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Thailand Questions

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I’m looking for a little information for my trip to Thailand in November. I’m a long-time Fodorite, not active the last few years, but before that active on the Europe board since around 1991. I’ve travelled solo extensively in Italy, Paris & Ireland but decided to take a tour for Thailand – Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai. I might be looking for suggestions for my free time, but at this point, just a couple of things I’m wondering:
How much cash do I need to carry around? I’m assuming street food, buying bottled water and shopping at markets will be cash? (I realize shopping money depends on how much shopping I’m doing! I do like to shop.)
Dinner suggestions for Bangkok, Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai – looking for the most authentic Thai food I can get!
Kathie – could you give me an idea of costs for jewelry at SJ International? I don’t have something specific in mind, would probably be most interested in a ring or earrings – are we talking many hundreds of dollars? I imagine there is a big range, but just trying to get an idea. I might be shopping for my Dad for a gift for him to give my Mom for their 70th Anniversary but won’t be looking for something that costs a fortune.
I’m sure I’ll be back with more questions when I've had time to read more about what to do in my free time. Thanks!

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