Oh the joys of trying to visit countries with a Thailand passport. While not the lowest of the low, trying to visit many countries around the world using a Thailand passport is about scraping the bottom of the barrel and is about as difficult as it gets. My wife is from Thailand and until she can get USA citizenship these are some of the fun times we have experienced trying to travel. We either try to apply for a tourist or transit visas depending on the countries we visit. Some embassies we have contacted almost scoff at the idea of trying to visit their country as a tourist on a Thai passport (apparently tourism is not a money maker and or priority in their country).
The actual effort of trying to determine visa requirements and get someone who can help you is also extremely difficult for certain countries.
Living in the USA, being married and traveling with your husband who has USA citizenship makes absolutely no difference when traveling to countries who require a visa from Thailand citizens. A plethora of prior International travel experience together, proof of funds in joint accounts seem to make no difference even though these are commonly required documents by a number of countries.
Here are just several examples of the hassles we have gone through trying to get a tourist visa (and note that a number of these attempts have ended in failure, with no visa being issued).
Take Kuwait for instance. We called the Kuwait Embassy in Bangkok Thailand. Right, you would think this would be a logical first contact to get information about citizens of Thailand visiting Kuwait, right? The person my wife spoke with had no idea of any of the visa requirements for a Thai Citizen to visit Kuwait and wasn’t helpful in the least.
So we called the Kuwait embassy in Washington DC and get their automated voice system which indicated a number to press for visa information. Pressing that number leads one to a pre-recorded script all in Arabic…no option for English like most foreign embassies/consulates have who are physically located in the United States. Nice. Finally we can speak to someone and it turns out you absolutely need to have a sponsor in Kuwait who needs to go to the Ministry of the Interior to get some form and then needs to fill this out and somehow get it in the hands of the Kuwait Embassy in Washington DC. So we know absolutely no one in Kuwait – great – they had absolutely no information for how to get a sponsor, other than you might want to try a hotel. Right in our experience hotels that give visas are typically 4 and 5 star hotels and we typically do not travel that way.
We called the Kuwait Consulate in Los Angeles and finally reached someone helpful who was at least sympathetic to our needs and gave us some idea of the hotels we need to contact.
Before trying a hotel we contacted all people who live in Kuwait City on Couchsurfing.org to see if they could “sponsor” us – an email request like this is a good way to screw up those on Couch Surfing who previously had 100% reply rates to inquiries.
After spending significant time trying to find a hotel who will actually process the visa (most have three day non refundable reservation policies) – i.e. you must make the reservation first before applying for the visa we finally located a hotel in Kuwait City. Like all hotels offering to process visa paperwork, this hotel’s cancellation policy is non refundable and you must make a reservation of course before they process the paperwork.
This particular hotel has been extremely helpful and very responsive to our requests. After spending most of the day getting various paperwork together, (marriage certificate, copies of passport, writing a request letter, making hotel reservations, copies of green cards, copies of round trip flight reservations, etc) and then putting all these into electronic format and then putting them into a format that can be easily printed, we fired off the email with the attachments to this hotel. As expected the email bounced back due to the fairly small attachments but I was already ahead of the game and had fired off a second email with links to the attachments posted online.
I’ve read it takes 4-5 business days for a response – we got a response in about 1.5 days (submitting on our Saturday in California is their Sunday which is equivalent to our Monday – the start of the work week in Kuwait). The email came back and said that my wife’s visa had been rejected. Great, we have both traveled together around the world and all the papers we submitted clearly showed that both of us were traveling together.
The hotel writes back and says they can try to process this as coming from the hotel rather than coming from my wife personally. We tried that, again rejection. Finally third try the hotel suggests we apply for our visas together…And so on and on and on…
Uruguay – small country in South America – just about next to impossible for a Thai citizen to travel to. We filled out the visa paperwork ahead of time, many requirements including a booked hotel. We booked the hotel but then the communication between the embassy in Montevideo and the hotel never happened so we were never issued a visa. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires Argentina, we immediately went to the embassy and found out they were extremely unhelpful despite the fact we had a copy of our hotel reservation in hand. After haggling with the Uruguayan embassy and waiting around for several hours on 2 different days we decided they just don’t want Thailand citizens and we unfortunately gave up as this was cutting into our trip.
During a recent trip to Nicaragua at the border between this country and Honduras they told us they couldn’t remember the last Thailand citizen to come through. We had a visa issued for Nicaragua in the states which as we found later defaulted to one entry and one exit. Although the embassy in San Francisco knew of our departure and re-entry plans (we told them). Trying to come back into the country from Honduras we were totally denied at the border and had to go through some amazing hassles at the border from the border police as well as logistically later, when we had to change our airfare from flying out of Nicaragua to Honduras and return to Tegucigalpa.
UAE – what a joke trying to get into this country if you are a Thai citizen. After much effort we ended up giving up. This country probably ranks right up there as the most difficult to let Thai citizens into their borders.
There are some “friendly” countries to Thailand located far away from Thailand borders – one of the friendliest is Peru.
We haven’t even tried for the European Schengen visa yet – the pile of paperwork for this is formidable and just looking at the list of required documents is quite overwhelming (proof of plane reservations, copies of passport and original, marriage certificate, green card copies, certified letter from health insurance company showing you have health insurance abroad, proof of funds, proof of sponsor in arrival Schengen country and previous hotel reservations – hotel can be sponsor).
Sometimes on that rare occasion it is better to have a Thailand passport than say USA, Canadian or European. There are no visa’s required for Thai citizens to visit Russia. Ironic considering that some have said all these hassles we have faced are reminiscent of cold war Soviet policies.