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Unless there has been a recent change, for tourists from most countries receive a 30 day Visa Exemption Entry stamp on arrival free of charge.
There are many other types of visa classes available for longer term stays, but these usually have to be obtained (before travel) in your home country. If entering from the USA or one of 42 other countries you can be allowed to stay for up to 30 days, as a tourist, without a visa. You'll be given a Visa Exemption stamp in your passport to this effect
Check the Immigration Bureau website for requirements. Click here, then use the pull-down to find your country of origin. The visa requirements will pop up.
There are about 40 countries whose citizens will receive a Visa Exemption Entry. It isn't really a visa, it just means you can stay in the country for 30 days for tourism purposes, without applying for a visa prior to your arrival.
The rules concerning visas have changed slightly from Oct 2006. In the future you will not be allowed to do more than 90days (3 thirty-day periods or 2 "visa runs"). After 90 cumulative days you will be required to get a visa before your next arrival and not allowed to use another Visa Exemption Entry for 6 months. There is a lot of confusion about this at the moment so check with Thai Immigration.
If you are planning to stay in Thailand or even the region for a longer period, it is advisable to contact your local Thai diplomatic post and find out what is available. There may be some costs involved, but in the end you'll save on unwanted trips to other countries' and their borders.
BEWARE - new visa exemption rules.
If you enter the Kingdom by land and do not have a visa stamped into your passport- you will only be given a 15 day entry stamp, NOT the normal 30 days. There are also limits on how many times you can receive consecutive 15 day entry stamps. Check with your closest Thai diplomatic post for current regulations.
NB - It has been reported that the Royal Consulate General in Penang are now limiting the number of tourist visas being issued to the same person, on a back-to-back basis, to only 3..