In case you haven’t heard, the immigration office moved from the ever so convenient Suan Phlu location to Chaeng Wattana. If you have no clue where Chaeng Wattana is don’t feel alone.
Let’s put it this way, the route I recommend unless you’re well used to the bus system in Bangkok is to take the BTS all the way out to the last stop at Mo Chit. From Mo Chit just get in a taxi and ask them to take you to the immigration office at Chaeng Wattana. Be sure to specify Chaeng Wattana as I thought my taxi driver was going to get an erection when I asked to go to the immigration office and he thought he was getting a fare all the way to Suan Phlu.
Just tell the driver “Thor Mor Chaeng Wattana” or “Gong Soon Chaeng Wattana”
Ride will be about 10 – 15 min and cost about 100 – 120 baht plus toll road should you choose it. Personally I don’t think it’s that much faster.
If you’re really stuck print out the address below in Thai and hand it to the driver.
120 ม.3 แจ้งวัฒนะ ซอย 7
There are some signs once you get into the area with all of the other government buildings. It’s way, way, way in the back so if you get a little scared when you see all Thai signs after seeing the immigration sign in English don’t worry, you haven’t passed it.
I was quite surprised not to see more farangs outside but once you pull up there should be two or three waiting for a taxi and you’ll know you’re in the right place.
Be warned, the building is HUGE! You will feel like you’re walking into a large conference facility back home. Follow the signs towards immigration.
Once inside it’s a bit like the old place. They have an information counter where you tell them what you’re there for. They give you the forms to fill out and you walk over to some desks and fill out the forms. Once completed you go to an inside information counter where they check you’ve completed everything and then give you a ticket and show you where to wait for your number to be called.
Unlike the old immigration office they actually separate functions pretty well. I was going for a visa extension on an ED visa and they had a custom section for it. So it’s less like the huge cattle call that they did at the old place.
Overall it’s much, much more efficient than Suan Phlu in terms of how quickly things are turned around. However, it’s still confusing because they tell you to go wait in the purple section and you still don’t know if you should walk up and hand them your passport and paperwork or wait for your number to be called. Making it worse is that they don’t have a number system and they just call out numbers. At least in my section they were going sequentially so at least you avoid seeing 333, 987, 412 on the current number queue and you know exactly where in the queue you’re at. Oh, and they might call out the number in Thai so I hope you can count to at least 999 in Thai.
One of the changes that I liked is that they don’t sit behind a big imposing counter. You actually walk into their little offices and hand them your paperwork. Everything is done right in front of you (checking app completeness and taking payment) and then you go sit back down and wait for your passport to be stamped and handed back to you.
I had two things to complete on this trip; I had to get my visa extension and I needed a re-entry permit. When I finished with the visa extension I went back out to the info booth got the paperwork for the re-entry filled it out, got a new number, was told to wait in a different section, and they did the old give us the passport and your money and go wait thing.
I will say this, I got a visa extension and a re-entry permit in 1 hour and 45 min. At Suan Phlu I’ve waited 2 hours just to complete one task so major, major kudos to the new immigration office for being very efficient.
I still don’t like having to haul myself way the hell out there but if it’s that much faster it might be a fair tradeoff.
Also, keep in mind that this immigration office is not open Sat or Sun. Open from 08:30 to 16:30 M-F and closed from 12- 1 for lunch. Obviously, they’re closed all public holidays as well.