Stickman's Weekly Column March 3rd, 2024

Dramatic Visa Fees Increase


Late last week the Thai embassy in New Zealand published its new visa rates schedule online. From March 19, the embassy itself won’t accept visa applications anymore and all visa applications must be made online. With the new online system, the fees for a visa to Thailand have increased dramatically.

There has been disbelief and shock at the massive increases in visa fees which will see a single-entry tourist visa increase in price from $NZ 60 to $NZ 300. A single-entry non-immigrant visa (the visa needed for a work permit or a retirement visa or a marriage visa) will increase in price from $NZ 120 to a whopping $NZ 800! For reference, $NZ 1 = 22 baht so a single-entry tourist visa will be priced at the equivalent of about 6,600 baht, getting on for $US200. That means a single-entry non-immigrant visa would be the equivalent of around 18,000 baht, or $US500! A multiple-entry tourist visa will cost $NZ 1,000 and a multiple-entry non-immigrant visa $NZ 2,000!

He Clinic Bangkok

There has been much speculation about the reason for these huge price increases with some saying this is a New Zealand-only thing. For now, the Thai embassy in New Zealand is the only one to have announced these new fees. The Thai consulate in Sydney, Australia, has announced a new online visa application system is coming but has not announced new fees. I don’t believe for a moment that this will be a New Zealand-only thing. And, no, it has nothing to do with me being a New Zealander.

The price for visas is set by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thai baht. Each embassy / consulate prices visas in local currency at the relevant exchange rate. This has long been the policy and I don’t see any reason why this policy would change. New Zealand is not suddenly going to become an outlier with prices many times higher than anywhere else. That makes zero sense and there is no plausible reason for it.

My best guess is that the Thai embassy in New Zealand jumped the gun and published these rates when they were informed of them by the MFA in Bangkok. I imagine that over the coming weeks, Thai embassies and consulates all around the world will announce the new online visa system, and the new price schedule. So, no matter where you are in the world, I imagine you’ll be paying much, much more for your next Thailand visa.

CBD bangkok

History shows us that announcements regarding new visa rules and prices are often made at the last minute i.e. it is announced on Friday that new rules will be introduced on Monday. Thai visa fees have not increased for more than 15 years so a price increase is long overdue. With that said, I don’t think anyone imagined that the price of visas would go up by 5 or 6 times.

A tourist visa for Thailand is now substantially more expensive than a tourist visa for neighbouring countries. By comparison, a 30-day tourist visa for Cambodia costs just $US 30 while a one-year visa is $US 300. To compare with a developed country, a visitor visa for New Zealand costs $NZ 211 – and allows you to stay for up to 9 months.

Will these new visa fees cause some people to change their plans or possibly even decide against visiting Thailand?

For most visitors, when you consider the total cost of a holiday, I wouldn’t think many people will change their plans. Perhaps some people who may have planned to stay in Thailand for 32 or 33 days may choose to stay for less than 30 days (for which a visa isn’t needed) rather than paying for a visa to stay for up to 60 days.

wonderland clinic

With that said, there is (currently) a cheaper work-around. You could enter Thailand on a visa-waiver which is free, assuming you hold the passport of a Western country. That gives you 30 days permission to stay. Once in-country, you can then extend your visa at the Immigration department to stay for a further 30 days, the current cost of which is 1,900 baht. That would mean you could stay for 60 days for a total cost of 1,900 baht – much less than the $NZ 300 (6,600 baht) fee for a single-entry tourist visa.

I suspect this loophole will be closed and the current 1,900 baht fee to extend your visa will also be increased. It’s been 1,900 baht for a very long time. The last time it was increased, the fee went from 500 baht to 1,900 baht. What could it go up to this time? 5,000? 7,500 baht? 10,000 baht?

