Authored by my friend Antonia – Thank you Antonia <3
First of all, I would not recommend you to get your visa extension in Bangkok unless you really don’t have any other choice. It’s a really time consuming way – at least half a day if you’re an early bird and can become quite a hassle if you choose to take public transport (which I always prefer).
If you’re staying for a longer amount of time in Thailand, you’ll probably pass smaller cities that have immigration offices and where everything is closer, easier and quicker. For example, getting you visa extended in Chiang Mai– first thing in the morning – has only taken me 1 hour or less. Another option could be Phuket : the immigration office in Patong, Phuket is right on the beach and it takes only 30 minutes in low season, provided you get there with all the documents needed. Speaking of documents, see the next section.
So if you are still determined to get you visa extension in Bangkok, then I hope this page will be of some use for you.
What You Need
I let you know how to get all this stuff just below 😉
- TM7 Form
- Download and print here or get a copy at the Immigration Office
- Hostel Address: You’ll need to write the address to your hostel on the back of the form.
- Departure Card Number: You will need to write your departure card ID on the form as well.
- Photocopy of Passport
- Photocopy of Visa Stamp and Departure Card
- Passport Photo (4x6cm) – my blue background worked and I know someone else used a white background successfully. Worst case they will tell you the photo is no good and you’ll have to go across the street to get one (see below)
Be sure to sign all of your photocopies and put your email address and/or phone number on the back of the TM7 form (below your signature).
See more about filling in documents at the Chiang Mai Visa Extension post.
Where is the immigration office and how much time am I going to spend there?
The immigration office is a part of the Thai government complex and is located near Don Mueang International Airport, on the northern part of the supercity, but don’t be mislead : it is not that easy getting there from the airport!
It is also very unlikely that you will go that direction for touristy purposes (the closest attraction would be the chatuchak market which is on weekends when the immigration center is… closed! (according to the official page the office hours are: Mon-Fri 8:30 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 16:30)
Wherever you’re coming from (airport or city centre), going there will probably take you between 1h30 and 2h if you’re taking public transport. And between 30min to 1h by taxi or tuk tuk depending on traffic. If you’re there early (when they open or up to 9:30am) you will spend around 45 min to 1h30 to go through the whole visa extension process. I wouldn’t recommend getting there after 10am, especially in high season and if you still have to make ID photos and photocopies. Mainly because they have a lunch break between 12 and 1pm meaning if you’re not done by then they throw you out and make you wait in the main hall for an hour!
The journey back will most likely be a bit longer because of traffic. As you can see you will spend your whole morning to get the precious stamp and maybe some of your afternoon too! I’d recommend to bring some snacks and a bottle of water. Or go to the lower level of the government building, they have plenty of pricey food stalls and even a 7/11.
How do I get to the immigration office from Don Mueang Airport?
If you want to make it fast and simple, but also more expensive, just take the next taxi, tuk-tuk or Grab car available.
If you’re traveling on a tight budget then the bus will be the best option for you but definitely the most time consuming ! (or you may prefer to walk the 7km in the heat with your backpack, up to you 🙂 )
Looking at what google maps tells us, different bus routes are available, but none will bring you in front of the government building so you will still have some walking to do (or catch one of the shuttle buses as the government website suggests, they run every 10min or so: http://bangkok.immigration.go.th/en/location1.html, don’t know if they’re free though).
At the end of this post you will find a paragraph on how to take the bus in Bangkok.
How do I get to the immigration office from somewhere in Bangkok city?
The only direct bus to the government complex, hence the immigration office is bus number 66 which takes the following route (starts in Bang Bumru, goes over Krung Thon bridge and then heads north)
Google maps will tell you the bus stops on the south east corner of the government complex, but this isn’t true. The bus actually passes the complex from north to south, then turns around and drops you in front of Gate 1 (shown as a green dot on the map below). This is the same spot you can pick up the bus to get back to Bangkok city. You should be able to enter through Gate 1, but I didn’t know that so I walked all the way around the Chaeng Wattana Government Complex (seen on the map below).
The Red Line is the bus route as shown on Google Maps, then walking to Chaeng Wattana Government Complex. The Green Line is the bus route as I experienced it.
Depending on where you stay in Bangkok you may need to get at least one other bus or ferry boat to reach bus 66, google maps will tell you all about it 🙂
You could also get bus 52 or 150 and then catch a shuttle (price unknown to me!) as the official website suggests : http://bangkok.immigration.go.th/en/location1.html
I personally was staying near Democracy Monument and so I took bus 70 to 66 and then 66 to get there. Reversing this order to get back. It took about 1h30 total to get there (around 9am) and almost 2h to get back (around noon).
