Visa Run Cha-am to Kuala Lumpur
If you intend to stay in Thailand for a considerable amount of time then there is a fair chance that at some stage or another you will be required to complete what is known as a ‘visa run’ in order to obtain the necessary visas or passport stamps that will enable you to continue your stay in Thailand.
Visas to Thailand are nearly always only issued outside of the Kingdom; therefore, a trip to one of Thailand’s neighbouring countries is the easiest option in order to fulfil your individual visa requirements.
There are many different ways to complete a visa run. As Thailand is within fairly close proximity of a number of interesting and beautiful countries, which are well worth visiting in their own right, it can be a good idea to combine your visa run with a holiday or small break, spread over a couple of days, taking in the sights and sounds of destinations such as Laos, Singapore or Cambodia.
This page will look at completing a visa run between Cha Am and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and should help to give you an idea of the costs involved, as well as any other important details along the way that we think might be worth mentioning.
What is a Visa Run?
A visa run is a journey to a neighbouring country, such as the ones mentioned above, where a foreigner or ‘farang’ who wishes to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time, needs to apply and obtain a new visa that will enable them to legally continue their stay in the country.
Typically, a visa run will be required for anyone who does not meet the necessary criteria or requirements in order to be able to obtain a long term visa for Thailand, such as a retirement visa.
For foreigners who do not qualify for a long term visa, it is possible to stay in Thailand almost indefinitely, providing that you are willing to travel abroad every couple of months or so in order to apply and obtain a new visa. It is quite common many people opt to apply for consecutive tourist visas, usually every 30 or 60 days.
Due to Thailand’s complicated visa rules and regulations, a foreigner is required to apply for their visa outside of the kingdom, upon the visa expiration.
It should also be noted that the laws and rules regarding foreign visas for Thailand regularly change, often without too much notice, so it is really important that you check with the authorities in Thailand for the very latest information before you plan your journey.
Additionally, the Thai Visa forum is home to wide range of up to date information of all things to do with visas, from recommended destinations to firsthand accounts from people who have recently completed a visa run and is dedicated Visa, Residency and Work Permit section is an invaluable source of information.
Same, Same but Different
For some people, particularly those that are new to Thailand or who have not been staying in the country for all that long, a visa run can actually be quite exciting and can give people a good opportunity to visit other great destinations in South East Asia.
However, for the vast majority of long term foreign visitors to the kingdom, a visa run is nothing more than a bureaucratic and inconvenient process, which many feel just gets in the way of being able to stay in Thailand for the long term.
Another major gripe that many people have with regards to the whole visa application process is that what can prove to be successful for one person might not be for another, even though their personal circumstances might appear to be similar.
It is fair to say that Thai embassies throughout South East Asia and around the world are rarely consistent when it comes to applying rules for visa applications. Their reputation for being nothing short of fickle means that in order to have the best possible chance of being successful with your visa application it is crucial that you do plenty of research beforehand.
Having said that, for those people that have only had one or two tourist visas previously, the likelihood is that you will have little problem in obtaining a new visa, although don’t take this as verbatim. Like we say above, rules and regulations change constantly in Thailand, especially when it comes to visas!
If it is that you do not meet the requirements for any long term visas for Thailand then you will probably need to apply for either a single or multi entry tourist visa. A single entry visa will grant you permission to say in Thailand for up to 60 days. This can then be extended by a further 30 days at the nearest immigration office to Cha Am, which is located in Hua Hin.
As of September 2011 the fee for extending a single entry tourist visa is 1900 Baht, but it is always advisable to check with immigration for the very latest information.
For multiple entry visas, you will need to leave Thailand when the first visa expires and then re-enter in order to re-activate the visa for a further 60 days. Once you re-activate you can then extend the visa at Hua Hin immigration for another, which will enable you to stay in Thailand for 180 days.
Planning Your Visa Run
Whilst at first the whole process of a visa run might seem to be a complicated, the reality is that it is fairly straightforward, providing that you do plenty of research and planning beforehand.
However, it is not uncommon for some of Thailand’s long term foreign residents to experience problems or complications when applying for a new visa, which is often largely down to a failure to prepare, plan and thoroughly check all visa information before they embark on their journey.