The new visa fees will be tough on those retirees who simply don’t have, or prefer not to keep, 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account. Instead of applying for a one-year extension of stay in-country, some cross the river and go to the Thai consulate in Savannakhet, Laos, where they apply for a multiple-entry non-immigrant visa. This visa costs 5,000 baht, and allows them to remain in Thailand for 90 days. Every 90 days they take a quick trip to the nearest border and then return straight back in to Thailand, which gets them another 90 days. They do this for a year and then repeat the process by going back to the consulate in Savannakhet. It sounds like an awful hassle to me, but it’s the preferred method for some. If the visa rates announced by the Thai Embassy in Wellington are rolled out around the world, that multiple-entry non-immigrant visa is priced at $NZ 2,000 which, or around 44,000 baht. For someone whose finances are tight, an annual visa fee increase from 5,000 baht to 44,000 baht might hurt.

There is one group which might turn their back on Thailand and decide to venture elsewhere. Would a recent graduate keen to try their hand teaching in Thailand be willing to pay $NZ 800 for a non-immigrant visa – which is needed to get a work permit. That’s a lot of money for a recent graduate, especially when you consider that teaching positions in China, Vietnam and South Korea generally pay considerably more than Thailand and the visa cost in those countries is much less. Could this have an effect on new teachers? I believe it could.

The Thai Embassy in Wellington announced that the new system and new visa fees come in to effect on March 19. There seems to be a consensus online that this only applies to New Zealand. I call rubbish on that. I expect the new visa system and fees will be universal. If it doesn’t start everywhere on March 19, it won’t be long before it’s rolled out everywhere. My best guess is that over the week beginning March 11th, there will be announcements from Thai embassies and consulates all around the world about this new system and the fees. If you were planning to apply for a visa for Thailand in the next few weeks, do it now before prices sky-rocket!



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken at Pan Road, just off Silom Road, beside Wat Mariamman AKA Wat Khaek AKA Wat Uma Thevi temple. It is a Hindu temple in the South Indian style. It also happens to be a place where some Thai women go as they believe that praying to Uma Thevi will help them find a good boyfriend / husband. This week’s photo is one which I think hits the sweet spot of being mildly challenging, and neither too easy nor too difficult.



Stick’s Inbox – The Best Readers’ Emails From The Past Week

The case of Nigel’s girl.

Interesting story about Goy, and also a kind of happy ending. You know she is ok and you both have current contact details. So all good. I had a similar experience this year. Around 2010, I had a “Nana friend”. We visited a friend of hers to pick her up and enjoy a nice evening in my room at the Nana Hotel. When we arrived at the room of her friend, there was another girl present. I realised I had seen this girl before, in one of ‘Nigel’s’ videos. I liked her a lot. But I did not talk to her then, because to ask her if she had starred in Nigel’s video was not a great idea. But I never forgot her, and regret not getting her contact details. From time to time, I still watch one of her videos with Nigel. Fast forward to 2023. I am walking along Soi 4 and see a girl buying food. I really thought it was the Nigel girl. I was thinking whether I should talk to her. She would 100% not recall seeing me more than 10 years ago without talking to me. So I walked on. In my room, I again regret not starting a conversation with her. I had 2 opportunities and I squandered both of them. Then I made a plan: She was buying food on Soi 4, so there is a chance she was living and / or working in a bar on Soi 4. So I stopped by all the bars on Soi 4 to see if I could find her. One Sunday afternoon, who do I see coming down Soi 4? It’s her! Determined not to miss the opportunity again, I stop her and tell her that I had seen her about 10 years ago in that room with a friend. I gave her the names of the girls present and asked if she has any info what those girls were doing now. And then I invited her for a beer. We ended up in my hotel room. She is nice enough but I am in no hurry to see her again. The case of Nigel’s girl is now closed for me after more than 10 years. I spent a couple of hours with her and that was good enough for me.

Small bar reality.

Like so many others, I have great memories from Sexy Night. The friendly vibe, the music, the ladies. But it’s a small bar which can create problems. I remember one night when I had just arrived, ordered a beer and started talking to a friendly American working in the oil industry. He apologised and said he was leaving, and then he took 4 girls with him. A loss of the 4 best lookers is no big problem in a normal bar. But in tiny Sexy Night it completely depleted the bar of talent.

Right girl, wrong time, or wrong girl, right time?

