Due to Chiang Mai’s location and its role as the kingdom’s second city visitors often expect more substantial consular presences in Chiang Mai than there actually are. Yes, it’s close to Burma and Laos, for example, but neither have consulates here. And while it’s nowhere near it, Austria has a consulate — but, say, Switzerland doesn’t.
So below is a list of foreign consulates in Chiang Mai followed by some info on obtaining visas for nearby destinations. (Opening hours where we could get the info.)
Australia: Although we have seen it still indicated in some guides, the consulate on Sirimungklajarn Rd closed several years ago.
Austria: 15 Moo 1 Huay Kaew Rd, Chang Puak. T: (053) 400 231, 221 002, 213 473. Open Mon, Wed, Fri 09:00-12:00.
Bangladesh: 95 Huay Kaew Rd, Suthep. T: (053) 212 373-4. Open 13:00-16:00.
Canada: – c/o Raming Tea, 151 Moo 3, Superhighway, Thasala. T: (053) 850 147. Open 09:00-15:00.
China: 111 Changlor Rd, Haiya. T: (053) 276 125, 272 197. Open 09:00-16:00.
Finland: – c/o Ratanapon Stationery, 104-112 Ta Pae Rd. T: (053) 234 777, 234 812, 233 537.
France: 138 Charoen Prathet Rd. T: (053) 281 466, 275 277. Open 10:00-12:00.
Germany: 199/163 Moo Ban Nai Fun 2, Kunglongchonprathan Rd. T: (053) 838 735. Open 09:00-12:00.
Greece: 404 Moo Ban Nai Fan, 203-19 Moo 3, Kunglongchonprathan Rd. T: (053) 839 087.
India: 344 Charoen Rat Rd. T: (053) 243 066.
Italy: 110 Intavararos Rd. T: (053) 212 955. Open 09:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00.
Japan: 104/7 Airport Business Centre, Mahidol Rd. T: (053) 203 373. T: 08:30-12:00, 13:30-16:30.
South Africa: 32 Huay Kaew Rd, Chang Puak. T: (053) 711 800. Open 09:00-12:00.
United Kingdom: 198 Bumrungraj Rd. T: (053) 263 015. Open 09:00-11:30.
United States: 387 Wichayanon Rd. T: (053) 252 633. Open 07:30-16.30.
That’s the lot — well apart from a Peruvian consulate for which we can see only limited usefulness, though apologies to any Peruvian visitors in Chiang Mai or anyone wishing to apply for a Peruvian visa while in the second city. A Belgian consulate is, unusually, situated in Lampang.
Not wanting to risk problems with Chiang Mai’s finest we didn’t ride around town photographing consulates so here is the rather unimpressive — and also probably not the most frequented — Bangladeshi consulate, which we thought had only very limited risk involved in shooting.
Most countries tend to have consulates beyond their embassies in Bangkok in the busier beach towns like Phuket and Pattaya and though neighbouring countries are poorly represented in Chiang Mai you can find Lao and Vietnamese facilities in Khon Kaen and a Cambodia consulate in Sa Kaew.
Chinese and Indian visas are relatively easily, quickly and cheaply obtained for many nationalities by visits to the consulates. For most Western nationalities (and others, but do check) visas for Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma have to be obtained through an agent if you really want a visa in advance. No visas in advance for many nationalities are necessary for Malaysia or Indonesia. Having said that, and despite the plentiful signs in Chiang Mai travel agents and guesthouses, we fail to see any great need for any of those with the exception of Vietnam. Since none of these countries have facilities in Chiang Mai, visas are expensive as you’re paying for postage and transport costs on top.
Laos: Visas are obtained at arrival at airports or land crossings so don’t bother paying a travel agent unless you’re concerned with saving time at the Huay Xai entry point, where VOA queues can be long during the high season.
Cambodia: Ditto above plus you have the added option of paying a few bucks extra for an e-visa, which does save a page in your passport. (See Cambodia section.)
Burma: We were quoted a hefty 3,000 baht by a Chiang Mai agent, who was then unable to procure said visa anyway and refunded 2,500 baht only. You are MUCH better off going in person to the Burmese embassy in Bangkok (Sathorn Neua) where an express visa can be obtained within 24 hours for a lot less.
Vietnam: Since Vietnam does not issue VOA (visa on arrival), if you are planning on travelling from Lao onwards to Vietnam you may be considering obtaining one in Chiang Mai. Note it is cheaper and easier to apply for one in Laos though.
If you have any comments applying to specific nationalities having particular issues with any visas, please note them below. This is intended only as a rough guide to get you started.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 31st August, 2011.