Hat Yai

Pagoda at Mahapanya Vidayalai

Hat Yai (หาดใหญ่; also Hatyai, Had Yai, Haad Yai) is the fourth largest city in Thailand and is in Songkhla Province on the Southern Gulf Coast. It's a popular tourist spot for Malaysians, Singaporeans and, increasingly, Indonesians on holiday, as well as Thais from neighbouring provinces. It's best avoided if you are looking to get off the beaten path. Prices are relatively high in tourist areas. This place has comparatively few Western visitors. The city can be a stop for tourists on a journey to Southern Thailand's beaches and islands, or further down south to Malaysia and Singapore.

Understand

Hat Yai was a small village originally known as Khok Sa-Met Choon. Its population has been growing since the railway station was built.

Today, Hat Yai is one of the biggest and busiest cities in Southern Thailand. The current population is around 156,000 in the city and roughly 360,000 in the whole Hat Yai District. Hat Yai city is bigger than the capital district Mueang Songkhla, and sometimes mistakenly reckoned to be the capital district. It is strategically located 60 km from the Thailand-Malaysia border at Dannok and Padang Besar in Sadao district. The city has become a business, education, transportation, tourism, and shopping centre in south Thailand due to the well-established connections by road, rail, and air. The city has been a melange of Thai, Chinese, and Malay for generations. Trading, manufacturing, and tourism industry contribute much of its economy.

Southern Thai dialect is prominent, although Central Thai is used in offices and schools. Many Thai Chinese of older generations can speak a Chinese dialect called Teochew. English can be spoken by some younger people.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 31 33 34 35 33 33 33 33 32 32 30 29
Nightly lows (°C) 21 22 23 23 24 24 23 23 23 23 23 22
Precipitation (mm) 45 15 42 106 181 88 105 100 154 220 295 265

Check Hat Yai's 7 day forecast at TMD.go.th

Climate

It is either dry or wet season in Hat Yai. The dry season is from Jan-Apr, which is the hottest month of the year, and wet season is from May-Dec. Major floods occasionally occur in Nov or Dec.

Tourist information centre

You can pick up Hat Yai maps and brochures at the   Tourism Authority of Thailand, Hat Yai Office, 1/1 Nipatuthit 3 Rd Soi 2 (Near Juladis Bldg),  +66 74 231055, fax: +66 74 245986, e-mail: . M-F 08:30-16:30.

A Tourist Assistance Centre is located separately at the corner of Odean Shopping Mall.

Get in

By plane

Taxi rides to the city can be found at the airport entrance. Drivers will ask around 250 baht. You also can use the airport limo service which costs 300 baht. A minivan service into the city costs 100 baht. A blue coloured songthaew runs into town for 40 baht and can be found at the far end of the parking lot. The last songthaew leaves the airport at 18:00.
The currency exchange booth (Siam Commercial Bank) is on the first floor near the arrival hall, operating daily 09:00-18:00. The staff of the limo/minibus booth will exchange ringgits or US dollars for you (or accept them for their service), but at a disadvantageous exchange rate.
  • International flights: Tiger Airways operates daily flights to Singapore (SIN), and AirAsia to Kuala Lumpur (KUL). Firefly offers flights from Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur (SZB) via Subang, which is just 30 minutes from the KL city centre.

By train

Hat Yai Train Station
A 3rd class ticket with reserved, upholstered seat sets you back 259 baht (Hat Yai-Bangkok) on "Rapid" trains and 339 baht for "Express" trains. A ticket for the 2nd class fan upper sleeper on the Rapid trains cost 555 baht. Buy tickets at the railway station. Surcharges are imposed if bought elsewhere.
To connect with the Malaysian ETS trains at Padang Besar, the new shuttle service began operating on 22 Dec 2015 between Hat Yai and Padang Besar using Thai diesel A/C trains. The journey takes about 1 hour and costs 80 baht. The outbound trains leave Hat Yai twice daily at 07:30 and 13:05, and the inbound trains leave Padang Besar at 08:55 and 14:40 (Thai time).
View of the City of Hat Yai from above

By car

Many Malaysians and Singaporeans drive to Hat Yai in their own vehicles. Like Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand drives on the left. Starting from immigration at Dannok, take Rte 4 straight to Hat Yai (60km).

Parking in business areas such as Niphat Uthit Rd during office hours is not free. An officer in khaki uniform will give you a small ticket once you pay for the time-based fee (5 baht/hour). Be prepared with small change.

