From November 2023 until the end of April 2024, Russian visitors will be allowed to enter Thailand visa-exempt and remain here for up to 90 days, an increase from the current 30-day visa-exempt entry. More than a million Russian visitors have visited Thailand so far this year.
This move aims to boost visitor arrivals during Thailand’s peak tourist season and stimulate economic growth. According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Russians ranked fifth in tourism arrivals after Malaysia, China, South Korea, and India, with 923,113 individuals arriving there from January to August.
Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan said, “The extension will help attract (more) Russian visitors and benefit the overall local economy,” particularly since a significant number of long-stay tourists and remote workers from Russia have resided in places such as Samui, Phangan, and Phuket.
For many Russian travelers, this provides them with an additional reason to visit and enjoy Thailand. However, this category of visa waiver does not allow a tourist to work in Thailand and the government will be closely monitoring the status of visitors. Qualified visitors looking to stay or work in Thailand long-term (i.e., more than 90 days) could look to obtain a Long-Term Resident (LTR) Visa or an Elite Visa.
Thailand and Russia have a long history of mutual respect. In 2003, President Vladimir Putin became the first Russian leader to visit Thailand in more than a hundred years. In July 2007, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit paid a visit to Russia to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Russia-Thailand relations. The move to extend the stay for Russians comes amidst efforts by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and President Vladimir Putin to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, particularly in investment and agricultural trade. According to TASS, the Russian President assured the Thai premier at their recent meeting that Russia would do its best to develop relations with Thailand further, saying he expected the two economies to boost trade. Last reported figures show trade between Thailand and Russia was worth US$2.7 billion, with Thai exports rising 41% over 2020 to US$1.02 billion.