For awhile now we’ve known we wanted to go to India, so when we found a great bargain on cheap flights to India, we couldn’t resist. Unfortunately we booked flights without realizing we could not apply for an Indian visa where we were in Malaysia, as only residents of Malaysian are permitted to apply. Luckily, we were headed back to Thailand, where non-Thai nationals can apply for the Indian Visa. The best part, we then discovered, was that we could apply in Chiang Mai, without having to take an extra trip to Bangkok to do it. Read on for details on how to apply for an Indian Visa in Chiang Mai.
How to get to the Indian Embassy in Chiang Mai
The Indian High Commission in Chiang Mai is set in what looks like a private home, in a small soi (side street) house near Chiang Mai’s railway station. Unfortunately, Google Maps still displays the consulate’s previous address.
The new address of the Indian High Commission in Chiang Mai:
33/1, Thung Hotel Road,
Wat Kate, Muang,
Chiang Mai 50000
Opening Times: Monday to Friday, 9am to 12pm. The consulate is closed on Thai and Indian holidays, so check the respective holidays before you go.
How to get to there:
You can take a Songthaw or TukTuk from anywhere in Chiang Mai. If the driver does not know exactly where the consulate is, he might know Thung Hotel Road at least, and you can look out for the white sign with plain black letters. If not, ask him to bring you to the railway station – it should only be a fifteen-minute walk from there. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle and cycle from the Old City in 25 minutes, or walk in about an hour.
Which documents do I need to apply for an Indian visa?
***Update April 2012***
It is not possible any longer to just show up at the Indian Consulate and apply for a visa there – you have to apply online first, using the official application form on the Indian Visa website. Make sure to print out your application and bring it with you to the Consulate.
You will need to present the following documents:
1. The obvious
•Your passport (valid for at least 6 more months).
• Two passport photos.
• A copy of your passport.
2. The not-so-obvious
• A copy of your Thai visa, or if you have a simple 30-day tourist visa stamp from the airport or 15-day visa stamp from a land border crossing, you will also need to have a copy of this stamp as well as your departure card.
• Two references in India. These can just be two hotels you’re planning to stay at while you’re in India, but make sure to write down the addresses and telephone numbers before you head to the consulate as there is no way to look anything up while there.
• Your current address in Chiang Mai. This can be a guesthouse or hotel, the name and address of the guesthouse are sufficient.
• Your planned arrival date in India. The visa is valid from the time of issue; that means you will have a 3-month visa valid from the day you collect it in Chiang Mai.
• Thai Baht to pay the visa processing fee.
Bangkok vs Chiang Mai – where should I get my India Visa?
If you plan to stay in India longer than three months, or would like to apply for a ten-year tourist visa, then you will need to apply for the Indian Visa in Bangkok. In this case, fill in the application form here first. However, if you only need three months, like us, going through the process in Chiang Mai is just so much easier. The Indian consulate in Chiang Mai is much smaller, more laid-back and as stress-free as a visa application process can be.
How much does an Indian visa cost?
You will pay two different fees: a fee to process your application, which you pay on the day you drop your passport off, and the fee for the visa itself, which you pay on the day you pick the passport up – and only if you actually get the visa.
Indian Visa Application processing fees: 400 Baht ($13), or 1400 Baht ($45) for Americans. Thai nationals can apply for free.
Indian Visa fees: 1770 Baht ($58) for all nationalities.
***Update September 2012***
Apparently the entire fees for the application AND the visa 2170 Baht (3140 Baht for U.S. citizens) are now to be paid upfront, so make sure to bring enough cash with you when you apply for your visa. The Consulate does not accept credit cards. If you forget, the nearest ATM is a 15 minute walk away.
How long does the application process take & is the visa application process for an Indian Visa in Thailand complicated?
Not really. Although you would think that applying for a visa for one country in another country when you are not from either country might be complicated, the fact is that the process itself is both straight-forward and common. The Chiang Mai Indian Consulate is not usually busy. Just take off your shoes and walk inside. The consulate employee will check that you have the necessary documents and then hand you two forms and a pen. Fill out both forms, hand them back to the employee with your passport and then pay the application fee.
At the time the employee will give you a receipt and tell you when you can pick up your passport – usually seven days from the date of drop off. On that date, bring your receipt and return to the consulate. Show your application receipt, and then, you may need to wait a bit before your name is called. You will get your passport back and, if awarded the India Visa, just pay the fee. That’s it.
Again, you will have three months from the date of visa issue, not the date you enter the country. So if you pick up your visa on the 15th of September, your Indian visa will be valid until 15th December of that year.