If you’re staying long enough in the land of smiles you will have to hop out of the country and grab a new Visa. The easiest and most convenient Thai consulate nearby Phuket is Penang.
Me personally. I hate travelling by minivan. Its torture for me being a bigger bloke. I have also tried driving to Sadao and then catching the ferry across via Langkawi, but the ferry departure times never quite match up.
So this leaves the option of flying. Firefly Airlines offer a service 3 times a week on Monday Wednesday and Friday. Getting down to Penang is OK, you arrive in the late afternoon, so you can deal with your Visa issues the next day.
The main problem is getting back. You have to pick up your passport after 2pm and the flight leaves at 2:30pm to go back to Phuket.
So that leaves 3 options. You can wait an extra day or 2 and go back to Phuket on a direct flight by Firefly. Or you can catch a minivan to Sadao and then catch a bus to Phuket. Or the other option is booking a ticket back through Air Asia which run daily. (Getting the stopovers down to a minimum in KL can be a little tricky). I prefer to get in and out of Penang quickly and the quickest way back to Phuket is by Air Asia
Finding a hotel in Penang: The taxis from Penang airport to Georgetown are quite cheap at less than 30MYR, and it takes about 40mins. there are shuttle busses from the airport also. I find the hotels in Malaysia a bit overpriced and run down. The main street in Georgetown is Jalan Penang, there is an abundance of cheapish hotels here. For around 120MYR a night you can get a half decent room with an average breakfast. Don’t expect good Wifi in the hotels either, I generally go to a phone dealer and purchase a cheap internet package for the duration of the stay. If you would prefer to book before you arrive you can try on agoda, but I would say its not really necessary as there is always a room here.
Now once in Penang you can attempt the consulate by yourself, or you can enlist the help of a local friend named Jim. Jims place is a little bar on Chulia street in Georgetown.
Basically if you walk from the subway and head down Chulia Street towards the port, its a small little bar/restaurant on the right hand side about 300m.
Just go in and ask for ‘Sir Jim’. For a very small fee he will fill out all the necessary paperwork for you, and take your passport to the consulate. The next day you simply meet Jim at his bar and you will receive your passport with a new visa inside.
So while you are waiting in Penang there is a heap of things to see and do. I personally recommend hiring a scooter and going down for a drive through little India. You can grab some amazing curries here at rock bottom prices.
There is also a Chinatown close by which has some good markets and roadside shops.
The shop houses all over Georgetown offer an amazing variety of shopping also, from second hand bookshops to hardware stores, handmade shoe shops, Penang has it all. It actually looks like it hasn’t changed for 50 years. Its like a living breathing museum.
Further down from Chinatown is the Penang mall. Which is surprisingly big and has a nice variety of well known shops. Fort Cornwallis is an interesting little place too, there is abit of WW2 history to be learnt there.
Another thing i recommend is the Penang War Museum. Its quite an interesting hands on museum. Its basically an old fort that was overrun by the Japanese in WW2 and converted into a POW camp. It was used to house local Malay women prisoners and some Indian soldiers that were captured. Some of it can be quite disturbing. And the feeling I got with the place is definitely no love between the Malays and the Japanese.
There is a snake temple just nearby the war museum which is a little over rated but its worth a look.
There is a really lovely Buddhist temple in the mountains of Penang called Kek Lok Si, I highly recommend it. Its a fair drive in a taxi, but they are cheap enough in Penang. You need to get a cable car up to the very top of the temple. But once up there the views of Penang are amazing.
At night time around Georgetown there is Soho Bar and for a bit more of a wild night head to Slippery Senoritas, both of which are good drinking venues. There are plenty more bars around that offer Karaoke and sportsbar themes, but I find these 2 the best.