I'm traveling to Thailand in August and I am in between minds about which route to take. I'm on a round the world trip and will be satying in thailand for 3 weeks. I will be flying to bangkock and was thinking of doing the thai intro tour or traveling up to chang mai for few days then down to phuket to travel to see maya beach then over to surat thani and ferry to the islands for full moon party and back to bangkock to spend last 2 days at end of the trip, would it be good to do the tours or better to make my own plans which way will be best to get to see max things I can?
I lived in Thailand for over a year and I found it generally quite easy to travel around. the only thing you want to think about is that if you are going at a busy period there might be limited availabilty on buses/coaches/boats/trains etc meaning you might be stuck in some places for a couple of days which isnt bad but if you have only got 3 weeks you are just wasting time.
I would suggest getting to Chumpon and Island hopping from Ko tao to Ko Phan Yan to Ko Sumai then getting the boat to Surat thani. From Surat Thani go to Phuket then Ko Phi Phi, Then I would go back to Phuket and fly back to Bangkok to save yourself 2 days worth of travelling time, meaning you can spend longer on the beach.
Hope this helps
I have actually just come back from 3 weeks in Thailand, we did Bangkok a few days, then instead of another city Chiang Mai. We went to Chaiang Rai which was amazing, it is more real rural Thailand, but there are still a number of English speaking people and travellers. There are great street and walking markets, the food there is stunning, they also have the famous and unique 'white temple - wat rong which is a reason to visit chiang rai anyway: http://www.triptourthai.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Wat_Rong_Khun.jpg
We also did some trekking and visited some natural hot springs, and went up the river on a boat - our guide was amazing. After Chiang Rai we flew to Phuket and toured the island for about 2 weeks. We booked a tour once there for about 1000BHT to see the James bond island and other sites, we met some cool people on that trip, it is a little more expensive to visit maya beach as it is quite far and will prob cost around 2000 bht- we paid 3000 but it was a real luxury boat.
You would deffo have time to fit the full moon in, we were going do but decided not as we wanted more relaxing time on Phuket.
About the Thai Intro, i know a girl who went on it and she loved it, its not a bad price to see everything, and she met loads of really cool people who she kept in touch with throughout her travels.
I think it just depends what is more important seeing the sites and country (then do it separate) or making friends (do thai intro), if i was alone and had alot of time id probably do the intro, however you WILL meet alot of other travellers if you go alone. We did so many Bangkok sites on our own as we didn't have to wait around for a tour group and were so glad we managed to visit the north as that was a highlight.
Whatever you do you will have an amazing time. Have fun