There are many ways to travel around Thailand to suit your budget and time constraints.
Flights- this option is great for those who don’t have a lot of time but want to get around as much as possible. The downside is getting to and from the airport as this will increase the costs.
Trains- Trains are an excellent option for those who want to travel cheaply around the country. Just remember that not every town has a train station so make sure you do your research.
Bus- Buses are my favourite option. They are cheap, will take you anywhere around the country and the bus stations are pretty central in the towns and cities. The night buses are also a great option for those who want to save money by not booking accommodation as you can sleep on the bus.
Mopeds/Motorbikes- A lot of people hire mopeds and motorbikes in the south as they are quite cheap to rent and fuel costs are low, however if you are inexperienced it is probably worth staying away from these. It’s quite common to see tourists bandaged up in a variety of places in Thailand due to accidents.
N.B: Technically you aren't allowed to ride/drive a motorised vehicle in Thailand without an International Drivers Licence, most cities will turn a blind eye, however there are some cities where police set up stations on roads where they will fine you if they catch you riding/driving a motorised vehicle. EducatingKavita is unsure of the fined amount and where the money goes.
The best way to book flights is to get onto sites like Sky Scanner and 12goasia as they are generally cheaper. But if you’re looking for cheap trains and buses, it’s always better to head to the stations and book directly. if you book online or through an agent on the street it will always be more expensive as they take a cut. (Buy more expensive we are talking around £5)
Where to go:
Chiang Mai is a pretty cool hub that has quite a touristy vibe. it has many traditional temples and buildings but alongside them you will find western restaurants. Many people travel here to book elephant treks, tiger kingdoms, see Karen Long neck tribes and so forth. EducatingKavita sees these excursions as 'forced tourism' and feels that the animals and people aren’t always treated fairly, and therefore refuses to fund these industries. However walking around inside the city walls, going to the night bazaar, taking a local Thai cooking class, checking out Doi Suthep temple and hiking in the national park are all really cool things to do.
PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE BOOKING AN ELEPHANT TREK, GOING TO A TIGER KINGDOM OR VISITING A KAREN LONG NECK VILLAGE if your heart is set on these excursions.
N.B: Police have been seen fining people without International Drivers Licences here. Your home country licence is not acceptable.
Pai has become a backpackers haven. It is surrounded by green jungles, paddies and mountains. The town itself is pretty relaxed with shops, bars and restaurants to cater to tourism. Most people hire mopeds and motorbikes in order to get around. Some even hire their bikes in Chiang Mai and ride to Pai. (Most people just get a minibus- if you get motion sickness please be wary, the road to Pai has many bends)
Some may say that there are plenty of things to do in Pai but i personally disagree. the highlights of being in Pai is the scenery (which is awesome to explore on a bike), relaxing, checking out the sunset at Pai Canyon, checking out the Lod Caves, and hiking around.
Chiang Rai is a cool city with a great atmosphere. The top things to do here that don’t involve a tour are going to the night market in the city centre, looking at the well designed clock tower, getting a local bus to see the White Temple (the clock tower and temple were designed by the same artist) or hiring a bike/moped to see the golden triangle (where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos borders meet). But most tourists come to Chiang Rai in order to get to the Laos border by land.
The north of Thailand is incredibly picturesque and green. So, if nature is your thing, the north is for you. There are many hikes, treks and a fair amount of adventure if you look for it. But mostly the north is where people come to chill out and enjoy the hustle and bustle of everyday life.