A visit to Immigration at Government Center Building B, Chaengwattana Road.
Immigration Offices in Bangkok have moved from Suan Phlu to the Northern part of the city in 2009. This sounds like a long time ago, but we still are adapting to this new location in 2021. If located in Pattaya or Ayutthaya, immigration would be as difficult to reach as it is now.
The offices are located at :
Government Center Chaeng Wattana Building B, Nr. 120
Moo 3, ChaengWattana Road Soi 7,
Tung Song Hong Subdistrict
Laksi, Bangkok 10210
The website of Thai Immigration certainly has useful information, and also attempts to be appealing. On the other hand, sometimes recent changes or updates in services are not timely reported.
The 'new' location is off the major Chaengwattana Road. The last few years we have used minivans, leaving from Chatuchak Park towards Pak Kret. They pass the Government Center and nowadays cost 25 Thai baht. Cheaper, and certainly safer than taking a taxi. You have to be able to read some Thai language though, because for some reason the minivans have not come up with the idea yet of announcing their destination in English language. You can find the location of minivans and taxis easiest by exiting the MRT station through the Chatuchak Park exit.
Government Center Building B is located amongst a spread out cluster of government buildings, about 1 kilometer from the main Chaengwattana Road. All the buildings around seem to be brand new, though the development of this area has not widely been talked about in the Thai media. Basically every time one visits there seems to be an extra building being constructed. The headquarters of the Thai Army are also located in the compound.
Government Center Building B, at Chaeng Wattana Road Soi 7
Building B is really huge rectangular building (there is a building A close to the main Chaeng Wattana road of similar appearance and size). Once inside the building it is revealed that most of the wide space is occupied by an empty central atrium (all roofed), about the size of two soccer fields. All around are various government offices and related services 5-6 floors high. The building is rather functional and not exactly architecturally inspiring.
The immigration offices themselves are more spacious than at the old location at Suan Phlu. There is an information desk at the entrance, where you are given the appropriate forms to fill out. A little bit further is the location where you can get your 'queue' number. Opening hours are from 8.30 A.M. till 4.30 P.M. However the last queue numbers (and you need them) are given before 3.30 P.M.
A walk around the immigration shows that business is not conducted anymore in one wide open space. Immigration officers are located in separate cubicles. You may experience a lunch break of the staff between 12.00 A.M. and 1.00 P.M., when all activity is temporarily halted.
In the basement of the building there are a lot of banks, convenience stores, a food court, and a few shops where you can have your copies made and passport photos taken. As anybody knows, whatever work you do at home to prepare yourself, it will almost always be necessary to take yet another copy of some of your passport pages or other documents. Lately, we noticed that some of the offices have a copier in situ, and some immigration officers seem to be willing to use it to make copies, if you have one or two missing.
After the few years of operation, the huge Building B seems now completely functional, as can also be judged by the number of cars parked all over the area. The covered parking on the lower floors of the buildings do not seem sufficient anymore.
How to get to Immigration?
There are quite a few steps and time needs to be spent.
Reach either Chatuchak MRT station (most convenient) or Moo Chit skytrain station.
At Chatuchak MRT station take the exit Chatuchak Park. On the main road, you will notice a taxi queue, and a smaller queue of minivans. Most of the minivans go to Minburi, which seems to be a very popular destination. Usually within a few minutes you will see a minivan parked, or arriving, with Paak Kret destination. Signs on the minivans are in Thai language only.
The minivans going to Paak Kret turn into Chaeng Wattana road and pass the Government Complex. Tell the driver you want to exit at Government Complex. Fare is 25 baht. Traffic to Immigration is usually reasonable, but it still can take 20 to 30 minutes.
When in front of the Immigration compound, you have 4 choices. You can walk to Building B, where Immigration is located, it takes about 15-20 minutes. You can take a motorcycle taxi, which we never recommend, but if you are used to taking them, you can as well take them here. The third option is to wait for the shuttle bus to arrive, which may take 10-15 minutes. The fourth option, which we have used quite a few times, is to flag down a regular taxi on Chaengwattana, and use to go to Building B. Taxi drivers are happy to take the short trip.
When entering the building, an X-ray of your bags, and an picture of your face, are taken.
Going back home :
We often walk the distance to Chaeng Wattana road. Motorcycle taxis are not always visible when exiting the building. Taxis will often, if not always, refuse to take you the short distance. They seem to prefer to take you all the way home. If you exit around the time most offices close, you can enter the staff queue waiting for the shuttle buses taking passengers to main Chaengwattana Road. Not sure if taking this transport is allowed for 'customers', but nobody ever turned us down when we use it. Strangely though, we see very few foreigners making use of it. We noticed at the time of the Covid-19 Pandemic, that a lot of shuttle buses are around, because of a limit on the number of passengers per vehicle.
On Chaengwattana wait for passing minivans (cross the road first by the passenger bridge closeby) taking you to Chatuchak. You may have to wait awhile, and the traffic back in the later afternoon can be busy (the same would apply if you take a taxi home).
Some small advice :
After entering the Immigration offices,fill out whatever forms need to be filled out. Proceed and get a queue ticket. Check on the ticket how many people are there before you. If let's say more than 40, you have ample time to exit the area again and go down the escalator to have a coffee or have a snack. Visit the GPO pharmacy, which has cheaper stuff (vitamins, plasters, etc.) for sale, than you will find in most pharmacies around Bangkok. Get a bottle of water at 7-Eleven, you may need it. You can also use this time to take any necessary copies like the pages in your passport, including your entrance slip, which should be kept in your passport. After about 30 or 40 minutes, go back to Immigration proper. You likely still will have to wait awhile.
Always be polite, do not come in beach clothing to the area, it always helps. Service has improved the last few years, likely because most of the immigration officers working are female.
Personally, we always go to Immigration in the afternoon. A lot of people seem to prefer to go from early in the morning, even queueing and waiting for Immigration to open. We have heard many stories of people going in the morning, having to wait till the afternoon before they get serviced (after the lunch break of the staff, when services are closed).
You have to arrive certainly before 3.30 P.M. to get a queue ticket. When coming in the afternoon, there is certainly a speeding-up of activities later on, because, after all, the Immigration Officers want to go home at a reasonable hour.
Note : The photo and map have been borrowed from the Immigration Bureau website.