Hat Yai, a popular destination in Thailand’s far south
Hat Yai (frequently spelled Had Yai) is the largest city in southern Thailand, located near the border of Malaysia and populated by nearly 800,000 Thais. Hat Yai is located in Songkhla Province and, while not the provincial capital, is home to The Prince of Songkhla University, making it Southern Thailand’s educational center as well as the south’s heart of transportation, commerce, and tourism.
Hat Yai is renowned for its outstanding seafood
Among other things, Hat Yai is renowned for its outstanding seafood, which is served in various styles thanks to Hat Yai’s diverse population of Chinese, Malays, and Thais. Hat Yai also features a multitude of markets, both local and international in style, and has a festive nightlife, including pubs and discos that are particularly popular with tourists from neighboring Malaysia.
While there have been occasional violent attacks from regional terror groups, Hat Yai is a relatively safe city to visit, particularly if one avoids the most crowded tourist venues and enjoys the local flavor of the city and the culture of its diverse inhabitants.
The populous city of Hat Yai, the largest in Songkhla Province, is Southern Thailand’s commercial, shopping, and entertainment center. Hat Yai is located roughly 950 km (600 miles) from Bangkok and just 30 km (18.5 miles) from the Malaysian border. Consequently it is a popular destination for visitors from Malaysia, who enjoy dining on seafood and experiencing Hat Yai’s lively nightlife.
Regional attractions include Songkhla Lake (the largest in Thailand), an enormous reclining Buddha that visitors can walk inside, the Bhasawang Big Splash (a 15 meter long water slide), and the region’s most popular spectator sport, bullfighting.
Banks, shopping centers, restaurants, entertainment venues, and the Hat Yai airport have, on occasion, been targeted by regional terror groups. Visitors should be aware of potential risks as well as increased security measurements, such as bag searches and metal detectors, at areas where large numbers of people gather.
Monthly bull fights are held at Nurn Khun Thong Arena on Highway No.4 near the airport.
Hotels are frequently booked over Malaysian holiday weekends, when it is recommended to inquire in advance to make sure that rooms are available prior to arrival.
Getting to Hat Yai
Hat Yai International Airport www2.airportthai.co.th/airportnew/hatyai (HDY)
Taxi rides to Hat Yai city can be found at the airport entrance for which the 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 150 baht. A blue colored songthaew runs into town for 20 baht and can be found at the far end of the parking lot. From Phet Kasem road, there is a Highway No. 4135 (Sanambin Panij road) linking to the airport. Car rental is available on arrival from Avis.
There are daily flights to/from the new Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on AirAsia and Thai Airways. Hat Yai is also connected daily to Don Mueang, Bangkok’s former international airport, by Nok Air and One-Two-Go.
Tiger Airways operates the only international flight to the airport from Singapore daily.
Hat Yai is on the southern line connecting Bangkok to Butterworth and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
To/from Bangkok: Five trains daily to and from Bangkok. Express trains depart at 16:16, 17:34 and 18:05 while the slower Rapid trains depart at 14:18 and 15:26. Trains go via Surat Thani, Chumphon, Hua Hin etc.
A 3rd class ticket with reserved, upholstered seat sets you back 259 Baht (Hat Yai-Bangkok) on ordinary trains and slightly more for Rapid/Express trains (June 2008). Buy tickets directly at the respective railway stations, surcharges are imposed if bought at other agencies!
- To/from Sungai Kolok: Two trains to Sungai Kolok daily departing at 05:36 and 07:18.
- To/from Malaysia: The State Railways of Thailand’s www.railway.co.th International Express leaves Hat Yai for Butterworth near Penang daily at 05:50, going via Padang Besar. In the other direction, trains leave Butterworth at 13:15 and arrive in Hat Yai at 17:30. The train then continues to Bangkok. The Senandung Langkawi operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malaysian Railways) www.ktmb.com.my departs Hat Yai for Kuala Lumpur daily at 14:20, arriving at KL Sentral at 04:50 the next day. Trains from Kuala Lumpur depart at 20:45 and arrive in Hat Yai at 10:20 the next day. The Senandung Langkawi goes via Bukit Mertajam and Padang Besar. Please note that Malaysian time is one hour ahead of Thai time. If it is noon in Thailand, it is 13:00 in Malaysia.
- Surat Thani 3rd class ticket cost 55 baht(dec 07) but takes 7 hours!! Good for stunning views of the countryside. See timetable at railway station. Sleepercabins 1st class, 2nd class aircon & fan sleeperettes and 3rd class (now upholstered seats!) are available
Hat Yai has a large bus station located near the Diana Department store. Buses can be taken to all major towns in the south of Thailand and up to Bangkok. Depending on the route, different classes of bus are available. These range from local orange colored buses without air-conditioning to luxurious 24-seater coaches with toilets and reclining seats.
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัท ขนส่ง จำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Hatyai bus terminal daily. The distance is ~954km and normally takes 12 hours.
- 24 seats VIP bus (พิเศษ, phiset) costs 1065B, departs from Bangkok at 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2000. On the reverse, the departure is at 1600, 1700 and 1800.
- 32 seats Class 1 B bus (ม1พ) costs 828B, departs from Bangkok and Hatyai at 1730.
- 47 seats Class 2 bus (ม2) departs from Bangkok at 0700, 1700 and 2145, Hatyai at 0800, 1530 and 1700 for 535B.
Other scheduled, interprovincial buses serving Hat Yai: Surat Thani, Phuket, Satun, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat