Return ticket from Thailand — what is an onward ticket and why is it needed in Asia.
I've been meaning to write this post for a while. It will be a very practical post. Most travelers who frequently visit Asia will know what it's about. However, for the rest, it might be a useful guide.
What's the deal with this onward ticket?
So, the immigration office in Thailand (I've also heard about the Philippines and a few other countries) has a requirement that you must have an onward ticket out of the country before your visa expires. While it's relatively rare for immigration to actually check this, airlines tend to do so more often. They do it because if the immigration office refuses entry to someone (e.g., due to a lack of a ticket), the airline has to bear the cost of sending the person back to where they came from. Therefore, if you're flying to a country (and don't have a return ticket from the same airline that airport staff can check), you may be asked to show a return ticket during check-in. This aligns with what you can read online. It's like playing Russian roulette – it may or may not happen. It's good to know what to do in such a situation.
Additionally, when applying for a tourist visa to Thailand (in Cambodia), I also had to present an outbound ticket from Thailand to obtain such a visa. I assume that other countries may have similar requirements.
I know I need a ticket, but I don't know when I'm coming back.
It can often happen that you buy a one-way ticket and still don't know how or when you want to leave the country. In such a case, there are several options, which I will present below.
1. Cheap ticket
Option available depending on the country, etc. An outbound ticket doesn't always have to be an airline ticket. Some countries are okay with a cheap bus ticket. If not, sometimes you can buy a flight to a nearby country at a reasonable price (Thailand — Malaysia can often be found for 30 USD).
2. Ticket with the option to change/cancel
This is an option for people who don't mind temporarily locking in a larger amount of money. Typically, major airlines offer more expensive tickets with the option of free changes/cancellation. Tariffs are constantly changing, etc., so it's important to check the airlines and their options regularly. After obtaining a visa/arriving in the country, you can change the flight to the one you want or simply cancel it.
3. Onward ticket
This is the option I most often use. Under this name, there are services that, for a small fee (usually around 12 USD), rent return tickets for 48 hours. You have to be careful and choose a good service that makes real reservations. It's best if the reservation can be later verified on the airline's website. In a nutshell, these services often buy tickets that can be canceled and automatically cancel them after a certain period.
My favorite service is BestOnwardticket, you can 'buy' a return ticket there for 12 USD. Additionally, the service allows for a free extension of the ticket usage to 14 days. For me, this is extremely useful because it usually enables me to apply for a visa upon arriving in the country with that specific ticket.
Link to service: bestonwardticket.com