You have lots of choices in Thailand for a vacation and you need to figure out exactly what you plan to do while you are there.
Your first stop will be in the capital, Bangkok and you should plan to stay there for a few days, especially if this is your first visit to Thailand. There are river boat dinners, short ½ day trips to beautiful temples, and longer jaunts to the old capital, Ayudhaya, or visit the site of the Bridge on the River Kwae in Kanchanaburi for some WWII history.
If you like the beach, you have numerous choices. You can go to Pattaya, which is about 1 ½ hour drive from Bangkok, or you can catch a short flight to Phuket or Koh Samui. If you really want to see pristine beaches and emerald water, go to Krabi. You can dive, snorkel, or swim to your heart’s content.
If you prefer cooler weather, head up north to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai and visit the temples and hill-tribe people. Local handicrafts, the Golden Triangle, and more await you in Northern Thailand.
For a very laid back vacation (my favorite), head to the northeast to an area referred to as Isaan (or Isan, or Esarn). This is a an area that includes Udorn Thani, Korat, Khon Kaen, Surin and some more smaller towns and villages. The pace is slower, the people friendlier and the cost of living about 50% less than in the touristy areas.
I have been to Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui, Bangkok and many other cities in the Land of Smiles. My favorite is Khon Kaen. Located about a 55 minute flight from the old Don Muang Airport, Khon Kaen is an excellent mix of old and new.
I can purchase software and DVDs at the Oasis mall or sit on a picnic table under thatched roof overlooking the river while I eat my jumbo prawns and drink a cold Singha. I can visit a number of temples or go to a disco. I can hang out with the expatriates neat the Sofitel Hotel or go to night market at the University.
I can have dinner at a restaurant along the man-made lake while half the city is out jogging. I can go shopping at malls and outlet store that compare to any in the United States. I can even call and have pizza or chicken delivered to my hotel room.
I will be looking to invest in some property in Khon Kaen during my next vacation. I want to lease a house and start getting ready for my retirement in about 2 years. From what I have seen online, I can purchase a brand new3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2-story house for about $50,000 USD. That would be just about enough for a down payment where I live in Hawaii.
No matter what you are looking for, Thailand has it all. And it will be a lot cheaper than where you live now.
You can spend your days at the beach and your nights pursuing dreams of youth at all the nightspots. You can relax on a small island or go trekking in the jungles. Whatever you want to do, you can do it in Thailand.