With our trip to India looming closer and closer, two weeks ago we decided to take action in respect to getting our visas sorted. At that time we still had about 7 weeks or so left in Thailand, but after reading the hassles that other travellers had with getting a visa for India in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, we figured we’d get on the ball early.
Applying for an Indian Visa in Chiang Mai
Ok, let me start by explaining the e-visa for India by prefacing that we had a rocky start to the whole process. We knew that it wasn’t going to plain sailing so we did expect some complications along the way.
As we travel quite a lot, researching visa requirements and getting visas for the countries that we plan to visit is something that we don’t particularly enjoy. Some countries make it easy while others make it so difficult that one would think they don’t want people to visit their country at all.
If we were completing an Indian visa application form at home in Ireland, chances are that the process would be really straightforward. However, having spent the last few months in Thailand, this wasn’t going to be the case and we had no choice but to apply here and hope that all went well.
To cut a long story short, our expected travel dates and destinations meant that we had to apply for our visa for India in Chiang Mai.
Similar to our experience with getting our visa extension in Chiang Mai some time back, a quick Google search of how to go about getting a visa for India in Chiang Mai, bombarded us with statements like “it’s a difficult process,” “be a tourist and nothing more,” “the interview process is excruciating,” “you can be denied and given no reason why,” and “you can only get a 3 month visa for India in Chiang Mai.”
And while some of these statements are most certainly true, we found the research to be the hardest part of the whole application process. Why? Because the information was so damn conflicting!
After a few days of stressing out and asking questions in some online forums, we figured that the best way to get the right information was to head on over to the Consulate for India in Chiang Mai and ask some questions.
So, we hit off on the scooter bright and early on a Monday morning with the hope of getting some answers.
What we found when we got there quite surprised us. Having read stories about the moody man that sits outside and his strict counterpart that refuses visas for the most minute of details, we were expecting our morning to be a dreadful one.
However, the man that sat outside was actually quite helpful – ok, he didn’t smile or say “good morning,” but he did do his best to help us and explained what we needed to do.
At this point, I should say that while applying for a visa for India in Chiang Mai can be straightforward, our situation was a little different in the sense that we needed to get a 6-month tourist visa for India.
We didn’t plan on staying in India for 6 months but our trip down to the South of Thailand ruined our chances of applying for a 3-month visa as it didn’t give us enough time.
Again, having read reports online, we didn’t think this was possible but we figured that it was worth finding out for ourselves. We weren’t very hopeful of getting a positive response because from what we knew, 6-month visas had to be applied for in Bangkok.
Anyway, back to that Monday morning…
After explaining our case for needing a 6-month visa to the reception man outside, we kind of felt resigned to the fact that a trip to Bangkok was inevitable as he basically told us that we’d have to return to Chiang Mai before leaving Thailand in order to get a 3-month visa.
Next, the door of the building slid over and we were permitted to enter and talk to the other guy – you remember the one that denies all of the visas?
Well, he wasn’t there. Instead, we were sitting with the Consular of India for Thailand – the man who really approves and denies the visas for both locals and for foreigners in Thailand.
After having a chat with him and explaining our case in-depth with travel dates etc., he basically told us that every application is different and just because others couldn’t get a 6-month visa approved in Chiang Mai, doesn’t mean that we couldn’t.
I looked at Carlo and we both had a look of “well – this sounds promising – please say yes!!”
We sat with him for around 15 minutes and had a casual chat. He was a very nice, intelligent, chatty and polite man who told us that he’s well up to the tricks that people try to play when applying for visas.
I think his exact words were, “People come in here with confirmation emails for flights that they haven’t yet paid for and hotel reservations that have been constructed in Microsoft Word and they think we’re stupid enough to accept them. Well, we’re not.”
He also explained that he wants to grant visas as he wants people to see his country, but he wants people to also stick by the rules and not try to make a mock of the whole process.
Sounds reasonable I think.
As we didn’t have any documents with us, we finished the conversation off with him telling us to go and get ourselves sorted and return with all of the necessary documents.
We thanked him for his time and hurried home with the intention of getting pics taken, filling out the online application form, doing some photocopying, printing off flights and booking a hotel and returning the next morning with all of the evidence.
And so we did.
The same reception guy was there on the Tuesday morning and he didn’t bother to check our documents as he probably remembered us from the day before. After waiting for around 5 minutes, we were permitted to enter through the same door as we had on the previous morning.
But, what we found inside this time was, again, not what we were expecting. The man that we spoke with on the Monday was gone and in his place was another man and he did not look happy.
He looked through our documents and straight away noticed that we were requesting a 6-month visa to which he said “It’s too early – you cannot apply for a visa now when you don’t travel until August.”
We explained our case as we had done before, and his response didn’t change. The prospect of having to spend 9 days in Bangkok waiting for our Indian visas to be approved was becoming real again.
