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Hat Yai Travel Tips หาดใหญ่

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Hat Yai, Songkhla Province, Thailand (11 January, 2013)

Hat Yai หาดใหญ่ is the biggest town in southern Thailand. Its name is also written Hatyai, Haad Yai and Had Yai. Hat Yai has a population of 160,000 within the city limits and about 800,000 in Greater Hat Yai.

Hatyai is the biggest city in Songkhla Province, but is not the capital, which is Songkhla Town. The name is said to be the short form for Ma Hat Yai, meaning "Big Ma Hat Tree", although non-Thais commonly mistaken it to mean Big Beach.

Standing Buddha of Phra Phutthamongkol Maharat, with Hatyai in the background (11 June, 2005)

Sights in Hatyai

Hat Yai is a major shopping destinations for Malaysian coming for day trips as well as weekend excursions. The womenfolk visit Hat Yai for the roadside and bazaar shopping, although a few upmarket department stores have open in Hat Yai to cater for more descerning taste. Among them, the biggest presently are Central and Lee Gardens Plaza. Hypermarkets such as Tesco, Carrefour, Big-C and Makro have branches within Hat Yai.

In the past, Hat Yai was notorious for its nightlife and easy availability of escort services, catering to a large extend to clients from Malaysia. The Thai tourism authorities have attempted to tone down on these activities to promote a more wholesome image of the city.

Street in Hatyai (11 January, 2013)

Going to Hat Yai

By Plane
There are daily flights between Bangkok and Hat Yai International Airport provided by Thai Airways, AirAsia, Nok Air and One-Two-Go. From the airport, you can take the airport limo to Hat Yai for 300 baht, taxi for 250 baht, minivan for 80 baht, or the blue songthaew for 20 baht.

By Train
Unless you have time to kill and wish to look out the window at the countryside, train is not a speedy option to Hat Yai. There's a daily train service from Bangkok to Butterworth stopping at Hat Yai. Get the highest class seat available for this 12-hour journey. From Malaysia, the Senandung Langkawi train leaves Kuala Lumpur for Hat Yai via Butterworth and Padang Besar.

Thai border crossing at Padang Besar (11 January, 2013)

By Road
Hat Yai is just about an hour from the Malaysian Thai border at Dannok / Bukit Kayu Hitam. There are buses from major cities in Thailand and Malaysia to Hat Yai.

The journey from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal to Hat Yai takes 12 hours. The fare ranges from 550 baht for 47-seater Class 2 coach, to 850 baht for the 32-seater Class 1 coach and 1100 baht for the 24-seater VIP coach. There are also vans plying between the southern border town of Dannok, taking about an hour and costing about 55 baht.

Buses from Kuala Lumpur takes 7 hours and tickets cost around RM50. From Penang, it is about 3 1/2 hours and costs RM35.

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