Chang Mai and Chang Rai have decent # of vegetarian options; at the most, a good number of restaurants would have a few veg meal options. If the menu doesn't specify it, a simple meal (like Pad Thai) with "no meat" should do the deal in most places.

Of course the # of (strictly) non-veg restaurants would be quite a lot, but then that's the local setup.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Highflyer View Post
However, on digging a little deeper on the subject, I came to know that few people had to face a lot of hassle and at times wait period was 2-3 hrs at the airport. I came to know that there is provision of e-Visa which can be obtained at a nominal fees of 600 THB through VFS Global. I decided to go for it. Didn’t want to wait at the airport with the entire family.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarMind View Post
Thanks, will look forward to your post specially the VISA part as i have the trip planned in first week of Feb'2020 and in and out from Phuket airport.

As @mpksuhas also rightly commented, the immigration timelines at the airport depends a lot on the airport, and especially the time of arrival. I have entered/exited the country via both Bangkok airports, Phuket and even via the road borders from Laos - have seen times where I have had to wait over an hour to less than 15 minutes for the entire process to get over.

To estimate that, check the flights landing around your landing time; especially from India and China - these generally are the cause of large population at the airports. Also, Suvarnabhoomi airport used to have an express option for an additional fee (~150 Baht per person) sometime back as an alternate option to bypass the crowds.

The key benefit of the e-Visa is the visa is valid for a longer period (30 or 60 days); the default visa at the airport is applicable only for 14 days.

Have fun! It's a good time to be, any time of the year, any island/city of that country
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Old 31st January 2020, 01:05   #127
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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Have fun! It's a good time to be, any time of the year, any island/city of that country
How i wished this quote still hold good. But alas, in lot of dilemma for our planned trip to Phuket starting 2nd Feb to 8th Feb. The current situation regarding Coronavirus and its spread to Thailand has really hit me bad, specially when i am traveling with a 3 years old kid. Unable to decide wether to take a plunge?
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Old 31st January 2020, 11:06   #128
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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The current situation regarding Coronavirus and its spread to Thailand has really hit me bad, specially when i am traveling with a 3 years old kid. Unable to decide wether to take a plunge?
If I were you, I wouldn't travel. There are remote changes of catching the virus in Thailand; but a lot of the information is still being unearthed as it goes. 129 infections outside China and the number is growing fast; especially now WHO has declared it a global healty emergency. Also the sickness seem to affect more of the old and extremely young folks (basis status from the ground across Wuhan / China) - I'd suggest to not risk it.

Ask the better half - they generally have a more clear-er understanding of what to do in these situations

Edit: This live / regularly updated map has a good visibility of the infections seen across the globe. Hope it helps in the decisioning!

Last edited by ninjatalli : 31st January 2020 at 11:12.
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Old 31st January 2020, 11:22   #129
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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when i am traveling with a 3 years old kid. Unable to decide wether to take a plunge?
Not worth the risk at all. I guess travelling is going to riskier be for all in coming days.
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Old 31st January 2020, 16:25   #130
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Default Re: Thailand 101: Advice, Tips, Planning etc.

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Not worth the risk at all. I guess travelling is going to riskier be for all in coming days.
Agree. At this time I would be hesitant to even visit an airport, unless absolutely necessary.
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