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Penang Visa Run

THAILAND | Thursday, 7 June 2012 | Views [10228] | Comments [7]

Currently I’m laid in my very bland, but clean room in Penang, Malaysia, halfway through my visa-run. The blandness of the walls kind of match my mood – that numb, empty, though not unpleasant feeling that I sometimes have when arriving in a new foreign place.

Arriving at the pier on Koh Tao to catch the night-boat, I was mildly horrified to find that it was to be the crap night-boat , instead of the nice one with bunkbeds and air-conditioning. I ran to the pharmacy and bought sea-sickness pills and asked for some ‘sleeping tablets’. ‘Hmm… I have Valium’, the pharmacist replied. Valium it is then.

The rough seas to start the journey aptly represented the long tunnel of suffering I was about to enter, I thought. However, once we were travelling south past Koh Samui and Ko Phagnan, the boat was sheltered from the swell . I was afraid of taking Valium so I opted for a sea-sickness pill only and such was my level of comfort, stretched out on the mattress, not even a nice smile from a French girl could stop me from putting my head down and falling into a blissful slumber.

Even the 11 hour minivan journey wasn’t painful, given my legroom on the front row of the back seats. Next thing I know I’m sat at a man’s desk inside Banana Guesthouse in Penang, Malaysia, asking him how much everything was in Thai Baht and realizing I knew absolutely nothing about the country I’m in.

Fuck it, I’ll just head down to Starbucks and KFC at the nearby mall, ignoring the smell of raw sewage by the side of the road on the way and the hints of poverty all around; the careless, ignorant and probably naïve tourist.



Ok, so for anyone who is here fact-finding, you might be interested that on my visa run to Banana Guesthouse in Penang (Malaysia) from Thailand my options were a 60-day Single-Entry Tourist Visa and two more options which were not open to me. These were; 3 month Single Entry Non-Immigrant Visa and 1 Year Multiple Entry Non-Immigrant Visa. They told me I could only get these visas with documents showing proof of employment, work permit etc. So for your average tourist/backpacking like me, it's the 60-day visa. I know that I could extend this visa by 30 days on Koh Samui too, if I wanted to.

You don't have to go and get the visa yourself, there are many guesthouses here in Penang (Banana included of course) that do it all for you. You just give them your passport and some money and hey presto the next day you have your passport and nice shiny visa back in your hand. They will also arrange your transport for you to many different places in Thailand.

If you're British and you think you might want to spend more than 30 days in Thailand, getting a nice long multiple entry visa IN BRITAIN BEFORE YOU LEAVE is the best plan of action. For those who don't know, single-entry means you can enter Thailand once during your visa. Multiple entry means the obvious (but I don't know how many entries you get). Obviously this is handy if you're doing the standard Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand backpacking route. However, I have heard that you can get long visas for Thailand in Northern Laos, do your own research on this.

Some people do visa-runs by plane in Thailand, because if you enter the country by plane you get the 30-day visa exemption. If you enter Thailand by land with no visa you only get a 15-day visa exemption.


Tags: backpacking, malaysia, penang, tourist visa, visa, visa malaysia, visa penang, visa run malaysia




I'm gonna be in Penang in a few days, to get a 60 day visa for Thailand. I'm just gonna get the standard single entry tourist visa. I plan to arrive in Penang around 2 AM, this coming Friday. Will the visa services from the hostels be able to get my passport back to me on Saturday morning, or, will I have to stay in Penang all weekend and wait?


  Kirk Daughtry Jul 3, 2013 5:48 AM


Hi Kirk. I don't know, BUT these guys will:

This is the guesthouse I used (and 1000's of visa-runners a year do too). Give them a call on the phone - they will answer your question for sure and I've no doubt it will be correct also.

  andrew_stelmach Jul 3, 2013 6:46 AM


Hi Andrew, Thanks for the interesting read.
I was just wondering what time you got your passport back the next day?
I am hoping that there will be time to catch the 17.30 flight back to Bangkok.


  Angie Jul 3, 2013 4:22 PM


Oops...I mean 17.10 flight

  Angie Jul 3, 2013 4:39 PM


im flying into bangkok and will only get a 30 day visa on arrival,can i get a 2 month multiple entry visa at banana guest house for thailand or do they only get you a single 60 day visa?

  barry Sep 13, 2014 11:29 PM


I can only reiterate what I've already said here i.e. AT THE TIME, I could only get a single-entry, not a multiple entry from Banana Guesthouse in Penang.

HOWEVER, definitely your best option is to call (yes, call) or email Banana Guesthouse and ask them. These things change quite a lot, so getting the info straight from source is the best bet.


Post up your findings here, Barry - it's always useful for people to be able to find up to date visa info on forums.

  andrew_stelmach Sep 14, 2014 12:27 AM


thanking you so much,i will ask them and let u know soon as

  barry Sep 14, 2014 12:52 AM



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