Could Thailand Really Introduce a Schengen Style Visa for Parts of Southeast Asia?

Over the last few days the Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, has made it clear that he intends to pursue plans for a groundbreaking Schengen style (but with some major differences, read on) visa for Thailand and parts of Southeast Asia.

We covered the original announcement which you can read here in our prior article if you are not familiar with the proposal and topic before we continue with our thoughts.

This proposal is also in many ways a sister proposal to the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s plan to extend 90 day tourist visas from just Russia to many more countries, such as the UK and USA, as we discussed here in this article.

It is also part of an overall strategy from PM Srettha and the fairly new government to make things as easy for tourism as possible and to remove all potential obstacles for tourism, such as the proposal to finally get rid of the unpopular alcohol sales ban in the afternoon in Thailand, as we discussed here.

Thailand also recently inked a deal with China to allow reciprocal visa free entry, hoping to reduce any obstacles for Chinese visitors to come to Thailand.

The idea for a Schengen style visa is not a new one and has been previously discussed but there are obviously many potential obstacles to overcome to move forward with such a proposal. Srettha, however, has shown a willingness to do so. He recently had discussions with Lao authorities around this subject and with the leader of Cambodia visiting this week Srettha stated to the media that the shared visa program would be a top discussion item, along with air pollution.

The proposal, and we want to make it clear that it is just a proposal and not a guarantee or anything set in stone, would see visitors to Thailand also be allowed to visit Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia on one visa and one stamp. Unlike the Schengen, the tourist would have to go through Thailand first as a sort of HUB, and could not get the same shared visa by initially entering one of the other countries. This would also put the lion’s share of the work on Thailand for security screening of visitors but would also avoid people potentially choosing the country with the lightest entry restrictions to then visit the others, a common prior issue with the Schengen Visa.

Early discussions have reportedly been positive but there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of concerns (Especially around potentially including Myanmar, whose junta led government is not officially recognised by most other governments and who is essentially engaged in a civil war on multiple fronts.)

The response from TPN Media readers on our social media channels was nearly universally positive, although some raised the concern that the visa may cost money and end free entry to Thailand. This, of course, is only speculation.

Could Thailand really do this and introduce this style of visa? Yes, and Srettha having a background of business and not politics is making it a priority. But will it happen? They remains to be seen but we will continue to cover this exciting story here at TPN media. Tell us what you think by mailing us at [email protected].

The original version of this article appeared on our sister website, The Pattaya News, owned by our parent company TPN media.

Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for more than four years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.