I got to the building, and now they are asking for my passport to let me in?
As I was waiting in the queue to be let in, the security guards were keeping Thai people’s ID card and handing them a Visitor Card. Just tell them you are here to get a visa extension and they will not keep your passport 🙂
I need ID photos and copies of my passport…
On the first level, where you will also find all the cafes and food stalls, there are several shops which will get you 4 passport photos and the photocopies for 104 baht in less than 15min (when I was there in low season).
I got all my documents and am ready to get the stamp!
You go to the entrance of the immigration service (From Gate 2: on the right side at the beginning. From Gate 1: left side at the very end). The first desk, on your right, hands out the TM7 form that you must complete if you didn’t already do it. The people there are very friendly and will answer your questions in proper English 🙂
Then you go into the next room where you wait in a small queue to get a paper with a letter and a number. The letter corresponds to an office zone in the big room, they have a map displayed so you can find your way and if you’re lucky you will find an empty seat not too far away. I had 34 people ahead of me (it was almost 11 am by the time I got there and it was in July) and I had to wait 50 minutes.
When you get called, they will check your documents and keep all of them – including passport – maybe ask you questions (not in my case) and the 1900THB cash required. You then go back to the waiting room. 5 to 15min later they will call your name and passport country (don’t move too far away or you’ll miss it), you get your passport back, check the new expiry date of your visa and you’re done! (except for the long way back to the city 🙂 )
How to take the bus in Bangkok
You want to get around in a cheap way? You want to try a real local experience? (I took the bus a dozen times during my Bangkok stay and never saw another tourist) Then hop on one of the few hundred buses in Bangkok!
A few things to know before you do that :
– Check where you want to go with Google Maps. Their bus (or metro and trains) routes are pretty reliable from what I experienced. I wasn’t able to find a good map that included all public transport, probably because a map like that would be incomprehensible (too many routes!). You can try to use the official website but you need to know the names of the bus stops, which you don’t necessarily do… or maybe you have a dozen bus stops around you so you would not know which one is the one you need if you use the “choose location on map” tool : https://www.transitbangkok.com/ . Another downside of this website is that it doesn’t show the exact route and only gives one option (sometimes several buses are possible!)
– Be aware that buses in Bangkok don’t really have a time schedule, they are supposed to run every 15min but depending on traffic you may wait for up to 30min or see 3 buses of the same line in 10min. Just be patient and plan some extra time on your journey.
– Different lines have different classes of buses, and sometimes one line has all types of them, you just never know which one will show up next: some have AC (more expensive, 14baht in July 2019) some will have prices according to where you go, generally between 9 and 12. For the most basic bus without AC (easy recognizable as all the windows are open and they are generally red) it will be 8baht for one journey.
– Even if you’re waiting near a sign that clearly says “bus stop”, a bunch of taxis and tuk-tuks are going to try to get a ride from you. Again, just be patient 🙂
– Sometimes bus stations don’t have a clear sign post, or the number you’re waiting for is not on the list. I generally walked a few meters more until I found one, just to be sure that my bus would actually stop there. I saw locals flagging buses down from wherever, but as a farang (foreigner in Thai) I didn’t dare do that, maybe some of you will try?
– You will need to flag the bus down if you want it to pick you up. Unlike taxis, they won’t stop if they don’t have to!
– How to pay for the bus? Very easy : the bus stops, you hop on (be quick, they don’t wait for you to be seated before driving off, and sometimes close the doors on your backpack), a lady or a man will come to you and ask for money. They will have change but don’t come with a 500 or a 1000 baht note.
– I’m not sure if the bus is going where I want or if I’m going the right way, and my phone doesn’t have data or I just ran out of battery: this could become a tricky situation as most of the times neither the bus driver or the ticket person spoke English (though they do know how to tell you the price you need to pay). One time I wasn’t sure if the bus I was on was going the right direction, so I tried to ask by showing them the map of Bangkok on google maps and pointing south and giving names, but they were just helpless (my map being in English and not Thai was not helping either…). Eventually I just gave up and as we were moving I got confirmation based on my GPS signal that I was on the right bus. My advice would be to always download an offline map of the city you’re in (GPS works without data so you can’t get lost) and carry a powerbank with you.