There might some advantage to buying as a package as the travel company will be obliged to sort things out if, say, there is a problem with flights, whereas if you've booked independently, you're on your own.
Just a thought.
I guess it depends where you want to go and what you want to do. If you can find a package which offers what you would have done independently anyway, I would go for that.
Having been many times I would go for Phuket and the resort of Patong. Did not like Pattaya.(in your face 24/7) You know what I mean..Done it both ways. Ind.+ package.I prefer DIY. Great place which ever way.Enjoy.
I've only been to Thailand twice and the only beach "resort" I visited was Hua Hin (had a very friendly guided tour of one of their patrol vessels). Personally, I'd avoid the tourist resorts like the plague; full of bloody tourists!
Spend some time in the North, in the mountains. Real people, real culture, real hospitality and the most amazing scenery. My lasting memory of down South in Krabi and Hat Yai was forever being bothered by bloody Muslims.
Patpong is the biggest ripoff in Bangkok.
The ex pats used to use either Soi Cowboy of the Nana Plaza, cheaper and more fun.
As for a holiday if you are doing it yourself it's quite easy. Things have changed a lot since my time there but there are more hotel rooms than clients so hotels (even good ones are cheap).
Buy a ticket to bangkok. Arrive at the airport I believe that the mass transit system may now go there, if it does use it and make your way to Sukhumvit Road.
Find Soi 4 and book into the Nana Hotel, depending on how many nights you are staying how much discount you will get.
Just opposite the Nana Hotel is the Nana Entertainment centre, Sorted.
When you are sick of Bangkok take a taxi to Eckamai bus station and a bus to Pataya.
Loads of cheap hotels in Pataya
Have fun and take your rubbers with you!
Living here I can say the market is pretty slow at the moment. If you're looking for a cheaper hotel/guesthouse at Â£10-20/night it will be better to just arrive and book once here. If you're looking for a more upmarket place with pool etc you could do a lot worse than looking here Wotif You will get better rates on this site than you would walking in to the hotel.
As to comments about Phuket and Patong well if you like being ripped off and robbed blind then go ahead.