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We’ve been to a few different Royal Thai Embassies and Consulate-Generals but our latest Thai visa run to Penang, Malaysia has been by far the easiest, least stressful run we’ve done to date. After a cheap international flight down to this island, we enjoyed an easy to explore city, delicious food, and a comfortable hotel while we waited to get our next Thai visas. What more could anyone ask for?
|MAY 2017 UPDATE: This post contains the new application requirements for the single entry Tourist Visa.|
Click the links below to instantly jump to different sections
- What to know before you go
- Visa application requirements (Tourist and Non Immigrant)
- How and where to apply for a visa
- Taking international transportation to Penang
- What to do while you’re in town
What to Know Before You Go
- This office grants single entry Tourist Visas to foreigners; only Malaysians (or applicants with residency in Malaysia) are eligible to apply for multiple entry Tourist Visas.
- This office issues single and multiple entry Non Immigrant Visas to foreigners.
- The office is open Monday through Friday. It is closed on weekends and official Malaysian and Thai holidays. Be sure to check their calendar for any closings before you go.
- Apply for a Thai visa Monday through Friday from 9am to 11:30am. Pickup your passport with your new Thai visa between 2pm and 4pm the following business day. Same day processing is not available.
- The Royal Thai Consulate-General is in George Town, which is Penang’s capital and located in the northeast corner of the island. If you plan to stay in town for a few days, book a hotel in George Town for convenience.
|NOTE: Thailand’s Non Immigrant Visas include Business ‘B’, Education ‘ED’, Dependent ‘O’, Volunteer ‘O’, Retirement ‘O-A’, among others.|
Map of Penang, Malasia
Address: 1, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Local Phone: (04) 226-8029 or (04) 226-9484 or (04) 228-6784
Visa Application Hours: 9:00am to 11:30am, Monday to Friday (excluding weekends and holidays)
Pick-up Visa Hours: 2:00pm to 4.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding weekends and holidays)
Application Requirements for a Thai Visa Run to Penang
|NOTE: If you plan on living in Thailand, sign up for our membership site to learn more about long-term visa options. We have detailed posts for each visa types that will allow you to determine which one is best for your unique situation.|
To apply for a Thai visa in Penang, bring the following to the Royal Thai Consulate-General in George Town:
- Actual passport
- Completed application form (provided onsite at office)
- One photocopy of main passport photo page
- Two passport photos (3.5cm x 4.5cm)
- NEW Requirement: Tourist Visa applicants must show a printed copy of a flight (confirmation ticket) exiting Thailand
- Non Immigrant Visa applicants have additional requirements
- Visa fee (cash only in Malaysian Ringgit)
|Thai Visa Type||Duration of Stay||Visa Fee|
|Single Entry Tourist Visa||60 days||150 RM|
|Single Entry Non Immigrant Visa||90 days||300 RM|
|Multiple Entry Non Immigrant Visa||1 year||750 RM|
Blank application forms are provided by the office so there is no need to print them out in advance. However, it’s a good idea to bring a black or blue pen because the consulate does not provide pens to applicants.
Sitting outside the consulate is a van with a photocopy machine. The process costs 2 RM for the first copy and 1 RM for every extra copy.
Be sure to have the following information on hand to properly fill out the visa application form:
- The address of where you are staying in Thailand (i.e., your first hotel or friend’s place)
- The address of where you are staying in Malaysia
- Transportation vessel type and number to Thailand (i.e., AirAsia flight number AD939)
When booking your flight out of Thailand, it can be a maximum of 90 days after you plan to enter Thailand. This corresponds to the 60-day single entry Tourist Visa (from the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Penang) plus a 30-day extension (from any Immigration Office within Thailand).
How to Apply for a Thai Visa
The visa process at the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Penang was a bit unorganized because there were no obvious signs or directions and there were several queues forming and crisscrossing each other. Here’s what to do:
STEP 1: As you pass through the Royal Thai Consulate-General’s gate, there is a standalone registration booth to the right. It has a logbook where all applicants are required to print their name, nationality, passport number, and type of visa for which they are applying. First, stand in this line (#1 in the photo above) and fill out the logbook.
