I am a first time backpacker and was planning on going to Thailand from dec 14-Jan 8. I just got the idea for the trip and have done little to prepare besides purchase airfare and read travel books/online blogs. I was hoping to spend a few days in the north and a majority of the trip in the south. However, I am concerned that I will not be able to find places to stay at night on my measly backpackers budget.
Are my fears off?
Will I be able to find good accomadations in nice areas of the north and south?
Furthermore, I've read that island hopping is not worthwhile, what are a few good, safe islands that offer great things to do on a backpackers budget?
Lastly, can anyone recommend a good quiet island with cheap beach bungalows?
I was trying to do this trip for 50-100 USD per day. Is this possible?
#1 mboconno has been a member since 23/10/2008. Posts: 2
Measly budget??? I've never traveled on a budget that large. Considering that "cheap" bungalows and guest houses will ask for around B250-B300 (around $8-$10), and that most street food goes for around $1.25 per dish, financially you'll be beyond fine.
As you probably already know, you'll be coming into the country during the busiest time of the year for tourism. But you shouldn't be too concerned about not being able to find a place to stay unless you want to stay in places that take reservations via the internet, or in some of the very popular tourist spots. Most places DO NOT take reservations like this. This might mean that you'll have to go looking when you arrive in a place, but you'll always find something. Your best source of information while you're there will be other people. Use this invaluable resource.
So, I'd say that yes your fears are off.
You don't have much time, and going from place to place burns off a lot of hours/days. I wouldn't island hop if I were you. I'd pick a place and stay for a while rather than stay for a night or two and then rush off to another island which will likely be busy with travelers. Only leave if you think it sucks.
Also, unless you plan on flying around, you will be spending a lot of your time on trains or buses. When on a time budget, it's better to limit this as much as possible. You may want to think about visiting an island closer to Bangkok rather than going too far south. You can get from Bangkok to the islands around Trat (near Cambodia) in less than a day, and the same goes with returning. Most other places with the exception of Koh Samet, Koh Si Chang, and a few more, are an overnight trip away.
Check Tezza's website for island recommendations. I always liked going to Koh Mak but haven't been there for about 4 years. You can leave Bangkok in the morning and be swinging in your hammock watching the sunset from the island on the same day. Same goes with Koh Chang, but that's much more popular and therefore very busy.
$50 a day on everything should see a pretty good trip. $150 and you will be able to stay in some very nice upscale places.
The major problem at that time, particularly from your second week on, will be that some of the more popular places in the south will be very crowded and it might be a search to find a reasonable vacancy. Such places include Phi Phi, Samui, Railay and Lipe.
"can anyone recommend a good quiet island with cheap beach bungalows?"
Yep, in the Andaman, little Ko Chang, Ko Phayam, Ko Yao Yai, Ko Jum, some of the beaches on Lanta, Ko Ngai, Ko Kradan, Ko Sukorn, Ko Bulon Lae.
In the eastern Gulf, Ko Whai, Ko Muk and Ko Kut.
Here's one out of left field - Ko Loaliang has a luxury tent resort - the only one on the spectacular island, which offers diving, climbing, snorkelling and kayaking plus all meals for considerably below your upper limit. I've only seen one other post from someone who has visited, so you will be a kind of trendsetter.