Is Getting an Education Visa in Thailand Cheaper Than Doing Visa Runs?

Photo copyright, Tim Moffatt - Creative Commons License

Many people still seem to be confused about getting an education visa in Thailand. Is it cheaper than continually doing visa runs? Or should you just continue with the visa runs? For these two questions, the answers are “Almost the same price”, and “No”, and here is why.

Is an Education Visa Cheaper than Visa Runs? – Look at it this way. Most schools are offering a year’s worth of Thai classes for around 25,000 baht. A cheap deal and, actually, quite a fun thing to do.

Visa runs, on the other hand, have to be done every three months and, you also have to factor in the extra cost of four visa extensions (one every three months).

This is why the two ways of being allowed to stay in Thailand are around the same price (about $220 difference), yet the education visa is easier and, actually, more legal.

Here’s a breakdown of what an education visa will cost you versus the cost of constant visa runs.

Education Visa:

25,000 baht (fees to the school)

6,000 baht (fee to apply for education visa plus trip to Cambodia with Jack Golf to get it)

7,600 baht (4 visa extensions – one every 3 months at immigration dept)

Total cost – 38,600, to be allowed to stay in Thailand for  a year

Visa Runs for a Year:

24,000  (4 Tourist Visas via Jack Golf – IF you can get them – Thailand doesn’t like too many back-to-back tourist visas)

7,600 (4 Extensions for Tourist Visas – one for each three months)

Total cost – 31,600 – to be allowed to leave the country every three months

** Note, for tourist visas, this is the cheapest option you can get. If you choose to fly to a country like Malaysia every three months instead, your costs just went far higher – close to 60,000 baht a year).

Overall, while an education visa might be slightly more expensive, it’s a) far more convenient than leaving the country every three months, b) it’s more legal (you’re not really a ‘tourist’ if you’re getting four back-to-back tourist visas, and the Thai government knows it) and, c) you actually get to learn Thai, which is useful and fun.

Education visas too, currently, are renewable for up to 10 years. A far better deal than wasting a day (or longer) every three months doing a visa run.