As Phuket becomes ever increasingly popular with travellers and backpackers alike, most visitors to the island often end up staying for a much longer time than originally anticipated. Because of this and the forever changing Thai immigration laws, people often find themselves with a visa that is about to expire.
There are a number of destinations to choose from when considering where to make your visa run. Most of which can be completed in just one day. There are also many companies that offer visa run services and they normally take care of all the necessary details such as organising bus, ferry and foreign visas, and most will also provide breakfast and lunch.
The two most popular visa runs from Phuket are to Myanmar and Malaysia as they are the closest countries to Phuket that border Thailand.
The visa run to Myanmar is a very long and tiring experience but there is some very beautiful scenery to be admired on the way. The cost is normally about 1,500 Thai Baht and you will often be picked up either at your hotel or very close to it at about 6am. You will start your visa run out of Phuket and head north on a mini bus up to Ranong. This journey usually takes around 6 hours with two or three stops along the way for breakfast or a small snack, which should be provided by the visa run company.
Upon arrival to the tiny town of Ranong you will receive your exit stamp and proceed to a medium size ferry to begin the short ride to Myanmar. There are some amazing sights to be seen on the way, but be prepared for an experience of a lifetime once you arrive in Myanmar. Straight away you will be greeted by several Burmese trying to sell various items including cigarettes and alcohol, often much cheaper than you will find anywhere else in the world.
The Burmese immigration is at the beginning of the jetty where you will receive both your entry and exit stamp straight away before proceeding back to the ferry to head back to Thailand. You are literally only in the country for about 20 minutes, the entire experience is never to be forgotten, and certainly something to tell the grand children about.
From Ranong you will drive back to Phuket stopping two or three times for lunch and snacks. You should arrive back to your hotel in Phuket by around 7pm the same day.
The visa run company will normally pay for all fees and food throughout the entire journey all you have to pay for is 5 Thai Baht for your passport photocopy. But please make sure you check all of this with the visa run company before you book.
The Malaysian trip is much longer as you drive overnight south to Penang, when you arrive you go straight to the Thai Embassy to apply for a visa then spend one night in a hotel before collecting your visa from the Embassy the next day and head back to Phuket.
Of course there are numerous options to choose from like just arranging your own transport or simply taking a flight out of Thailand and back in.
Immigration laws are forever changing so please make sure you are familiar with them before making any decisions on where to go for your visa run.