Introduction to Hat Yai
Welcome to Hat Yai! Nestled in Southern Thailand, Hat Yai is a hidden gem of excitement, culture, and stunning views waiting to be explored.
Unlike the well-trodden paths of tourism giants Bangkok and Phuket, Hat Yai offers the charm of an authentic Thai experience that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
Here’s why you should pack your bags and head to Hat Yai in 2023:
- Panoramic City Views: There’s no match for the marvelous cityscape that Hat Yai presents. From historic temples like Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol to bustling markets, the vibrant mix of tradition and modernity shines bright.
- Exciting Nightlife: As the sun sets, Hat Yai comes alive. Make your evenings unforgettable at the Greenway Night Market or the Asean Night Bazaar.
There’s more! Hat Yai’s food scene is unrivaled, its warm, welcoming locals are a delight, and its close proximity to Malaysia makes it an accessible paradise.
And now, without further delay, let’s explore 17 Awesome Things to Do in Hat Yai!
17 Awesome Things to Do in Hat Yai
1. Visit Songkhla Central Mosque
If you’re looking for an unforgettable blend of stunning architecture and spiritual tranquility in Hat Yai, you absolutely have to visit the Songkhla Central Mosque.
This charming place isn’t just an Instagram magnet; it’s got a soul that’s sure to move you!
- Expect to be blown away by the mosque’s intricate and vibrant design. Its golden dome and four towering minarets, especially magnificent at night, exude an aura of serenity and grandeur.
- Join the locals in the mosque’s spacious prayer hall or observe the uplifting Friday Jumu’ah prayer.
- Saunter around and admire the vibrant yellows and blues of the walls, adorned with exquisite Islamic art.
- Don’t forget to relish the heart-warming snacks from the food stalls around.
- Walking along the mosque’s marble pathways provides an up-close look at the intricate architectural details.
- The views! Oh, the views! Position yourself at the end of the large pool for that perfect photo. The late afternoon light reflects harmoniously off the water and the mosque, a sight to behold.
So, grab your camera, open your heart, and immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance at the Songkhla Central Mosque.
2. Explore Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary
Imagine stepping into a green paradise teeming with diverse wildlife, an exhilarating adventure awaits you at the Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary in Hat Yai!
Here, you’ll be swept into a world unraveled from the pages of a nature lover’s diary.
Nestled amidst lush jungle and rugged mountains, the sanctuary boasts an array of trekking trails where you can spot creatures like elephants and tigers.
Don’t miss the multi-tiered Ton Nga Chang Waterfall, it’s a stunner! Activities range from a refreshing dip in the falls to bamboo rafting and camping.
To visit, take a taxi ride from Hat Yai train station to the sanctuary’s entrance via route 4287 – it’s a scenic 40-minute drive.
Here’s a tip: Bring insect repellant and an extra set of clothes for a swim!
Things not to miss:
- The magnificent seven-tier waterfall, a nature’s masterpiece
- The bamboo rafting experience, it’s quite the adventure.
- Bring some fish food for the local carp.
3. Shop for Treasure at the ASEAN Night Bazaar
If you find yourself in Hat Yai, you’ve got to check out the ASEAN Night Bazaar! As soon as the sun sets, this buzzing flea market swings into full action.
I was amazed – there are clothes, shoes, bags, and even phone accessories available at unbeatable prices.
High up on the must-see list are:
- Handcrafted jewelry and locally-made handicrafts,
- Thai street food stalls serving treats like spicy curries and sweet desserts.
But here’s the fun part: it’s not just shopping; it’s an entire cultural experience! The bazaar is abuzz with local music, entertainment, and even traditional Thai activities like kite flying.
Make sure to brush up on your bargaining skills because that’s the norm here. For the foodies, aim for the second floor, it’s basically a culinary heaven!
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4. Reflect at the Wat Hat Yai Nai Temple
If you’re visiting southern Thailand and haven’t checked out Wat Hat Yai Nai in Hat Yai yet, you’re seriously missing out!
This magnificent Buddhist temple is not just a spiritual haven but also an important cultural heritage site.
Built centuries ago, this temple is home to a ginormous reclining Buddha statue – the third-largest worldwide!
The temple architecture is a splendid example of traditional Chinese design, complete with multi-roof tiers and exquisite detailing.
The temple’s location? Just a quick tuk-tuk ride from Kim Yong Market!
