August 31, 2012

Running for a Visa

This is my first ever visa run. I'm not accustomed to being in a country under a tourist visa with the expectation of leaving every few months just to cross a boarder, get a stamp, and then return still with a tourist visa. But apparently that's what ya do here.  Well, those of us who don't officially have sponsors.  Before I get too far along, I wanted to post a video that shows life in Mae Sot. It is excellently filmed and the music is beautifully composed. I do not take credit for the video, it was done by Allyse Pulliam and song is called "Blood" by The Middle East Awesomeness: Mae Sot, Thailand

So, that is Mae Sot for you... but back to this visa run thing. Every few months we will be in this same situation - visa expires in about a week, plan to cross some boarder for a day or two, then travel all the way back home.

We leave Mae Sot for an overnight 8 hour bus ride back to Bangkok where we will buy a bus ticket to cross into Laos (another 8 hour ride). The trick is to arrive in Laos early enough to get the visa process started before 2pm, which means the ride to Laos is another over nighter. Bam! 39 hours gone simply getting to the visa place. It takes a minimum of 24 hours to get a new visa assuming you arrive early enough (63 hours). If we turned around and went directly home, this is another 39ish hours giving us a grand total of 4.25 days of traveling.

Imagine having to do this every 30 days. Fortunately 60 day visas exist and there are rumors of 90 day visas, though I've never actually seen one. Also, fortunately for me, Aileen and I are staying in Laos for a few extra days. This is a nice thing about the visa run scheme - I'll see Laos for the first time, in a few months even Cambodia, Burma, and may take a trip to Malaysia. So really, there isn't much to complain about except for long bus rides. I'll get to travel and add new stamps to my passport (which if I hadn't lost my first... second... or third.. maybe even fourth, eh I've lost count) I would have a filled passport by the end of this adventure.


  1. Johnathan - enjoyed the video. great to hear you are going to Burma.

  2. Glad to hear things are going well!!!!

  3. Thanks for reading and posting. I may be going to Burma... that is the eventual goal.

  4. Awesome to see how you guys are doing. Great video :)