Here are some useful points that you should consider before you start your visa run:
- Do plenty of research online
- Choose a destination where you think a successful application will be likely
- Make sure you know what type of visa you require and for what dates
- Download the most up to date and relevant visa application forms
- Make sure you have enough passport photo’s
- Obtain any other required documents; you might need to provide a photocopy of your passport or bank statements.
- Organise transportation to your destination of choice
When it comes to organising transportation, you will need to consider if you want to arrange the trip independently or as part of an organised group. There are many agents who can organise trips specifically for visa runs and this can help to minimise the cost.
A trip of this kind will normally spend just enough time for everyone to be issued with a visa before returning back to Thailand, usually one or two nights, normally no more.
You should also consider how long you plan to stay at that particular destination for. Will you just stay long enough to obtain your visa and then return home? Do you plan to stay a little longer and use your visa run as an opportunity to have a small holiday or break in another country? Both of these options will have different implications on your budget.
Travelling to Malaysia from Thailand
Travelling to Malaysia from Thailand is relatively straightforward, partly due to the close proximity of the two countries. For those that don’t know, Malaysia shares a border with Thailand in the south of the country.
It is possible to enter Malaysia from Thailand by either land or air. Unless you happen to live close to the border, by far the easiest and most common way is to fly direct from Bangkok to either Kuala Lumpur or Penang; however, this is the most expensive.
Travelling to Malaysia by land is another option but be warned, the journey from Bangkok to Thailand’s last major city in the south, Hat Yai, can take up to 18 hours, using a combination of bus and train. Hat Yai acts as the last stop before you can travel across the border, usually by bus or shared taxi.
Whilst travelling by land is undoubtedly cheaper, spending close to twenty hours on a bus from Bangkok is not for everyone. Therefore, we would definitely recommend flying from Bangkok direct to Kuala Lumpur. This is the route we took and with the flight taking roughly two hours, it is definitely much easier than travelling by bus!
It should also be noted that as of September 2011, there is growing unrest in some of the Thai provinces that are located close to the border with Malaysia. Terrorist attacks are increasing and this has led to some countries to strongly advise against all travel to this part of Thailand. Please bear this in mind and check accordingly before planning to enter Malaysia by land.
From Survarnabhumi airport there are normally between 13 and 17 direct flights per day. As mentioned, the flight takes around 2 hours, with ticket prices varying between 3000 and 6000 Baht.
However, if you book well in advance and where possible look to take advantage of any promotional offers that low cost airlines such as Air Asia have regularly, it can be possible to book a return flight for as little as 3000 Baht.
In fact, for any flights in or around South East Asia, it can be always worthwhile checking on the Air Asia website for any special offers or promotions as you could make considerable savings.
Air Asia operates 7 flights per day between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, which is more than any other airline. Other airlines that operate flights between the two cities include Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa and Egypt Air.
Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur Flight Schedule
|14:15||17:25||Malaysia||Daily (excl Sunday)|
|15:15||18:15||Lufthansa||Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sat|
|15:30||18:40||Egypt Air||Daily (excl Thurs)|
|16:15||19:25||Royal Jordanian||Mon, Wed, Fri|
|19:10||22:20||Thai Airways||Daily (excl Wed & Sun)|
Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok Flight Schedule
|08:05||09:15||Thai Airways||Daily (excl Mon & Thurs)|
|12:20||13:25||Malaysia Air||Daily (excl Sun)|
|21:35||22:40||Lufthansa||Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sat|
|22:10||23:25||Royal Jordanian||Mon, Wed, Fri|
|22:40||00:01||Egypt Air||Daily (excl Thurs)|
Please note that all flight information is correct as of 1st October 2011. For the most up to date flight schedule information, visit the airlines website.
Cha Am to Survarnabhumi Airport
Once the flights are booked, the next step is to think about how you are going to get from Cha Am to the airport. The easiest way is to hire a private taxi to take you straight there. However, this is also the most expensive, as you can expect to pay somewhere between 2300 and 3500 Baht.
The cheapest way to travel to the airport from Cha Am is to take a minibus to Bangkok (normally Victory Monument) then from there, take the BTS and the airport rail link.
