Update (16/01/2017) I am told that the online link is down. But the express counter is back. If you have traveled to Thailand recently do let me know how is it going these days. I gather that the visa fee is 1000 Baht again.
Updates: There is no fast track line anymore at the visa on arrival. The fee has been recently increased to 2000 Baht.
I have done 6 trips in all to Thailand. I have always availed visa on arrival in Thailand without any problem. I have stood in the fast track line mostly. But I have used the normal queue as well and got my visa every time. I was extremely thrilled when they introduced visa on arrival online application for Thailand. On my most recent trip I availed the facility (October 15 to 21, 2015) and I am thrilled with the results. I would strongly recommend that you make use of it. Using the online process is extremely easy. The documents required are the same for both the processes. The requirements are listed at the official website of the Immigration Bureau of Thailand.
The video below explains how to apply online for your visa on arrival in Thailand.
However for those with slow internet speed I will sum up the process. Go to the website of the Immigration Bureau of Thailand. Change the language to English. Click on the link online application for visa on arrival. When I clicked it on Chrome it started warning me the ‘website is not safe.’ It worked fine for me in Firefox. Look at the list of countries that can fill the online application form. India is one of them. If your country appears on the list check the ‘accept the terms’ box and click accept. It takes you the application form to be filled. You get 30 minutes to fill the form after which the session expires. So do keep all your documents handy.
The form asks for the same details as the print form. However, when I arrive in Thailand after missing a night’s sleep I find it more difficult to figure out my hotel address, expiry date of passport etc. It was so much easier to fill the form online sitting in my living room. All the star fields are mandatory. You can skip the rest.
After completing this screen it would ask you to accept the information as true. It you find any errors you can go back and modify the form. Once you are done, print the form and bring it with you.
At the airport I realized that I could leapfrog all the passengers from my very full flight who were standing at the counter and filling their forms. I almost always end up using the fast track queue (1100 baht fee) because by the time I would complete my form there would be a long queue at the normal 1000 baht fee counter. This time as I had a completed application form, I was the 4th person the normal queue. Do remember to sign the form after printing. I forgot to sign it. The lady checking the documents before the immigration counter pointed it out to me. She stapled the photograph for me as well. I signed the form and stood in the line for a few minutes. Soon it was my turn to hand in my documents.
The immigration officer entered something in his computer, tallied my flight numbers on the paper ticket I gave him and waved me through. The immigration officer stamped it in the next few minutes and I was running to the luggage carousel happily. Previously I would arrive at the baggage belt when it would be almost empty. This time I was one of the first people to take off my luggage and sprint out to the Bangkok city!
In my opinion it is absolutely worth filling out the form online as it helps you in getting ahead of the crowd at least now. You could print the form, fill it with hand and still gain an advantage over the queue. But the immigration desk would not have your details on their computer with a hand filled form and it would slow the queue. They may ask for more documents as well.
I should be heading out to Thailand next month again and I would let you know if I find the online experience any different the next time. I am for sure going to fill my visa on arrival application online on my next trip to Thailand as well.
When I saw the requirements for visa on arrival for Hong Kong, it looked easy. You needed a valid passport with two blank pages and that was pretty much it. Like everywhere else a return ticket and hotel bookings help in getting the visa. My travel agency advised me to carry 2 passport size photographs, so, I carried it. As I was traveling with two kids I was a bit apprehensive about everything. However, the kids managed to sleep in the flight by twisting and turning at impossible angles. I managed to watch my movies as usual!
We arrived early in the morning without any adventures! The kids were not too cranky but I was! As I started following the sings for immigration, we reached a point at which we had to board a train. This was a first for the kids. They were quite surprised and excited.
When we managed to find the visa on arrival queue after getting down from the train, it was not too bad. Maybe because of the early morning arrival, we missed long queues. I also liked the fact that the immigration staff was concerned about the speed of the queue and would direct you to the relevant counter.
I asked the kids to behave at the Hong Kong immigration counter or we would be sent back home. At New Delhi they were all over the counter, almost trying to climb on to it. When our turn came they simply asked for the passports, they did not ask for any photographs. Once again, I had all the documents in my hand but I was not asked for anything. The man at the counter simply asked me lift up Chhavi as he could not see her. They put a small white square ticket in our passports and we were off! The best part is that Hong Kong gives free visa on arrival, there is no visa fee for tourists.
It was only while going out of Hong Kong I realized that they do not stamp the passports! Now what a lovely thing to do, that surely saved me at least one fresh page of my passport. As this was the first trip abroad for the kids, they simply have the IGI stamps!
So it was that easy to get a visa on arrival at Hong Kong Airport for me!
Visa on arrival for Indians in Bhutan is a simple process. My experience of getting was quite smooth. As only Druk Air, the national carrier of Bhutan, flies into the country, it is quite unlike other airports in the world. There are no jet planes landing one after the other, leading to huge queues at visa counters! At Paro International Airport in Bhutan, it doesn’t get crowded as there are not too many flights that are landing at the same time! And it you were wondering, Druk means dragon in the local language.
When you are flying into Bhutan you should ask for a left hand side window seat to get the views of high mountains. While coming back it is the other way round. There is no online check-in available with Druk Air so it pays to go to the airport early if you are keen on that window seat.
Indians need a valid passport or a voter’s ID card to enter into Bhutan by air. I was using my passport but a journalist in our group could easily enter on his voter’s ID card. At the immigration counter they usually ask for the name of the hotel you are going to stay at. They did not ask me for the reservation proof but I had it ready if they wanted to inspect it.
As it was only our flight that had landed and there were many counters, getting the visa on arrival was a breeze. I handed my passport, the immigration officer asked for my hotel name and just as he was about to stamp my passport, I made my request with folded hands, “Please use a used page of my passport, there are very few fresh pages remaining.” I have 5 pages left in my passport which is valid for the next five years! He was kind enough to listen to me and stamp a used page. Since I became aware that my passport pages may run out before its validity, I have been requesting immigration officers at various airports, including Delhi, not to use a fresh page. Surprisingly they are quite accommodating about it!
It was that easy, in the end, to get a visa on arrival for Bhutan on my Indian passport!
PS. I was invited by Makemytrip to visit Bhutan
What do I say about food? Food should be an integral part...January 18, 2017
We decided to travel to Agra for a short trip on the 1st ...January 11, 2017
I wanted to name this post 'the men and the stories from ...January 10, 2017
I feel a lot of gratitude for 2016, it was a fabulous yea...December 31, 2016