Hey off to Thailand on the dates above, landing in Bangkok the evening of the 31st just wondering whereabouts to go from there?
My initial thoughts were go straight to Pattaya from the airport, stay there for 4 days, diving, elephant sanctuary and tigers zoo and then back past bangkok through to the eastern tip going to phuket and koh tao, finishing by coming back to Bangkok for my last couple of nights?
Any suggestions, i'm travelling out alone so will be looking on going to hostels to meet and rendezvous with people to share the experience,
Many Thanks and happy travels
Pattaya can be a fun place to be. Great nightlife after your sightseeing plus a nice beach option over on Koh Larn. My blog covers my day on KL.
You have about 3 weeks. After Pattaya you have time to include Chiang Mai (CM), trekking, culture, etc. Take a flight up to CM or overnight bus. If you use the overnight bus, you can spend the day sightseeing in BKK, then sleep on the bus (hopefully). Make the effort to use the gov't bus system. You will have to get over to the bus station, but you will have a better experience than using the private bus system the travel shops push.
After CM, I would head to Koh Samui or the Krabi area. Not time for both IMO. If your budget allows it, you can fly BKK Air right to Samui, visit Koh Phangan for a few days, fly back to BKK and out. Or use another overnight bus to Surat Thani, bus to the docks, ferry over to Samui. Again, I would use the gov't bus out of the Southern Bus Station. Much less theft than private buses.
If you pick Krabi, you can fly: BKK-KBV on Air Asia. Or use the overnight bus from BKK. Railay Beach is an easy day trip from Krabi town. As is Ao Nang Beach. You could also take a ferry over to Phi Phi for a few days. I would forget Phuket, too expensive, too crowded. Fly back to BKK, home.
That is one option for using your 3 weeks. Good luck with your planning.
I'm not sure I'd agree with Mike in going up to Chiang Mai. I don't like to rush when I travel and the north really needs it's own trip to really take it all in. Stick to the south as you originally planned. Not only that but as easy as Thailand is to people that have been there, to someone just arriving it can still be confusing and tiring and the less traveling around you do the better.
So my suggestion would be do as you planned for Pattaya, then get over to Koh Tao, I don't agree with Mike here either, Samui and Phangan are way over done. Then depending on what you are looking for on your trip you could head over to Krabi and Railay (if you really want something different stop at Khao Sok and Chiaw Lan Lake, my pictures of it are here) and then take the ferry over to Phi Phi and on to Phuket. Phuket is a large island and the north end still has some unspoilt places that are cheap. Phuket also makes it easy to get back to Bangkok. And yes Bangkok is worth a few days for sure.
Don't see any problem with your planned route. I would suggest when you come back to Bangkok from Pattaya stay a couple of days in the Khao San Road area. See what interests you during the day and meet other travellers at night. You will probably meet up with others heading south you can travel with.
Forget diving around Pattaya, save it for Koh Tao.
Pack few clothes. You can buy shorts, shirts, t-shirts, footwear etc (to wear on your holiday) when your in Pattaya (main market at southern end of Soi Boukow operates Tues & Fri).
Do your main shopping on your last 2 days in Bangkok, that way you won't have to carry it all around Thailand with you.
Places To Go:
Koh Pha Ngan (especially for the Full Moon Party) and Koh Phi Phi would be top of my recommendations if you like night-life, and you can also do a cool boat trip on Koh Phi Phi. Krabi is also a cool spot to do various day trips from (Tiger Temple at the top of a cliff, Tonsai and Railay Beach) and Kanchanaburi (Bridge Over The River Kwai, Death Railway) is worth a visit while you're in Bangkok.
I've never been to Pattaya but a mate of mine went a few years ago and wasn't that keen on it. I think it has more of an older crowd whereas Koh Pha Ngan tends to be more aimed at party-orientated backpackers and a younger crowd. Koh Samui has some beautiful beaches but I found it a bit 'money-motivated' and aimed more at tourists, rather than budget backpackers like Koh Pha Ngan. I've never been to Koh Tao but everyone I've spoke to who's been seems to rate it highly, but different people have different tastes so you'll know yourself what sort of destination will appeal most to your taste.
Chiang Mai is also a cool place to visit and a hilltribe trek is a worthwhile experience, but it depends how much travelling you want to cram in. If you want a more relaxed pace you may be better off just sticking to the south.
Meeting Other Backpackers:
For meeting other backpackers The Rock hostel on Koh Phi Phi is a very sociable hostel (as long as you don't mind roughing it for a few days) but it fills up quickly so if you go to Koh Phi Phi make sure you get the early morning ferry so you have more chance of getting somewhere to stay before all the cheap places fill up. Pak Up Hostel in Krabi is also an excellent place to meet other backpackers, and also a really nice hostel (almost luxurious by normal backpacker standards).
And if you like football then the Beach Soccer Tournament in Koh Pha Ngan every Full Moon is a good way to meet people as well. The organiser groups solo travellers into teams so you meet a lot of people if you enter. It starts three or four days before the Full Moon Party and takes place in front of Tommy Resort on Haad Rin Sunrise Beach.