Most Singaporeans probably know Bangkok like the back of their hands – from the best cafes in Bangkok to the most exciting night markets in Bangkok, you’ve probably checked out everything there is to do in Thailand’s capital.
If you are planning a trip to Thailand, here’s a challenge: skip the same old places that you visit every year, and head down south to Hat Yai, a city in Thailand’s far south near the Malaysian border.
What to do in Hatyai, you ask? The city is well-known among insiders for being the ultimate shopping destination that is a lot cheaper than the increasingly pricey Bangkok, and boasts amazing natural scenery that will leave you in awe.
For your first trip to Hat Yai, check out these top 24 things in the southern city that you really shouldn’t miss out on:
1. Hike up Khuan Chedi
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Found high up in the hills at 900 metres above sea-level, this local hiking hot-spot feels almost like heaven as you walk among the clouds.
Kuan Chedi is actually situated in a forest – untouched by civilisation, the land is so fertile that it supports an abundance of wildlife and natural vegetation.
P.S. There is a tiny refreshment stall to buy drinks from, so you can grab some refreshments and have a picnic right here against a gorgeous backdrop – definitely an experience worth getting up early for.
Address: Nakhon Si Thammarat – Nathavee (Thao Island), Thao Island, Muang Songkhla, Songkhla
2. Row down the Thale Noi Waterbird Park
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Hidden Gem ? 8/10 In het Thale Noi Waterbird park kijk je je ogen uit. Lotusbloemen in allerlei verschillende kleuren, prachtige vogels, zwemmende buffalo’s en locals die aan het werk zijn bij het meer.? Gouden tip: ga vroeg in de ochtend zodat je de zon ziet opkomen terwijl je aan het varen bent.? Foto: @ainsyuhada1212 #amazingthailand #thailandtips #igtravel #thailandinstagram #thaigram #traveltips #passionpassport #thaitraveling #hiddengems #opentothenewshades #thalenoi #phatthalung
This is the largest waterbird reserve in Thailand, and is home to more than 180 species of waterfowls!
The best way to explore this bird paradise is to take a longboat through the wetlands – the two-hour boat ride brings you around a sea of beautiful pink waterlilies, up close with exotic birds, and an intriguing view of water buffalo lazing around in the muddy waters.
Address: Thale Noi, Khuan Khanun District, Phatthalung 93150, Thailand
3. Make friends with sheep in Pruksa Theme Park
Filled with prime photo-taking spots such as a lovely white castle, a beautiful carousel, and neatly-manicured lawns, you’ll be excused for thinking that this relatively new attraction is not in Thailand.
The highlight of this free-admission theme park, otherwise known as Wine Village, is the small animal farm where you can feed the adorable sheep, rabbits, birds, and horses.
Don’t forget to stay for dinner at the Wine Village Restaurant as well, where you can tuck into a delicious (and affordable!) buffet under romantic lights.
On certain weekends, you might also be lucky enough to find some “night market” activities!
Address: Prachayindee Rd, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
4. Go snorkelling in Koh Lipe
Located just a short boat ride away from Hat Yai is Koh Lipe, one of the best snorkelling spots in Thailand.
If you are in the southern city, you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the diverse aquatic wildlife here, thanks to the fact that the island is surrounded by over 30 islands and hundreds of reefs all within easy reach of the island.
Tip: It is recommended that you spend one day snorkelling around the inner islands and another day exploring the outer islands.
Where to book this experience: Klook
Address: Satun, Thailand
5. Have a meal on Songkhla Lake
Wildly popular with both locals and tourists who love a lively night out, Sea Bass Bar & Restaurant allows you to have exquisite Thai cuisine on a boat, complete with a live band playing some sweet tunes in the background.
Their seafood is said to be very fresh, but if you’re just here to chill after dinner, you won’t go wrong with their cocktails – just sit back and enjoy the cool evening breeze under the natural moonlight!