Thank you for sharing your experience with Goy. One can appreciate your comment, “right girl, wrong time.” For a lot of male foreign visitors, especially those on holiday, it’s often a case of, “wrong girl, right time.”

Right girl, wrong time.

Your opener about Goy reminded me of a similar situation – right girl, wrong time? I was an exchange student 20 years ago at the Thammasat Tha Phrachan campus, living across the river at PSB Apartments with a view of the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. I would take the 2 baht ferry to class every day and overnight trains / buses all over Thailand at the weekend. I met Fay on one of my first days in town and was convinced I would get to know her somehow. I didn’t see her again until I saw her at a cafe with other Thai university students at lunch and got her number (on a Nokia, of course). As all the courses at that Thammasat campus were in English, they were a worldly bunch and were used to (but weary of) farang. Things moved quickly after that and it was like heaven on earth. Going after school to Phra Athit and Soi Rambuttri with a gaggle of 20-year-old Thai university students to shoot pool and drink beer on ice. Most of the girls came from hi-so families (which I didn’t fully grasp at the time). There were trips to islands at the weekends. After nearly a year of hedonistic delight (between exotic food, intimacy, scenery), it was time to go back to the States to finish college and go on to graduate school. This had been a break from an otherwise completely nerdy existence as an aspiring academic. At the time I was determined to move back permanently to keep this amazing experience going forever. Returning should have been easy as I was moving to an amazing college town for a great next step, but I don’t know what it is about Thailand – Fay, the food, the energy, but it took years to get over the withdrawal. I returned many times for a week here and there the past 15 years looking for that spark, but it never quite came back. I would see Fay for dinner or drinks, but we’d either be in a relationship or know I was leaving in a few days. We kept in touch here and there on Facebook, and then on the LINE app, before we each ended up getting married. To this day, I’m not sure who had a harder time moving on. At the time I thought I had found something so special and unique, but reading your column made me realize I’m one of many that fell into the magic for a period of time. Are we all recovering addicts? Was it best that I never could move to Thailand full-time and just keep the memory of the high?

More Readers’ Emails

What happened to Latvian Alexa?

Prior to deciding to move to Thailand circa 2000, after a divorce which had left me alone, I bought a London newspaper which was all ads, no stories. A sort of paper eBay. I was looking for a car. But there was also a contact column. In the column were ladies just wanting pen pals. I thought it was just what I needed so I looked through the ads. One of them appealed to me and I wrote to her. She was in Riga, Latvia. We corresponded by email for a while. It was nice. She lived in an apartment in the city with her sons Alex and Paul. She told me that she was doing a university English course but was having some difficulties with the grammar. We exchanged emails in which I offered some help. She sent me a picture of 3 ladies sitting on a sofa, likely in their 40’s. She asked, ‘Which one do you think is me?’ One was a tiny, extremely attractive blonde while the others were, let’s just say, unattractive. I didn’t like to say ‘I hope you are the blonde’, in case she wasn’t! So I avoided mentioning the picture. One day the phone rang in my bed-sit in London. It was her! She had got her degree and was so grateful for my help. And she also said that she was the petite blonde in the picture. She asked me to visit her in Riga. She said she wanted to walk hand-in-hand through old Riga together. It appealed. But I told her that I had decided to go to Thailand. She begged me not to go. She said she had been there with her ex-husband some years earlier. She said the Thai girls had ‘gobbled him up’ and that they would do the same to me. That night I found a street cam in Riga on the internet. It was January and it looked very cold! So I decided to do Thailand first, then Riga. But, she was right. Very soon I was gobbled up by the Thai girls. After arriving in Thailand a catastrophic virus killed all the files on my computer, including images and emails. I remember she said that her name was the Latvian female equivalent of her eldest son, Alex. I used to call her Alex, which was easy for me, and which she thought was funny. I could not remember her email address or her actual name. I never wrote it down. I tried every combination of Alex to try to send a message to her without success. I often wonder what would have happened if I had chosen Latvia over Thailand. And I wonder about her welfare. I think about her from time to time. And I’m profoundly sad that she may think I just walked out of her life without giving her a second thought. Life eh?

