Thai immigration is a bit funny. In order to switch from a tourist visa to a non-immigrant B visa, one would need to do this outside of the country. After careful consideration (and a gentle nudge from my new company), I decided to head to Kuala Lumpur.
First things, first. A non-immigrant B visa is a business visa that is required before obtaining a work permit in Thailand. To get this visa, you would need a sponsor from a Thai company. There are a few versions of this visa: business purposes, employment and teaching.
My company gave me a whole stack of documents to give to the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and all I couldn’t read because it was in Thai. You also need an application form, a checklist, and one 3×4 photograph.
The easiest way to get to the Thai embassy is to take the Rapid KL, Kelana Jaya line and take it to Ampang Park. From KL Sentral, it’ll cost you 2.70MYR ($0.63). From Ampang Park, you can walk for about 1km or take bus 300/303 to the Royal Thai embassy stop. How convenient!
The consular section of the embassy opens at 09:30. I got there at 07:45 on a Monday morning and there were already some people waiting. The Kuala Lumpur branch of the Thai embassy only accepts 130 visa applications per day.
There is technically a dress code for the embassy, but I did see several backpacker looking guys wearing shorts and were allowed in. But if you can, dress the part.
Once the embassy gates open at 09:30, it was pretty organized. We all formed a line, a guy checked our documents and each person received a number. (Uzbekistan embassy, this is how to run an embassy!)
The initial waiting area is under covered seating section with fans. Once the consular building opened, the lobby was wonderfully air-conditioned. Your number is called, you give your documents and passport for inspection, you say goodbye to your passport for a day and you go back and wait. Another person will call your number, pay 300MYR ($70.04) then you get a temporary receipt. That’s it. After opening, I was in and out of the embassy in 15 minutes. Granted, I had waited outside for 2 hours before.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around the Petronas Towers, looking for air-conditioning, spending money I really shouldn’t be spending then hiding from the afternoon tropical thunderstorms. (NOTE: Kuala Lumpur is way cheaper than Bangkok for clothes!)
Passport pick-up happens the next day at 14:30. I was crazy enough to schedule my flight back to Bangkok at 18:35 and failing to realize until it was too late that Kuala Lumpur’s airport is located 57km away from the embassy. So, I arrived at 11:30 and was the first in line.
Eventually, my new visa line buddies came strolling in after lunch time. The main gate opened at 14:15 and got another number stapled to my temporary receipt. The consular building opened at 14:20 and they already called my number. I had my passport in my hand by 14:25!
I ran the 1km to the metro back to KL Sentral then hopped on the KLIA Ekspres train to the airport at a whopping cost of 49MYR ($11.49) pre-booked online. I took the high-speed train route because I was leaving during rush hour and for two days straight, it rained buckets during the mid-afternoon. If you have some time to spare, the 1 hour+ bus ride from KL Sentral to KLIA2 is 12MYR ($2.80). I arrived at the airport at 15:45, printed my ticket and enjoyed the air-conditioning.
My trip to Kuala Lumpur was short but sweet. And I got my non-immigrant B visa to Thailand! Woohoo!