The largest town of Songkhla Province – which is also the fourth largest in Thailand – is the beautiful Hat Yai. It is often used as the resting stop to and from Malaysia, thus making it tourist-friendly.
Considered to be the medical centre, a travel hub and a shopping paradise, Hat Yai is where you will experience the true essence of Thailand, right from its day-to-day life to its fascinating attractions!
Everyone wishes to experience that paradise that resides at the top of mountains. And now, it is possible! Hat Yai’s beloved mountain, Khuan Chedi, stands tall at about 900 metres above sea level.
Uninterrupted sheets of white clouds surround this peak, which is fairly easy to climb. Located on Thao Island, the land around is amazingly fertile, so the mountain is peppered with natural vegetation, where wildlife roams around freely. Nestled in the folds of the mountain is also a temple, open from early morning to 5 PM.
A small refreshment stall is also available on the way, where you can buy some drinks. Start your hike early in the morning, so that you can experience the sunset from the top of the world!
Namtok Ton Nga Chang
When we talk about the natural wonders of Hat Yai, it is impossible not to include Namtok Ton Nga Chang. It is a wildlife sanctuary featuring a beautiful waterfall, also known as Elephant Tusk Falls.
Believed to be one of the most mesmerizing waterfalls in Southern Thailand, Ton Nga Chang is a seven-tiered waterfall, each level fascinating than the other. However, equally tricky is reaching up to the 7th waterfall – most people are content to go up to 3rd and 4th.
At the third level, the waterfall splits into two by rocks that look like elephant’s tusks; hence the name Elephant Tusk Falls. Many people come here to trek – which is organized frequently – and even enjoy picnics amidst nature.
Hat Yai Municipal Park
Hat Yai is full of quiet places and Hat Yai Municipal Park is one of them. Located on the Hat Yai-Songkhla Highway, the park can be termed as a natural oasis, filled with fascinating hills, neatly maintained gardens and some peaceful temples.
The park also features a beautiful boating lake, with an artificial waterfall, cycling routes and a handful of food stalls and eateries. The attraction, however, is the 535-metre-long, Hat Yai cable car, stretching over Khao Kho Hong Mountain and the Standing Buddha statue.
Probably the first in Thailand, this cable car operates from the Park and serves beautiful views of the surroundings. With so much going on in the park, you’d need almost a day to explore this beauty!
Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol
Step outside to the city’s fringes and come face to face with this mesmerizing temple, the Maha Chedi. Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol is known as the Stainless-Steel Stupa for a reason. It is constructed entirely in stainless steel, from the tip of the spire to the bottom stairs.
Speaking of which, the two pairs of stairs are even more amazing, for they are placed in an unusual spiral, with each step resembling a circular biscuit.
Murals of Buddha and other mythical characters and saints are hung all over the temple. With its stark lighting, cool and calm atmosphere and two wishing poles outside, the Stupa is claimed as an ideal place for sitting quietly and meditating.
Khlong Hae Floating Market
Hat Yai is filled with exciting markets, one outdoing the other and this one right here is a floating market! The first and only floating market in southern Thailand, Khlong Hae Floating Market is a cluster of boats sitting on the canals, selling many things, including Thai food, snacks and amazing local souvenirs.
What is impressive about this place is how they use eco-friendly containers to give food; so, don’t be surprised to see your food in coconut shells, earthen pots and even bamboo tubes! Equally fascinating is how people hailing from different cultures come together to make this market happen.
Open only on weekends, from afternoon to night, the floating market is an absolute hit among the locals and tourists alike.
Beaches are awesome in themselves, with their undulating waves, calming noises and beautiful skies. Located on the northern part of Songkhla along the Samila Peninsula is the fascinating Samila Beach.
Calm and scenic, Samila beach is the perfect place to relax and hang out. There’s a mesmerizing mermaid statue perched on the rocks, called the ‘Golden Mermaid’, which is a popular tourist attraction. The reference for the creation of this perfect statue was taken from an ancient Thai text and is considered to be the symbol of Songkhla.
The sea is quite shallow, which is why the visitors can swim here without any worry. Samila Beach, with all its tranquillity and natural beauty, happens to be a must-visit place in Hat Yai!
Songkhla old town
If you don’t visit Songkhla old town when in Hat Yai, then what is the use to even visit the city? The old town is at a distance from Hat Yai and features impressive street arts, vintage buildings and cafés.
The community here is mostly Thai-Chinese, which has reflected in all the town’s elements. The buildings are old, built in different times and architectural styles. The town also functions as a natural harbour, thanks to its location by the waters.
Along with that, you will find Chinese temples, a village mosque and so many street arts! Roam around this vintage place, capture it in some perfect pictures – and experience the old town charm in all its glory.
Khao Chaison Hot Springs
Located at the foot of Khao Chaison Mountain is this amazing hot spring, natural and calming. Khao Chaison Hot Springs have a high temperature, where the water can reach around 40 C to 60 C. Dip in these hot springs for a good 10-15 minutes and feel all your exhaustion dissipating from your body!
