How to get your visa extension with a visa run to Mae Sai
This visa run to Mae Sai is possible to do in 1 day
Whenever you are staying in Chiang Mai for a longer time period, the well known and sometimes dreaded border visa run to Mae Sai is an option if you need a visa extension. For example, if you already have a visa and need to have an exit stamp proving that you left the country, so your second or third entry can be validated. Or in the case that you have run out of visas, you can cross the border and enter back into Thailand for a fourteen-day visa, but this is something you can only do once or twice on the same visa.
Book a bus ticket in advance at the bus terminal
One way to go about it and to get all this done in one day is to book a bus ticket in advance with the Green bus or V-class buses in.
You can buy your tickets at the Arcade bus terminal, the main bus station in Chiang Mai. Both bus companies run are air-conditioned buses and have rows of just three big reclining seats.
During the trip, you will get some free refreshments and snacks, and the bus will take you to the Mae Sai bus station on the Thai-Myanmar border. A return ticket Chiang Mai – Mae Sai and back (two times four hours) will set you back about 800 Baht.
A more relaxing way is to have a stop in Chiang Rai
Alternatively, if time spent is not that important, you can either take the bus to Chiang Rai and find yourself a comfortable guesthouse to stay overnight in this quiet but charming town. There are a couple of nice bars around the central market to spend your evening. The next morning you can do the remaining 60 km to Mae Sai with aforementioned bus companies. Or reversely, you still drive to Mae Sai the first day, complete your visa run, but instead of returning to Chiang Mai the same day, make a stopover in Chiang Rai on your way back. Both options will guarantee a more relaxed experience while fulfilling your visa obligations.
Combine your visa run with some shopping in Myanmar
Once arrived in Mae Sai, you can hop on a songthaew (red bus) which will bring you to the border for 15 Baht. At the Friendship Bridge get in line to receive your exit stamp out of Thailand and cross the bridge into Myanmar.
On the right-hand side on the bridge is the Myanmar Immigration Office, where your photograph is taken and where you will be offered the choice to obtain a replacement card for your passport, so you can go shopping on the Burmese side. In the market across the border almost anything is available; copy DVD’s, brand name clothing, golf clubs, cigarettes, etc …
Or in the case that you are not tempted to go shopping for fake goods, just get your passport stamped and make your way back over the Friendship Bridge to the LOS (Land of Smiles).
The fee to get your passport stamped in Myanmar is at the time of writing 500 Baht, but you can save some cash if you pay 10 USD.
You can also opt to stay a bit in Myanmar
There is also the possibility to stay in Burma and explore the area around Tachileik for a 240 km circle without obtaining a Myanmar visa. But the drawback is that you will have to leave your precious passport on the border and make due with the replacement card.
Collect your Thai visa stamp
Back on the Thai side of the bridge fill in the newly given departure card and get in line again for your picture to be taken and your new Thai visa stamp. Make sure that you don’t forget to check the date on the stamp before you leave the counter, as there have been some mistakes in the past. So you better be sure to avoid problems later especially with visa situations.
Once again in the LOS reverse the process and take a songthaew or motorbike taxi to your luxurious bus, and enjoy the ride back to Chiang Mai, the Rose of the North.