STEP 2: Obtain a blank visa application form and a blank pickup receipt (numbered) from the visa application area. This is located up a few steps on a raised open-aired but covered platform area with a few rows of chairs and one large window. On the left-hand side of the window, there is a line (#2) for the blank application forms and the blank pickup receipts. Grab one of each from the (not so obvious) consulate officer behind the window.
STEP 3: On the right side of this same window there is a small blue and white sign that says ‘Visa Section’. Stand in this queue (which may be jumbling into the other queues to sign the logbook or getting the application form) and fill out the visa application form and the pickup receipt. Submit your pickup receipt, passport, paperwork, photos, and visa fee to the officer behind the window on the right-hand side (#3). He or she will double check everything and then hand you the pickup receipt with a collection time and date stamped onto it. You are done for now.
STEP 4: On the following business day, anytime from 2pm to 4pm, pickup your passport with a new shiny Thai visa from the same window you dropped it off. Be sure to bring the pickup receipt. Remember, the consulate is closed on weekends and official public Malaysian and Thai holidays.
We did our Thai visa run to Penang on a Monday and there were about 20 people in the queue when we arrived at 9:15am. Not long after that, at least 50 more people showed up. It took roughly one hour to submit our application requirements and visa fees before heading back to our hotel. The next day we arrived just after 2pm and it only took 15 minutes to pick up our passports. Very painless, indeed.
|NOTE: As with any trip to a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate-General, look presentable! We recommend erring on the conservative side. Men should wear a collared shirt and ladies should wear a shirt that covers their shoulders and cleavage. It’s best to not wear sleeveless shirts, short skirts, or shorts.|
Getting to Penang
Malaysia offers a FREE 90-day visa exempt stamp to many international visitors so it’s fairly easy to make this a last-minute visa run trip. This is without going through the added expense or hassle of arranging for a visa to one Thailand’s other neighboring countries. For example, Americans must pay for 35 USD (or 1,500 THB) per person for Laotian visa upon arrival (at select airports and border crossings) but to visit Burma (50 USD per person) and Cambodia (40 USD per person) we have to apply in advance for a tourist visa.
Getting to Penang from Thailand is entirely dependent on where you are coming from. We flew to Malaysia’s Penang International Airport (PEN) via AirAsia, a budget-friendly airline that often has ridiculously low fares. AirAsia has direct flights to Penang, Malaysia from Bangkok (DMK), Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Krabi, and Pattaya. Our international flights home to Chiang Mai, Thailand (CNX) from Penang, Malaysia (PEN) cost 2,900 THB (83 USD) each.
Public bus routes combined with taxis or direct private ‘visa-run’ service vans are affordable options if you’re coming from Thailand’s southern provinces. If you’re coming from the central, northern, or Isaan regions of Thailand, an international flight or a train ride to Butterworth plus a ferry ride are most time effective.
Having Fun in George Town
We turned this Thai visa run to Penang into a mini vacation just as we did with our Thai visa run to Vientiane, Laos a few years back. Once in Penang, we spent the next several days exploring George Town’s iconic landmarks on foot (with the help of the ‘George Town Map and Walks’ app), drinking the greatly anticipated Carlsberg Royal Stout beer, and eating delicious Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisine in the area.
Our hotel was a fantastic find, too. Starting at around 40 USD per night the Chulia Mansion in George Town offered clean, spacious rooms and more free amenities than any hotel we’ve ever stayed in. This included free breakfast, free tea and snacks in the dining area throughout the day, a free glass of wine per person every night booked, and free 1kg laundry washed per day.
Chulia Mansion was within a close walk of many food stalls and restaurants (several offering late-night dining options) and there was a good choice of cafés and bars, too. Chris got an excellent haircut at the highly rated barber shop Son & Dad Barber before we applied for our Thai visas at the consulate. And although we didn’t use the services, there was a passport photo shop just across the street from the hotel if we had needed photos.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that we had pleasant taxi experiences the entire time while we in Penang. The drivers were courteous and always used the meter, which was a stark contrast to our trip to Kuala Lumpur! That alone has us looking forward to another trip to Penang in the future.
|TIP: A taxi from the airport to Chulia Mansion (19 km) cost us 45 RM one way. The cost of a taxi from Chulia Mansion to the Royal Thai Consulate General (4.5 km) was 20 RM one way.|