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Headed to Thailand this June/July--Help!!

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HI there!

So my friend and I are headed to Thailand June 17th-July 8th. We are wanting to spend our first week in the southern, beachy areas... I realize it is Monsoon along the Andaman, so I have been looking at place along the Gulf, such as Koh Samui. I would LOVE your suggestions as to which island we should stay on. We may also be willing (dep on travel time) island hopping a bit--any advice on this?

ALSO, I have no clue as to how much spending money (e.g. hotels, food, activities) to budget for. I realize it will be low season while we are there and that prices vary considerable, so I'd love some advice from experience Thailand travelers as to how much I should plan for. We aren't looking for top of the line accommodations, more mid-range, we'd love to take some thai cooking classes, get massages, maybe partake in some boating/kayaking/other activities.

ps. We plan to spend a few days in Bangkok, a week in the South, and another week in Chiang Mai.

Please! Any help/advice would be so so great! The internet has a wealth of information, but it is so much to filter through.

Much thanks,

Katie

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