Well that was until we mentioned that we had already spoke with the Consular of Thailand on the previous morning and he told us that getting a 6-month visa was no problem.
“I must check this.”
We were ushered out of the room and patiently sat outside to hear the outcome of the phone call.
5 minutes later, a little head popped out through the door.
“Fill out this form and go to the window to submit your documents and pay the fee for the visa.”
YEEEEEEEESSSSS!! The Consulate had kept his word and had reinforced what we said.
After doing the necessary, I gave the reception guy a big smile and wave to which I got a nod and a slight smile in return, and thanked the lady at the window when she handed us our receipt and told us to come back the following Wednesday to collect our passports.
Because of the conflicting info that we got online and our experience of getting a 6-month visa when we thought we couldn’t, I’ve decided to share our story with anyone who is currently in Chiang Mai and feeling totally clueless as to what steps to take.
Below is a rough guide outlining what you need to apply for a visa, why it’s important to have a hotel reservation and how to go about the whole process.
Applying for an Indian Tourist Visa in Chiang Mai: What you Need to Know
**The following is based on our experience and specifics may differ from case to case**
Step 1: Complete the Indian Visa Application Form
For the online visa application form, head on over here and hit the orange tab on the top left of the screen. This action will bring you straight to the first page of the online application form.
Once you’ve filled in details such as your address, expected travel dates, religion, reason for needing a visa, current occupation and a reference in both Thailand and India, you just select the option for printing when you come to the end of the application.
In respect the reference in Thailand, we just put the name of our real estate agent and his work address and as we didn’t have a contact in India, we just put the name of the hotel where we’ll be staying in Mumbai when we arrive.
At the end of the application, you’ll be given the opportunity to pick a date for which you want to visit the embassy with the printout of your form and other documents. You do not have to pick a time, just a date.
Step 2: Go to the Embassy on your Selected Date
Where is the Indian Embassy in Chiang Mai?
The embassy itself is a 15-20-minute ride from the Nimman area. Its location is pinpointed on the map below:
What are the opening hours for the Embassy?
The embassy is open MON-FRI from 9 am-12 noon.
Indian Visa Requirements: What documents do you need?
Notes on Documents:
- Make sure that the photos you use for your application are the correct dimensions of 2×2 inches as the small rectangular ones will be rejected.
- At the end of the India visa application form, you’ll be asked to upload a picture. We just skipped this part as the two pics that we spoke about above are deemed sufficient.
- A hotel reservation is ESSENTIAL. The reason being is that, as the Consular explained, they need to have a way of knowing your whereabouts for the first few days of your stay in India. This is for the benefit of the traveler we were told. We booked a hotel for 2 nights in Mumbai and the printout of the booking confirmation was sufficient.
- We did do out a rough itinerary of where we plan to visit. When I say rough, it went something like: Week 1 – Mumbai – Week 2 – Goa. So it was by no means detailed and we’re not sure if not having it would have made any difference to our application. I don’t think it does any harm by having it but it’s not necessary.
- As mentioned, having an e-ticket with the details of your inbound and outbound flights is also essential. From what we got from the chat that we had with the Consular, a booking confirmation will not do. It needs to be an e-ticket.
- Sign your name at the bottom of every page of your documents as doing so will save you time when it comes to handing them over for processing.
- I’m not sure if Indian visa fees vary depending on certain factors. We paid €58 each for our 6-month visa.
- If you’re applying for a tourist visa for India, don’t arrive at the embassy saying that you want to travel to the country for any other reason other than tourism. If your primary goal of the trip is to learn yoga or volunteer at a project, do not broadcast that.
- Dress appropriately. As much as we don’t like to think this way, first impressions do make a big difference. Turning up at the office with a beard that almost touches your baggy pants and hair that hasn’t been washed for months is most likely going to give the impression that you’re not going to India with just tourism in mind.
- Be clear about what it is that you want. If you need a 6-month visa, select that option on the online visa application form and explain your case as to why you need it instead of the regular 3-month tourist visa.
- Depending on your nationality and intended length of stay, you may be eligible for an Indian visa on arrival so be sure to check out what your requirements are.
How long does it take to get the visa?
It takes 5-8 working days to get a visa for India in Chiang Mai and the visa starts from the day it is issued so keep this in mind.
Having been through the process of securing a 6 month Indian visa in Chiang Mai, I can say the whole affair really wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was a lot more straightforward than we thought it would be.
Having said this, I do believe our saving grace was deciding to visit the embassy on that Monday morning. I feel that if we left it until the Tuesday and didn’t get to meet the Consular himself, we’d have been refused a 6-month visa right off the bat and we’d currently be facing the prospect of having to hang around Bangkok for 9 days waiting for our visa to be approved.
Luckily for us, this is not the case.
If you’re currently facing the prospect of applying for an Indian visa in Chiang Mai and don’t know how to go about it, I hope this post helps you out in some way.