I'm going to Thailand in September for three weeks and want to do a lot but also have time for relaxing on beaches.
My plan so far is -
Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Pai - Sukhothai - Bangkok - Koh Samui - Kho Tao - Kho Phi Phi - Kho Lak - Bangkok,
I am planning to travel by bus to save money but am i trying to cram too much into my trip. Don't want to be constantly on the move.
How long do yo need in Chiang Mai region and in Bangkok? And is it better to go to Sukhothai or Ayutthaya?
I am trying to avoid too much of the big touristy beaches and islands so does anyone have any recommendations? And also how much to people budget for their trips - to include activities as well.
I think you probably need a week and a half in Chaing Mai. About 2-3 days to kick around, maybe take cooking course (highly recomended), visit temples, organize tours and whatnot. You'll probaly want to take a hilltribe trekking tour for 3 days. Then you'll want 3 days to relax in Pai. So thats 9 days taken up right there. You can travel on night buses to save time.
In my opinion Soukathai is nicer than Ayathaya. You probably don't need to see both. You'll only need one day in Soukathai to see the sights.
Since you are short on time, Bangkok probably only needs transit days. Spend day one getting your barings, organizing a bus to Chaing Mai, and checking out the Grand Palace. You will almost surely end up back in Bangkok on your way South so you can check it out a bit more on that day. Then at the end of your trip you will have to be back in Bangkok again to fly out, so you can check it out a bit more.
As for the beaches, you would have about 9 or 10 days left of your trip, so I would recommend not trying to see more than two. As far as finding a beach that is non touristy or busy goes - good luck with that. Thai beaches are by nature full of tourists. Not matter what beach you choose, there will be more Westerners than Thais. So just enjoy it for what it is. Samui is probably the most touristy, Phi Phi a close second. Probably the best idea since you're short on time is to go to Tao, Phagnan and Sumui since they all link well. Though Ko Phagnan is famous for being a busy touristy backpacker beach, most of that is in the South and you can find some pretty quiet beaches up North.
For a budget, I like to go cheap and I plan on about $15USD a day. Start adding diving or snorkelling trips, a few beers a night, and air conditioned rooms and that price starts to go up.
Would love to do a cooking course - do you have any reccomendations as some of them seem to be quite expensive for what they are.
Also what will the weather be like on the islands in september? i know its rainy season and i'm used to it having lived in Malaysia - will it be like there and just rain down for couple of hours in a day and then clear up?
Do i need a sleeping bag - i don't think i do but not sure whether to risk it or not.
Sorry, I don't know about the weather in Sept (I've always gone between April and July) and I forgot to consider that when I gave my last suggestion. I know different sides of the peninsula get hit by the monsoon at slightly different times and so one side might be better than the other. You might want to find that out and plan accordingly.
As for the cooking I did it with "The Master Thai Chef Cookery Course" run by a guy named Permpoon Nabnian. I would definelty recomend them. They definetly seem expensive for what they are, but I think it was really good value. It's been a few years now so I cant remember exactly what I paid but something tells me it was in the 600-800 baht range. That is more than a days budget for me, but it was still worth it. First they take you to the market in the morning and explain what all the exotic veggies and spices are and what they are used for. Then you head to the cooking school where you spend most of the day cooking up 5 or so different dishes, all of which you get to eat and by the end of the day you will be stuffed. You also get to keep a cookbook with all the recipes that the school offers. I'm still using mine of a regular basis and there are some great recipes in there. So all in all, it's a day well spent - you learn lots, have some fun and meet people, and get some good meals on top of it. If you are as big of a Thai food fan as myself, then you won't regret spending the money on it.
You don't need a sleeping bag. The only time that you could possibly need one would be trekking in the north, but I'm sure if it's chilly at night then they will supply blankets. One thing that is nice to have is a sleep sheet of some sort. Some people take ones designed for travel, others are happy with a large sarong, and I found that a thin douvet cover was perfect. They are great for when you get a hotel room where you aren't quite sure how clean the bed is, or when you just need a thin cover.
If you want to avoid tousty places, stay away from Samui. Also by the end of Sept it is beginning to get quite wet there.
You'll be moving to fast and spending too much of your time traveling. I see ,by bus, over 50 hrs in transit, thats about 20% of the time you have. to me a waste. Theres nothing wrong with the itenerary itself just the limits of time.
It would be a shame to miss out on any part of thailand, but to enjoy myself more I would be forced to cut out chaing mai -pie, for "Kanchanaburi". Kanchanaburi is a 2.5 hour trip from Bangkok. It has much of what is up north, ELephant riding, tiger temple is cool. the Kwai bridge history and museum. google it.
the point being with the time you'd save you'd be better able to enjoy the Islands.
or turn it totaly about and give up the islands.... NOT.
in bangkok stay @ "soi 1 guesthouse". < google that,
I think you can fit all this in, but it may be tight. My advice would be to keep flexible with times...if you like somewhere, stay a few days more and perhaps miss somewhere else. As for the islands, Koh Pha Ngan is a good mix...there are the touristy party places like Hat Rin and really quiet relaxing places like Khun Sadet. Samui is very touristy and there isn't an awful lot to do in Koh Tao unless you are diving/snorkelling. Phi Phi is gorgeous, but busy. Personally, I prefer the beaches/islands on the Andamon (however you spell it!) coast. There are some nice places on the Krabi coast, Tonsai beach at the moment is free of big developments and Railey beach is nice. Chiang Mai is good, a few days should do it, and Pai is beautiful and very peaceful. I did my cookery course in Pai for 750 at 'Bebe's Wok & Roll'. The guys that run it are diamonds and I had a great time while learning how to cook good thai! Treks are also really good around Chiang Mai/Pai, but bear in mind Sept is still the rainy season, so go prepared! I don't think you'll need a sleeping bag until late Oct/Nov.
do u know any nudity beach in phuket?