A little distance away from the hot spring, there are two caves, one filled with fascinating stalactite, while the other features bats. And if that’s not enough, the Hot Springs also offer authentic Thai massages, which are easy on the pocket and worth it.
Another cute attraction of this place is the horde of chattering monkeys, who can become your fast friends; just remember not to feed them.
Phra Phuttha Hattha Mongkhon
Right on the southern side of the beautiful Ko Yo island, you’ll find a golden Lord Buddha reclining on bare land, whether the sun is shining or the clouds are thundering. This statue marks the temple of Wat Hat Yai Nai temple, which consists of another but original, beautifully made statue of Buddha, leisurely reclining.
This one is the third-largest in the whole world, laying firm at 10 metres wide, 15 metres tall and 35 metres long! Known as Phra Phuttha Hattha Mongkhon, it lays in a beautifully made wall-less temple, that features traditional Thai roof and intricate architecture.
Though the head is visible from the outside, you’ll have to visit the temple to fully experience this ethereal place.
Ko Yo Island
A little distance away from Hat Yai is the beautiful and much-visited island, Ko Yo. Spanning over an area of 3710 acres, natural beauty is in abundance here. But that’s not all the island is known for!
Along with being perfectly fertile for agriculture, the island also known for seafood farming and hand-woven fabrics and textiles. You can have a look around the farmer’s community on the island, as well as enjoy the amazing seafood dishes made locally and deliciously.
The island also features a beautiful Folklore Museum, which displays traditional arts and even vintage pottery. All of the island – it’s tiny - can be also be explored with the help of a tour in a long-tail boat!
Asean Night Bazaar
Bazaars of any place reflect the culture and traditions of that place, and Asean Night Bazaar is no exception! The bazaar is closed on Mondays; but on other days, it is open from 3 PM to 10:30 in the night.
It is divided into two levels, where the first level is exclusively for shopping, right from clothes and accessories to souvenirs. On the other hand, the second level is a blessing for all the food lovers out there.
Reasonably priced and extremely delicious, the variety of food options here is simply astounding, including Thai Crepes, Kanom Buang, sushi and halal food. This market is the best choice to take the memories of Hat Yai back with you!
Hua Nai Raeng Boulder
Now, you’d think what’s so special about a boulder to be included in sight-seeing? Well, don’t judge Hua Nai Raeng Boulder too soon. According to the local legends, there was once a King, Nai Raeng, who buried all his treasure in the sands of Khao Kao Seng beach, before he ordered his men to kill him and place his head on his treasure.
This boulder – also thought to be Nai Raeng’s head - is none other than Hua Nai Raeng Boulder. The beach has many of those boulders, but this one is easy to recognize – it is adorned with colourful decorations since it’s considered to be a place of good luck. Tourists flock around the place to experience the legend… and click awesome pictures!
Hat Yai’s Magic Eye 3D Museum
Even if Hat Yai has many natural attractions, it is not lacking in other attractions. This one is weird, artistic and so much fun – it’s Hat Yai’s Magic Eye 3D Museum!
It is a 3D Museum, where they have used the wonderful trompe l’oiel – or trick of the eye - paint techniques to create the life-sized and interactive 3D works of arts in this museum.
These can be found in four categories – classic art, which has amazing classic paintings; funny art to spice your photos up; safari-themed, with realistic animals’ paintings; and aquarium, showing the world underwater. Not only can people walk around to experience this visual treat, but they can also place themselves in these artworks!
Sea Bass Bar & Restaurant
How about enjoying your meals in a restaurant that glides on the water? If your answer is yes, then Sea Bass Bar & Restaurant is just perfect for you. This restaurant is on an open-air boat, in the popular Songkhla Lake.
The restaurant’s menu is filled with dishes made from local seafood, along with some yummy cocktails. Equally impressive is the place’s chill atmosphere, emphasized by the sparkling water, fairy lights and a live band.
The staff is perfectly polite and friendly, and with a little coffee shop attached to the restaurant, it definitely gets the brownie points. Sea Bass makes sure that you leave the restaurant with a smile on your face and a hoard of Instagram-worthy pictures.
Alive takes the first place when talking about impressive restaurants! Located on Poonnakan Road, this restaurant is two stories, designed literally like a treehouse.
Surrounded by trees – so many trees! – fairy lights and a cool breeze, the ambience of the restaurant is rather enjoyable. And don’t doubt the restaurant’s menu as well – it is a lip-smacking compilation of Thai dishes, along with some western additions.
The restaurant is littered with bean bag-like cushions on tented nets, swings and other kinds of shaded seating. Live music blends in this naturalistic setting perfectly, which adds more to the visitors’ awe.
Nothing can make you feel more ‘alive’ than this restaurant, infusing you with delicious food for the stomach and much-need calm for the soul!
Bringing together the best of both worlds, Hat Yai is a city where traditional streaks shine proudly through modernity.
There are so much more attractions in the city that will take your breath away - but this list is sufficient, at least for the first trip. And one trip is enough to make you come back to Hat Yai for more and more!