Visas

You can find full details of Thailand’s visa requirements atThailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, most visitors do not need to trawl through all this information. All you really need to know is that if you have a passport from one of these countries then you are exempt from visa requirements and will receive a 30-day entry stamp on arrival. You can extend the 30-day entry stamp by a further 7 days at an immigration office in Thailand for a fee of 1900 baht.

If you want to stay longer than 37 days, you have two options:

You can get a 60-day tourist visa before entering Thailand. You can obtain these from a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country. When you arrive in Thailand, enter the visa number on your arrival card and the immigration officer will give you a 60-day entry stamp on arrival. You can extend this by another 30 days at an immigration office in Thailand for a fee of 1900 baht allowing a 90-day visit without leaving the country. It is possible to get multiple tourist visas. These entitle you to two or three 60-day visits. However, between each 60-day visit (and optional 30-day extension) you must leave Thailand and then re-enter the country.

The second option is to do what is known as a visa run. This involves border hopping from Thailand to a neighbouring country and then returning to Thailand to receive another entry stamp. You will receive another 30-days if you return by air and another 15-days if you return at a land border. The term visa run is a little misleading as what you are getting is not actually a visa – it is a visa waiver.

In Phuket, the normal visa run is to Myanmar (Burma). There are several companies that organise visa runs. They run either buses or minibuses to Ranong. There you get your passport exit stamped from Thailand. You then take a boat to Myanmar, stamp your passport in and out of Myanmar before returning to Ranong to get a new entry stamp into Thailand. The whole trip takes around 12 hours and costs around 1,500 baht. A more pleasant alternative is to fly to a neighbouring country and turn the visa run into a trip. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are popular choices. You can get two or three day tour packages to these cities for very reasonable prices and then return to Phuket and receive a new 30-day entry stamp.

You should always check the date on your entry stamp when you enter the country. Do not stay beyond the permitted to stay date. The fine for overstay is 500-baht per day. If you pay the fine when you are leaving the country then you will receive an overstay stamp in your passport but normally no other repercussions. However, if during your stay in Thailand the police have cause to check your passport and find you have overstayed, they will treat you as an illegal immigrant. You may spend a night or two in a cell before being deported to your home country and blacklisted from Thailand.

There are longer-term visas available to people who want to live in Phuket based on retirement, family or work qualifications. See our Living in Phuket section for more details.

Immigration Offices

There are two main immigration offices in Phuket where you can extend your visa and make general visa enquiries.

Phuket Town Office,
482 Phuket Road,
Phuket Town, 83000
Phone: (66) 076.221.905

(On Phuket Road near the entrance to Saphin Hin).

Patong Beach Branch,
Beach Road,
Phone: (66) 076.340 477

Only open Monday & Friday

(On the beach road halfway between Bangla Road and Sawadirak Road)

 

There are also small immigration departments at the boat ports to deal with people arriving by sea.

Tourist Office

The TAT tourist office is in Phuket Town on Thalang Road next to Queen Sirikit Park near the junction with Montree Road. It is a new bright orange building. You can find tour brochures, pamphlets, maps and general information about things to do in Phuket.

Money and Banks

The exchange rates available in Thailand are generally better than those in western countries. The ATMs give good exchange rates but that does depend on what fee your bank charges for this service. There are lots of banks and exchange booths in the tourist towns and in Phuket Town where you can change cash, traveler’s cheques or use a credit/debit card. The exchange booths and banks usually give competitive rates. The worst rates are from airports and hotels. Thailand bank opening hours are Monday-Friday 8.30am-3.30pm. There are exchange booths in Patong open to midnight and beyond.

Telephones

The international dialing code from Thailand is 001 followed by the relevant country code. The country code for Thailand is +66 and the area code for Phuket is 076.

International calls are reasonably cheap. Many internet and tour shops offer telephone services which are cheaper than hotel rates. The post office in Patong and the CAT (Communications Authority of Thailand) in Phuket Town also have cheap international call rates. Using your hotel telephone is more expensive.

Mobile phone coverage in Phuket is good. You can use a mobile telephone from your home country if you have international roaming options. Another alternative is to buy a mobile phone in Thailand with a prepaid sim-card. You can buy a reasonable mobile phone with pre-paid sim-card from as little as 1,500 baht.

Internet

Internet shops are everywhere. Broadband connections are now standard and the reliability is generally good. If you are near the beach, you can expect to pay two baht a minute. Further from the beach, prices drop to one baht a minute and if you get out of the tourist resorts then you can find internet shops charging 20 baht an hour.

Post

Postal services seem less important in these days of e-mail and text messaging. Post to/from the west takes 7-14 days either way. It is generally reliable but anything at all valuable should definitely be sent registered mail.

Phuket Town Main Post Office is on Montri Road just north of the junction with Phang Nga Road.

Patong Post Office is on Rat U Thit Road near the entrance to Patong Grand Condotel.

There are several other small Post Offices around the island.

Taxes

Value Added Tax is 7%. This amount is already included in prices displayed in shops. Small restaurants, shops and stalls will not charge it anyway as they will not be registered. Larger restaurants and hotels may add 7% to your bill and some will also add a 10% service charge.

Electricity

220 volts, 50 Hz. Electricity sockets generally accept both two pin round and two pin flat plugs. Adapters for other plugs are easy to find in local shops.

Health

Phuket has a wide range of good quality healthcare facilities. Health tourism is one of the attractions of the island. For a much lower price than most western countries, you can avoid waiting lists and receive private treatment in Phuket. There are two major private hospitals on the island.

Bangkok Hospital Phuket
2/1 Hongyok Utis Rd,
Phuket Town.
Tel: +66 (0)76 254 425
www.phukethospital.com
Phuket International Hospital
44 Chalermprakiat Ror 9 Rd
Next to Big C on the bypass road.
Tel: +66 (0)76 249 400
www.phuket-inter-hospital.co.th

 

There are also several government hospitals and lots of private clinics. The private clinics will have a qualified doctor and many open long hours.

There are plenty of well-stocked chemists. A lot of them will sell medicines without a prescription so if you go straight to a chemist make sure you know what you want. Some will sell drugs such as sleeping tablets, viagra and steroids on request. The small private chemists are more likely to sell such drugs without prescription – it is just a matter of asking around.

Even if you are not visiting Phuket specifically for healthcare, you may want to take advantage of the excellent deals available from dentists and opticians where you can make huge savings compared to what you would pay at home.

Vaccinations

You do not need to take any vaccinations before visiting Phuket. If you are visiting other parts of Thailand then it may be worth consulting your doctor. Phuket does not have Malaria but there is Dengue Fever which is also transmitted by mosquito bites. Dengue causes a very unpleasant fever and headache that will knock you off your feet for a week. It occassionally develops into a haemorregic fever in which case you will need to be hospitalised immediately. There is no vaccination for Dengue. Cases of Dengue are rare in Phuket but it is worth wearing insect repellent to be safe. The mosquito that transmits Dengue is a daytime biter.

Airport Tax

Until recently you had to pay airport tax on departure from the country and you needed 500 baht at the airport. The airport tax has now been increased to 700 baht but it is now included in the price of your ticket.