Petrol in Thailand is significantly more expensive than in Malaysia. Big petrol stations also function as rest stops, with minimarts, coffee shops, and food courts.

By bus and minivan

Buses go to all major towns in south Thailand and up to Bangkok. Depending on the route, different classes of bus are available. These range from local orange coloured buses without air conditioning to luxurious 24-seat coaches with toilets and reclining seats.

Buy tickets only from ticket counters. Do not allow yourself to be directed to agencies by touts (this included tuk-tuk drivers in the bus station). You will pay more and most likely get a later time.

Minivans connect with all major locations in south Thailand from Hat Yai. Where they depart from depends on the destination, but the locals will be able to point you in the right direction. They are generally cheap and quicker than the buses but often overcrowded thus making them uncomfortable and dangerous.

To/from Bangkok

Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd. (บริษัทขนส่งจำกัด (บขส), baw-kaw-saw) run between Bangkok's southern bus terminal (สายใต้, Sai Tai) and Hat Yai bus terminal daily. The distance is ~954 km and normally takes 12 hours.

Other scheduled, inter-provincial buses serve Hat Yai: Surat Thani, Phuket, Satun, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Krabi.

The bus to Songkhla goes past the clock tower along Phetkasem Rd (ถนนเพชรเกษม), at the intersection close to Montri 1 Rd (ถนนมนตรี 1).

To/from Malaysia


  • Alisan Golden Coach Express, 17/1 Chee Uthit Rd,  +66 74 243775. Has 3 buses every day which leave Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur, departure at 09:00, 11:00, and 19:00. Free Wi-Fi and power outlet for each seat. The A/C can be pretty cold and the blanket provided might not be adequate. Better bring your own blanket/jacket. The overnight bus from Hat Yai will stop after the Malaysian border checkpoint for a meal. 500 baht.
  • KKKL Tour. Buses depart Hat Yai for Kuala Lumpur (Pudu Sentral) at 09:30, 10:00, and 19:00. Buses depart Kuala Lumpur for Hat Yai at 09:00 and 10:00.
  • 140 Niphat Uthit 3 Rd (Opposite O.H. Hotel),  +66 74 232218.
  • Konsortium Bas Ekspress Semenanjung, 32 Prachathipat Rd,  +66 74 351280, +66 74 351281. Has 5 buses every day which leave Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur. Departures at 09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 12:00, and 19:00. 520 baht.
Minivans leave hourly during daylight on the full hour from Georgetown's Lebuh Chulia (Parking Lot of E & A Hotel) The fare is RM35-40, advance booking is recommended.
Border crossings

There are three border crossings to choose from, all easily accessible from Hat Yai.

To/from Singapore

There is a bus from Hat Yai at 1pm arriving in Singapore Golden Mile at 5am on the day after. The cost is 900 bath leaving from Davis Tour in Hat yai. However you can buy the ticket in easybook.com for 85ringitt (cheaper than in davis tour). The main terminal for buses to and from Thailand is at the Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Rd. It's at the northeast end of Beach Rd, where it meets Crawford St; the Lavender MRT station is within walking distance. A number of travel agents specializing in buses and tours to Thailand operate from there. Grassland Express ☎ +65 6293 1166 has a bus at 19:00 to Hat Yai for USD55. Other operators at Golden Mile complex: Transtar Travel, ☎ +65 6299 9009, Sri Maju, ☎ +65 6293 4160, City Line Tour, ☎ +65 6396 6969, Konsortium, ☎ +65 6392 5000, Star Mart Express, ☎ +65 6396 5681/6396 5682, Five Star Tour, ☎ +65 6294 7011, Alisan, ☎ +65 6292 2112.

Get around

A tuk-tuk in Hat Yai

The city centre itself is quite compact and covers three parallel roads: Nipatuthit (นิพัทธ์อุทิศ) 1, 2 and 3 Rd, colloquially called Sai Nueng (สายหนี่ง, lit. "road one"), Sai Song (สายสอง, lit. "road two") and Sai Saam (สายสาม, lit. "road three"). It is practical to get around on foot, but getting to most attractions will require some kind of transportation.

By tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi

Tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis are abundant in Hat Yai. Fares should be negotiated beforehand and often can be overpriced, so haggle if possible. They are available from any hotel. A ride within the city costs 20-60 baht. Ask the person at reception to write down the Thai address for you and show it to the driver. Rides to places outside the town are negotiable. Shared taxis going outside town can be found at the old market.

