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Of all the countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand is fairly relaxed about it’s entry requirements and having visited by both air and land borders, I found it to be one of the simplest in the region.
However, you may have noticed that in addition to having a passport and valid visa or visa exemption, one of the requirements to enter Thailand is having proof of onward travel. This is something that is asked for by certain governments around the world as a way of reducing illegal immigration.
Whilst some countries have strict enforcement of this rule, Thailand doesn’t ask for this every single time. I’ve never been asked for proof of onward travel when entering Thailand but I have spoken to other travellers who have so it’s best to be prepared. if you plan on staying in the region for a while, you may not have a return ticket booked so this guide will give you a few hacks to acquire the cheapest proof of onward travel for Thailand.
Thailand Visa Requirements
Citizens of 56 countries including most European countries and the united states are able to enter using a 30 day visa exemption which can be done on arrival. If you plan on staying longer than this, you’ll need to do a border run before your visa expires and get an additional 30 days. You can do up to two border runs per year via land borders or you can enter the country three times in any six month period by air. There should be no charge for a 30 day tourist exemption visa.
If you’re from a country that’s not part of the visa exemption scheme or you’re visiting for other purposes than tourism, then you’ll need to apply for either a 60 day single entry visa or a 6 month multiple entry visa in advance of your visit. Find more information on this on the Thai embassy.
For all of the Visas mentioned above, immigration policy states that you should have proof of onward travel before your visa expires.
What is Proof of Onward Travel
Proof of onward travel is evidence that you plan to leave the country before your visa expires. Whilst some countries require this to be a flight ticket, Thailand is relaxed on it being a confirmed air, train, bus or boat ticket.
To be valid, the onward travel should be before midnight on the expiry date of your visa.
Do I Need Proof of Onward Travel for Visiting Thailand?
Proof of onward travel may be asked for by the airline or by immigration when you arrive in Thailand. In reality, it is very unlikely that you’ll be asked for it but I have spoken to travellers and read many forums where people have been asked. You are more likely to be asked if you have already have a number of recent Thai visa or visa exemptions in your passport.
Cheapest Ways to Get Proof of Onward Travel
If you are entering Thailand on a one way ticket or are travelling through the region by land, you may not have an exit plan. Here are 4 cheap ways you can acquire proof of onward travel for your peace of mind when entering the country.
1. Refundable plane ticket
If you want to play things by the book, you could actually buy a ticket for your intended return journey but ensure it is refundable so you can claim your money back once you have entered the country.
Unfortunately there aren’t many airlines that offer fully refundable tickets and most come with a service fee. The cheapest service fee I saw was British Airways at £15 service fee.
I would not recommend this method, most airlines I researched only gave you 24 hours to claim a refund, any delays to your journey could see you fork out the full amount, its too much of a risk.
2. Disposable plane ticket
With this method you could book a cheap flight for a journey that you never intend to make. This was my original method on my first trip to Thailand, I booked a £24 flight from Krabi to Kuala Lumpur and cancelled it afterwards.
To find a cheap disposable flight, visit skyscanner and enter Thailand as the start point and Malaysia as the end point, add the month you wish to travel and find the cheapest one way flight. You could also check prices for Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar but generally I found Malaysia to be the cheapest.
It is unlikely that you’ll ever get any money back from cancelling a flight like this.
3. Rent a plane ticket
A popular method for acquiring proof of onward travel is to rent a ticket for a short period of time using onwardticket.com.
For $12 (around £9) you can rent a fully legit flight ticket. You’ll be emailed the ticket which will be valid for at least 48 hours to allow you to travel. Because it’s a genuine ticket, even if the airline check the PNR number it wil come up in their system.
The ticket will be automatically cancelled by the company after you’ve used it and you’ll never be at risk of paying more than the $12 rental fee.
Be careful as a few companies who offer similar services are actually a scam so only use this one which has got loads of great reviews, these can be read here.
This method is ideal for countries where the onward travel must be a flight ticket but in Thailand they will accept air, train, bus or boat tickets, which brings me on to my final method:
4. Disposable bus ticket *recommended for Thailand*
On my most recent entry to Thailand, I used this method as it proved to be the cheapest proof of onward travel.
You can book an onward bus ticket using 12go.asia and print out the confirmation. This is the biggest online site for booking transport in Southeast Asia. On my visit, I found a ticket from Hat Yai (Thailand) to Komtar (Malaysia) for £10 and I got a 50% refund when I cancelled it, costing a grand total of £5.
Another cheap journey to check on 12go.asia is Nong Khai (Thailand) to Vientiane (Laos) which can be bought from around £6.
You won’t always get a refund from 12go but it’s a nice bonus when you do.
Although it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll need to show the proof of onward travel, in my opinion it’s worth having to hand. This is especially true if you’ve invested serious money in a flight ticket and travel plans, the extra £5 for peace of mind is worthwhile. Happy travels!
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Kieren is the avid traveller behind the blog. His adventures have included Interrailing through Europe, road tripping the US and backpacking SE Asia.