Thais being matter of fact.

You said that you like how Thais are matter of fact about certain things. Does that apply to their proclivity for talking about bowel movements? I’m aghast every time I hear a Thai woman tell her friends she has to “kee”. “Boout kee” <Translates as “I need to take a shit”Stick> is one of their favourite phrases.

High season doesn’t last forever.

The bars are slowing down in Pattaya. Business is still ok in general, but it’s not what it was earlier this high season. I saw more and more evidence of this in the last 2 weeks. And some contacts in the bar industry confirm it. A lady who is a cashier in a soi 6 bar says, where an average day until a few weeks ago was around 100,000 baht, it is now down to 60,000 – 70,000 per day. An old friend who has a bar in a lively soi off Beach Road in Jomtien tells me it’s a similar situation over there and they also see it in the Buakhao / LK area. Things are slowing down a bit and that’s no surprise, as the peak of the classic naughty boy high season is behind us. That said, business still ain’t bad at all and is still better than normal at this time of the year.

A horrible accident.

More and more members are indeed joining the Pattaya Flying Club. I still think by far most of these cases are suicides or accidents, caused by the fact that many balconies have relatively low railings. Add that to the abundance of nightlife (i.e. booze places), and you can do the maths. Last week a Romanian man fell off the balcony of his hotel room, right behind my condo. No foul play, a maid at the hotel had seen how he had desperately tried to hold on to the railing of his balcony, before he lost his grip and fell 6 floors. He was there with his wife, so there wasn’t a Thai teerak (or her Thai boyfriend) to be seen. Just a lousy accident.

This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Sunday is usually the quietest night of the week but Sunday last week was anything but. The day before was a Buddhist holiday which meant bars closed at midnight on Friday and almost everywhere was closed on Saturday. Punters made up for lost time and hit the bars in big numbers on Sunday night in what one friend said was the busiest he’d ever seen the bar industry on a regular i.e. non-holiday Sunday night. Soi Nana was pumping and one reader joked that you almost needed a machete to cut your way through the crowds.

I’ve been banging on week after week about how good this high season has been. One bar area can quantify it. In January, Nana Plaza attracted a quite incredible 160,000 visitors! Westerners comprised the biggest group, followed closely by Asians in general, and Indians as a specific category came in third. Estimates put Chinese visitors to Nana Plaza at around 7% – and growing. December was better than January, but only marginally.

Still in Nana Plaza, the new graffiti and murals will go up this month with work soon to start on the common areas, and the three staircases.

Why has The Terrace bar in Nana Plaza remained untenanted? I imagine there is a queue of would-be operators keen to sign a lease in the plaza but this particular space remains vacant. What’s that all about? The Terrace provides a ringside view of the plaza and anyone who has perched there and watched the show over a few drinks knows it’s a great spot to watch the action. The operators of the plaza are toying with the idea of making it a private bar. If they do, how do I get an invite?!

There’s good news from Sukhumvit Soi 11 with confirmation that the return of an old friend is imminent. Climax will re-open in the middle of the year. June marks 5 years since Climax was (ordered) closed and the bar’s 5-year ban will soon end. Will Climax resume its place as one of soi 11’s hot spots?

Speaking of soi 11, you can look to the many popular bars and nightclubs on that soi to answer the question, what happened to Bar Rouge? Serious money was sunk in to the nightclub in the Hilton Sukhumvit and a very big game was talked. But talk wasn’t matched by action and less than 12 months after it opened to much fanfare – most of which came from their own marketing department – Bar Rouge has closed with what one imagines were big financial losses.

While I have reported that African drug dealers were all over the main Sukhumvit Road, there were an estimated 25 or 30 peddling their poison on soi 11. Every night they were hassling passersby with reports that even some foreign kids were approached and offered drugs. For the few of you who have previously tried to defend these cretins, how do you defend that?! Anyway, one of the Africans approached someone he shouldn’t and offered his poison in what turned out to be a very bad move. This fellow just happens to have many businesses in the area – and our African friend inadvertently picked a fight with the wrong person, a fight he and his brethren had no hope of winning. The result? They were quickly made to feel very unwelcome on soi 11 and had to leave the street. As has been reported in this column, there have been multiple sweeps in the area and the drug-dealing pests should be a thing of the past.

