I am visiting Thailand with my husband for our late honeymoon. We are budget travelers looking for a/c accommodations and decent food options. We don't want/need party atmosphere and do not want to be shoulder to shoulder on beaches...but we do want some activity options like massage, kayaking or snorkeling. On Koh Lanta, I thought the orchid nursery farm (anyone been?) and the Khao Mai Kaew Caves sounded interesting. My husband doesn't like to just lay on the beach, but he is happy playing in the water (can you rent body boards?). Would also be interested to know if any suggestions have good surfing spots for novices, and if so, if there are there surfboard rentals.
So we have about 12 days to spend on the islands. I'm wondering if you can recommend a second home base other than Koh Lanta. I've read about Ao Nang, but afraid it might be too busy and without the "I"m on an island" feel. But I've read it's a good base for day trips...so a bit torn there. Are there any thoughts on Ao Nang or suggestions for 2nd base that aren't too expensive? Someone on the forum suggested Koh Jum in a similar query. Target price is $50 USD per night but we're flexible.
Is Phuket worth a day trip of sorts? Phi Phi? Ko Yao Noi? other suggestions? It would be nice to have a balance of activity to peaceful surroundings. And of course there will be lazy days.
I've included our draft itinerary below, but am open to suggestions including moving the Bangkok leg to before the islands if it makes transit sense.
Chiang Mai (5 days?) >islands (12 days?)> bangkok few days...total including travel around 22 days.
Husband drives a motorcycle in nyc so we'd be happy buzzing around on 2 wheels, or bicycles. Do they rent moto helmets with the scooters?
Thank you for any feedback!