I just spent this morning in the hell that is the Chinese embassy in Bangkok. I thought I'd share my experience with you because I wish I'd known before I got there. Mr A and I are going to China at the beginning of December and obviously need visas, hence why I went to purgatory.
Before I start, I'll just say that the actual visa process is easy. You have to wait for an hour or so but it's simple and straight forward. You need one photo and a passport and a single entry is 1100 baht. You pay when you pick it up. Easy.
Getting there is not so easy. The address on the website it not entirely accurate. It says 57 Ratchdapiasek Road when it should actually tell you it's on the corner of Ratchda and Soi 3. I spent an extra 10 minutes in the taxi trying to work this out. It also didn't help that the driver kept insisting I was going to a hotel or condo when I'd told him (in terrible Thai) that I was going to the embassy. The actual embassy is on the right of Soi 3 but the building that you get your visa is on the left. I managed to pick up two other lost foreigners who were trying to find it as well. We walked in together and the security guard flashed us the smile that I've come to know all too well. It says "Here come another bunch of suckers".
"You here for visa?" he said. We nodded. He asked to see our passports, which I thought was a bit odd but assumed they perhaps recorded the name of everyone who goes in and out. It is the embassy after all. After ascertaining our nationalities, he gave us the visa forms and said "He'd sort it out for us". I was starting to smell a rip off. I got about half way don't filling out my form and he tried to stop me, and the other guys I was with, from filling out the rest saying "I will do, I will fix.". I told him politely that I would like to fill out the rest of my form thank you. Then 3 or 4 other guys came in all trying to take our forms and passports. "We fix, we fix! No problem!!". I asked them at this point how much the visas were. The said 2000 baht, 900 baht more than I knew it was supposed to be. I told them no and asked for another form for Mr A. The guy grabbed a form for me and then grabbed the passports off me, without me even having filled out Mr A's info and told me to come back in 4 days and that would be 4000baht thanks. Well I snatched them right back and told him I wanted to do it myself. As if I'm going to give a complete stranger my passport and pay an extra 900 baht ($35AUD) for the privilege!!! He shot me a absolutely filthy look and told me to go upstairs. Which I promptly did!
This wasn't on the street. This was inside the embassy, the security guard of the embassy no less! What the deuce!!! Luckily I've lived here long enough to smell a con coming but I can't imagine how many tourists they dupe everyday, pocketing 900 baht from each rip off. Ridiculous! It made me so mad!
I know this is a really boring post but it's something I really wish I'd been aware of before I went. If I can save one person from the rip off I'll be happy. Just remember, if it seems dodgy or to good to be true, in Bangkok, is definitely is.