The gateway to southern Thailand
One of the most populated cities in Thailand, Hat Yai is an economic and cultural hub of southern Thailand. Once an isolated town of just four residents, Hat Yai exploded into a bustling city when the railway was built in the 1920s.
Hat Yai makes the perfect base for exploring other parts of southern Thailand, whether it’s venturing off to see waterfalls and lakeside towns, or lazing on the beaches by the Andaman Sea. Its proximity to the Malaysian border makes it a popular holiday destination for Malaysians and Singaporeans. The town is a melting pot of culinary tastes, drawing influences from generations of Thai and ethnic Chinese locals, Malay tourists and Western expats.
Things to do
A stroll through dense jungle within a wildlife sanctuary will bring you to Ton Nga Chang, one of southern Thailand’s best waterfalls. Casual tourists will enjoy lounging on the lower part of the seven cliffs this waterfall runs over while adventurers with the correct gear and spirit will enjoy great views on the upper tiers.
Built around a mountain, this vast park is not your typical public green space. Follow the road from the pavilions at the bottom of the mountain to one of the tallest Buddha statues in southern Thailand. Views at the top of the mountain provide a scenic outlook over the city.
Hat Yai is known as the top shopping destination in southern Thailand, and it even attracts shoppers from northern Malaysia. As such, there are plenty of markets to enjoy, but Kim Yong is perhaps the most popular of them all. There’s a huge variety of goods across the two floors: fresh food, vintage cowboy hats, electronics and home wares. There are plenty of street food stalls outside the market to fuel your shopping adventures.
The recently completed Songkhla Central Mosque, located between Hat Yai and Songkhla, is said to be the largest mosque in Thailand. An awe-inspiring example of Islamic architecture, the mosque features a golden dome and four minarets. It's open to the visitors, and with a pleasant breeze flowing through the open-air structure, it’s a nice way to keep cool in the Thai heat.
A day in Songkhla
Easily reached by minibus from Hat Yai, Songkhla has a picturesque Old Town and a peaceful beach. Nang Ngam Road is worth strolling for a mix of old-world charm and contemporary street art. Alternatively, if the plan is to eat and relax for the day, head straight to Samila Beach to see the mermaid statue, fill up at nearby seafood restaurants and engage in a bit of people watching on the sand.
Distance to city centre 13km
Taxi Metered axis are available just outside the terminal and should cost around THB 250 (plus a THB 50 airport surcharge), and take around 25 minutes.
Shuttle Express vans from the airport cost about THB 150 and take around 30 minutes.Back to top
When to go
Like other parts of Thailand, Hat Yai has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The wet season spans May to December while the dry season runs from January to April. Although the peak tourist season spans March to May as well as December, Hat Yai is a popular weekend getaway year-round.
A few important festivals also draw tourists to the city. The Buddhist festival Chak Phra falls in October and celebrates the return of the Buddha to earth. The Hat Yai Lantern festival also draws a crowd and is generally at the start of each year, though dates vary.Back to top
There are plenty of tuk tuks and motorbike taxis around Hat Yai. A ride should cost THB 20-40 per person within the city; negotiate before commencing the drive if it’s outside of the city. If you're taking a motorcycle taxi, make sure your travel insurance covers you for motorcycle travel.
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