Alternative Visa Runs from Phuket
The visa run is a part of life for many ex-pat residents and long-term tourists. A tedious chore that we have to do monthly or three-monthly.
Some thought the visa-regulation changes of October 2006 would be the death-knoll for the regular visa-runner but that does not seem to be the case. It is just a new variation on the old routine. The monthly visa-runners now have to throw in a trip to a Thai consulate every six months to obtain a 60-day tourist visa. Then the old routine resumes.
I am on a non-immigrant visa. This means I only have to do my visa run every 3 months. Like many, I have come to accept the visa run as a necessary evil. A price to pay for my otherwise enjoyable stay in a beautiful country.
In fact, if I made an effort, I could sort out the paperwork and get an extension of stay to my visa so I no longer need to do visa runs. The reason I don't do this is partly laziness and inertia. However, it is also that I have come to enjoy my 3-monthly trip.
It is an excuse to get off my arse and go see places. Rather than just repeat the mind numbing 12-hour round-trip to Ranong, I try to find alternative ways to get my next passport stamp.
When I first decided to write this article, I thought it would be a single page with a quick overview of each trip. When I started writing I quickly realised that if I wanted to give any detailed information it was going to be a big, cumbersome page so I have broken it down to one page for each trip.
These are the options I have tried so far:
Of course, these other options are more expensive and take more time. But if you enjoy traveling and seeing a bit more of Thailand and the neighbouring countries, then it is worth the effort to try an alternative to the standard Ranong run.
Like many in Phuket, I have enough money for a comfortable life here but not enough to waste. I did all these trips on a controlled budget. That is enough to enjoy the trip and stay in comfortable accommodation but not to put a big dent in my bank balance.
I did some of these trips on my own and some with my family. For some I took the bus and others I drove.
For The Future
I have pretty much run out of local borders to cross. There are still a couple of border crossings in Narathiwat that I haven't tried but with the current troubles down there, I won't be rushing.
I still have Kuala Lumpur on my to-do list. As I mention in my Singapore write up, I am not a big fan of city breaks. Just the same, I expect I will get to KL some time soon.
Of course, there are still plenty of options further afield. Bali, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines. Lots of places I would like to see but these trips would go beyond my normal visa-run budget.
More likely, I will look for new stop-off points on the routes I have already done. There are so many attractions in our corner of Thailand. There are enough beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, national parks, etc between Phuket and the Malaysian & Myanmar borders that I think I will find places to visit for a while yet.