|Subject: Re. Thailand|
Can offer some suggestions based upon personal experience as well as some links to other people's experiences.
We were in Bangkok, Hua Hin, Petchuburi, Kanchanaburi and Ayuthaya 2 Xmases ago and had a wonderful week. Hua Hin was the only seaside area we were in and we actually left earlier than planned because we found the area too touristy. I am sure that the beaches that Kai recommended in his note are much better. We enjoyed a decadent day in luxury at the Dusit Resort and then just one night in a guest house within the town and then hopped on some local buses and wandered up to Kanchanaburi. Thai buses are a not-to-be-missed transportation experience....you haven't lived until you've bounced around in an intercity bus in Thailand!
We found Kanchanaburi fascinating - it's on the River Kwae and where the Death Railway was built by POWs of the Japanese - if you are at all interested in history, I recommend it highly. The region is very beautiful as well and, although there are some pretty touristy parts of it, you can get away from that. We stayed at a great place on the river called Kasem Island Resort (513359 or, from Bangkok: (2)255-3604). It's on an island in the middle of the Mae Klong River and some of the cabins are on rafts. It's quiet and peaceful - far enough away from the loud touristy stuff (like the infamous Disco Duck) - but just a couple of minutes by the resort's own ferry back to the Tha Chukkadon Pier. They also can arrange for a (relatively inexpensive) speed boat to take you around to the various places you are interested in seeing - you can design your own route and see much more that way. We wished that we could have stayed much longer.
If you want to go there from Bangkok - buses leave from the Southern bus terminal every 20 min or so and trains leave Thonburi station a couple of times a day. Or - there's a tourist train on the weekends from Hualamphong station. I recommend the local bus or train - much more interesting (if a little hair-raising!).
Petchuburi and Ayuthaya were both incredible for their history and architecture - we thought we'd get tired of temples but .... they are all so fascinating and so unique.
A writer who is working on our Thailand book lived in Chiang Mai for quite awhile and, after her descriptions, I definitely want to get up to that part of Thailand. A net-colleague visited there and found what sounds like a wonderful place to stay - the Jaiya Mongkhan Bed and Breakfast. (http://www.infothai.com/jaiya). She wrote: The house could easily be a tourist attraction itself to anyone who appreciates fine architecture. The real attraction, though is the welcome you get from Mon and her husband and the fascinating guests they attract. If you are interested, I'd be happy to share the rest of her fascinating email about the place with you (just send a private email to me).
Those are just bits and pieces but .... you might also get some good tips from the travelogues of others. The Thailand pages on our site are in need of updating (I've got at least 50 more sites waiting for me to have time to make the annotations so that they can be added)- but there are some really interesting notes from other people under Travellers' Notes.
Have a great time - and good luck with the weather.
Judy in HK