Just an hour away from Bangkok by air, Phuket has a well deserved reputation as a great weekend escape. While it might be one of Thailand’s most touristy islands, it’s popular for plenty of good reasons — the beaches are great, the dining is wonderful, the nightlife second only to Bangkok and the island easily accessible thanks to its own international airport.

Phuket has one of the best selections of hotels of any destination in Thailand, with options ranging from ultra-budget to some of the world’s most luxurious resorts. We’ve shared our top picks below, as well as location information for each hotel.

Budget

Jinny Guesthouse

An old favorite in Patong, Jinny Guesthouse is one of Phuket’s most popular budget guesthouses. The rooms here are a little on the simple side, but it’s about as cheap as you can get. It’s also guest friendly (listed on GuestFriendlyPhuket) and located just outside the center of Phuket’s nightlife and party area.

Casa E Mare Hotel

Comfortable and super cheap, this budget hotel near Kata Beach is a good choice if you want to be close to one of Phuket’s best family beaches but far away from the nightlife. Another one of our favorites.

Medium Price

Hotel Sugar Palm Grand Hillside

With panoramic views of Kata Beach and a great hillside location, Hotel Sugar Palm Grand Hillside is one of the best medium price hotels close to Kata Beach. A good choice for couples, since many rooms have balcony jacuzzis or direct access to the swimming pool.

Summer Breeze Hotel

Summer Breeze Hotel is one of Phuket’s best medium price hotels if you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife, although it’s far from ideal for couples or anyone seeking peace and quiet. Close to the island’s nightlife epicenter, this is a comfortable, friendly place to stay if you want to be right in the action with the conveniences and comforts of a medium quality hotel.

Splurge

The Shore at Katathani Resort

One of Phuket’s most luxurious resorts, The Shore at Katathani is the place to stay if you’re visiting for a honeymoon or other romantic trip and have plenty of cash to spare. Private pools, direct sea views and easy access to one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches make this the place to stay, provided you can manage the costly room rates.

IndoChine Resort & Villas

About 10 minutes from Patong, IndoChine Resort & Villas is a good option if you want to go out and enjoy Phuket’s nightlife then retreat back to your luxurious room afterwards. The resort has a beautiful pool with views over Patong Beach, as well as facilities that mean you might never want to leave.

Feel like a break from Bangkok?

Phuket isn’t the only option for escaping Bangkok for the weekend. For more weekend breaks and short vacation ideas, check out our guides to Pattaya and Krabi, two of Thailand’s other best weekend break locations.

Bangkok has a reputation as one of the world’s best cities for nightlife — a reputation that, for the most part, is completely deserved. 2017 was a busy year for nightlife in Bangkok and 2018 is on track to be even busier, with the usual areas retaining their charm and popularity, plus a growing number of new nightlife hotspots popping up throughout the city.

Nana and Asoke

Nana and Asoke are much the same in 2018 as they were last year, with the usual action at Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy still the major draws for visitors. Nana has a more modern, upmarket feel than in recent years thanks to redevelopment and renovations, while Soi Cowboy offers the same fun it always has. The lower Sukhumvit area has also benefited from a lot of new hotels open, many of which are guest friendly. You can check these hotels for pricing and guest friendly information at GirlFriendlyHotelsBangkok.com. Prices are slightly up from the last few years, with beers from 80 to 180 baht depending on the location (expect to pay slightly more at Soi Cowboy, and slightly less at Nana) and bar fines much the same as previous years. All in all, lower Sukhumvit’s nightlife scene is still going strong and offers a lot of entertainment at prices that, while rising, are still very affordable.

Thonglor

Thonglor is much the same as the last few years — a great mix of upmarket bars, clubs and other watering holes. Most of the action here is still concentrated along Thonglor Soi 10, where electro and early morning parties are the norm. A great option if you’ve got the budget for 300+ baht cocktails and don’t mind a slightly more snooty, pretentious atmosphere. The best place to find Bangkok’s young, rich and interesting people.

Silom

Silom still has all of its old favorites, from rooftop bars like Sirocco and Vertigo to Irish pubs, night markets and other entertainment options. While Patpong isn’t as much of a draw as its counterparts in Sukhumvit, it’s still going strong, with a good variety of go-go bars plus the usual mix of unique options like BarBar. You can still find most of Bangkok’s gay nightlife in this area, with well over 20 options on Soi 4, Soi 2 and Soi Twilight, the latter serving as Silom’s gay equivalent to Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy.

Ratchada

Ratchada is as exciting as ever, provided you have good enough Thai skills and local know-how to make your way around in an environment where Westerners aren’t the target audience. Most of the action here can be found around Huai Kwang MRT, where a variety of bars and massage parlors run along the main road until the Sutthisan MRT station. A fun place to visit if you’re tired of the nightlife around Sukhumvit and want a more local-focused feel.

As beach resort cities go, Pattaya definitely doesn’t have the cleanest reputation. It’s far more famous for its go-go bars and seedy nightlife than it is for its beaches, most of which aren’t anything impressive. But over the last decade, Pattaya’s developers have turned the city into a pretty fun place to spend the weekend away from Bangkok with your friend or loved one.

Yes, loved one. While Pattaya certainly isn’t the most romantic destination on each, it’s a surprisingly good destination for couples seeking to get out of Bangkok for the weekend. There are great restaurants, fun beachside dining opportunities and enough nice hotels (often with beautiful rooftop pools) to help you avoid the hustle and bustle while you work on you suntan.