Address: Sea Bass Bar & Restaurant, Ko Yo, Mueang Songkhla District, Songkhla 90100, Thailand
6. Visit Wat Hat Yai Nai’s Reclining Buddha
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Wat Hat Yai Nai adalah kuil Budha yang terdapat patung Budha tidur (Reclining Buddha) raksasa . Bisa liat kan guys aku foto dari jauh aja masi ga keliatan badannya. Selain itu, juga terdapat pemakaman yang jadi tempat kunjungan ziarah masyarakat Thailand pada musim Songkran (tahun baru). Ruangannya terdapat tepat di bagian punggung patung Budha tidur raksasa . . Waw postingan berfaedah ini semoga berguna ?✌? Pict by @worldlifetravel @jalanjalanletsgo x @wisatathailand
Located a short car ride away from town, Wat Hai Ya Nai is a good break that you’ll need after the fun-packed days hiking and snorkelling.
Here, you can enjoy a refreshing cup of coconut water while looking at the 35m-long Buddha statue. You are also welcome to buy offerings for praying, make donations, and of course snap photos!
Tip: The market stalls nearby are also interesting and full of tasty snacks, so be sure to take a walk around the area after you’ve visited the Reclining Buddha.
Address: 6/1 Soi Sakornmongkol, Tambon Khuan Lang, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
7. Shop for snacks at Kim Yong Market
Don’t be surprised if you see familiar snacks here – Kim Yong Market is where the locals go to buy snacks imported from Malaysia and Singapore!
That being said, the snacks sold in this local market are much cheaper than those you find in the rest of Thailand, so go ahead and stock up on all your favourite nuts and dried fruits here.
Besides food stuffs, the market also has many small stalls along the alleyways selling clothes, fresh flowers, and even beauty products. Even if you end up not buying anything (a highly unlikely scenario!), it still makes for a very fascinating experience.
Address: Supasarnrangsan Rd, Tambon Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
8. Go food-hopping at Khlong Hae Floating Market
Craving for some popular Thai snacks? Head to Klonghae Floating Market, a waterside market where you can find almost every local food that you crave for – on boats!
Here, many vendors sell a wide variety of local Thai food and snacks from wooden boats. Whether you have the stomach for Tom Yam soup, Pad Thai, or just a cup of Thai Milk Tea, you’ll find all of that and more here!
Prices go as low as THB10 (around SGD0.45) for Tom Yam soup, so you’ll definitely be able to eat to your heart’s content without breaking the bank at this floating market.
The environmentally-conscious folks will also be happy to see that the sellers here are big on using environmentally-friendly packaging and utensils (bamboo tubes, coconut shells, and clay pots) instead of plastic bags or foam boxes!
Address: Khlong Hae, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
9. Try chicken rice in the shape of a… chicken?
Chicken rice lovers can continue to get their fix of their favourite dish here in Hat Yai. Thai chicken rice is slightly different from the Hainanese version found in Singapore and Malaysia, and here’s one that’s definitely worth the calories: a chicken-shaped chicken rice (scroll to the next photo in the above Instagram post to see it)!
The highlight of this famous chicken rice place in Hat Yai is the aromatic chicken-shaped rice. Besides making for the perfect IG photo, it goes superbly well with the soft and juicy Betong chicken.
Eating crispy 3-layer pork and roast pork alongside chicken is common practice in Thailand, so remember to get a serving each to really top off this hearty meal.
Tip: Queue as early as you can at Betong Chicken Rice, because you can to be in a queue for about 30 minutes – and that’s on good days!
Address: Betong Chicken Rice, 30 Kimpradit Rd, Tambon Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
10. Hunt for hipster treasures in Greenway Night Market
Where do the young and hip in Hat Yai go? To Greenway Night Market, of course!
Touted as one of the best lifestyle markets in Hat Yai, this market offers many interesting products, from fashion pieces to handicrafts. You can find everything you want and everything you didn’t know you needed right here – and at affordable prices that can go even lower, if you know how to haggle!
There are also many food stalls around selling tasty Thai snacks, so just buy everything you want, grab a seat at one of the seating areas, and enjoy all the mouth-watering food you can get your hands on.
