Looking for a great new destination for a Thai visa run? Run out of ideas for a short trip to get another 60-day tourist visa? Spending time in Thailand but want more than the 30-day visa on arrival?
Travelling to a city that has a Thai embassy to apply for a two-month tourist visa is common practice among long-term expats, digital nomads, and anyone keen to spend a bit longer in the country without having to leave after a month.
Taipei might not be first on your list of destinations. It's probably way down your list of locations for a visa run but I'm going to show you why I think it's a great destination for a visa run. Watch this space for my review of Taipei for tourists. Hint: Go there!
Where is the Thailand embassy in Taiwan?
Thailand's representative office in Taipei is not actually an embassy. It’s a Trade and Economic Office but it has powers to issue visas. This is probably the reason why few expats and travellers apply for visas there. There's some uncertainty about this office's ability to issue visas to non-Taiwanese. But let me clear up any misconceptions. Non-Taiwanese can apply for and receive a visa at this Trade and Economic Office.
The office is located on the 12th floor of a nondescript building on Songjiang road in a central city location. There’s no sign outside so look for number 10491
When you reach level 12 the door opens directly into the waiting area. The desk on the opposite side is where a secretary will quickly check that you have the form filled out and your passport with you and issue you with a number.
I've seen many complaints and comments on forums and groups online about how disorganized the office is. On the contrary, I found it very professional and organized.
Once you have your number wait till you see it on the large electronic board. Your number will appear along with the counter you need to go to in the next room to hand over your documents. It couldn’t be simpler. I was there for 25 minutes.
How Long Does the Visa Application Process Take?
The website states that the visa process takes 3 days. But this timeframe appears to be only for some nationalities. My visa was processed on the same day. 4 hours after I left the office I returned to pick up my visa. I was no longer than 10 minutes in the office when I returned for the visa.
What You Need to Bring
The Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei is a bit more strict with the visa requirements compared to the embassies in Laos, Vietnam, or Myanmar, for example.
I was asked for proof of income as I’ve spent some time in Thailand. I was also asked for a printout of my flight into Thailand, which I’d forgotten to print. Showing the flight confirmation email or even PDF on your phone/tablet/laptop is not accepted. A paper copy is the only way.
I had to make a quick run down to the awesome Futureward coworking space to log into my bank account, download my bank statements and print them out. Then run back to the trade office before the 11.30am cut off point. I just made it.
These are the documents you should definitely have with you:
- Passport with at least 6 months validity and a full page free for the visa stamp
- A printed copy of an up-to-date bank statement. Try to get the most recent statement possible. To-the-day is best. Obviously, if you’re looking for a 60-day tourist visa, you shouldn’t have any credits to your account from Thai companies or Thai individuals on your statement. That would send a warning signal to the authorities that you’re working illegally in the country.
- A printed copy of your flights into Thailand
- A printed copy of flights out of Thailand within 60 days of your intended arrival in the country. This is another very important document that this office seems to be interested in more than some of the other embassies I’ve been to. You could, of course, have a bus ticket out of the country but it’s safer to get a flight.
- NT$1200 fee in cash only
- One passport size photo.
Currently, the visa application form on the website of the Trade and Economic Office has the words “Embassy of Manila” on it. Even the official stamp on the visa will mention the Embassy of Thailand in the Philippines. But don't worry about it. I believe the Thailand Trade and Economic office can’t issue these documents so they have to do it under the name of another embassy.
Why go to Taipei for the Visa Run?
- The visa process is a little more involved than other embassies but the turnaround is fast – Same day service, in fact.
- Taipei is an amazing city with great food, friendly people, an excellent transports system, and beautiful people and scenery all around.
- Flights can be just as cheap as flights to more common destinations in Asia
- Taiwan offers visas on arrival for 90 days for most nationalities.
- For digital nomads and entrepreneurs living in Thailand, Taipei is a great alternative to the typical short-trip destinations for the two-month visa run.
Getting to Taipei
Taipei is around 3 and half hours from Bangkok by air. I use NokScoot airlines, a company I’d never heard of. It’s a budget airline based out of Thailand, flying from Don Mueang (DMK) airport. I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t vouch for other flights on their network but the large passenger jet (777-300) which flew us to Taipei was very comfortable. I had extra legroom on both legs of the trip. Again, I’m not sure if this was a once off or a regular feature. The air crew was very pleasant and I have only good things to say about the actual flights. The flights are often very cheap. I paid less than US$130 for the return trip.
There are a few downsides, however. The scheduled times aren’t very convenient (for the cheapest flights). Leaving Thailand at 2 am and returning from Taipei at 9.40 am means you’ll miss a lot of sleep both ways. The worst part: you can’t check in online which means a long queue for check in 3 hours before the flight. This is inconvenient on the way to Taipei but on the return journey you’ll need to check in at 6.40am. And without a valid boarding pass, you can’t go airside. So your choices are to take a very early train to the airport (earliest from the central station leaves at 6 am and takes 50 minutes) or sleep at the airport. Sleeping at the airport without a boarding pass means sleeping in the very cold check in area. Airside is quite comfortable and a pleasant place to spend the night (reclining seats and relaxation areas) but if you’re flying Nokscoot you’ll only get an hour or two in there. For more information on ‘airport' accommodation check the sleeping in airports website.
Taipei’s airport does have pretty good Wifi everywhere unlike Bangkok’s Don Mueang DMK and Suvarnabhumi, BKK airports. So if you need to catch up on work it’s a good spot to spend a few hours while you wait for your flight.