Thailand, China Declare Permanent Visa-Free Arrangement From March 1

Thailand, China Declare Permanent Visa-Free Travel Pact; Details Inside
Image Credit: apiguide/Shutterstock

Beginning March 1, 2024, Thailand and China are set to establish a permanent visa-free agreement, eliminating the need for citizens from either country to obtain a visa for reciprocal travel.

This strategic geopolitical move, expected to bolster travel and tourism between China and Thailand, will come into effect after the Lunar New Year Holiday in February, which marks the peak holiday season for Chinese travellers, and just a few weeks short of Thailand’s coveted Songkran Festival in April.

The groundwork for this development was laid in September 2023 when Thailand initially waived visa requirements for Chinese citizens, resulting in a substantial surge in tourist numbers and a boost to the economy. According to a BBC News report, 22,000 Chinese tourists visited the Southeast Asian nation within the first two days of the waiver. Originally intended to last until February 2024, the two countries have now agreed to make this arrangement permanent.

Thailand-China visa waiver: A catalyst for tourism recovery

china thailand visa
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

In 2023, Thailand welcomed 28 million international tourists, generating revenue of USD 34.93 billion. As Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, Thailand heavily relies on tourism. The bilateral visa waiver with China is expected to strengthen diplomatic ties and further stimulate tourism. “This visa-free era will bring people-to-people exchanges to a new height,” remarked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a joint press conference.

According to a Bloomberg report, Chai Wacharonke, a Thai government spokesperson, revealed that the official bilateral agreement would be signed between the two countries towards the end of February 2024. Chinese citizens will be permitted to stay in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days per entry, and vice versa. Additionally, multiple entries within 180 days will enable an extended stay of up to 90 days. Thailand’s Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara shared that China and Thailand’s foreign ministers will hold consultations at least once a year.

Beijing and Bangkok have also teamed up and pledged to accelerate the completion of the China-Thailand Railway, as well as effectively combat transnational crimes.

In response to this significant decision, Thailand has agreed to reduce excise taxes on fermented alcoholic beverages to encourage international tourist spending. The 10 percent ad valorem tax on local rice wine varieties will also be eliminated. In 2023, Thailand recorded revenue of 3.6 trillion baht (INR 87,58,791,032,400) from 28 million international tourists. For 2024, the country anticipates a rise in tourist numbers to 35 million, with 8.2 million visa-free travellers expected from China.

The two countries also signed agreements related to poultry exports from Thailand, while China committed to purchasing specialty agricultural exports, promoting Chinese companies investing in Thailand, and cooperating on green technology, the digital economy, and electric vehicles.

Chinese visitors also constitute the second-largest group of tourists in Malaysia, closely trailing Malaysians themselves. The removal of visa requirements for Chinese citizens is anticipated to lead to a surge in visitor numbers in Malaysia as well.

(Feature Image Credit: apiguide/Shutterstock)

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Written By

Yashita Vashishth

Yashita Vashishth

Writer by day, reader by night, Yashita has a flair for all things travel, wellness and food. She has previously worked at Condé Nast India and Times Internet. When not working, you can catch her binge-reading the latest thriller on the block, re-watching Friends, trying a new recipe or hosting her friends.


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