Address: 1406/3 Kanjanavanich Road, Hat Yai 90110, Thailand
11. Shop till you drop at CentralFestival Hatyai
If you are looking to go on a shopping spree but prefer buying from familiar brands, CentralFestival Hatyai is the shopping mall that you should definitely put on your Hatyai itinerary.
Here, you’ll find many flagship stores selling your favourite brands, including Uniqlo, H&M, and Boots Pharmacy – they sometimes run attractive discounts, and some items here can be cheaper due to the currency exchange, so keep your eyes peeled!
Tip: The lower ground arcade is a vibrant place filled with local street food and snacks, so you can enjoy your affordable Mango Sticky Rice in a clean, air-conditioned environment.
Address: 1520 Kanjanavanich Rd, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
12. Take funny photos at Magic Eye 3D Museum
Get prepared to strike silly poses and be tickled by all the hilarious photographs that you’ll snap at the Magic Eye 3D Museum.
Here, you’ll get to snap lots of photos with the 3D art on display, so make sure to get your whole family or group of friends involved in this fun activity.
After you’re done, be sure to catch a 20-minute variety show featuring magic and shadow dancing – guaranteed to make your jaw drop!
Address: 414 Kanjanavanich Rd, Tambon Kho Hong, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
13. Eat to your heart’s delight at Lee Garden Plaza
You’ll want to skip dinner on the day that you’re visiting this night market, because you’ll want to try every single food item sold here, and we’re not exaggerating at all.
Cooked pork ribs, sticky rice with red beans, otak otak, and papaya tea are just some of the local delicacies that you’ll find at the Lee Garden Plaza night market, alongside other stalls selling affordable trinkets. Shopping here is definitely one of the things you must do in Hatyai.
Address: 29 Prachathipat Rd, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
14. Chase waterfalls at Namtok Ton Nga Chang (Elephant Tusk Falls)
Ranked as one of the most impressive waterfalls in Southern Thailand, Namtok Ton Nga Chang powers over seven (!) cliffs amid the dense jungle of a wildlife sanctuary.
Not many visitors can make it to the upper falls due to the demanding sleep slopes, but the lower tiers still promise a refreshing time where you can sit back and relax, or play with the kids in the clear, shallow pool.
Address: 217 Supasarnrangsan Rd, Tambon Thung Tam Sao, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
15. Test your bargaining skills at ASEAN Trade Bazaar
Many people love coming here to try their luck at getting a fantastic bargain for souvenirs and delicacies.
Comprising of two floors (ground floor for shopping and first floor for F&B), you can find lots of unique and interesting items here to buy back for your loved ones, as well as many spicy, fried snacks that are simply irresistible.
Try to bargain for cheaper price although some of the seller might not give discounts, but who knows if it’s your lucky day. Try to buy during their closing time around 10 p.m, for higher chances of scoring discounts.
Address: Thonon Chotevittayakul 5, Tambon Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
16. Spend a relaxing afternoon at Khao Kao Seng
According to legend, there once lived a King who took his own life here at Khao Kao Seng. Just before his last breath, it is said that he buried all his treasure under a boulder in the sand.
It’s still believed that the treasure lies below, but the problem is finding exactly which of the thousands of boulders in Khao Kao Seng this legend is referring to.
If you’re up for a treasure hunt or just want to spend some time away from the city, Khao Kao Seng is a great place to while your afternoon away. The locals believe that this is a place of good luck, so maybe you’ll get some luck after spending a day here as well?
Address: Moo 3, Tambon Khao Rup Chang, Amphoe Mueang Songkhla, Songkhla, 90000, Thailand
17. Take in scenic views from a cable car
The best views are always from above, so if you want breathtaking views of Hat Yai, the only way to go is via cable car!
The 535-metre long cable car provides some seriously beautiful scenery along the way. Operating out of the Hat Yai Municipal Park, views stretch over Khao Kho Hong Mountain as well as a 25-metre tall statue of Standing Buddha.
After the cable car ride, you can have a picnic in the Municipal Park, sit in silence amongst the Tamarind trees, or visit the Buddhist temples.