By metered taxi

Metered taxi (known as "taxi meter") is a good option if you want air conditioner and don't like to haggle with tuk-tuks.

There is also a taxi service to tourist attractions in the Songkhla province, located next to the tourist assistance centre in front of Odean Shopping Mall. ☎ +66 89 323 7777.

By songthaew

Songthaew (สองแถว, lit. "two rows") is a kind of truck-based bus running in the city. There are several routes and colours. The route and the fare are fixed. It can be stopped at any point along the route by pressing the buzzer. The route is displayed on the front and side of the vehicle, albeit in Thai.

By car or motorbike

See

A Chinese statue in Hat Yai Park.
  •   Hat Yai Cable Car (Near Phra Buddha Mongkol Maharaj). Daily 09:00-20:00. A recent addition to Hat Yai Park, together with the Hat Yai Observatory. Currently, there are two stations: one at Phra Buddha Mongkol Maharaj (พระพุทธมงคลมหาราช) and the other at Thao Maha Phrom (ท้าวมหาพรหม). The second phase will add two more stations at the playground and Guanyin statue, connecting four stations altogether. There is also a tram service running between the cable car station and the Hat Yai Ice Dome during 10:00-17:00 for 50 baht. A one-way cable car ride takes only a few minutes. Round trip 200 baht.
  •   Hat Yai Ice Dome (Near the main entrance of the park),  +66 74 219333. Daily 10:00-20:00. At -15°C, the building contains a seasonal display of ice sculptures created by sculptors from Harbin, China. The fifth year is held 15 Dec 2013–30 Sep 2014, featuring ice sculptures of the Great Wall of China, Mount Rushmore, Mount Fuji, Colosseum, Sphinx. Adults: 300 baht, children 200 baht.
  •   Hat Yai Lantern Festival (Alongside the pond in the park). Daily 17:00-21:00. The eighth Hat Yai Lantern Festival is held 15 Dec 2013-30 Apr 2014. Free admission.
  •   Hat Yai Observatory (Near Phra Buddha Mongkol Maharaj). Daily 09:00-20:00. Hat Yai's deep sky observatory.
Reclining Buddha in Wat Hat Yai Nai.

Outside the city

  • Khao Nam Khang Historic Tunnel (อุโมงค์ประวัติศาสตร์เขาน้ำค้าง), Moo 1, Khlong Kwang, Na Thawi (4km from the park office). Daily 08:00-17:00. This large, long man-made tunnel was once inhabited by Communist insurgents. It is three levels deep and contains several rooms. Entry fee for foreigners is 150 baht.
Songkran Festival

Events and festivals

Do

  •   Royal Thai Consulate-General in Penang, 1 Jl Tunku Abdul Rahman, Penang, Malaysia (Opposite St Christopher's International Primary School),  +60 4 2268029, +60 4 2269484, fax: +60 4 226312, e-mail: . M-F 09:00-12:00 & 14:00-16:30. 60 Day Tourist Visas can be obtained in Penang, Kota Bharu, and in Kuala Lumpur at the Thai consulates or embassy. In Penang 60 day tourist visas cost generally RM110. Bring 2 photographs. A copy of passport main page is required. It is possible to copy it in a high school library nearby. To get there: take Bus 1 from Komtar (RM1) down Jl Burma. After 10 minutes get off at the crossing with Jl Cantonment, turn left and walk down Jl Cantonment for 10 minutes and turn right to the consulate. Open 09:00-12:00 and you will have your tourist visa after 15:30. While waiting it's worth taking a bus ride to Batu Feringgi Beach (RM2). You can also find visa services in Little India and Chinatown for about RM20 (will also be ready after 15:30). Cost: 280 baht/RM30 one-way to Georgetown (via minibus) and usually lets you off in Little India. There are return buses as late as 16:00.

Learn

Pumpkin Building in Prince of Songkla University

Buy

There are many Thai banks around the city, as well as Chinese money changers. Exchange rates from the latter for Malaysian ringgits may be significantly better than in the banks.

ATMs are abundant in Hat Yai, although most of them, as everywhere in Thailand, charge 180 baht fee for foreign card transactions. Western Union can be found at Central Department Store's underground floor and on the 3rd fl. of CentralFestival.

Minimarts such as 7-Eleven are ubiquitous and open 24 hours. Good for a quick meal, stocking up food and personal items. Or head to Tops Market for more high-end groceries at Robinson Department Store, Central Department Store, or CentralFestival.

