How I lived in Thailand For 1 Year on Tourist Visas

So I just wrapped up living in Thailand for a full year on tourist visas. I quit my job, had a bunch of stuff and really wanted to travel. So I decided to make Thailand my home for another year.

I do not suggest you do the same, but I know a lot of foreigners like Thailand and are always curious about how to stay in Thailand long terms.

If that’s you, I suggest you get the elite visa, get a job or get the 6 month tourist visa. As I was coming off a non-b visa, I could not obtain the 6 month visa (which can only be gotten in your home country).

This is what I did to live in Thailand for 1 year on tourist visas:

  • Quit my job at the University (thus losing my non-b visa).
  • Go to Cambodia and get a 3 month tourist visa. I stayed here for 1 week.
  • My passport expired so I got a new passport.
  • I then went Hanoi Vietnam to get another tourist visa. I stayed here for 1 week.
  • After that visa expired I went to Korea for a month.
  • Then I went to Laos and finally returned home to the United States.

Onward flight Advice

Airlines and immigration will likely ask you for proof of an onward ticket. You NEED an onward ticket. Your options are to either book then cancel the cheapest flight possible or to do what I did, find a service where you can “rent” an airline ticket. I won’t link to any website here because they are always changing but just do your due diligence.

Even if you’re wanting to get a visa on arrival for Thailand, you still need an onward ticket or they won’t issue you a visa. Even if you apply and get a 3 month tourist visa, you still need an onward ticket.

When Airlines ask you for an ownard flight

It really depends on the airline if they ask you for proof of an onward ticket.

Why?

Well if you get rejected by immigration the airline has to fly you back and they have to pay for it. The only way around this is if you sign a waiver in the instance you don’t have an onward ticket and get denied entry.

When I flew to Korea for the first time on Air Asia, NO ONE asked me for an onward ticket. But when I flew a second time on Jin Air they asked me for proof of an onward ticket.

For this trip it was actually no problem because my plan was to visit my lovely Korean girlfriend for 2 weeks and then fly back to the United States as I was wrapping up my year in Thailand. But this was actually the first time I was asked at the airport waiting to check in if I had an onward ticket.

I guess I was lucky because I’ve never been asked at the airport before and the one time I was, I actually had an onward ticket.

When applying for a tourist visa at a consulate you’ll need an onward ticket

When I was in Cambodia, Laos, Korea and Vietnam the Thai embassy in each of these countries asked for proof of an onward flight.

Onward tickets are annoying because bad people ruin a good thing. I travel regularly so I’m not always sure when exactly I’m going to leave. But I’m going to leave!

To meet this requirement is simple. You just find a reputable online service where you can pay a small fee, and rent an airline ticket. I’m not going to link to any website here because the best sites are always changing. Just jump into a Facebook groups and look at reviews of various services and use common sense. Google “rent onward ticket” and what not then look at the reviews.

This is what I did and it worked fine for me with immigration.

You’ll buy your ticket and then they will send you your itinerary. You simply submit this with all the other things immigration wants.

DONE.

It’s really not a big issue to be honest with you.

Just make sure to get your onward ticket on the day you plan on going to immigration as most tickets will be valid 48-72 hours. Immigration does not really care where the ticket is going, it’s just a formality for the staff because they have a job to do and having an onward ticket is part of the application process.

Last year when I quit my university gig to work 100% online I ended up living in Thailand for a whole year by doing visa runs every 3 months.

It was a pain in the butt and I don’t suggest you do it as it’s expensive and risky as immigration can reject you.

The only reason I did it was because I had previously lived and worked in Thailand. So I had stuff, and apartment a bike. I also wanted to travel and was now free to do so.

If you want to stay 6 months, no problem. Get a tourist visa in your country for Thailand, when it expires get another visa in Laos then plan on leaving the country.

Can they reject your visa application? Does this happen?

YES AND YES

This happened to a friend of mine who was getting his 4th tourist visa in Vietnam. He was an English chap, and he had this system down of flying to Ho Chi Minh city, applying for his Thai tourist visa and then flying back to Thailand as soon as possible. He did the exact trip 3 times in a row.

He was abusing the the tourist visa for all intents and purposes. For me, I was traveling. I stayed in Camboda for a few weeks, Korea for a Month, Vietnam for 2 weeks. I was actually using my visa runs to travel. This English guy would just fly in, apply for a Thai visa the same day, then fly out of the country a day or two later.

Silly.

The embassy in Vietnam gave him the visa but when he reached immigration at the airport they rejected his visa and instead gave him a 1 month visa on arrival. What he ended up doing was getting married to his Thai girlfriend whom he was engaged to anyways.

This problem just forced them to expedite the marriage 🙂

To put it as simply as possible – don’t push your luck. If you want to stay in Thailand for a year get a 6 month tourist visa which can be extended to about 9 months then go get a 3 month tourist visa from Laos then leave the country and do it over again.

Better yet, get a job teaching English, start a business or enroll in a language school.

Immigration for any country does not want to see you abusing the tourist visa.

Side note, avoid Malaysia for visa runs. Unless it’s your first Thai tourist visa they will 100% reject your application.

Well Why Were You So Lucky to stay a year?

I was not so much lucky, I actually for once in my life had good timing.

My first visa run was because I was coming off a non-b work visa. So getting a tourist visa in Cambodia was no issue as it’s normal for people to transition from this visa to a tourist visa.

I decided to go to Cambodia for 2 reasons. The first is because I wanted to live in Cambodia for a bit and get a feel for the capital city. The second was that Cambodia is one of the stricter countries so it was a good idea to go here for the first time.

After my 3 months on this initial tourist visa, I decided to head over to Hanoi Vietnam to get my second tourist visa. I love Hanoi, it’s one of my favorite cities. I got a Thai tourist visa here with no problems as well.

Once back in Bangkok, my passport was set to expire. So I needed to get a new passport and thus a new visa number. This may have been why I was able to get 4 tourist visas but immigration does take your picture at the airport so who knows.

All I can say that my visa runs were actual trips. I was not leaving the country for a few days then rushing back to Thailand like some losers do. I’m not broke and I truly enjoy travel.

After this second tourist visa was up, I flew to Korea and stayed with my girlfriend for a month. I think because I was out of Thailand for a month is partly why I had no problem getting another tourist visa with no issue at immigration but again this is speculation.

If you’ve noticed a trend, when I do a “visa run” it’s always a 1 week trip at a minimum. I don’t do these weird sit in a van, cross the boarder and come back the same day trips.

Then after this third visa was up, I needed a bit more time to get my things sorted so I went to Laos and got my final tourist visa. Then after I flew to Korea before going home to the United States.

Can you actually do visa runs for a year?

It was cool to do for 1 year, but it’s not the sort of lifestyle I want to lead because I really want to focus on making money and growing various income sources and that is hard to do if you always have to take some protracted trip for a week or more every 3 months.

To recap, I went to Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea and Laos.

Do not, and I repeat DO NOT go to Malaysia for a Thai tourist visa. Unless it’s your first tourist visa you’re getting they will 100% reject your application and you’ll be stuck with a 1 month visa on arrival. Even if you’re coming of a non-b visa as an English teacher. They only issue tourist visas for first time visitors, no exceptions.

I’ve not heard a single person getting a visa from Malaysia.

Thanks for reading!