Here’s what you can’t miss:
- The colossal 115ft long Buddha statue
- The temple’s astounding traditional architecture
- The pavilions painted in vibrant red and gold
- Participating in prayers alongside monks.
The best time to visit is in the morning for a peaceful experience.
5. Try the Famous Thai Boat Noodles
Savoring the rich, decadent Thai Boat Noodles in Hat Yai is an unforgettable culinary experience that transcends the boundaries of taste.
This compelling combination of robust flavors, stunningly presented in a humble bowl, seductively beckons your palate.
Of particular note are the renowned Anusawaree Famous Boat Noodles and Hamid Restaurant Hat Yai for the halal version.
For a non-halal twist, detour to Chen Loong Boat Noodles, located just a stone’s throw away from the bustling shopping haven of Central Hat Yai.
What makes a perfect boat noodles dish? Look for a beautifully balanced broth full of umami depth from the mingling of beef, curdled beans, and dark soy sauce.
The noodles should be silky smooth, and the crispy vegetables and melt-in-your-mouth braised beef paint a tantalizing image of what awaits your taste buds.
Remember, the journey of a thousand bites begins with a single slurp. So, bowl in hand, get ready to dive into this flavourful bowl of Thai Boat Noodles and taste Thailand in every spoonful.
6. Take a Day Trip to Songkhla Old Town
If you’re headed to Hat Yai, taking a day trip to the captivating Songkhla Old Town is a must-do!
Just a 45-minute journey from Hat Yai, this historic treasure offers a mix of cultures, beautiful architecture, and fantastic food.
With structures dating back as far as 200 years, it’s like stepping back in time.
Whether you’re a photographer, food buff or architecture lover, Songkhla Old Town is a picturesque labyrinth of experiences.
Here is a what not to miss:
- Explore the vibrant street art of Nang Nam Road.
- Marvel at the historic Chinese furniture collection housed in the colonial-style building.
- Devour Southern Thai delicacies.
- Adore the Old Town’s cafes.
- Hop on the free Singora Tram Tour.
- Visit the National Museum of Songkhla, known for its prehistoric artifacts and mesmerizing architecture.
Come, get lost in its narrow streets, and soak up the enriching history and culture it has to offer!
7. Explore the Hat Yai City Municipal Park
Immerse yourself in nature’s bliss in the middle of Hat Yai City by visiting the incredible Hat Yai Municipal Park.
Tucked away on a hill spanning a whopping 200 acres, the park is an oasis of green spaces, resplendent botanical gardens, and staggering viewpoints.
Things not to miss:
- Get set to marvel at the 65-ft standing Buddha statue, a landmark visible from various city points.
- Enjoy a therapeutic stroll, pedal boating, or cycling amidst the park’s serene settings.
- Hike up trails that reveal panoramic vistas of the bustling city against mountain backdrops.
- Journey to the hilltop via a thrilling cable car ride — a must-do for stunning aerial city views.
- Don’t miss out on the park’s religious richness – home to a Buddhist temple, Hindu temple, and Chinese shrine.
To reach this urban haven, simply hop onto a taxi, motorcycle taxi, or tuk-tuk from Hat Yai city center — or for a unique experience, glide in on the Hat Yai cable car ride.
Embark on this rejuvenating detour to harmonize with nature while immersing in Hat Yai’s vibrant cultural spirit!
8. Visit Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol
If you’re like me and thrive on exploring the offbeat, Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol in Hat Yai is your pot of gold.
Perfectly perched on a hillock, this unique, glittery temple is made entirely of stainless steel.
Trust me, that breathtaking view of the sunset adds to its surreal charm that will steal your heart!
Here are the top things to do:
- Absorbed in its breathtaking architecture.
- Spend some thoughtful time alone meditating in its serene environment.
- Don’t miss the spectacular statues of Buddhist deities and brightly decorated chedis.
Tip: Be sure to respect temple etiquette, aim for an evening visit to catch that awe-inspiring view of the town, and don’t forget to stay until nightfall to see the temple illuminate the dark sky!
9. Be Amazed at the Magic Museum Hat Yai
Wow, the Magic Eye 3D Museum in Hat Yai left me speechless! This wasn’t just a museum, it was an out-of-the-world sensory experience in the world of 3D art.
This museum marries traditional artistry with a dash of playful fun through more than 100 interactive 3D artworks.