With that out of the way, let’s get into our three favorite ways to enjoy a weekend in Pattaya:

The Luxury Option

This one is simple, exciting and — thanks to the cheap taxi prices between Bangkok and Pattaya — not even very expensive. Get to Pattaya from Bangkok by private taxi for around 1,500 baht, then check right into your beachside hotel. For luxury, we recommend the Hilton Pattaya; for slightly cheaper luxury, Siam @ Siam Hotel will also do.

Dine in-house at the Hilton or take a taxi down Beach Rd to Mantra for a great meal at one of Pattaya’s best restaurants. Finish up the night with a dip in the pool, a rooftop cocktail and a pleasant view over the Gulf of Thailand

The Mid-Priced Option

Get to Pattaya by bus via Ekkamai Bus Station, then take a baht bus from the bus station to your hotel. Pattaya’s best mid-priced hotels can usually be found on Second Road, where priced are lower and crowds are smaller than Beach Road. For a quieter experience, you can even stay right on Jomtien Beach and enjoy a more relaxed vibe.

Spend your time enjoying the ambiance around Jomtien Beach, walking along the beach, shopping and enjoying Pattaya’s surprisingly good range of mid-range restaurants, such as the famous Patrick’s Belgian Restaurant.

The Cheap, Wild Option

Pattaya doesn’t need to be expensive; in fact, sometimes it’s best when it isn’t. A cheap, fun way to enjoy Pattaya is to travel in by bus and spend your time staying around the Walking Street area, preferably in one of the city’s budget guesthouses. If you’re going more upmarket, you’ll want to check the hotel on a list of guest friendly hotels in Pattaya to make sure you can bring your, err… company, home with you.

As for dining, keep it simple. There’s plenty of great food to be found in the beer bars, often at as little as 50 baht a plate, giving you plenty to enjoy yourself with no matter how small your budget might be.

Bangkok might not seem like a world capital for coffee enthusiasts, but it’s home to a surprising range of great cafes that sell freshly roasted, delicious coffee. Better yet, many of them are surprisingly affordable, with freshly brewed espresso available for less than $2 a cup in some of the off-the-beaten-track cafes you’ll find around Bangkok.

So put away the best Nespresso capsules you usually drink (a recent arrival to Thailand) and get out your Thai baht for a quick trip to one of these coffee hangouts around Bangkok.

In Thonglor/Ekamai:

Roots

Famous for its excellent espresso, Roots is easy to find inside The Commons mall on Thonglor Soi 17. Prices are a little on the high side (as you’d expect for Thong Lor), but the coffee is excellent and well worth the 100ish baht you’ll pay for a cup. Best visited in the late morning, followed by brunch at one of the many dining options inside The Commons.

Ink and Lion Cafe

This small cafe on Ekkamai Soi 2 brews excellent coffee and sells it at surprisingly fair prices, especially compared to the cafes you’ll find a few blocks over in Thong Lor. This cafe is a great place to work after enjoying your morning coffee, thanks to the almost always excellent music that’s playing and the large desk at the back of the cafe.

Rocket Coffee Bar

Located inside inside Piman 49 and about five to 10 minutes from Thong Lor BTS Station by taxi, this friendly coffee bar serves excellent espresso and a variety of fresh juices. The food here is also good — especially the breakfast — although some of the lunch dishes are a little on the small side.

Bangkok’s markets are one of the city’s biggest attractions, offering everything from cheap souvenirs to handmade paintings, surprisingly high quality clothes, and more. No trip to Bangkok, especially your first time in the city, is complete without a visit to one of the city’s busy outdoor markets for some shopping.

Markets in Bangkok range from touristy and overpriced to authentic and affordable. Most of the time, the best markets fit into the middle: they’re easy to navigate as a tourist and packed with great products, but not so overexposed that the products cost too much. Choose the right ones and you’ll have a great shopping trip; choose the wrong ones and you’ll end up spending too much for low quality products.

Touristy and best avoided

Patpong Market

Located just off Silom Road, near the Sala Daeng BTS station, Patpong Market is a tourist shopping hotspot. Open at night, this seedy market is mostly surrounded by strip clubs and other seedy hangouts. Products are usually low quality imports from China with aggressive pricing, meaning you’ll need to haggle a lot to get anything even approaching a good deal.

MBK Center

The MBK Center is technically a mall, not a market, but its carnival-like atmosphere and huge range of shops makes it feel more like a market than most of Bangkok’s other shopping malls. MBK is only worth visiting for its gigantic cellphone and tablet selection; for clothes and accessories, you’ll find better quality products and better deals elsewhere.

Just right

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Open from Friday evening to Saturday night, Chatuchak Weekend Market is the world’s biggest outdoor flea market and one of Bangkok’s best places to shop for, well, anything. The market is divided into different sections, each of which specializes in a certain type of product. The art section is one of the market’s best spots to shop for unique souvenirs.

Union Mall

Located close to Chatuchak Market, Union Mall is like a more local version of the MBK Center. Ideal for teenage or 20-something girls, Union Mall offers a good range of fashion products and accessories. Men’s clothing, ranging from white t-shirts to casual leather belts, is also available. Since this mall is more aimed at locals than tourists, prices are on the fair side but English isn’t always spoken by shop owners.

Underground and fun

Klong Thom Market

One famous for stolen goods, Klong Thom Market has cleaned up its act and is now one of Bangkok’s most exciting markets. Products here range from second hands goods to hi-fi, electronics, clothing and more. One of the most eclectic mixes of stands and stalls in Bangkok, Klong Thom is open from late Saturday evening to midday on Sunday. Visit at night for the full experience.