Thailand, for more than a year, has exempted Indians from paying the visa fee. However, most of the people get confused as to what `No Visa Fee’ means. The perception is that Thailand’s immigration becomes a drive-through. Having that in mind, a lot of people have to suffer at the airport. They don’t realize that you don’t have to pay the 2000 THB visa fee, but all the visa formalities remain the same. The `No Visa Fee’ is applicable for visa on arrival (VOA). If you apply for a tourist visa from VFS in India, they still charge you a service fee.
The Thai visa is still the simplest visa to get. They have a one-page form to fill, which is as easy as it gets. Here is a list of documents you still have to have with you when you are applying for a Thailand visa on arrival.
Point four has become very crucial these days. Thailand authorities are getting strict about people not carrying the money. On the official page for Thai Visa, it says you need to take 10,000 THB, but at the airport, they are asking for 20,000 THB. The money should also be in cash. They, in some cases, are not even accepting a bank statement.
The main reason is that you can afford a comfortable stay for the time period you are in Thailand.
However, now it is aimed at travelers who have a passport full of tourist visas indicating they could be working illegally in Thailand. People trying to enter with a history of tourist visa entries appear to be the ones under the most amount of scrutiny.
The other reason I feel is that they want to control the rush of solo travelers. They come for more extended periods and spend less money. They sometimes even become a nuisance getting into bar fights, drugs, or even prostitution as it is easy money. Thailand is driven by tourist money, so whoever is not spending is slightly less welcome.
It is the second most common question people ask me. The answer is ‘you can carry Indian currency (INR), but not more than INR 10,000.’ It is a rule set by the Indian government. Even after warnings, a lot of people carry money to the tune of INR 50,000-100,000. They all say they have never been caught. My advice is ‘Don’t do it. It is illegal.’ If you get caught, as these are random checks, best of luck to you.
The other reason you should not carry INR is that you don’t get good exchange rates. We all know USD is the world’s preferred currency. Moreover, if you want a decent exchange rate, carry 2000 notes. Do note that not everyone exchanges INR.
Since you cannot carry more than INR 10,000, this does not mean you cannot carry money in other currencies. The money you can take in USD is 20,000. If you want to carry more USD, you need to inform the authorities. Thai Baht limit is 50,000 THB for a single person and 100,000 THB for a family.
You still have to stand in that long line. Since there is no visa fee, the tourists are also increasing in number. In June, we had to wait for more than two hours to get the visa. Then, in September, again, it took us more than one hour. You can skip the queue by paying 200 THB. It is the express visa fee minus the actual visa fee of 2000 THB. It is worth it since it has almost zero waiting time.
On 5th September 2019, 6-7 people were sent back from Delhi airport for not having adequate money required to enter Thailand. The airlines at the Delhi airport itself are asking people to confirm if they are carrying the required amount. These people in the group haggled, spoke loudly, abused their agent for not telling, etc. But they were denied boarding by the airline.
I was sitting on the flight G8-37 when I started a conversation with the person sitting next to me. They were young guys who were going to Thailand for the first time. After sharing pleasantries, we were filling the immigration cards. I took out the filled visa form. I had downloaded the form at home and attached the necessary documents for the visa. When they saw the form, they said they were unaware of this formality. They said their agent did not tell them anything. Thankfully, both of them had the vouchers and the photo. I helped them fill the form at the airport while we waited in the line.
Do let me know if you want any more clarifications in the comment section. I’d be happy to help!