Minibuses from Cha Am run frequently and you can catch them from either Narathip Road or on Phetchkasem Road just after the main junction, outside Top Charoen Optical. A minibus ticket from Cha Am to Bangkok costs 160 Baht, with tickets for the BTS and airport rail link costing no more than approximately 150 Baht.
All in all, the journey from Cha Am to the airport can take between two and four hours and is very straightforward, even though a few changes are required on the BTS, the network is generally very easy to negotiate and much cheaper than taking a private taxi. Well recommended!
Before entering Malaysia, your exit from Thailand will be confirmed at Survarnabhuni Airport where your passport will be stamped to confirm the date that you left the kingdom.
When you enter Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, your passport is stamped by the Malaysian immigration authorities where you will be granted a 30 day tourist visa, which is more than enough time for you to be able to renew your visa for Thailand!
Upon leaving the airport you will then need to make your way to your hotel or wherever it is you have booked accommodation. Travelling from the airport and around Kuala Lumpur couldn’t be easier as there plenty of taxis, buses and coaches available, as well as extensive rail and LRT networks.
At the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur
The Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is open from 9:30am to 11:30am for visa applications and from 2:30pm to 4pm for visa collections, Monday to Friday. Once you apply for your visa, all being well you can normally collect it the next day, although occasionally it can take a little longer.
When applying for a visa it is advisable to arrive at the embassy for 9:30am if not a little before as it can get busy with other applicants. The embassy can be located at 206 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur so it is a good idea to work out where this is in relation your hotel and make sure you leave within plenty of time in order to get there for 9:30am.
Upon arrival at you’ll be met by a security guard who will write down the details of your passport and give you a visa application form, if you have not already downloaded one and completed it beforehand. The guard will also give you a numbered ticket and tell you to enter the main building in order to join queue for one of the two counters that process the applications.
The amount of time you will queue here will normally depend on how busy the embassy is. When we applied for our visa, it took just over 1 hour before we were seen and with the air con in the seemingly not working, it felt like we were waiting for much longer than 1 hour!
Anyway, once you get to the front of the queue and reach the counter you will then need to hand over your passport, application form, photographs and any other documentation that you might be required to submit.
The officials at the embassy will then thoroughly check and scrutinise your passport, application form and any other corresponding documentation. It is important to remember that even when you have completed the form and submitted all the required documentation, it is still not guaranteed that you will be given the visa you have requested.
If the officials at the embassy are not satisfied with any part of your application for a visa it is not uncommon for your application to be rejected and a visa denied. They may also question you as to why you want to stay in Thailand for an extended period.
On other occasions, an unsatisfactory application could result in you being given a different visa from the one you had originally requested. For example, you could be given a single entry tourist visa, when you actually wanted a double entry visa.
Therefore, make sure you application is 100% correct and contains all the documentation as requested by the embassy, as the last thing you want is to be refused a visa just because some documentation was missing.
The cost of your visa will depend on what type of visa you apply for. However, at the time of writing (October 2011) prices for Non Immigration, Tourist and Retirement visas were as follows:
Non-Im Single -RM220 (approx 2150 Baht) Multi – RM550 (approx 5370 Baht)
Tourist RM110 per entry (approx 1000 Baht)
Retirement RM220 (approx 2150 Baht, valid for 90 days, extension applied in Thailand)
You should be aware that these prices are subject to change, often without too much notice. For the most up to date information, always visit the website of the respective embassy that you are visiting.
Collecting Your Visa
Once you have submitted your application, it can take up to 72 hours to process; however, the visa can often be ready the following day.
At the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, visa collections are available from 2:30pm to 4pm.
You could get lucky and there might only be a handful of people collecting their visa, in which case you could be in and out in no time at all. However, there is also a good chance that the embassy might be really busy, especially at around 2:30pm when it opens its doors for visa collections.
Many people often arrive to collect their visa at exactly 2:30pm in order to get a good place in the queue for collection.
However, whilst arriving early can be beneficial, don’t be surprised if the embassy is really busy and there is a melee of foreigners waiting to collect their visas at around 2:30pm.
If you can wait an extra 30 minutes to an hour, it might help you to avoid the crowds and what sometimes can seem like a stampede to get a decent spot in the queue! That said, leaving it too late could result in you not being seen before the embassy closes for visa collections at 4pm.