You could hardly tell where the artwork ended and reality began – a testament to the reality-warping trompe-l’oiel technique.
Some must-tries include:
- Swim with jellyfish in the Aquarium section.
- Be chased by a lion in the Safari section.
- Or simply enjoy classic and funny art sections.
Insider tip: Perfect your camera angles, your IG feed will thank you.
And don’t forget to check out the 3D cinema and VR experiences, it’ll be the cherry on top of your visit!
10. See the Golden Mermaid Statue at Samila Beach
If you ever find yourself in Hat Yai, you’ve got to swing by the stunning Golden Mermaid Statue at Samila Beach.
This iconic statue isn’t just a beautiful piece of art, it’s a symbol of the city and is believed to bestow good luck on those who touch it.
I’d recommend getting there in the late afternoon, just in time for the dazzling sunset – it’s something you wouldn’t want to miss!
In my book, here’s why you can’t skip the Golden Mermaid:
- It’s bathed in folklore and mystique.
- Offers a picturesque backdrop for photos.
- It is nestled on Samila Beach, a serene spot that’s perfect for unwinding.
So, pack your bags folks – magic awaits!
11. Watch the Sunset at the Kho Hong Mountain Viewpoint
Marveling at nature’s vibrant color palette during a sunset atop the Kho Hong Mountain Viewpoint in Hat Yai is an experience like no other.
Hat Yai’s serene skies, coupled with the awe-inspiring panoramic city view from the pinnacle leave an indelible mark in your heart.
To get to the viewpoint, I recommend taking a Tuktuk, the city’s most exciting transport.
The opening hours for the viewpoint are from 6 AM to 7 PM, but I advise you to start the adventure in the afternoon, 1 hour before sunset.
If you are an early riser, the stunning sunrise scenery and cool mountain air are the perfect start to the morning.
In planning this sojourn, consider the following:
- Since the viewpoint opens in the early morning, carry a picnic basket for lunch or snacks
- Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning displays at both dawn and dusk
- Carry a light jacket, as it can get a bit chilly in the early hours and late evenings
- Most importantly, wear comfortable walking shoes.
This small adventure is sure to leave you revived and looking forward to the next day!
12. Discover the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Natural Museum
One of the greatest joys of my southern Thailand adventure was the discovery of Hat Yai’s hidden gem, the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Natural Museum.
You’re gonna love every bit of it, trust me! Nestled in the heart of Songkhla University, this natural museum harbors a treasure trove of nature’s wonders.
- Be sure to gawk at the over 25000 samples from a whopping 2500 species.
- Wander around exhibits of human evolution and geological formations – they’re quite enlightening.
Getting there is easy – just head to the campus of Prince of Songkhla University. Starting hours are 9:00 AM from Tuesday to Saturday.
I’d advise you to spare a whole hour for the visit, trust me, it’s worth every second.
Don’t forget to let your curiosity lead the way; you never know what you might stumble upon next!
13. Visit Wat Chue Chang Temple
Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Wat Chue Chang Temple – a resplendent symbol of Hat Yai’s rich Chinese heritage.
This serene enclave, dotted with intricate murals and Mahayana Bodhisattva figures, promises a spiritual retreat like no other.
- This majestic temple is a mere 15-minute stroll from the buzzing Hat Yai Tower center.
- Imbued with the captivating charm of old Chinese temples, Wat Chue Chang is bedecked with ceramic tiles and celebrates magnificent animal, dragon, and character detailing.
- Marvel at the stunning green gate, lending the temple its landmark status.
My expert tip: Don’t rush. Take some time to embrace the peace this temple exudes, and get lost in intricate artwork adorning the temple, a telling testament to the Chinese community’s influence.
14. Experience the Khlong Hae Floating Market
Take a plunge into a bustling hub of Thai tradition at the Khlong Hae Floating Market in Hat Yai – a colorful, delicious and eco-friendly escapade.
It’s an unforgettable adventure that teleports you into a culturally rich and vibrant panorama drenched in the lively spirit of southern Thailand.
When you step into the market, you’re greeted by a riot of colors from the vibrant stalls, brimming with goods from handcrafted souvenirs to fresh produce.
Navigate meticulously through these outlets, taking in the lively atmosphere as you make your way along the canal-side market.
Don’t forget to visit the stalls nestled on boats, offering you an authentic trading experience.
