Indians Get Free Visa-on-arrival to Thailand till April 2020! All You Need to Know

Christmas is just around the corner and so is all the excitement that the 'festivities' cat drags in. But maybe kick it up a notch this year? Like, spend it in Thailand?

Here's some excellent news - Thailand's Prime Minister announced that the visa-on-arrival fees will be waivered off up to April 2020 for tourists from eighteen countries including India. This extension has been done to help revive Thailand's slow economy, official sources say.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, when asked by reporters announced that the cabinet had approved of the extension until the said date. Important dates such as the Lunar New Year and the Thai New Year, Songkran have been included in the extension.

Receipts from international tourists to Thailand makes up about 12 percent of the country's economy. A large part of this number is made up of Chinese tourists. But in June this year, arrivals saw a meagre jump of about 0.89 percent, with even the number of Chinese tourists decreasing by 7.1 percent compared to last year.

The revenue target for Thailand has been set at TBH 3.4 trillion for the tourism sector, including domestic tourism as well. It is estimated that the revenue generated from international tourists will likely reach around TBH 2.2 trillion, while tourist inflow is expected to go beyond 40.5 million. 

It is stated that the Chinese market may still be able to bring a footfall of as many as 11 million tourists this year. In 2018, tourist arrivals from India roughly touched 1.5 million, becoming the sixth-largest source of visitors, the inflow rate saw an exceptional rise of 27 percent over 2017.

While the visa-on-arrival fee waiver has been extended, the proposal of visa free entry for Indian and Chinese tourists has been rejected by the cabinet. Spokerspersons for the Thai government said that this decision was taken in the interest of national security.

 On Tuesday, November 6 2018, the Thailand cabinet approved free visa on arrival for all foreign tourists from 21 countries including India. 

Thailand's cabinet had waived a fee of 2000 TBH initially, from December 1 - January 31 to all nationals travelling to Thailand from Andora, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

So if you were planning a trip to Thailand this December or January, you will be saving roughly Rs. 4,300 per person on your trip! If you were planning a budget trip, this could very well be 10% of your trip costs. It's a Christmas miracle!

Free thailand Visa
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Why Visit Thailand?

You can now visit one the most beautiful countries in the world during the most auspicious time of the year. And the best part is, you can make it a pocket-friendly trip too, be it with your family or solo. Don't let finances be the Grinch that stole your Christmas.

Discover pristine beaches at Patong, coral reefs at Phuket, dense forests of Phu Chi Fa, ancient Buddhist monasteries at Ayutthaya, floating markets at Bangkok and the country's world-famous cuisine to treat your taste buds, all in one magical trip. With endless entertainment and activities in every nook and corner, you're certain to take back home trip photos containing some of the most genuine smiles ever captured. Plus, the people of Thailand are some of the most hospitable people you will meet, which only gives you more assurance on a comfortable getaway.

Visa Documents Required for Visal on Arrival in Thailand

But to get started off,  carry these necessary documents for the visa-on-arrival process at the airport:
  • Airline Boarding Pass
  • Passport valid for at least 30 days. The booklet should have two blank pages for official use.
  • Visa application form - this is available at the checkpoints on arrival.
  • A confirmed return ticket showing that you are flying out of Thailand within 15 days.
  • Two recent photographs not older than six months, of 4cm x 6cm (Note: Photos can be clicked there, but are chargeable)
  • The completed arrival-departure form given by the airline.
  • Hotel address/any other stay address that can be verified.
  • Proof of THB 10,000 per person and THB 20,000 per family. This can be in the form of actual cash or a credit card. Bank account statements showing money in the account are also usually accepted.
The Visa on arrival process may involve long queues, so to prevent wastage of time, apply in advance at the Royal Thai Embassy in India and skip the hassle.

Note: Indians are eligible for Visa on Arrival for Thailand, provided they are travelling for tourism purposes for less than 30 days.

Now that we've covered the formalities, here's a guide to turn your trip into a cheap and unforgettable experience. Travel with one concept in mind - GO LOCAL. What better way to explore a country than seeing it from the perspective of Thai people.

The following is the 401 on how to make a great trip to Thailand all while having enough money for those family Christmas presents.

Tingle Your Tastebuds

Cheap Trip to Thailand Street food
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The street food in Thailand is as delectable as the ones you get at the fancy restaurants. Have that fancy meal once a day to save on big meal spends, most likely for the most crucial meal of the day. But for frequent mid-day power-ups, opt for the street food which serves (hygienic) items of a great variety from 5 THB to 40 THB. Get heaps of meals like pad thai and rice meals and platefuls of meat to fruit bowls for a refreshing punch.

Where to Stay?

Budget trip to Thailand hostels
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The perfect time to visit Thailand, the month of December promises more pleasant climatic conditions with temperatures dropping to 21 C in the evening. So you wouldn't need air-conditioned rooms, just get the cheaper non-air-conditioned alternatives. There's your big save. But if you're travelling solo, you could go for homestays, hostels or guesthouses. Get dorm rooms for around 100 - 200 THB and guesthouses for as low as 200 THB. But for a real local affair, Couchsurfing is the way to go. The only thing better than cheap accommodation is free accommodation!

The Commute

Cheap trip Thailand Christmas december train railways
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Get a cheaper commute to different cities of Thailand by skipping one step the majority of tourists take - avoid getting transportation services from tourism or travel agencies. It saves on the extra charges that usually go on their commission. Instead, go directly to the transportation office and purchase the tickets.

Local buses are one way to see Thailand better. Also, the bus routes are well mapped and safe. For an overnight journey, the fares start from 250 THB.

If buses aren't your cup of tea, trains start from just 200 THB.

Shop Away Your Blues in Cheap Street Markets

Christmas in Thailand on a budget shopping
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Shopping in Thailand is relatively cheap when compared to other parts of South East Asia. Especially in Bangkok, the markets are packed with products like high-end fashion retail to Lacquer products at prices starting from 100 TBH. Here's the only tip that you might need: Bargain. And if you know the techniques here, you've got your cheap shopping agenda covered.

Although Thailand isn't your conventional Christmas destination, it is all about the feeling of togetherness. Whether it is having the fam-jam experience something new together or a solo experience for the ones that want to start/end the year by exploring a new city, a trip to Thailand will always be wholesome for you as well as for your pockets.

This post was published by Shalaka Sreekesh

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