what can one expect? is it somewhat easy to avoid the insanity of the heavily touristy areas and yet still meet other travellers? best to just go there, head south and let it go from there? maybe krabi and then meet people and let it flow with no real plans, only areas of interest?
i'm one of those persons with an itch to scratch and i keep wondering about it...
It so easy to make friends with other travellers in Thailand. Its a great place to go if by yourself. But there have to be some other tourists around if you want to meet them....
Smaller places like some of the less busy beaches and islands, can be really good for this, as you keep seeing the same faces so its friendlier. Whereas in really touristy/busy places everyone is a bit anonymous.
Traveling Thailand as a backpacker is a secure and very memorable experience; basically you will have to decide, if you rather want beaches or mountians (or both of course, if you have enough time!).
Beaches with good backpacker community are for example in Krabi and Koh Lanta.
North of Chiang Mai are wide areas very suitable for trekking and adventure type trips.
Best place to meet like minded people is to take a bit of a budget viewpoint.. ferries, buses and such. Other tourists stand out so you can strike up a conversation, and find out their from Sweden or South Africa and the like.
It's a great area to meet other travellers, being such a popular destination, don't forget to use the Travel Buddy section in the forums too
I met some of my good friends in Thailand, and through this website. Being from other countries that showed me around their native land when i visited. Nothing beats local knowledge.
I planned a solo trip last summer for 3 months. met some great ppl on this forum and ended up not travelling alone at all! had a amaziing experience that i was hesitant about in the beginning, but would never change for anything! phi phi island is a great place. half moon parties on phi phi and full moon parties on samui. there were tons of ppl travelling solo, everyone is really friendly. head to khoa san road as well and ul be sure to meet up with people. krabi was really great too! you can try to plan things, but just keep it to a general plan of where you want to visit and what you want to see, then let the rest go with the flow. backpacking is so unpredicatable, i love it! good luck!!