Feeling peckish? Khlong Hae has a spectacular gastronomic line-up that eclipses your typical market fare.
Here’s a quick foodie bucket list:
- Sticky Mango Rice to satiate your sweet cravings
- The classic Thai Takoyaki
- A delectable, smoky Seafood BBQ
- For a balanced meander between sweet and savory – Pad Thai
Shopping at Khlong Hae is as much about the experience as it is about the purchases. So, ensure you take the opportunity to go on a boat ride, exploring the intricate canals winding around the market.
This is a wholesome way to take in all the market has to offer whilst also appreciating the surrounding waterways.
As the day rolls into late afternoon, find a perfect spot to sit and watch the locals showcase their traditional dances or a local band performing live – the entertainment is part of the Khlong Hae charm.
Don’t skip out on trying popular Malaysian dishes like Nasi Lemak Ayam, a testament to the market’s cultural fluidity.
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15. Get a Relaxing Thai Massage
Imagine experiencing authentic relaxation right in the heart of Thailand. Hat Yai is the perfect place to reach nirvana through a refreshing Thai massage.
My personal choice is Oliver Thai Massage, a short distance from the city center. The combination of skillful masseuses, relaxing settings and aesthetically pleasing rooms offers an unmatchable comfort.
Three reasons why this is a must-do:
- Natural relaxation: Thai massage rejuvenates you physically and mentally
- Skilled masseuses: Their adept hands ensure you enjoy every moment
- Great environment: The beautifully decorated place harmoniously combines with an impressive massage
This mesmerizing experience is something not to be missed in Hat Yai!
16. See the Animals at the Songkhla Zoo
Say hello to your favorite animals at the Songkhla Zoo in Hat Yai, an open zoo where you can even feed the animals! This place is not to be missed if you’re an ultimate animal lover.
Located at Khao Rup Chang in the Mueang Songkhla District, pop in any day from 8:30am-4:30pm.
You might want to shell out a little extra for a shuttle bus ride, it’s truly worth it to see the penguins and tigers feeding!
- Must-sees at this zoo include elephants, lions, and monkeys.
- Take advantage of the feeding sessions, a rare, up-close encounter with the wild!
- There’s a thrilling shuttle bus tour!
17. Relax on Samila Beach
Imagine spending a glorious day under the sun at Samila Beach. With its surreal natural beauty, this fascinating beach will make you feel like you’re in paradise!
To get to Samila Beach from Hat Yai train station, you’ll need to take a 45-minute cab ride via route 414.
Once you’re there, you can dip your toes in the crystal-clear water, walk along the sandy shoreline, or take a horseback ride along the waterfront.
Top attractions include:
- The Golden Mermaid statue – it’s not only a symbol of Songkhla but also a hit among photographers.
- The iconic Samila beach offers mesmerizing views, especially during sunsets.
- A refreshing swim in the shallow sea makes it a safe spot for people of all ages.
Let the beaches of Hat Yai, cast their tranquil spell on you!
Related Article: Top Beaches in Thailand.
What type of cuisine is available in Hat Yai?
In Hat Yai, a food lover’s paradise, you’re spoilt for choice with a plethora of cuisines to enjoy.
From traditional Thai and Western dishes to Chinese, Malay, and an assortment of international food, the culinary adventure truly never ends in this vibrant city!
- For lovers of Thai food, enjoy classic dishes such as the papaya salad at Somtam Chaba or the beef braised soup noodles at Chen Long Boat Noodle!
- Craving international fare? Hat Yai’s got you with cuisines ranging from Mexican to Malaysian.
- The street food scene is equally thriving, with popular outlets like Chokdee Dim Sum.
- Want a Western-style brunch with coffee? Head to Foresto Cafe.
The food culture in Hat Yai is a relative feast with an unbeatable variety!
What is the best way to get around Hat Yai?
The best way to get around Hat Yai is by renting a scooter or using local taxis. When it comes to navigation, Google Maps or Waze were perfect aids on these rides.
- Don’t ever hand over your passport as a deposit when renting a vehicle; give them cash in exchange.
- Stick to taxis with meters or use ride-sharing apps like Grab for a fair deal.
- The local Tuk-Tuk’s are a lot of fun; just be sure to negotiate the price beforehand.
How many days is enough for Hat Yai?
Four days are ideal to soak in the vibrant city of Hat Yai. Trust me, you won’t run out of things to do!
