One of the largest cities in Thailand, Hat Yai is more commonly visited by travelers passing through to and from Malaysia. Most visitors are Singaporean or Malaysian so English won’t get you far here and you’ll need a simple phrasebook or dictionary to help you out.
A true cosmopolitan hub, Hat Yai offers plenty of fun things to explore and many reasons for its visitors to stay just a little while longer.
Wat Hat Yai Nai
At 35 meters long, Wat Hat Yai Nai is home to Thailand’s third largest reclining Buddha. You’ll find plenty of tourists and worshippers coming and going here and this is the main Buddhist temple in Hat Yai.
Shop until you drop
Hat Yai is known as a shopping haven and there’s good reason for it. As the commercial hub of Southern Thailand, the city has too many department stores and shopping malls to count, selling everything precious jewels to brand-name clothes and accessories. The weekly night market is also a great place to go to hone your bargaining skills and take home a great souvenir.
This local beach would seem ordinary to most, but its rocky coastline holds an ancient and mysterious tale. The story (which is immortalized in the epic Phra Aphai Mani penned by royal poet Sunthorn Phu) goes that a mermaid once sat up on a rock on this beach, combing her hair under the starry sky. A local fisherman saw her and scared her away, but she left her comb behind. Awestruck by her beauty, the fisherman waited for her to return but she never did. In the 1960s, an iron statue of a mermaid combing her hair was commissioned and the mermaid on Samila Beach became a prominent local symbol.
Hat Yai Municipal Park
The vast grounds at Hat Yai Municipal Park will keep you busy for an entire afternoon. Besides enjoying your beautiful surroundings, you will also find plenty to explore here including a planetarium, Buddha statues, Guan Yin Temple, and a King Rama V monument. And if you want to get a different perspective of Hat Yai and the Songkhla region, hop on a cable car from here and enjoy the ride.
Spend the night like a local and head to Hat Yai’s bustling city center as the sun goes down to check out the local music scene. At Post Laser Disc Pub & Restaurant, you’ll find the resident Post Band jamming out every night. And The Pubb features two live acts every night covering everything from the classics to country blues.
Photo by Yeoh Thean Kheng
Hat Yai’s floating market is no rival to Bangkok’s – but it doesn’t want to be. Upstream, just 20 minutes outside of the city, on the banks of Hat Yai River, you’ll find locals selling all kinds of delicious delicacies and fresh produce from the typical Thai long boats. The kaleidoscope of colors and food will make every photographer’s dream come true. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, try the grilled or fried insects!
Related: Thailand cities