We arrived in Hat Yai,Thailand by mini van from Penang. It took us roughly 4 hours and cost Rm 28 per person. This is the railway station in Hat Yai. The train from Hat Yai to Penang takes around 7-8 hours journey. From this railway station, you can connect to Hua Hin and Bangkok up north, and to Singapore down south.
In this blog, we will be writing about what is worth doing in Hat Yai as well as what makes Hat Yai special.
The center of Hat Yai has got to be Lee Garden Plaza/ Hotel. Tell any one “Lee Garden” and they will know where to go. So staying around this complex is also a good idea. It is near to food stalls, markets, money changers, travel agents and also strategic so you wont get lost. Checking into Lee Garden Hotel, we got this room for 1150 THB. It has free workable wifi, nice view and its clean.
The breakfast buffet included in the room rate is just average. Make sure you head down early to get a good choice of food. The food seems to finish early because this hotel mostly caters for group tours!
As it is in the center of town, you dont need to worry about transportation. There are plenty of tuk tuk’s, motorcycles and private cas waiting just outside the complex to ferry you anywhere. Make sure you bargain! They run till the night around 1am. After that you need to becareful when taking these transportation. Mostof them will overcharge you if they see that you are drunk.
Just outside Lee Garden is an evening market selling all sorts of craft and food. At night food stalls selling dumplings, assorted fried fish balls, sausages, mango sticky rice, BBQ squid and cheap birds nest’s can be seen parading outside. Plenty of street dining and drinking around here.
This is the road side scene around Lee Garden. Road side seating and dining. We arent very sure if the road side 100 THB birds nest is really birds nest. Because the proper shops are selling birds nest at 500THB a bowl. Well maybe they just put in small quantities of birds nest or they just put low quality birds nest in. (If you ask, they will all tell you its birds nest)
One thing you got to try here is the ICE CREAM. This is the local coconut ice cream you can find on the streets. They use half of the coconut shell as the bowl. Creamy ice-cream with a rich coconut flavour topped with crushed peanuts is served this weird assortment of pieces of bread, nuts and coconut meat…for 25 THB YUMMY!
And if you are up for something more fancy, head over to Swensons at Lee Garden Plaza, the Ice Cream there is simply delicious, and affordable as well! AWESOME! I always cant leave Hat Yai without getting my satisfying fill of Swensons Ice Cream!
This is the chocolate indulgence! Lovely rich chocolate ice cream topped with hot chocolate fudge, and crispy chocolate wafers, whipped cream and a chocolate crunchy ball on top! Oh and you are also given extra chocolate fudge by the side…. in case you havent already have enough chocolate!
The Thai Seafood here in Hat Yai is lovely! Although most people make a short trip to Songkla or Kok Yoh for fresh seafood. There are still some good restaurants around Hat Yai town. They serve fresh seafood at reasonable prices. And the beauty of it is, you get to bring your own bottle of alcohol and drink while you dine with no corkage!
If you fancy eating seafood by the beach, you can always head to the seaside and buy some food along with you and eat there. It’s common to take away food here in Thailand. If there is something i noticed here in Thailand is that Thai’s love picnics!
Fresh grilled cat fish with chili and garlic dip! Yummy! Also try the assorted grilled meat (sausage and meat balls)!
Most tourists come to Hat Yai for cheap shopping. If you have already been spoilt by Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, dont expect the same variety of shopping here in Hat Yai.
Here in Hat Yai, you can find bags,quirky shirts, slippers, dried food and electronics. Among the famous street markets are Santisook Market, Kim Yong Market and the big Pasar.
If you explore Hat Yai town by foot, you will also notice a lot of Chinese shops selling a plethora of Chinese goods. Below is a Chinese shop selling prayer stuff like incense,nicely crafted candles., god statues, lanterns etc.
Asian tourists come here to buy dried foodstuff. Cashew nuts,ground nuts, squid, anchovies, berries and all are fresh and are sold wholesale here. The anchovies fried with spice and aromatic leaves and a little sugar is very nice.
Below is a shot of pasar- the big market in Hat Yai. It is more like a local wet and dry market. There are a few sections in the market. The dry food section which is like below, selling beans, dried vegetables, spice.
Although there is just so much to see in Hat Yai, the best is a short week end trip. You would be able to cover most of Hat Yai in this period.
The best time to visit Hat Yai is during the festivals. Loy Kratong (Thai New Year), Songkran (Water festival) and Chinese New Year.
For more information on Hat Yai – do join our travel group – Backpackies on face book!
Have a fun holiday!