Before entering Thailand from Laos we had heard that we might only get a fifteen day visa exception into Thailand, which would be too short for us, but the Lonely Planet book told us thirty days so we didn’t worry. When we were at the border we discovered that the 30 day visa is only granted when you fly into Thailand so we only got fifteen days.
That meant that our visa would expire before we fly to Hong Kong and the fine for overstaying your visa is 500 baht per day ($16). To escape the fine we needed to make a visa run. A visa run is to go to a neighboring country, only for a few minutes, and then back to Thailand to get extra fifteen days. The cheapest option is to go to Burma (Myanmar) (Laos $30 and Cambodia $20) where you can get a day permit for $10 or 500 baht, which is very strange since $10 is actually 330 baht ?!?!
For our visa run we drove up to Mae Sai, a small border town by the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. The Golden Triangle used to be the world’s biggest opium producer but that has all been cleaned up – at least on the Thai side. The four hour drive up to Mae Sai was painless and once in Mae Sai we just walked through the Thai immigration office to get stamped out and into the Burma immigration office where we paid the fee got our Burma passport stamp and walked back into Thailand with a new fifteen day visa. The whole process took about ten minutes and was as simple as could be.
After getting our stamp we drove back to Chang Mai to take the ten hour sleeper bus to Bangkok. We are only staying the day in Bangkok before talking another sleeper bus down to Chumpon and from Chumpon we take the boat back to Ko Phangan where we intend to load the batteries before taking on China – The Middle Kingdom. I have a few topics I want to address while on the beach so stay tuned :)