A long boat on Railay Beach in Krabi, Thailand.
plan your trip

Arriving in Thailand

Airra Beatrice

Contributing writer

Thailand is known for its warm hospitality, making visitors feel like they have arrived in a home filled with welcoming people. However, when planning a trip to Thailand, it's natural to have questions regarding visa requirements, transportation options, and communication needs such as WiFi and SIM cards.

To help you plan your first visit to Thailand, we have compiled some useful information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Visa requirements

For most nationalities, entering Thailand under the Visa Exemption Program allows a stay of up to 30 days upon arrival. Some nationalities may have shorter durations, so it's important to check the country exemption list to determine the length of stay without a visa.

Tourists under the visa exemption can extend their stay for an additional 30 days by visiting a local Thai Immigration Office. The approximate cost for the extension is 2000 baht.

It's important to differentiate between Visa Exemption and "Visa on Arrival." Visa on Arrival is a 15-day visa available for travellers from certain countries, including India and China. If your country is not on the Visa Exemption list, it's advisable to check the Visa on Arrival list for your eligibility.

You also have the option to apply for a Tourist Visa from a Thai embassy or consulate. This includes the normal 60-day tourist visa, which can be extended for an additional 30 days, or the 90-day Special Tourist Visa (STV) which can be extended twice for 90 days each at a local immigration office.

The STV has specific requirements but allows visitors to potentially stay in Thailand for up to 9 months.

Entering Thailand

You are required to have a valid passport with at least six months of validity, a valid Thai visa (unless exempted), and proof of onward travel. Requirements may vary depending on where you are coming from.

For international arrivals, travellers are not required to provide proof of flights before leaving their home country when entering Thailand.

Regarding the requirement of a return flight when entering Thailand, while technically all visitors should have a return flight booked, in practice, you may not always be asked to provide evidence of a return flight.

If you are entering Thailand with a pre-approved visa or Visa on Arrival, there is a higher chance of being asked to present details of your exit flight. In some cases, visitors without a return flight have had to book a flight on the spot before being processed through Passport Control.

To avoid such situations, it is recommended to book an exit flight that can be changed later if necessary. Once in Thailand, you can adjust your plans accordingly.

In terms of domestic flights within Thailand, there are no longer any restrictions or requirements. Travellers arriving at an international terminal can transit to a domestic flight without any restrictions on "sealed" flights.

Customs and duty-free

Thailand's customs regulations allow visitors to enter the country with personal effects valued at 80,000 Baht or less without paying import fees. To qualify for this exemption, the items should be for personal or professional use, the quantity should be reasonable, and the items should not be restricted or prohibited.

There are specific restrictions on the importation of alcohol and tobacco products. Duty-free regulations allow the following amounts to be transported into Thailand:

  • 250 grams of cigars or smoking tobacco, or 200 cigarettes

  • 1 litre of wine or liquor

The Thailand Customs Department is vigilant in preventing the illegal transport of illicit drugs, and customs officials may occasionally request to search passengers' bags. Passengers who have nothing to declare can proceed through the Green Channel, unless instructed otherwise by a customs agent. Those with goods to declare should use the Red Channel and submit a customs form to the Thailand Customs Department agent.

It's important to note that plants, animals, and products made from them may be subject to restrictions and quarantine regulations.

WIFI and SIM cards in Thailand

All major airports in Thailand provide free WiFi; however, it is advisable to use a secure VPN when accessing public WiFi networks to protect your privacy and ensure the security of your personal information.

You can also buy Thai SIM cards upon arrival at Bangkok Airport however, it’s slightly more expensive than in the official retail stores. These SIM cards usually offer 10 GB of data for around 170 baht, or $5.

Note that a Thai SIM card will only work on an unlocked phone. Before travelling to Thailand, ensure that your phone is unlocked or contact your home country provider for assistance.

Also, be careful of scams offering free SIM cards in Thailand. While they may be distributed at Bangkok Airport or by Thai Airways, these free SIM cards often have limited or no credit. Upon inserting them into your phone, you will be forced to top up the credit.

To avoid any issues, it is recommended to purchase a prepaid SIM card from reputable sources or official kiosks. You can also get an eSIM if you have a compatible phone.

Getting to your hotel in Bangkok

Upon arriving in Bangkok, head to level 1 of the airport, where you'll find taxi stands. It is recommended to choose metered taxis for transparency in fare calculation. While there may be a queue, the waiting time is usually short.

Ensure the taxi driver starts the meter and ask for a receipt at the end of the ride. Some taxi drivers may ask for payment for tolls if they take specific routes, so be prepared. I

f you're travelling with a larger group or prefer alternative options, consider mini buses or trains, which can provide suitable transportation depending on your needs.

Accessible travel

You can order vehicles equipped with ramps or hydraulic platforms specifically designed to accommodate wheelchair users, whether they use manual or electric wheelchairs. These vehicles ensure that you can easily get around and have the freedom to explore different parts of the country.

There are also rental services for various aids and equipment, such as mobility scooters, hoists, and wheelchairs. These resources are readily available to help you move around with ease and make the most of your time in Thailand.

Share this article

Airra Beatrice

Author - Airra Beatrice

Airra is a Filipino Gen Z, travel content writer driven by wanderlust. She started writing about her journeys for extra income, but stumbled upon an undiscovered passion for writing along the way.

She has travelled all over her cherished homeland, the Philippines, and was intrigued by Thailand, where she totally fell head over heels for mango sticky rice! She inspires others to explore the world's wonders and embrace the beauty of life's journey.

Last Updated 24 September 2023

Long boats on the beach at Maya Bay in Thailand


Thailand is a land of flavours, cultures, and landscapes. However, there's more to Thailand than just postcard-perfect sights