When it comes to actually collecting your visa from the embassy staff, if all your documents are correct and you have been successful in your visa application, then it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes before you can collect your visa and be on your way, safe in the knowledge that you can legally stay in Thailand for an extended period.
For more information on the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, make sure that you visit their website: http://www.mfa.go.th/web/1321.php?depid=220
Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the modern, vibrant and exciting capital of Malaysia and if it is that you decide to combine you visa run with a short break in the city then you will have more than enough to keep you occupied during your stay.
Whilst Kuala Lumpur is not as old as some of the other capital cities in South East Asia, it still boasts a large number of interesting historical sites, such as temples, mosques and buildings which date back to when Malaysia was under British colonial rule.
As well as Kuala Lumpur’s traditional architecture, the city’s more modern buildings and structures are also a major attraction; none more so than the famous Petronas Twin Towers, which are officially the tallest twin towers in the world and a perfect example of some of the cutting edge buildings and architecture that can be found in the city.
Apart from Kuala Lumpur’s wonderful architecture, what will be very noticeable is the fascinating and intriguing mix of different ethnicities that can be found there. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Westerners and other indigenous groups from around Malaysia help to make Kuala Lumpur such an incredible and cosmopolitan city.
Food plays an important role in the city’s culture and because of this there is an excellent restaurant and dining scene in Kuala Lumpur. From traditional street food (very cheap!) to fine dining experiences, Kuala Lumpur’s multiculturalism is certainly reflected in the wide variety of great cuisine that can be found all over the city. Chinatown and Little India are certainly well worth checking out for you food lovers out there.
Despite Malaysia being a predominantly Muslim country, alcohol is widely available and Kuala Lumpur is home to a varied and vibrant night time scene. Throughout the city you will find a number of choice urban nightspots, including trendy night clubs, bars and regular street pubs.
Arguably Kuala Lumpur’s best nightlife can be found in Bukit Bintang, KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) and Chinatown.
Bukit Bintang is often likened to Time Square in New York and Piccadilly Gardens in London, as it is well known for its large number of upmarket dining and nightlife, as well as its trendy shopping and entertainment centres.
KLCC also thrives with activity after dark. During the day it is here where you will find Kuala Lumpur’s financial district but come the night time, the whole area really lets its hair down!
Look out for a plethora of pubs, bars and clubs, especially around Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan P Ramlee and Jalan Ampang.
Chinatown is also popular with people looking for an entertaining night out. Here you will find scores of clubs, pubs and bars offering alcohol fuelled entertainment, live music and much merriment!
Another of KL’s major attractions is shopping and if you are looking to partake in a bit of retail therapy then the city has everything from glitzy designer stores and shopping malls to outdoor markets and street vendors.
The largest selection of shopping malls can be found in the city centre. Kuala Lumpur’s most famous market is the Petaling Street Market, where you can purchase just about anything! Many of the markets that can be found in Chinatown are also well worth visiting.
Kuala Lumpur is also home to a number of natural attractions, arguably the most popular of which are the incredible Batu Caves. Said to be nearly 400 million years old, the Batu Caves are made of limestone and are an important religious landmark to many of Kuala Lumpur’s Hindus.
The caves are home to a temple, as well as a number of religious shrines and other artefacts. Visitors can access the Batu Caves by climbing more than 270 steps up to the entrance. The whole site here is pretty spectacular and well worth a visit.
Visa Run Costs
Obviously the cost of a typical visa will depend on where you go and how long you stay etc. However, here is an approximate guide to the costs involved in the Cha Am to Kuala Lumpur visa run. This should help to give you some idea on how much you are likely to spend when it comes to planning your own visa run.
In the table below, we’ve not included optional extras spent on sightseeing, shopping or nights out, but it is fair to say that a visa run of this kind could easily cost you in excess of 10,000 to 12,000 Baht.
|Minibus to Bangkok||
|Skytrain to Airport||
|Flights Bangkok to KL return||
|Hotel Accomodation for 2 nights||
|Bus from airport to hotel||
|Taxi from hotel to embassy||
|Single entry tourist visa||
|Taxi from embassy to hotel||
|Bus from hotel to airport||
|Skytrain and minibus back to Cha Am||