The Thai tourist visa situation changed on 12 November 2015, so all references on the internet to double and triple entry visas are now obsolete. The only tourist visas issued now are 1) a single-entry 60 day visa and 2) a new 6-month, multi-entry visa that allows a stay of up to 60 days at a time, and must be obtained in your country of residence. So when we needed to apply for a Thai tourist visa in Kuala Lumpur, we had no choice but the single-entry one.
Even before the tightening of the rules that followed the military takeover of Thailand in 2014, Kuala Lumpur had a reputation of being a difficult place from which to get a Thai tourist visa. Visa runners and bona fide tourists were urged on forums like thaivisa.com to head for Penang instead. But that didn’t really suit our travel plans so we decided to risk it, even though we didn’t yet have a flight booked out of Thailand.
Part of the decision to risk applying in Kuala Lumpur was that we are probably ‘good’ applicants in their eyes – a retired British couple, born and still resident in the UK, and although we had previous Thai stamps and visa in our passports, (including extensions), our last visit was 6 months ago and we have subsequent stamps from Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and India. In other words, we are clearly not trying to live or work in Thailand.
Getting to the Thai Embassy
The Thai Embassy is about a 10-15 minute walk east from Ampang Park LRT station. If you really don’t want to walk, you can catch rapidKL bus U26, U28, U29 or U30 from the LRT station exit for 1 ringgit – it stops by a VW showroom just before the embassy.
The doors open for applications at 09:30. We arrived at about 09:45 and took a 2-part ticket from the machine to the right, inside the door We were numbers 41 & 42. By the time we’d filled out our forms (get them at the gate on the way in) they were serving person 21, and we had to wait about 40 minutes to hand our forms in.
In addition to our passports they wanted a photocopy of the main page, one 4.5cm x 3.5 cm passport photo (not 6cm x 4cm as stated on the embassy website!), and a copy of our flight booking into Thailand. Yes, into Thailand – bizarre huh?
People who didn’t have the copies/printouts were sent somewhere nearby to get one – I didn’t hear where exactly, but it can’t have been too far because they returned within 15 minutes.
Awaiting the verdict
Once our documents had been handed in we had to wait another 45 minutes to be called back to pay – make sure you hang on to your numbered ticket, they do want to see it when you return to the counter. A Thai tourist visa in Kuala Lumpur costs 150 ringgits – and they only take ringgits.
Some people at this stage were being asked for extra documents, especially, it seemed, if they had given an accommodation address that was not obviously a hotel or guesthouse (eg they gave the address of a condo). I managed to look at the post-it note on the front of our applications – the person in the back office had written “hotel booking” but then crossed it out and written “OK”. So I recommend making a cancellable booking at a hotel or guesthouse on a site like booking.com and taking the printout with you. One woman who had spent a lot of time in Thailand was asked to produce evidence of a flight out.
Some people were being refused. I couldn’t hear all the reasons but the ones I did hear were people who were from the list of countries whose citizens must have residence in Malaysia in order to apply for a Thai tourist visa in Kuala Lumpur (I don’t know if Penang has the same rules).
Some people with numbers lower than ours were still sitting waiting to be called back to the desk. I can only think that their applications were being scrutinised very carefully.
We were back out of the door by 11:25.
Collecting the visa
Collection is the next working day. The embassy opens at 14:30 – we arrived 15 minutes early (unintentionally) and there was a queue of about 12 people. When the doors opened we went straight to counter 4 (no need to take a number) and handed over the receipt, then immediately collected our passports from window 3. We were in and out in less than 5 minutes.
What to wear
There are often comments on internet forums about whether it’s advisable to dress smartly when visiting an embassy to apply for a visa. A fellow traveller that we got chatting to at the embassy said he had seen women turned away at the door of other Thai embassies for being too skimpily dressed. However, within reason, smartness probably doesn’t make too much difference in the case of applying for a Thai tourist visa in Kuala Lumpur, since the person who is making the decisions is in a back office and doesn’t see you. Plenty of people, male and female, were in shorts and sandals. But I suppose it’s possible that a decision-maker might want to speak to you, in which case, this notice outside the embassy may become relevant.
Needless to say, nobody was wearing black tie – but I am tempted to wear a ballgown next time I visit!