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Thai Visa Options for longer/ multiple stays

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I am tentatively planning an extended trip to Asia and am considering using Chiang Mai as a base to visit a number of other countries in the region. As far I can ascertain from the Royal. Thai embassy website it seem that as a British citizen I can get 30 days entry on arrival without the need for a visa and then a further 30 days if I leave and return. I have a number of questions:

1) Does anyone know if there is a maximum period of stay - say 90 days in a calendar year etc.?

2) Is there now any difference between arriving by land or air? I know it used to be 15 and 30 days respectively but read somewhere that it was now 30 days in each case?

3) there is a one year non immigrant visa for over 50s which allows one to pretty much come and go as you please. What about a spouse under the age of 50? Are there any special provisions to allow a similar visa for them?

4) any suggestions for apartment rental agencies in. Thailand.

Thanks in advance of any information

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