As always passport-- you need one, and it needs to be valid for at least six months after departure/arrival.
Single Entry Thai Visa (SETV) 60 Days
Visa wise you can enter Thailand twice on a 30 day (visa waiver) entry 2 times in a calendar year (assuming you're American) and it’s free. If you leave before the 30 days are up, any remaining days are gone. When you re-enter, you’ll get your second 30-day entry.
If you want to visit/live in Thailand for more than 30 days, you will have to get a tourist visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in the United States, prior to arriving in Thailand. The tourist visa must generally be used within 90 days from the date of issue and allows an initial stay of 60 days. After arrival in Thailand, a tourist visa may be extended at the discretion of an immigration officer once for an additional 30 days with the total period of stay no longer than 90 days. There is a 1,900 Baht fee ($58) for the extension.
Immigration can ask for:
1. Proof of funds (traveling alone: 10'000 Baht ($300), traveling as family: 20'000 Baht ($600)
2. Booking of accommodation
3. Onward flight
They are allowed to ask and they can deny entry, if one of those proofs is missing; generally they won't but hey you never know.
You can get a work visa ( Non-Immigrant Visa "B") but a company, foreign government, or other organization in Thailand must file an application on the behalf of the applicant. Once obtained, the work visa is valid for one year.
6 Months Multiple Entry (METV)
And last but certainly not least is the METV - Multiple Entry Tourism Visa
The METV has to be applied for in your home country unless you have residency within other countries and has to be done in person to receive it that day. You still have to leave Thailand every 60 days or request a 30 day extension at a Thai immigration office, giving you 90 days x 3. Extensions can be done every 60 days, allowing a person to spend the good part of 9 months in Thailand, if they get the dates correct.
There are a few more requirements for the METV, with a big one being a copy of your bank statement for the last 6 months with a minimum balance of $7,000 (every month)
It’s a good idea to have the cash equivalent of ฿20,000 (cash in any currency) to show if immigration asks (highly unlikely, but possible).
If you don't leave Thailand prior to the expiration of your airport permit or visa, you are in the country illegally. In order to depart Thailand, it will be necessary to pay an overstay fine. The fine for overstaying a visa is 500 Baht per day, up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht.
I've mentioned border runs in other articles, and Thailand is no exception. Be careful which country you choose to do a border run to/from because some countries need a visa to enter:
Cambodia and Laos charge 25 USD and 35 USD, respectively, (for Americans) for a single entry tourist visa
Land crossings to Myanmar (Mae Sai and Ranong borders) charge a 500 THB ‘service fee’ to stamp you out of Thailand and then back in. Air crossings require that visitors get a Burmese Tourist Visa that costs 50 USD.
There is a limit of 2 entries per calendar year for land border crossing. There are no official entry limits if you arrive to Thailand by air.
Essentially you will have to pay for the Thai Visa and the other countries' visa fees as well.
So you've done all of the above and you want to work as a digital nomad in Thailand without issues or being a tourist. You can now as of March, well to a certain extent. "A foreigner who has work permit in Thailand can now work anywhere and for anyone and carry out work not listed in the description on their work permit, providing it is not excluded under the list of occupations prohibited to foreigners." The list is here.
Now to the nitty gritty, cost of living in Thailand. It's comparable to the other cities listed with say Chiang Mai being cheaper than Siem Reap, Cambodia. Which probably makes you question why WE are choosing Siem Reap. It's all about the visa baby! Yep, that 6 month multi-entry visa is the winner, winner chicken dinner for me. We don't want to puddle jump every 60 days with kids. This may not be a criteria for you so hey go to Chiang Mai or even Bangkok, which is pricier than both. We will be there eventually.
Apartments or homes in Chiang Mai are renting essentially at any price point you are comfortable, starting at around $250 to $300 a month for a one bedroom serviced apartment to upwards of $500 to $600 for a 3 bedroom home, with maid service included. Again up to you and what you are willing to spend.
Food prices are going to be similar to other SE Asia spots, with street food being relatively cheap and plentiful. There are grocery stores, expect to pay more.
And this concludes our series on Living Abroad: SE Asia. Hopefully you've learned with us on this journey. Please share tips, thoughts, ideas in the comments.