Address: Kanchanawanit Road, Hat Yai, Thailand
18. Take photos with white sand (and a mermaid?!) at Samila Beach
Samila Beach is a stretch of pristine white sand and beautiful blue waters, guaranteed to leave you feeling invigorated after a relaxing afternoon here with your loved ones.
It’s not just the scenic views here that draws crowds though: according to legend, a mermaid here once caught the heart of a fisherman, who still waits for her return – you can even find a golden statue paying tribute to this legend here!
Tip: See whether you can also spot three statues, which are different parts of the King of Nagas! His head, navel, and tail are scattered around different parts of the beach, so it’ll take a fair bit of time (and keen eyesight) to spot them!
Address: Songklha, Thailand
19. Stay up at night with music in Hat Yai’s live bars
If you go to bed early while you’re in Hat Yai, you’re missing out on the vibrant nightlife in town.
It can be difficult for first-timers to find a good and relatively safe drinking place, but you are unlikely to go wrong with Post Laser Disc Pub & Restaurant. One of the oldest pubs around Hat Yai, many people love hanging out here for the chill vibes and solid live band performances.
Address: 82-84 Thamanoonvithee Road, (opposite Indra Hotel), Songkhla 90110, Thailand
20. Learn about bees at Big Bee Garden
If you have little ones in tow, you’ll definitely want to bring them to this interesting museum to learn more about bees, which are the backbone of our ecosystem.
Designed to be a virtual classroom, both you and your kids can learn about the process of honey-making (from the hive to honeycomb), watch bees in their natural habitat and walk through the different hives. The garden is also filled with cute statues and figurines for the perfect photo-taking opportunities.
Before you leave, check out their amazing store which offers all kinds of honey products, from face creams to edible honey!
Address: 15 Prachayindee Rd, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
21. Amp up the romance at Tang Kuan Hill
Located just a short distance away from Samila Beach, Tang Kuan Hill is where the couples go for some stunning views of this town. It is 2,000 feet above sea level, and you can either take an elevated lift ride up or walk up stone stairs (about 145 steps) for a good workout.
Once you’ve made it to the top, you’ll be greeted with a spectacular view that you would spend the whole day staring at, but while you’re at it, seal your eternal love by locking it into Hat Yai’s very own Love Lock Bridge – just don’t forget to bring your own lock and key, because they currently don’t sell any there, yet.
Address: Bo Yang, Mueang Songkhla District, Songkhla 90000, Thailand
22. Detox in Khao Chaison Hot Springs
Tired from all that walking you’ve done throughout your time in Hat Yai? Give your feet the break it deserves at Khao Chaison Hot Springs, a natural hot spring that is incredibly popular with the locals.
Everyone in the family can enjoy a good, invigorating soak here, and then having some small snacks in the shelters nearby.
Just be careful of the monkeys that loiter around – the cheeky animals may sometimes steal food from visitors!
Address: Khao Chaison, Khao Chaison District, Phatthalung 93130, Thailand
23. Channel your inner Jack Sparrow at The Pirates Park
Covering an area of over 80,000 square meters, The Pirates Park is the ultimate water playground for the entire family to have a soakin’ good time.
There are many inflatable slides, floats, and play areas for you to try out, as well as a child zone for your little ones to play safely in the water. The life guards are also said to be extremely helpful with assisting everyone through the obstacle courses, so everyone in the family can definitely enjoy themselves!
Address: Tha Chang, Bang Klam District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
24. Wind down with a Thai massage at Thai Odyssey
Think ‘thai massage’, and the first name to pop into mind is likely to be Thai Odyssey.
Here, you’ll get the most authentic Thai massage that will help your tired body recover from the intense fun you’ve had in Hat Yai. You can choose from different massages, such as a Traditional Thai Massage, Thai Aromatherapy, and Traditional Foot Massage.
Although prices here are not the cheapest you’ll find in Hat Yai, reviewers are full of praise for the high-quality service they offer – definitely a must-try before you head back to the busy 9-5 working life!
Address: No. 152-154–156, Red Planet Hotel, Niphat Uthit 2 Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110 Thailand