To get a tourist visa to Thailand, you have to go or send your passport to a Thai consulate outside Thailand. As most westerners will tell you, some Thai consulates are excellent, some are so-so and some are downright abysmal and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re planning on taking a vacation in Thailand, or are already in Thailand and need a new 90 day tourist visa (60 days plus a 30 day renewal), here are what many westerners agree are the Thai consulates to go to and those to avoid.
Thai Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malysia – Many westerners and other foreign nationals travel to Kuala Lumpur (KL) every month to apply for a tourist visa at the Thai consulate. It’s rare to hear a foreigner complain about the Thai consulate in KL as they have one of the best reputations of any Thai consulate anywhere. I’ve been to the consulate in Kuala Lumpur at least 10 times for tourist visas and visas for work permits and never had a problem.
The staff is courteous, visas are processed within 24 hours, you get polite and friendly answers to questions, and the consulate building itself is easy to find. I recommend using the Thai Consulate in Kuala Lumpur as they offer a great service with very little hassle. Just make sure you follow their rules about drop off and pick up times of passports for visas. They are strict, but I haven’t heard of anyone that’s been turned down for a tourist visa.
Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia – Now for the complete opposite, the Thai Consulate in Penang has the worst reputation with westerners and other foreign nationals of any Thai Consulate and most people recommend avoiding them.
People complain the Penang consulate has unhelpful staff, extremely strict guidelines for tourist visas that no other consulate has, and many people report going all the way to Penang, only to be turned down for a tourist visa. Unlike other consulates, that rarely deny tourist visas unless it’s obvious the applicant isn’t a tourist but is working illegally in Thailand (which nobody should be doing), the Penang Consulate consistently denies tourist visas.
They allow only two back-to-back tourist visas and then the third application is declined. With Thailand’s tourism rates falling, this seems detrimental to the country’s economy.
Thai Consulate in Hull, UK – The Hull Consulate also has a good reputation with tourist visa applicants. Service is fast and efficient, and the staff is polite, friendly and knowledgeable. Visas are processed quickly and rarely denied, as long as the applicant has all the correct paperwork and it’s not obvious he or she is working illegally in Thailand.
Hull is also efficient with mailed-in applications, getting them returned quickly. If you’re going to be in the UK or can mail your passport to them with a return UK address, then the Hull Thai Consulate is well worth dealing with.
Thai Consulate/Embassy, Houston, Texas – Always efficient and helpful, the Thai Consulate in Houston has a good reputation with foreign nationals. I’ve applied for a visa twice with them, via mail, and received my passport with visa stamped in it back at my home address in the US in only three days.
If you’re still in the US or planning on going to the US to visit, applying for a new tourist visa at the Thai Consulate in Houston is easy. Just be aware, you have to be actually in the US to legally mail your passport to the Houston Consulate and receive a visa (some people try to do it through a visa agent in Thailand). You cannot mail it from Thailand through a visa agent as, because you did not physically leave Thailand, this is illegal.
Thai Consulate, Manila, Philippines – Another Thai Consulate to avoid is the consulate in Manila in the Philippines. Many foreign nationals report problems with them – inefficient staff, rude service, tourist visas being denied for no reason, and paperwork being requested that no other embassy or consulate from Thailand requests. Every westerner I have ever spoken to who has dealt with the Thai Consulate in Manila says to avoid them and either go to the Cebu, Philippines, office or to Kuala Lumpur.
Thai Consulate, Phnom Penh – Absolutely avoid the Thai Consulate in Phnom Penh unless you have no other option. Ridiculous requirements, far more than any other consulate, staff that doesn’t seem to know what its doing, and a huge number of declines for things like tourist visas, plus even declines for applications for non-immigrant B visas that are necessary for a Thai work permit, make the Thai Consulate in Phnom Penh equally as bad as the abysmal one in Penang, if not more so.
In fact, if it’s 100% necessary for you to get a visa (ie: one for a work permit), don’t even think about applying for it in Phnom Penh. Not unless you enjoy the run-around and rude service.
Overall, most westerners and foreign nationals complain the Thai consulates in Asia, other than Kuala Lumpur and Cebu, are difficult to deal with. From ridiculous requests for paperwork no other consulate requires, to impolite staff and visa denials, many of the Asian Thai consulates are difficult to deal with. If you can’t go to Kuala Lumpur or Cebu, go to the UK, US, Australia or Canada instead. The staff is more efficient and professional, follows the rules and doesn’t try to create their own, and actually seems to want tourists to come to Thailand.
If you want to know more about tourists’ opinions regarding which Thai Consulate is best, do a search online for each consulate. You’ll find reviews quickly that will show you the experiences other travelers have had and can make up your mind from there.