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Please critique my Thailand itinerary

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Good afternoon

Thank you so much for helping me so far. I have gotten several library books to scope this out, as well as a very loose itinerary. No lodging yet so this is open. Sixteen nights.

Arrival day one: late arrival to BKK.

First three nights will be BKK. This only means two full days as the first night I arrive in time to go straight to sleep.

When I leave BKK after the three nights, based on what Kathie told me I will go north before I go to the beaches.

I will still have 13 nights left on my trip, and I believe I will use the last two nights for BKK again so that I have one full day before I fly home.

That leaves 11 nights to split among Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and one of the beaches. I am currently thinking of Krabi.

I'm not a "lay out on the beach person" although I do like to hike and take photos (and I love beaches at sunrise and sunset - just not sitting around all day on them). I also like boat rides. Would you split the 11 nights outside of BKK to something like:

4 nights Chiang Mai
3 nights Chiang Rai
4 nights Krabi

or some other combination? I know that I will lose some time moving around.

Given that I will put Krabi near the end (which will be mid November) is there any reason to put either of the other two first after I leave BKK?

I understand there are beautiful drives in the north. I may or may not rent a car - I usually do in Europe, but it might be nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving who already knows how to get around well. Any thoughts in this regard would be nice.

In the past month I read (perhaps on Fodors) that reserving online for hotels is the best strategy for pricing although there was some other trick involved to getting even better pricing. If that rings a bell, please chime in, thanks. Maybe it merely involved checking back as the time gets closer, I can't recall.

I have been skimming these forums for hotel names in all locations so no need to add new hotels unless you would like to (I'd appreciate it but not necessary - although I may have targeted hotel questions...)

I see that Kathie likes the Renaissance (Marriott) which is downtown/not on the river in BKK. I have a F&F status there and should be able to get a nice room for under 4000 bahts. Would that be as good a choice as any or should I strive for the river?

My flight home is EARLY. 7 AM. Any issues with staying right in town, and, is a three hour pre-flight arrival a good idea? Or should I plan to exit the hotel three hours before the flight and be in the cab at that time, etc. Staying at the airport would give me an extra hour of sleep although I don't want to do that for two nights - changing after a night would be silly.

I'll have other questions as they arise but this is a good start. Thank you so much!

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