Thailand is easy enough to get around.
Bangkok is the central hub of Thailand and is a world onto itself. Noisy, intense and packed full of life, it can be too much to bear unless you have a thick skin. Most use it as a transit point to the islands or a place to hole up and make some money teaching English.
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second city. It receives the brunt of tourism to Northern Thailand and is a base for a lot of the trekking outfits heading to the northwest. It has a collection of bars and nightlife and a lot of the creature comforts of Bangkok.
Koh Chang is a major island southeast of Bangkok. It’s Thailand’s second largest island and quite beautiful, jutting out of the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a mountainous island covered in jungle and laced with white sand beaches, most of which have now been developed.
Mai Hong Son is a tranquil village far removed from everything. It is a very acceptable and cheap place to hang out when the chaos of the city has got you too stressed out. The town sits in a forested valley in the far northwest of the country, only a few miles from the Burmese border.
Phuket is the symbol of tourism gone horribly wrong. Patong beach is the center of the nightmare, a horrid disease of Scandinavian restaurants and Irish bars set against an overpopulated white sand beach.
Trat is a small, quiet city near the Cambodian border. It’s not a stunningly beautiful place, and it might not have a lot to offer in terms of tourism, but it is a decent town and holds its own as one of the cheapest parts of Thailand.
Koh Phangan still has its full and dark moon parties but don’t expect to find the wild parties of the 90’s here now. It’s sanctioned backpacker drunkenness for the most part but there are still cool corners on the island to check out.
Pai is a favourite among many travelers as a long term option in Thailand. It’s up high and so is much cooler than the rest of the country, allowing you to think straight for once. It’s changing fast though and while there are still cool bars and music sessions happening around town, it becomes less alternative by the year.