What's the Thailand visa situation for digital nomads in 2015?

#1

This is a FAQ, a “lightning rod” of sorts, and there are whole sites dedicated to discussion about the topic, but what is the real Thai visa situation in 2015 for nomads?

I’ve spent hours reading about this, but with all the tangents and pointless debate in various forums, it’s difficult to get straight facts and answers (to the extent possible, understanding that this can be a gray area).

One one hand there are people talking about staying 10+ years, but then there’s advice from, for example, @CoffeeShopCEO, saying: “Thai consulates are also beginning to reject people who have back to back visas in their passports, so after a year or so, go do some travelling.”

It seems confusing to talk on one hand (as so many video series and similar money-making ventures do) about all the great deals on apartments and long-term stays, and on the other about taking all your stuff with you on border runs, because you may not be coming back.

I imagine the best answer is “YMMV,” but it seems like a precarious way to live while trying to build a business: stretching the truth–or outright lying–about reasons for travel, hoping you don’t get the wrong government representative on the wrong day, trying to get the foreign income exemption without paying taxes in the destination country, etc.

From the glut of videos by Chiang Mai-based foreigners alone, it would seem that many are living (and selling) this lifestyle successfully, but it isn’t quite as simple as portrayed, no?

#2

While I don’t have any direct experience with this yet (leaving in a few months). It’s difficult to get a straight answer because everyone’s experiences are different. Yes, there may be some people who get lucky and are able to do several back to back visa runs without problem. However, others may get denied. It’s difficult to give a true answer because…well it’s up to the immigration official to let you in or not, it’s completely at their discretion.

Also, it’s not only your visa, but your country of origin, your appearance, do you look suspicious? Do you look presentable? When they ask you questions, what’s your tone of voice? Since it’s up to the officer to grant you permission it can vary on the impression you give and the vibe that they get. Maybe some of these people you’re talking about are just smooth talkers, speak some of the language, or make a good impression.

Some might say that they “live in Thailand” but in reality they spend 3 months there, then spend maybe a month or two somewhere else (so it’s not back to back) and then go back to Thailand for 3 months. But I really wouldn’t call this lying. Don’t hate the player…hate the game.

Also, there are other visas you can get that allow longer stay. Some get education or business visas (which I think are good for a year).

However, it does seem like I’m hearing about more people having troubles lately. So, the people you mentioned who have lived there for 10+ years just got there in the beginning when it was new and only a few people were doing it.

Just my thoughts, but I’d like to hear what some more experienced travelers have to say.

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#3

Hey @Eddie, I appreciate the response, and agree I’d like to hear what others have to say about the current situation, in addition to your own comments.

The reference to lying wasn’t about discussion among travelers, as much as between travelers and (various) government or commercial representatives–basically everybody else. A life of deception is the antithesis of the sort of “authentic” living I believe many are seeking, and personal choice is still the dominant factor here.

I’ve “heard” the education visa is receiving additional scrutiny now, too.

It’s funny because I can watch a hundred videos touting the cheap and easy living, while glossing over the legal aspects of what resembles a life on the run (which is cool or romantic or glamorous for about five minutes).

#4

Some visa information and suggested visa run locations here

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#5

The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs have made an announcement via their
official Facebook page that the new Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV)
will be available from Friday 13th November 2015.The METV will
cost 5,000 baht and grants holders multiple entries into Thailand for a
six month period for stays of up to 60 days per entry.

#6

How is this different from the current multiple entry visa that has been available for years?

#7

2-3 months vs 6 months stay.

#8

Ok, maybe I am missing something but I still do not see the difference…

You stated that you can stay 60 days per entry, which is exactly the same for the current multiple entry. So currently I can get a double entry which also gives me 6 months - 60 days per entry + 30 days extension each time.

Edit: In some countries you can even get a triple entry which gives you effectively 9 months.

#9

Let’s not get bog down with details an continue on with happy lives. :slight_smile:

Bottom line is: this is much better deal for anyone who wants to maximize time in Thailand and travel at will with unlimited entries. Not tested yet but yes with a little bit of planning, 9 months is possible. In comparison with current deal for US people:
http://thaiembdc.org/consular-services/tourist-visas/category-tr/

Also, keep in mind this is a tourist visa and one has to be careful with it, or accidents happen: http://asiancorrespondent.com/127125/thailand-immigration-officials-raid-chiang-mai-co-working-space/