What about the African ladies who have become a similar fixture in recent months on Sukhumvit sois 3, 4 and 5? And specifically, what about the African working girls plying their trade a few hundred metres down Soi Nana? Some of you tell me you are chocolate lovers. I can report that these African beauties have been told that they need to keep their heads down and stay well away from the top of Soi Nana, the busy beer bars and the entrance to Nana Plaza. Do that and they might be able to continue to do their thing without being hassled.

There has been a lot of conjecture about the future of the cannabis industry in Thailand and whether it’s here to stay. The mainstream press has reported that it will be gone by the end of the year while many operators say it’s here to stay. Of course, no-one knows for sure which way it will go but certainly the industry is not going to lay down without putting up a fight. A team of heavy-hitting lawyers has been formed by the industry and they will fight the cause.

Following the incident a couple of months back when a mad man stabbed a couple of members of Nana Plaza Security, the team has been reinforced with some bigger guys brought in. It can be confirmed that the mad man is still in Thailand and while some thought he would flee the country, he hasn’t. A long stay in Thailand in one of His Majesty’s facilities beckons.

Probably of zero interest to Stickman readers for our community is a classy bunch who doesn’t frequent such establishments but nonetheless, we’re also a gossip-hungry bunch so I feel I must report that the long-running location of Lollipop 2, the BJ bar in the sub soi off Sukhumvit 10, has closed. Rumour has it that it was the usual story – a disagreement over money. But it’s not the end for Lollipop 2. The outlet (we can hardly call it a “bar”, can we?) has relocated further down soi 10 – about a 3-minute walk or so deeper in to the soi.


What was Lollipop 2, Sukhumvit soi 10.


I received three reports this week from readers flying in to the country, used the official taxi queue, yet encountered a driver who refused to turn on the meter. It’s unusual to get a bunch of similar complaints like this all at once. (There were so many good emails this week that I will hold these emails and try and find a space for them in next week’s edition.) Difficulty getting drivers in tourist areas to turn on the meter is common enough, but it’s a surprise to hear this happen at the airport where there is a system in place. It would be a shame if this is another thing people have to battle right after arriving in the country. My advice is to make sure that the driver turns on the meter before he pulls away from the kerb. It’s much better to have an argument with him there, rather than once the car has pulled away. There are officers there who will tell him quick-smart to turn the meter on if he tries not to. Perhaps, sit there with the passenger door slightly open (so he can’t pull away), tell him to turn on the meter and don’t close the door until the meter is turned on. I imagine that should do the trick.

I note there was an announcement this week that the Dusit Group is going to resurrect the Dusit Thani Hotel (translation: build a new hotel called the Dusit Thani on the same piece of land as the original). Why oh why didn’t they keep the original hotel? Bangkok has some wonderful hotels in a distinct Thai style and the Dusit Thani was one of the very best. Ok, so I never stayed there but I did eat in some of the restaurants and I always found visiting the Dusit Thani to be a delight. Beautiful design, very nice service and it really was a place with that cliched peace and tranquility in the middle of a busy area. Such a shame the original is no longer.

Who has taken up the lease for the space on Patpong 2 that was previously XXX Lounge, and before that Club Electric Blue? Apparently a lease has been signed but it is not clear who is behind it. Will it be a bar or something else? The rent for that space was very low in the past.

The large space, encompassing the area that was once Cosmos and King’s Corner is going to be a Japanese-style bar, so the rumour mill says. This is one project for which there are currently a lot of rumours.

Patpong is the bar industry’s most polarising bar area. Some say it’s doing terribly while others say it’s making a comeback. Despite a lot of negative publicity since reopening after Covid, it sounds as if Patpong really is fighting to re-establish itself. It sounds like it may be evolving, and becoming more diverse. Will it one day challenge the bar areas of Sukhumvit again? I have my doubts.

