He was responding to questions from The Phuket News after the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that Thailand and Russia have a specific agreement stating that Russian citizens may enter Thailand visa-free as often as they wish, each time for 30 days.
This would seem to allow Russians to do back-to-back “out-in” visa runs, leaving the country and then coming back in immediately for another 30 days.
However, Gen Sakda told The Phuket News, “Russians can come into Thailand without [getting a visa beforehand] an unlimited [number of times].”
But, he added, “They need to show proof that they are entering for tourism purposes. They are allowed to stay only 30 days [at a time].
“We have found that [many] do not come for tourism purposes. Lots of them are working illegally and are doing out-in visa runs in order to continue working.”
He explained that if they cannot prove that they are re-entering the country for tourism (for example by showing hotel bookings, a ticket out of the country or sufficient funds to support themselves while in Thailand), “They won’t be allowed in.”
So despite the unique agreement between the two countries, Russians will face the same tests when they do an out-in run as do citizens of other “visa on arrival” countries.
Pol Lt Col Somchai Jitsa’ngop, Deputy Commander of Deputy Immigration at Ranong, which until recently saw dozens of foreigners from Phuket doing out-ins every day, confirmed that the Russian announcement changes nothing.
“The normal conditions for tourists who want to travel in Thailand apply. Russia is not a special case. If Russian tourists want to travel in Thailand, they have to ask.
“Tourists can come to Thailand but they have to inform us about their accommodation plans.”