Hat Yai hotels
Hat Yai Rundown
It may be a world apart from Bangkok in overall look and feel but therein festers the latent allure of a city like Hat Yai. Welcome to the real Thailand, in a sense, and a fun, legitimate detour from the usual suspects in the Kingdom and Southeast Asia as a whole. Over 800,000 people live in metro Hat Yai and most declare the city as the capital - of fun and otherwise - of Songkhla Province.
This title, of course, belongs to Songkhla but Hat Yai residents have every right to primp, preen and brag. Hat Yai bustles a little more, struts more colourfully and bubbles with a dynamism and energy that borders on the coarse and dangerous - but not too much. Though the city gets a lot of travel PR as a gateway to national parks, the south of Thailand and, by extension, Malaysia, it deserves a less cursory stay than most deem it worthy of.
Start with Kim Yong and Suntisook markets, take in a fight at Noen Khum Thong Stadium, people-watch and mingle at Hat Yai Municipal Park and book side trips to Songkhla National Museum and Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary. Once done, dive recklessly into stellar street food, pull up a low stool at a furtive backstreet pub and enjoy Hat Yai for what it is.
Hat Yai’s Top 10
10. Songkhla National Museum is not in Hat Yai per se but resides close enough to warrant a visit. Excellent ethnographic and natural history exhibits.
5. Noen Khum Thong Stadium hosts a number of big local sports events throughout the year.
9. Lee Garden Plaza is a pulse point of city life, with many leisure and entertainment options.
4. Hat Yai Municipal Park is a foremost oasis in the city and unfurls some remarkable Buddha iconography.
8. ASEAN Market Stock up on souvenirs and handicrafts at this superb artisan area.
3. Ton Nga Chang Waterfall is easily one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in Thailand.
7. Suntisook Market is a vibrant and eclectic place to commune with locals.
2. Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary rolls out a panoply of fauna and flora gems.
6. Kim Yong Market is the place to score traditional sweet and savoury snacks.
1. Wat Hat Yai Nai is the spiritual heart of Hat Yai and has the one requisite photo op in the city in the Phra Phuttha Hattha Mongkhon giant Buddha sculpture.
Hat Yai History
- Wat Hat Yai Nai – Features a 35m reclining Buddha with a little museum and souvenir shop in the gigantic base.
- King Rama V Statue – This monarch steered Thailand clear of colonisation.
- Guan-Yin Statue – Chinese Goddess of unconditional love, mercy and compassion.
- San Kala Khiri – More than 200 square kilometres of land houses the Toa Thep Mountain National Forest Reserve and Pha Rain.
- San Phra Phrom – People pray to have their wishes answered at this shrine in Hat Yai Municipal Park.
Hat Yai Art & Culture
- Hat Yai Lantern Festival – Colourful festival with cultural performances and exhibits runs between February 14 and 28.
- Sat Duam Sip Festival – Held on the 10th lunar month in September to honour deceased ancestors.
- Loykrathong Festival – Mini flower floats (krathong) hold a candle and incense, which are lit and wishes made. The date changes each year.
- Hat Yai Midnight Songkran Festival – Celebrates Thai traditions in the late afternoon on April 9 to 15 before sunset.
- Songkran on the Beach & Phuket Bike Week – Walk the beach and participate in the bike race in April.
Hat Yai Shopping
- A SEAN Market (Poet Tai) – Purchase local clothes with vintage decorations.
- Central Department Store – Posh department store selling cosmetics, books and other goods.
- Kim Yong Market – Locals shop here for imported snacks from Singapore and Malaysia.
- Fresh Market – Traditional Thailand market with meat cut fresh, not for the squeamish.
- Hlong Hair Floating Market – Food sold on permanently moored boats by vendors, with payments and food passed along the boats.
Gay & Lesbian Hat Yai
- G-Time – Gay fashion shop in the Lee Gardens Shopping Centre.
- Sotus – Grab a drink or dance at the disco, enter on the left side for the gay area; mixed patronage.
- GL Sauna – Local sauna for men, and the local men that hang here are friendly; nice, clean environment.
- Top Man – Turn left at GL Sauna to find this bar; the owner is gay and friendly.
- Buddy Menclub – Rundown and seedy, but the staff is friendly.
Hat Yai Outdoor
- Hat Yai Municipal Park – For local residents, with gorgeous flowered plants, vivarium and food stalls.
- Songkhla Lake – Take a cruise around the largest natural lake in Thailand with alluring views of 51-plus islands.
- Hat Yai Ice Dome – Detailed ice sculptures and other art spread all over. Don’t forget the winter gear.
- Bhasawang Big Splash – Take a 15m slide to the middle of a lagoon-like swimming pool.
- Tong Nga Chang Waterfall – Seven levels, in which the third stream splits into two like elephant tusks. Best during the rainy season from October through December, when the water is abundant.
Hat Yai Sport
- Watch the bullfighting match at the arena.
- Play a fun, friendly game of paintball at the park.
- Take the time to try bird watching.
- Go scuba diving in Songkhla Lake.
- Catch a Thai boxing match at the local arena.
Hat Yai Events
Bullfights form a vital part of Songkhla Province culture and take place at different intervals throughout the year. The spectacles look a lot different from counterparts in Spain, France and Latin America.
The Midnight Songkran Festival in Hat Yai is particularly infamous as a time to let loose, let go of inhibitions and party it up with locals.
The Hat Yai Lantern Festival takes place in Municipal Park in February and features a slew of cultural performances.
Individual temples in Hat Yai, Songkhla and, indeed, Thailand, celebrate specific holidays at various points throughout the year.
Markets in Hat Yai offer a wide array of local products, foods and special wares.
Rural, jungle and wildlife tours abound in Songkhla Province and many depart from Hat Yai in particular.
Hat Yai is a major centre of traditional Thai massage.
When To Go
Like the rest of Thailand, Hat Yai has a hot and humid tropical climate. A predictable wet season befalls the city and Songkhla Province from May to December.
The heavy period for precipitation, however, is from October to December, with a minimum of 21 days of rainfall per month.
On the whole, temperatures in Hat Yai waver between 75°F (24°C) and 91°F (33°C).
Hat Yai International Airport is very small but operates regular service to and from Bangkok-Don Mueang, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
A more popular and affordable mode of transport is the efficient overnight train from Bangkok. First-class air-con bus travel is convenient and inexpensive as well.
Within Hat Yai, a private taxi is the best way to get from point A to point B. Average fares will not strain the budget too much, even for non-Thai passengers.
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