And before we leave Patpong, the night market has reclaimed some of the space it had prior to Covid and is filling up more of Patpong Soi 1.

A reader recently asked a question about a venue in Patpong called Gas Light. I wasn’t aware of it and told said reader that it must have been before my time. My friends over at have known Patpong since the 70s and were able to fill in the gaps. Gas Light opened in mid-1964, and closed in May of 1993. It was located near Mizu’s. Apparently, Trink didn’t report on it as it was on his shit-list, as were a number of bars where he and the owner didn’t get along. For those of you who have a long history with Bangkok’s nightlife and would like an alternative take on things to mine, and especially those who like to learn more about venues from the distant past – some of which opened long before I was born – check out the excellent website.

A new erotic massage house has opened a good way down Sukhumvit Soi 8 called 8 Fantasy. It’s a bit further past Det 5 on the opposite side of the street in a building that housed an Indian restaurant some years back. There is an extensive menu outlining the services including one intriguing menu item, “golden scrub”. Anyone want to take a hit for the team and find out just what that is?!

Stickman contributor Bangkok Byron has published his book 48 Rules for Gogo Bars. It is available on Amazon now. The book is offered at a special launch price of 99¢ until March 10th so get in quick.

There has been much in the press over the last year or two about Phuket and the huge number of Russians who visit, as well as those who have relocated there. But what’s it really like on the ground for Westerners living in Phuket? This week I spoke with my good friend Mega, a long-time contributor to this site, and someone who knows Phuket well, having used it as his base for the past 10 years. He has known Phuket for a very long time and had another stint there 20+ years ago. The diatribe started with the island being “one huge traffic jam” and from there it just got worse and worse! He used to go from his apartment which is in-land, over the hill to the beach at Patong most days. Not anymore. He tells me that the roads are ruled by young Russians on motorbikes who ride around like maniacs. They’re everywhere and you can’t escape them. With so many people on Phuket these days, he says that no matter where you go, and no matter the time of day, it’s one giant traffic jam. Wherever you are on Phuket, you feel like you’re surrounded by Russians. You hear the Russian language being spoken everywhere. Russian signage is everywhere. Yes, they have their enclaves but they’re hardly confined to those areas. They are everywhere! As he said, young Russians get around by motorbike and the local constabulary know they don’t have all the required paperwork so there are checkpoints set up all over the island – more than ever before – and this slows down getting around even more. 800 baht fines are being handed left, right, and centre. But apparently this doesn’t deter the young Russians. Like I said some weeks ago, this lot aren’t going anywhere. Why would they? After spending time on Phuket, would anyone want to go back to Russia? I might not have seen what is happening on Phuket with my own eyes but it sounds like hell, and I can’t shake the feeling that Phuket has changed irreversibly.

There is an issue with the template of this column which causes some links to articles on other websites to appear with a line struck through the text, rather than underneath. I am not sure why this is happening. I don’t have any control of the template so I am unable to fix it myself. The links may look wonky but they should still work. My apologies for this. I have informed the technical department so hopefully it will be fixed soon.

Thailand-Related News Articles

Reader’s story of the week comes from Mega, Around The Traps In South-East Asia Part 27.

A reader’s story by Sawadee2000 is published from the grave, Exit Stage Left.

Quote of the week comes from my old mate, Mega, “Phuket is really starting to do my head in.”

In the wake of massive visa fee hikes, there are calls for visa-free entry to Thailand for Indians.

It sounds more like a headline from The Sun than The  Telegraph, “Elephants terrorising Thailand“.

Reuters reports that recreational cannabis will be banned by year’s end.

On Phuket, a Swiss fellow is charged after he barbarically kicked a female Thai doctor in the back.

What’s the impact of all of these Russians moving to Phuket?

Closing Comments

It’s nice to be back in the groove of writing a column opener. It never feels right to start the column with the mystery photo – but I was doing that for a while because I really didn’t have all that much to say. I’ve got openers lined up for at least the next 5 weeks. Beyond that, let’s see. As long as I have things to write about, I’ll produce an opener. As always, your thoughts and feedback are appreciated.


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :



nana plaza