Sun, glorious sun.
November 27, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning to stay/live on Koh Samui from March next year until...well, as long as possible, really. Have any other MeFis lived there for a significant amount of time? Any tips?

Hi hive mind,

I've found a fair bit of info on Google and through searching MeFi, but it mostly relates to short stays. I'm looking at going to Koh Samui for as long as possible, basically until my money runs out (then probably somewhere else in Asia to teach, which I've done before, save up, and go back to Samui for another six months). But has anyone stayed for a year or more, and how did that work out visawise? I'm getting a triple entry visa which will be good for six months, ie 3 x 60 days, but can't find much on whether I can extend after that. Also, has anyone managed to find a job on the island and change visas accordingly?

I work freelance (writing and editing) so might be OK for money for some time, but am wondering how people manage to stay in Thailand for years on a tourist visa, and whether it's worth my while looking at this as a long term option. After years of SAD, I want this to be my last Irish winter, and Thailand seems perfect for me in so many ways; I'd appreciate any tips from those in the know.

Other details if relevant: I'm 35, well-travelled, have a couple of years teaching experience, around five years journalism, a few years working in retail, bars etc, as well as some years in social work. I'm happy doing any kind of work or volunteering as long as there's a bit of sunshine. I've chosen Samui over other Thai islands as there's a dog rescue centre I want to volunteer at (I don't think I can get a long term visa this way though). I have an Irish passport and am entitled to a British one as well.

Please feel free to ask any questions and apologies if this question is somewhat vague - I'm just looking absolutely any help you can offer!

Many thanks.
posted by mudkicker to Travel & Transportation around Samui Island, Thailand (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Immigration has cracked down A LOT on overstays, and changed the "border run" rules, so I wouldn't advise arriving without a solid plan in place for how you're going to extend/obtain visas.
posted by cyndigo at 3:19 PM on November 27, 2010

Cheers cyndigo. A solid plan's what I'm aiming for, if anyone can help. If it looks like I can't stay beyond the six months then I'll be hotfooting it out of Thailand asap - I do *not* intend to mess with Thai cops or immigration! It's really just (legal) loopholes or ways to stay that anyone might have managed I'd be interested in - I know there are one year student visas, for example.

Ah well, in 15 years I can get a retirement visa :)
posted by mudkicker at 3:34 PM on November 27, 2010

Ha, I'll have mine sooner. ;-)

Good on you for not fooling with the border run folderol, as it's a real mess. I've always done the non-immigrant B ... do you have any friends there who could arrange the necessary paperwork for that? MUCH easier to do from your home country.

Education visas seem doable but I don't personally know anyone who's gone that route. I'm sure you're looking around on ThaiVisa; lots of good advice there (along with some rubbish).
posted by cyndigo at 3:47 PM on November 27, 2010

Bah to you and your oldness!

Yep, am looking on ThaiVisa but thought I'd ask here too. Have no mates in Thailand unfortunately, hopefully I'll make some out there who can help while I leave the country...I looked into trying to get a B visa as a self-employed type (journalism), but it doesn't seem feasible. I'll likely end up staying for the six months and having to leave, which if it has to be done it has to be done, but I'm thinking there must be some way around it. It's just that after years of trying to make it and working for peanuts, I'm finally doing OK with my freelancing, so in theory should be able to work anywhere. Most frustrating to be foiled by visa regulations when I just want to scribble quietly in a beach hut and play with the pooches :(

Are you living in Thailand at the minute? ::envy::
posted by mudkicker at 4:01 PM on November 27, 2010

My understanding is that since the crackdown on visas, the day of the perpetual, monthly visa run is over. If I recall, you can't stay in the kingdom more than 180 days total in the year on a tourist visa now. All of the expats I knew had either, legitimate work visas or retirement visas. One of the internet cafes I used to go to had flyers for a part time, learn-to-speak-Thai, language school that they claimed would qualify for a education visa, so that may be possible.
Visa rules in Cambodia are more relaxed. It's possible to obtain a business visa there, which can be extended indefinitely. Of course, the beach at Sihanoukville is not the beach at Koh Samui, but it might be better than the beach wherever you are currently kicking mud.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:28 PM on November 27, 2010

Cambodia looks like it could well be a viable option after Samui - thanks, ActingTheGoat (and you have the same nickname as my friend). I'm kicking mud in rainy, snowy, wet, cold, Belfast at the moment, so any beach, anywhere, is preferable. Ta for the tip :)
posted by mudkicker at 4:49 PM on November 27, 2010

Cambodia has much less developed beaches than Sihanoukville. Think Kampot or Kep.

Cambodian business visas also tend to be relatively easy to get and extend (as long as you can pay a bit over the official fees). IIRC it's best to get a business visa from an embassy, because the on arrival ones aren't as easily extended. But check that.

If you do need to do the occasional border run, I understand you can now do it direct from Kep to Vietnam via the border crossing near Ha Tien.

This would also set you up to visit Phu Quoc on your way to HCMC for a new visa. It's not exactly a secret, but Phu Quoc is still not on the main backpackers highway, and it's simply awesome for beaches, forest and food. They also have their own breed of dog.

(But the place can smell a bit like fish sauce and drying squid..)

English teaching work is available in both Cambodia and Vietnam, so that might be a plus too.
posted by Ahab at 12:14 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks Ahab. Kep looks good for me. And then maybe Vietnam...
posted by mudkicker at 3:33 PM on November 28, 2010

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