A Backpacker's Oasis
Thailand is the land of backpackers, but it's also filled with resorts and high end accommodation for people who are looking to escape it all. Thailand is easily the most touristy country in Southeast Asia and it's easy to see why. The beautiful, blue beaches are the main draw. For this reason you'll find hotels and hostels are far more expensive in the south than they are in the north. Even so, it's still Southeast Asia, and costs remain quite low.
The diversity of the Thai landscape means that you will likely want to visit more than just the beaches. If you choose to take a trek you may find yourself staying in some rustic accommodation in the jungle. These prices are typically built into any package that you book. Confirm ahead of time so that you understand what is included in the price and what is not.
Beyond the Beaches
It is possible to get some incredible deals on accommodations in Thailand. If you're a scuba diver, you can usually get some hefty discounts if you book your accommodations through your dive company. If you're getting certified, it's possible to even get free accommodation.
Similarly in Chiang Mai, if you plan to do a multi-day trek you can likely get your accommodation free at the guesthouse you go through. If you're not doing a trek, it can even be a little tricky to find accommodation at all, as many of the guesthouses, reserve rooms for the travelers who book treks.
It's possible in many places to show up without reservations and negotiate a good deal, but in some of the popular beach resort towns, you might find accommodation full by the time you arrive. Do a little research and plan ahead. Even if you make reservations ahead of time though, remember to negotiate the price. Everything in Thailand is negotiable.
If you plan to stay in an area for a lengthy amount of time, ask if you can get a discount. Sometimes you can negotiate the price down based on the length of time you plan on staying.
Hostels, Guesthouse, and Resorts
Accommodation in Thailand can range from the most luxurious resort catering to the rich and famous to the most rundown shack that sits on a sandy beach. If you're a budget traveler, you'll find that most of the cheapest accommodation is in the north, while hostels in the southern beach areas are far more expensive and of much lower quality. Don't be surprised to find yourself in a half-collapsed wooden shelter packed amid rows of similar quality huts. If you want better accommodation, you're going to have to pay more for it, and even then, the quality likely won't be what you find in the north.
If you're looking for the most diversity and bang for your buck, consider splitting your time between the north and the south. You'll see the cultural side of Thailand and save a few dollars in the northern jungle areas, and then you can relax on the beautiful beaches and splurge a little in the south.
You'll inevitably end up spending at least a couple of days in the vibrant capital city of Bangkok. While many travelers find it overwhelming, it is actually a great city to immerse yourself in the culture. There are many markets, museums, and attractions that are well worth the visit if you give Bangkok enough time. If you're on a honeymoon, see this list of Bangkok honeymoon hotels
You'll find most of the city's budget accommodation in the Koh San Road
area. This is the area that caters to backpackers and party goers and there are countless bars and clubs in this neighborhood. There's also a good amount of cheap street food so if you're looking for a low-cost meal, you won't have to search far.
If you want to skip out on some of the partying, and are hoping to experience a more authentic side of the city then you may want to look outside of Koh San Road for accommodation. It is possible to find cheap guesthouses in the other areas in the city that have a more authentic feel. They are often in more residential areas where you can escape some of the tourist crowds. Public transportation is very efficient in Bangkok, so whatever neighborhood you're staying in, it is possible to travel throughout the entire city in a fast and cheap manner.
Bangkok also has several western chain hotels. If you're looking for reliable and are willing to pay for it then this is always an option. They are almost always more expensive than local hotels of the same quality, but with a chain brand, you can be assured that you know what you're getting.
Phuket is probably the most famous beach area in Thailand. It's a popular destination for travelers who plan to stay in resorts. Many travelers will arrange tours of the nearby areas through their hotels. This is usually the most expensive option. If you're on a particularly tight budget it is possible to stay in Phuket for a day or two and then take public transportation to explore the surrounding beaches.
Accommodation in Phuket is some of the most expensive in Thailand. You will likely need to make reservations at least a few weeks in advance during the high season and prices are rarely negotiable as rooms do sell out. There are several beach areas two choose from on the island. You could also stay in Phuket Town, which is more affordable but requires some lengthy public transportation trip to reach the beach.
You will likely find the best prices in Phuket online. Those who do find rooms by walking in often end up paying more than those who reserved several weeks out. Do confirm the quality of your hotel in advance and there is a wide range of quality along the beach front.