A variety of English-language books (travel guides, fiction, children's, cookery, Thailand interest) can be purchased at Asia Books shop inside the B2S on the second floor of CentralFestival.

Markets

Shopping malls

Eat

Thai curry paste in Hat Yai fresh market
Rat na

Although not in the same league as Bangkok, there are a lot of different food options on offer in Hat Yai. Typical Thai street food is abundant. Big international chain restaurants have branches in town offering Japanese and Western food.

Restaurant chains are located mostly in shopping malls. International restaurant chains such as KFC, McDonald's, Sizzler, Pizza Hut, Dunkin' Donuts, Mister Donut, Swensen's, Dairy Queen, Starbucks. Local restaurant chains such as MK Restaurant (Thai-style sukiyaki), S&P, Black Canyon Coffee, Chester's Grill, The Pizza Company, Jeffer Steak, Fuji Restaurant, Shabushi , Oishi Ramen. Food courts are also available in most of the shopping malls.

Owing to the ethnic diversity, you can find Thai, Chinese, and Malay (Muslim) food available throughout the city. Most restaurants offer a variety of Thai, Chinese and/or Western fusion cuisine.

Ethnic Chinese from Malaysia and Singapore make up the bulk of Hat Yai's tourists so many restaurants and hotels cater primarily to them. Just opposite Lee Gardens (next to the Regency Hotel) you will see a restaurant which spit-roasts suckling pigs every day. Large, open-air seafood restaurants are also popular with Chinese visitors and the quality of seafood available in Hat Yai is good. Some Chinese are vegetarians and the town has a good selection of small vegetarian restaurants that offer tofu and soy meat substitutes.

There is a large resident Muslim population and some visitors from Malaysia are also Muslim so finding halal food isn't a problem.

Food hawkers can be found all over the city. Some stay open until very late at night. Grabbing a bite in late night is not uncommon. A spot for a variety of night hawkers is at Suphasarnrangsan Rd around Wat Cheu Chang near Kim Yong Market. Other places are such as at Tanrattanakorn Rd called Talad Mai (ตลาดใหม่) and at Thung Sao 1 Rd.

A typical meal for one can start at as low as 50 baht for street food, 80 baht in general restaurants, and 120 baht in more upscale restaurants.

Bakery and Cafe

Dim sum

Halal food

Indian

Japanese

There are lots of Japanese restaurants on the 4th floor of CentralFestival.

Thai/Chinese

Vietnamese

Western

Drink

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 500 baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 baht
Splurge Over 1,500 baht

Travel agents around town can nearly always give better rates for hotel rooms compared to dealing directly with the hotel. Hat Yai has an abundance of accommodation. Tourism in Hat Yai consists mainly of the weekend trade from Malaysia and Singapore. Accommodation can be found very easily mid-week but hotels in the centre of town tend to get booked up for the weekends and Malaysian and Singaporean public holidays. In the budget hotel you may well be asked if you want company. A shake of the head is all that is needed (up or down or from side-to-side is up to you). Don't be put off by the hotel because of it.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

A series of bombings in September 2006 that specifically targeted restaurants and shopping centres popular with visitors (and locals) killed two tourists. There were another 7 bombs in May 2007 in Hat Yai which killed one person. Strict security measures (bag searches, metal detectors) are to be expected in most gathering places. The most recent bombing was 3 Apr 2012.

To check water level during monsoon season, visit Hatyai City Climate. For air quality, visit Air4Thai.

Emergency numbers

Connect

Telephone

Hat Yai's area code is 074. To make a call to anywhere in Thailand, always add a preceding "0" to the fixed line/mobile number. For example, ☎ +66 74 123456 will be dialled locally as ☎ 074 123456.

The major telephone service providers are AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove. Thai prepaid SIM cards can be purchased in minimarts, mobile retailer shops, or telco service centers, all of which can be found on CentralFestival's 3rd floor. Domestic calls usually cost only about 1 baht/min depending on your prepaid plan.

Thailand Post

Cope

The Chinese, Indonesian, and Malaysian consulates are in Mueang Songkhla, the capital district of Songkhla Province, 35 km from Hat Yai.

Dentist

Hospitals

Go next

Border crossings


Routes through Hat Yai

Bangkok Phatthalung  N  S  Padang Besar Butterworth
Bangkok Phatthalung  N  S  Yala Sungai Kolok
Bangkok Phatthalung  N  S  Sadao



This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.