Subject: Re: Thailand expert please stand up
Rosemary, I am not a Thailand expert but did visit a few years back. Be prepared for Bangkok - it's big, it's dirty, it's polluted and it's poor. But it is also energetic, goes 24/7, is inexpensive and has wonderful street food. The Thai are wonderful hosts.

We wandered the streets day and night visiting temples, the Royal Palace, Khao San (backpackers haven and cheap digs). I would highly recommend a visit to the Jim Thompson House. It is breathtakingly beautiful and elegant despite its location. Check it out here.

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are gateways to the north. There are lots of cooking schools in Chiang Mai and the night market is a terrific place to pick up bargains. There are many hiking and rafting trips as well as elephant rides to visit the Hill villages and tribes. Chiang Mai has some shops where you can purchase Hill tribe goods and the profits are plowed back to the villagers through the collective. From Chiang Rai you can visit the Golden Triangle area.

Are you considering visiting southern Thailand? Phuket and the area on the western side of the peninsula are usually on tourists' lists but you might consider the eastern side of the peninsula. We stayed in Kho Samui for four days and found it to be a good respite from the hurly burly of Thai cities. It is incredibly cheap with accommodations ranging from $2.00 (yes!) to $40/night with the fancier hotels charging more. But you don't need to stay in the upscale places. The beach is the same for all.

Three notes: 1. We flew everywhere. If you do this, buy your tickets in Thailand - don't pre-book. You will save tons of money. 2. We found hotels as we went along. In Bangkok we booked when we arrived at the airport, for an additional fee. As we used Bankgok as our hub, we stayed a second time in the same hotel (The Royal - across the large boulevard from Khao San) for about 2/3rds of the price on the second go round. We paid about $20/night and we had a pool to cool down in during the hot afternoons. 3. Everyone, especially the taxi or tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok, will want to be helpful, which usually means steering you to a tailor shop or gem store. We went along for the ride and were impervious to the pressure to buy any jewels. However, we did have some suits made to measure which we picked up on our second pass through the city a week later. Wore them for many years. Lucy, Toronto