Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands, is situated at the very North of Malaysia, less than 50 kilometers off the coast of Thailand. Knowing that you’ll not be surprised that there are frequent ferries running daily from Langkawi to Thailand. While it is possible to get from Langkawi to Koh Lipe by ferry as well – and Koh Lipe is more interesting destination than Satun – we chose to go from Langkawi to Satun because of one simple reason.
In 2016 only in Satun you could get a visa on arrival for Thailand (VOA) (now you can get it also in Koh LIpe). Most of Europeans don’t need visa when traveling to Thailand for a short period of time, but we, Latvians, need it.
If not for the VOA Satun is the place you want to go if you are planning to travel in Thailand overland. You can catch a bus going to Krabi and Phuket from Satun bus station.
RELATED: 35 Best Things to Do in Langkawi
Traveling From Langkawi to Satun by Ferry
Journey from Langkawi to Satun by ferry is just a little bit more than 1 hour long. There are at least two ferries running daily, first one leaving to Satun at about 9 AM and last one – at about 5 PM. Online booking isn’t available. But advance booking is available only 1 day prior to departure. Most people buy tickets on the same day.
You can buy your Langkawi – Satun ferry ticket from the ticket booth, located some 100 meters from the entrance of Langkawi Ferry terminal.
Busiest time here is Sunday evening, when Thai people visiting Malaysia for a weekend are coming back home. And Friday evening, when Malay people are going to Thailand for a weekend. If you are planning to travel on these times I would recommend you to buy a ticket in advance.
Only one way ferry tickets are available.
UPDATE: In February 2017 one-way ticket from Langkawi to Satun cost us 35 Malaysian Ringgits / 350 Thai Bahts.
Along with a ticket you will be given an arrival/departure card, which you need to fill in. In case you lose it at some moment, they will give you a new one upon arrival to Thailand.
To buy a ticket you will need to show your passport
You will need to pass a passport control also before boarding a ferry. Because that’s when you will be officially leaving Malaysia and going to Thailand. After that you will need to show your passport one more time already in Thailand, when getting out of the ferry at Tammalang Port, which is some 10 kilometers away from Satun.
If you don’t need visa in Thailand or you already have visa acquired in advance, they will just check your passport, arrival/departure card, and you will be free to go.
If you need to obtain visa on arrival in Thailand you will be invited in the office, where immigration officer will finish all the formalities.
Getting Visa on Arrival in Satun Immigration Checkpoint – Our Experience
In April 2016 (the same like in February 2017), we had two options:
- to apply for tourist visa in advance through any of Thai Embassies;
- to apply for visa on arrival (VOA) in any of Immigration Checkpoints providing such an option. See the full list of Immigration Checkpoints providing it on the site of Royal Thai Embassy. There you will also find information whether you can apply for visa on arrival in Thailand or not.
We chose latter, because we were planning to be in Thailand for only about a week. And in such a situation, when you are planning to spend in Thailand not more than 15 days, visa on arrival is often the best choice.
To Apply for Visa on Arrival in Thailand (source: Royal Thai Embassy):
- The applicant must possess means of living expenses at the amount of 10,000 Baht per person and 20,000 Baht per family accordingly.
- The applicant must possess a passport with at least six-month validity and must present full paid ticket which is usable within 15 days since the date of entry
- Visa on arrival is provided at 24 designated international checkpoints and applicants should submit the application form duly filled out and to which his/her recent photograph (4 x 6 cm) is attached. The application fee is 1,000 Baht.
We weren’t asked about, how much cash do we have with us. Nor anyone asked us about return or onward ticket as a proof that we are planning to leave Thailand in 15 days or sooner. Luckily for us, I must admit. Because we DIDN’T have any onward or return tickets. We were planning to come back using the same Langkawi – Satun Ferry service, and, as I already mentioned, they aren’t selling two way tickets at all.
If asked for a return ticket we were planning to explain our situation, and hope for the best.
It was different when we were flying from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai,Thailand, 2 years ago. Then, to get on a plane at first we needed to show tickets for an onward journey, showing that we will be leaving Thailand. So better get a ticket for an onward journey, especially if you know, where you want to go next and approximately when. Otherwise it can be tricky.
We both had different size photographs, and none of them were the right size. But it wasn’t an obstacle to get our Thailand visa on arrival.
And Then… They Asked for More Money
As stated on the site of Royal Thai Embassy, application fee is 1000 baht.
At the moment when I was already thinking, OK, looks like it’s over, immigration officer left the office. And shortly later some another man, more official looking and also older, came in and said to us: “You need to pay 1200 baht. Because it’s holiday today.”
We had 2500 baht in cash from Langkawi. And we didn’t want to not to be allowed to enter Thailand, so we just paid. We had only a little bit of extra cash, because it’s cheaper to withdraw cash from an ATM in Thailand than to withdraw cash in Malaysia and then to exchange it to Thai Bahts in Thailand.
Recently I read about other Latvians’ experience, applying for visa on arrival at Phuket International Airport, and they like us were asked to pay 1200 baht. So take it into account and better bring some extra cash in case things aren’t going as smooth as planned.
UPDATE, February 2017: Next time it went better, and we were asked the same sum as stated on the site on Royal Thai Embassy.
UPDATE, January 2018: now VOA fee is 2000 baht.
If you have any questions about traveling in Thailand, contact us!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.