Cheers Monty, much appreciated.
I can get 3 weeks off from work, so would probably try to do a 3 week trip and see as much as possible. Is over Christmas a good time to go? Get 10 days off work then, so I can do a longer trip then and split it over two years worth of holiday allowance.
When I was in Australia a couple of years back we did loads in 3 weeks, met some girls from Bradford working in a bank, who had been there for 8 years. Got chatting and they asked how long we were in Adelaide, we told them 2 days and then told them what we had done previously and what we were going to do after we left there. Told us we were seeing more of Oz in 3 weeks than they had in 8 years Needed a holiday when I got home mind you...
So while I wouldn't need to see everything, I'd like to cram a fair bit into a 3 week holiday
Right CJ a more detailed answer for you I hope.
3 weeks is probably the optimum time. Once on a 3 week trip using BKK as a base I visited Chieng Mai, Siem Reap (Cambodia) Hua Hin and Kanchanaburi
I usually take a 20 night trip in May then if I can fit it in (time and financially) a shorter 10-12 night jaunt later on around October - November time. As for time of year, personally I would not choose Christmas as the basics are more expensive over the high season Hotels and flights. Also more crowded and you may find some bus, train or internal flights booked up because of the holidays. Don’t think because it’s a Buddhist country they don’t use any excuse for time off work. But if that’s the time you have then that’s the time you have and I’m sure you wont be to put out because its Christmas.
You mentioned in one of your earlier post about a Lonely Planet guide an excellent idea as a guide but don’t treat it as a bible as businesses change hands and staff come and go so the recommendations may be avoids and vice versa a month later. I used a couple for my first few trips and found them very useful for the practical and customs & culture sections so I didn’t make an arse of myself as soon as I stepped of the plane.
Difficult to advise you on where to go and what to see as I don’t know you but a few day in BKK are a must for any tourist. Then it “up to you” as the Thais say. An excellent site I use to give an overview of areas and places is this one;http://www.sawasdee.com/
Gives info on practically all of the main areas and some more “off the beaten track” places with info on how to get there, train, bus times etc a really good overview site before you decide if you want to spend some time in a place.
Then when you do decide on a place usually a Google search will come up with a few sites of interest. E.G when I wanted to find out more about Kho Chang I found this site http://iamkohchang.com/
and when I wanted to go to Chiang Mai I found this one http://www.chiangmai-guideline.com/index.html
Both very useful as give a slightly less “glossy” view than the Sawassde one.
Some other useful links for you;
Good comprehensive train guide covers all major routes stations etc;http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm
This may be useful if there are particular festivals or celebrations’ you want to see or as in the case of Sonkran avoid;http://www.thaiworldview.com/feast/feast.htm
Learn a bit of Thai before you go please and thank you go a long way in any language;http://www.learningthai.com/
Don’t forget the ‘elf ‘n’ safety from our own lovely government.http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/asia-oceania/thailand
Hope this helps I’ve left off “punting” advice as you said it’s not your main priority and if your visiting you old man in Pattaya he will put you straight there. But in practically all Thai towns and cities there is p4p available mainly a discreet Thai scene and a more overt Farang one. Don’t be offended if your “straight” massage girl in a respectable shop offers you a happy ending.