recommended Chiang MaiExciting northern city. Gets the benefit of better (cooler) weather. Nice home base from which to explore the area.Dan
If you are asking which of the 3 locations you listed is best, then I suggest Chiang Mai. Bangkok will be insanely hot in April. Phuket is overly touristy. My real recommendation is to head off the beaten bath a bit to find something of a lesser known gem. This is where you start to see the real Thailand and not the tourist market.
- Vertigo Bar21/100 South Sathon Road, Bangkok 10120 Thailandrecommended Vertigo BarThis was the place I was most impressed with in all of Bangkok. Sure, there are all kinds of beautiful palaces, historical gardens and beautiful waterfront. But where on Earth do you get a view like ... read morethis?? Nowhere. This is amazing. An open air patio bar on top of one of Bangkok's highest skyskrapers. Vertigo is the only fitting name for such a place, because that is what you feel between fascination and admiration for the lovely cocktails and appetizers! Wonderful place. A Bangkok must-do!Arlo Hemphill
By the way, while in Bangkok - whether for a night or a couple days, you must stop by Vertigo. This place is unbelievable - best view in the city and the most unforgettable cocktail experience you'll ever have.
recommended Ao NangIf you're looking for all that southern Thailand beach towns have to offer, want to avoid the masses looking for the same thing, but yet don't completely want to miss out on the nightlife thing, Ao ... read moreNang is for you. Completely across the Gulf from Phuket and just onshore of Ko Phi Phi, Ao Nang delivers all of "The Beach" with little of the resort. A bite-sized town offers anything and everything you could want logistically & socially - great restaurants, a thriving nightlife, dive shops, shopping shops, travel agencies and groceries. Outside of the town, welcome to paradise. Unspoiled beaches, tropical jungles, iconic limestone monoliths and aquamarine seas are just for starters. Try paddling through the mangroves with a troop of monkeys onboard your kayak, diving on some of the nicest reefs this side of the Seychelles, go on an elephant trek through tiger country and booze it up with the locals on "Thai whiskey". This place is awesome.Arlo Hemphill
Hi Van, good question! First, you're going to visit Bangkok whether you like it or not. It's the way in and out of the country, and most itineraries will necessitate at least a night or two in the city, in each direction. Once you schedule logistics, I'd tack on another day or 2 at the most in Bangkok, just to see the palaces, floating markets and silk houses - but this it's not where you should spend the bulk of your trip. For true tropical paradise and local culture, head to the southern beaches. Rather than Phuket, I suggest going to Ao Nang, which is the beach area outside Krabi. Phuket is famous because it is crowded and touristy. Ao Nang/Krabi offers better beaches and scenery, more cultural immersion and most of the same offerings in nightlife/dining, etc. - without the throngs of tourists to dilute it. It is wonderful.
recommended Ko Samui IslandBeautiful island, worth taking a tour around. Check-out the waterfalls and the giant golden Buddha. A good decompression stop after the full moon party.
recommended Ko Phi Phi DonIts famous beauty means it is packed with tourists, but there is enough beach for everyone. Make sure you make it to Koh Phi Phi Lei too.
recommended Koh ChangI would recommend you to visit Kho Chang, this paradise-like island, not too touristy with emerald sea and perfect view. If you have time you need to consider to visit both bangkok and chiang mai ... read moresince they have very different textures. bangkok is a very crowded and chaotically beautiful city where everyone finds something from himself. and chiang mai is more serene, also have beautiful temples, (again not touristy) and full of ex-pats. they both are different experiences to taste. also the 12-hour (as far as I remember) train trip between bangkok and chiang mail would be full of surprises :)
recommended Koh TaoIn my opinion the crown of the gulf-coast islands of southern Thailand, tiny Ko Tao trumps it neighbors Ko Pha Ngan (too druggy and party-ridden on the main beaches, a little dull off of them) and the ... read moreresort-heavy Ko Samui. It's a shame that Ko Tao is always touted as just 'the diving island', because while it certainly DOES have some wonderful submarine life offshore, it's also a thoroughly relaxed, friendly, and livable place. The snorkelling directly offshore (and on the day-long snorkelling tours they run here) can be a little sad, as you get to see how beat-up the Earth's great coral reefs have become with human development, but there's still some good spots to be found. Much more compact than the larger islands, Ko Tao nonetheless has some fine nightlife at the main beach, and down at the even lovelier Chalok Bay, but if you want to get away from it all, Ko Tao's windward side offers ample opportunity. A highlight of Southern Thailand.Matthew Crompton
Personally, I'd avoid Phuket, as it's a bit too built-up and touristy for my tastes. Try the Gulf Coast islands of Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui. Check out my passport for more ideas. Good luck!
recommended BangkokBangkok for me is that rare place: a big city that's also my favorite spot in the entire country. It's enough to love the city for its food -- pork-rice and grilled chicken and fresh passionfruit ... read morejuice on the street, dirt-cheap pad thai in food-court kitchens, fiery Isan cuisine, and excellent Western grub if you find yourself tired of noodles. Still, once you've eaten your way into a larger waistband, there's more than enough to keep you busy: astonishing temples like the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, or the fantastic Khmer-style Wat Arun across the river; or fabulous malls to people-watch and keep cool in (you get to appreciate their air-con in the Bangkok heat!) It's a great city for nightlife, and one of the world's best traveller centers. It's gritty and hectic and crowded, to be sure, but each time you come back you'll find you love it a little more.Matthew Crompton
Hi Van! Bangkok is awesome, but I wouldn't say it's "Thailand", exactly -- it's its own thing. Check out the guide here for ideas of what to do here: http://goingaroundplaces.com/2012/08/04/published-gogobot-36-hours-in-bangkok/
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Well, both 3 places that you listing also great place, should visit all if you have time.