I've a few questions about Central and Northern Thailand, and I would appreciate those who know the country well if they could offer up some advice.
* The Train Network
Outside of public holidays, how busy does it get? Am I likely to be able to get a ticket a few hours before it goes, to popular places like Bangkok to Chiang Mai or from Nong Khai to Bangkok? Would it better to book ahead by a few days?
* Booking things ahead - i.e. whilst in the UK still
I'm looking at being there for most of May, I doubt very much I will be going off the tourist route too far (if at all), I'm a (first time) solo traveler who doesn't care too much about accommodation as long as I can get some sleep and wake up with my bags still there in the morning. Will I be able to find ample accommodation at that time? I don't want to book ahead as I don't like the idea of having to keep to a schedule....but at the same time I don't want to have to search for three hours to find a bed in a cesspit.
* Experience with Air Asia?
At the end of the trip I have to make a trip over to Bali, and I'd be doing it with Air Asia. Thoughts on this airline? I don't care for comfort, facilities or service, but I do care that my flight (and airline) will still be running, as I cant be late in Bali, at all. Also, I'd have to fly back to Bangkok to get my flight home to the UK as one way tickets are proper expensive.
I think that's it really. I like the idea of doing things on the spur, but I am also tainted by previous bad experiences that mean I now need reassuring that I can do the above fairly simply. If im honest, I think I know the answers to the above, but like most people attempting to step out of their comfort zone, I also need reassuring too.