In these four days, you can indulge in the local cuisine, haggle at the bustling markets, and immerse yourself in the city’s rich culture.
My favorite activities include:
- Trying local foods at street markets
- Visiting iconic cultural sites
- Squeeze in a day trip to Songkhla
- Going for jungle trekking and waterfall tours
- Experiencing the interactive arts at the 3D Museum
Hat Yai is a blend of the traditional and modern, with the promise of an incredible journey.
Be prepared for your next trip to Thailand with my Ultimate Packing List.
Is Hat Yai a safe place to visit?
Absolutely, Hat Yai is a safe place to visit! Unlike the typical Thai tourist spot, this vibrant and colorful city promises a wholly local experience.
Here are my top safety tips:
- Like with any busy location, you should be mindful of your belongings, especially in the bustling night markets.
- The locals often look out for tourists, and if you stick to common safety practices such as using taxis or ride-hailing apps like Grab, you should be able to explore safely and at ease.
- Carrying wet tissues and toilet paper, in case they aren’t readily available at public restrooms.
- Despite its relatively untamed online presence, Hat Yai offers a safe, memorable journey complete with remarkable markets and natural attractions.
- Just remember, common sense and vigilance go a long way!
Are there any activities for children in Hat Yai?
As a culture-seeker and adventure lover, I am thrilled to share that Hat Yai opens a world of fun, educational, and unique experiences for children.
Whether it’s immersing in interactive art, wildlife, or embarking on high sea adventures, Hat Yai’s got it all.
- To start, an unforgettable day awaits at the Songkhla Zoo & Waterpark, where a variety of animals charm the little ones, and the waterpark offers a refreshing escape from the heat.
- If your kids are artsy, a visit to the Magic Eye 3D Museum will captivate their imagination with vivid, interactive exhibits.
- Hats off to Hat Yai Municipal Park, a serene oasis perfect for picnics, relaxation, and even meditation.
- For the fearless, a swaggering day of pirate-themed adventures at Pirate Park is a must. With heart-racing rides and fascinating pirate displays, it promises to be a memorable outing.
Each promises delightful moments, making Hat Yai a perfect family vacation spot.
What to do in Hat Yai at night?
Exploring Hat Yai at night offers a blend of cultural richness and lively entertainment, perfect for the adventurous traveler. Here are the top five things to do:
Greenway Night Market: Dive into the local culture at Greenway Night Market, a bustling hub of street food, fashion, and souvenirs. It’s a sensory feast with delicious Thai street food and unique local crafts.
Hat Yai Magic Eye 3D Museum: For a fun, family-friendly experience, visit the Magic Eye 3D Museum. This interactive art space, open until late, lets you become part of amazing 3D artworks.
Asean Trade Bazaar: Experience shopping like never before at the Asean Trade Bazaar. Open until late, it’s a paradise for those looking to shop for regional specialties under the stars.
Hat Yai Floating Market: Although quieter at night, the Hat Yai Floating Market offers a serene experience with boat rides and a chance to enjoy local delicacies in a unique setting.
Live Music Venues: Finally, immerse yourself in Thailand’s music scene. Hat Yai’s bars and pubs come alive with live music, ranging from traditional Thai tunes to modern international hits.
Each of these activities showcases the vibrant spirit of Hat Yai at night, offering visitors an unforgettable Thai nightlife experience.
What is the best time to visit Hat Yai?
The best time to visit Hat Yai is between November and February. During these winter months, the weather is relatively cooler and drier, making them ideal for exploring the attractions of the city.
Temperatures typically range in the mid to upper 70s F, with humidity levels significantly lower than at other times of the year.
The city’s popular Songkran Festival in April also attracts many visitors, but if you’re looking for quieter times and fewer crowds, the winter months will suit you better.
No matter when you choose to visit, Hat Yai offers something for everyone, with a plethora of activities to do, regional food to savor, and a rich culture to immerse yourself in.
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17 Awesome Things to Do in Hat Yai
You will also enjoy reading My Top Places to Visit in Thailand.
In conclusion, Hat Yai is the ultimate travel hub in the South of Thailand, offering an array of vibrant and exciting attractions.
From trekking in the jungle to feeding furry felines at local cat cafes, and immersing yourself in the interactive 3D Museum – there’s something for everyone.
That’s it for my Top 17 Things to do in Hat Yai, I hope you find it helpful. And if I missed anything, let me know in the comments below!