Thank you Laetitia for your kind words.
Walker: 1,600 pounds is plenty. In fact, more than enough. I assume this is how much you have to spend once you get here and does not include the airfare. Even so, 1,000 is still enough. To give you some examples:
1. A meal away from the tourist traps are about £1.
2. A room with hot water is no more than £10, but can go up depending on how nice you want it to be.
3. A taxi in Bangkok will cost you about £2.50 from the airport to downtown.
4. A taxi around town will be much less.
5. A tuk tuk (small three-wheeled motorbike with passengers behind) will cost you about £1-2. DON'T pay more...they will try to get you to pay 3 times that....bargain, bargain, bargain...if you can't get the price you deserve, then don't fall for the inflated price simply because you are a farang (foreigner).
6. Flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is about £40. Go to Nok Air (www.nokair.com) or Air Asia. You will have to fax them some info because Nok Air does not let you pay for a ticket from another country and with a foreign credit card. Flights are plentiful, so you can buy one when you get there. Try getting one at the airport when you first arrive into BKK. (You will be flying into the NEW airport just opened this week...very nice!).
You have plenty of money. Most Thais make less than £100 per month, and many foreigners live here for £750-1000 per month and they own cars and houses. Whenever I get home to the US, I am amazed that I ever spent so much on a hamburger. I love the fact that my money goes so far here in Thailand. It is nothing like Europe. You will be laughing at yourself when you see how cheap it is. Don't get confused with the fact that tourist traps are abundant here. They will inflate the costs a lot. If you see something you like (trinket, souvinir or something) get a price and keep walking. You will see that many shops have the same things and as you ask around, you will see the differences in pricing. Some will gouge you, others want your business and give you a good price right away. This is a good way to feel out what they will eventually sell things for. If its something you can't live without, then buy it anyway and enjoy it. No reason to insult the Thai's by bargaining so much that you make them feel like they have to give it away. They are entitled to make a living, and they are well aware that you have more money than they do.
Don't carry £1,600 in your pocket. That would be foolish. There are cases of robbery and carrying that much money is nuts. Thailand is a developing country, not a 3rd-world and you can find ATM's everywhere. More than you'd see in the US or UK. £50-100 in your pocket is sufficient.
In all the months I've been here, I have never felt threatened or insecure. Its a great country and you will feel quite comfortable here. Not like I felt in Rome or Budapest, or other places in Europe.
PADI: I am a diver and anyone that comes here should go at least once. You can get a great 'live-aboard' trip for about £175. That's 4 days and 3 nights on a large (very large) boat at the Similans. Getting your diving cert here is easy and the diving tourism here is huge. I suggest Sea Dragon in Khao Lak or even IQ Dive in Khao Lak. Run by Germans and very strict, safe and organized. You can google their names online and get info.
If you go to the Similans, its easier (and not as long or wavy) by leaving from Thap Lamu pier near Khao Lak. Don't let Phuket fool you into thinking its better from there. Its not. Similans are due west of Khao Lak, hence the shorter trip and the angle of the waves. Simple physics and geometry.
Not in Phuket for the ladies? Then no reason to go, unless you want to use it as a jump off point to Kho Phi Phi. (they filmed "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio there). Get the movie if you haven't seen it and see the beauty.
You can call me anytime by asking to borrow the hotel phone at 089-990-0026. Or go to my website at www.geckosgrill.net.
Hope this helps.
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