Most travellers arriving in Thailand will get a free 30 day Thai tourist visa on arrival, with the ability to extend this by 30 days in various parts of the country.
One of the more popular places together this is to apply for the 30 day visa extension in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.
I have lived several months in Chiang Mai and would get my 30 day free visa on arrival, do the 30 day visa extension in Chiang Mai, then leave the country for a few days then return and repeat, having extended the Thai tourist visa 3 times so far.
There is a new rule that you are only allowed 2 land border visa free entries into Thailand per year now, in case you are planning to spend a long time in Thailand.
Chiang Mai is a very popular city to visit in Thailand, it’s the countries second largest and its cultural centre.
30 Day Visa Extension in Chiang Mai
A reader left a comment that the location for the visa extension has changed back to the place closer in the city. He writes:
“Thanks for this article. However update: as of this week (24 September 2018), immigration in Chiang Mai has moved back to their old site near the airport. The Promenada office is now closed. So perhaps the article could be updated to reflect this.”
That mutes a lot of what I have previously wrote in this article and I have no experience with the office that is now being used. However I am sure that the general advice I have given regards to filling in forms, passport photos, and opening times etc will still most likely be valid.
If anyone who reads this and visits the new office has further new information on the process if you could leave a comment at the end of the article, it would be much appreciated to help keep others up to date.
Another reader since the last update left a comment saying this (February 2019):
Hi! Here’s some updates to this article based on my experience at the immigration office today 🙂
For passport pictures, they accept both white/light grey and blue backgrounds
You get your passport back again after a short wait. No need to come back to the immigration office after lunch. Today’s experience:
Stand in line at the information/ticket desk and hand in all your documents and the money. You receive a ticket. The wait took me a few minutes.
Then take a seat and wait till they call your number. This wait took me half an hour. They take a picture and you sit back down. Then, after a few minutes you’re called again and you receive your passport with renewed visa and your money change back. And – done! 🙂
I went on a Tuesday morning around 9am. The waiting area seemed full but the total wait was just over half an hour 🙂
That is what happened to me and was worried I would have to pay a fine for overstaying but it was no problem.
You can only do a 30 day visa extension in Chiang Mai (or anywhere in Thailand for that matter) once before having to leave the country again.
Technically there is no limit to how often you can be granted these 30 day visa extensions and I’ve never heard of problems form other travellers. However you may not get 30 days and be given only 7 days instead for the same 1900 baht cost.
But like I said I’ve never heard of anyone having problems extending their Thai tourist visa by 30 days.
Getting to the Thai Immigration Office in Chiang Mai
The immigration office is no longer in the centre of the city but further out in a large modern shopping mall called Promenada.
Full address for immigration office in Chiang Mai:
Promenada Resort Mall, Tambon Tasala, A. Muang Chiang Mai 50200
The best way to get there is to take an Uber car which will cost about 150 baht.
I have walked back from the immigration office before and it took around 1 and a half hours from the old city in the centre at an average speed. The walk is boring as it’s on a main highway for most of it, but you can save money on transport.
The office is located in the basement of the left side of the mall when coming in from the main entrance.
What to Take With You
Your passport (duh!).
A photocopy of your passport and arrival card.
A passport photo. This one is weird as they don’t want a standard size passport photo but one roughly 5cm by 10cm and blue background. They have a photo office there where you can get it taken at the immigration place itself, but they give you a minimum of 4 and charge 200 baht!
Best to get the photo taken in the centre of the city before going (the day before).
1900 baht extension fee.
Bring a pen to fill out the form.
Applying for the 30 Day Visa Extension in Chiang Mai
You can download the visa extension form at the immigration office before going and fill it in, but it’s easy just to get one there (what I did) and it only takes around 5 minutes to do it.
The main line for applying is on the outside of the office and you pick up the visa in the actual office later on.
I have been at 9 in the morning before “just to make sure” but there is no real need to go that early. You can show up at 10.30 and have time. It opens at 8.30 a .m.
*Update*. Getting visa extensions in the past I had applied on a Monday which is a busy day, but have extended since on a Friday. I showed up Friday at 10.30 am and there was only several people in the line and it was very fast. I got the visa an hour later in the morning without having to wait until after lunch.
It seems Friday is one of the better days to do a Thai visa extension in Chiang Mai..
There are some very helpful staff working at the outside tables where you apply that can answer any question, and will check your form for you.
Fill in the form there, and assuming you got your passport photos before going, stand in line to hand it in.
Depending how busy it is you could be in line from anywhere between 5 – 20 minutes. I have found that the line was less busy later in the morning around 11.
You then pay the 1900 baht extension fee and will be told to come back after lunch at 1 p.m. (they close between 12 – 1 p.m.).
You will also be given a piece of paper with a number on it which is the number that you will go to get your passport back later.
As the office is under a modern mall out of the city the best way to kill time is to just hang out at the mall.
There is a large modern cinema on the top floor of the 2nd part of the mall opposite the office side of the mall. I go and catch a movie at 11 a.m. to kill time or take a nap in the comfy chairs! It only costs 80 baht for a movie.
You also have food places in the mall but not as many options as whet you will find in the larger malls in Chiang Mai like the Maya Lifestyle or Central Festival. But there’s enough to feed you.
There’s a 2 coffeehouses there as well so if you have a laptop or tablet you could bring that and get some online stuff done.
Then go to the immigration office at around 1.30 p.m.
If you came later in the morning to apply you will get your passport back later. So when I went at around 10 a.m. for example I got my passport back around 2.30 p.m.
You go into the main office at this point and take a seat and wait for the number you were given to come up on the display. I waited for 1 hour.
When your number comes up on the electronic board you go and sign with one of the immigration officers and get any money back from what you payed for the visa. For example I gave 2000 baht so they give 100 baht back at that point.
Then you have to sit back down again.
At this point it was around a 10 minute wait until they call your name out and you go and pick up your passport.
You Have Your 30 Day Visa Extension in Chiang Mai!
Call an Uber car to take you back to the centre, haggle with the red taxis waiting by the main entrance (they will want 200 baht, Uber is cheaper), or walk 1 and a half hours back.
That’s all there is to it.
I’ll give you another heads up if you want to stay in Thailand for several months without having to do this. There is a Muay Thai boxing gym in Chiang Mai that helps with getting you a 6 month study visa for Thailand if you enroll in some of their classes.
It’s a good option especially if you are planning to spend a while in Chiang Mai as Muay Thai is a great workout and culturally interesting as well.
Useful Chiang Mai Links:
I wrote about learning Muay Thai for beginners in Chiang Mai in this post. I’ve included the gym that helps out with the study visa in it.
And this is the website for Thailand’s immigration.
Here’s some lively hostels to stay at in Chiang Mai if you want some fun places to stay in.
Things to do in Chiang Mai:
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