Hat Yai City Guide 2012
The biggest city in the South offers great Chinese food and even a little hipster culture.
Dim Sum Restaurants
Hat Yai owes much to its Chinese population, and so does its food. You can see a lot of dim sum shops at every corner of the city, most of them only open for breakfast—so make sure you head there before 10am. The most popular has to be Choke Dee Tae Tiam (Tae Tiem means dim sum) (58/25 Lamaisongkrew Rd.), a standalone shop that’s unrelated to the similarly-named eatery in Bangkok. Locals also recommend Cook Chai Dim Sum (82 Tungsorl Rd., 074-420982), which apart from its dim sum menu, is also famed for its signature dish, fried noodle in lad na soup (B280). Still hungry? Kai Tod Decha (Chee Uthit Rd., 081-098-3751) is quite simply why Hat Yai’s fried chicken is famous throughout the country.
What to do
Hat Yai isn’t Siam Paragon, but due to its proximity to Malaysia, it’s packed with bustling markets where tourists and traders stock up on cheap clothes and accessories. Our top picks are Santisuk (Niphat Uthit 2 Rd.), Kim Yong Market (Suphasan Rangsan Rd.) and Hat Yai Fresh Market (Behind Clock Tower, Petkasem Rd.).
Where to go
Kor Hong Mountain has the best view of the whole city. While you’re there, pay respect to the Buddhist statues located on top as well as the famous Kuan-Im Shrine. Hat Yai itself doesn’t have a beach but you can take a 30-minute drive to Amphoe Songkla where you’ll find Smila Beach, a peaceful seaside locale. If you’re still up for taking in some sights, Khao Tung Guan is situated here, another temple located on a mountain and overrun with monkeys.
What to eat
Apart from dim sum in the morning, Hat Yai is also full of traditional Chinese restaurants. Tien Tien Lai (Channiwate 3 Rd.) is a casual home cooking restaurant that’s easy on the wallet. Jeng Nguan (Niphat Uthit 1 Rd.) gets high marks for its very authentic cuisine. For a seafood splurge, choose Smila Sea Spot (39 Rajyindee Rd. 074-223-416/7). Originally from Smila Beach, down in Songkla, this is their first branch. Around Talad Mai (the “new market”), you can go for a stroll in search of fresh seafood and more Chinese specialties like salapao tod (deep fried Chinese pork bun), patongko (deep-fried dough sticks) and more dim sum. You’ll find these at shop houses like Go Auan and nameless stalls on the sidewalks.
There isn’t a single Starbucks in Hat Yai. Instead, head to Dot Café (2 Soi 1/1 Rajyindee Rd., 074-234-912), a big house with a garden decked out with bay windows and bare cement. It’s not just a coffee shop but also the epicenter of Hat Yai’s cool kids, thanks to the occasional film screening and events drawing in the local fixed gear bicycle and skateboarding community. Roti and iced-tea are the other must-haves while in Hat Yai. Try Raan Ku (Suphasan Rangsan Rd.) which is so popular, they recently opened a branch in Chiang Mai. For something sweet, you can also stop by Cake Loft (34 Thumnoonvithi Rd.).
Nightlife in Hat Yai
Hat Yai is a surpisingly hot place for nightlife compared to other Southern towns. There’s only one proper hotel bar in the city called Nectar (B/F Hansa JB Hotel) located on the basement floor of JB hotel, offering both live cover bands and DJs (think Muse Thonglor or Funky Villa in Bangkok). Another long standing bar is Sugarbeat (Tammanoonvitee Rd. 074-233-333), with the same music as Nectar but a noticeably more casual atmosphere (think Route 66). Thonglor (Thumnoonvithi Rd. 085-8977145) is a small, one-room bar where musicians do mostly acoustic covers and the vibe is very friendly and intimate. Finally, there’s Circus (Punnakan Rd.), whose cute circus décor and indie-rock lineup make it a pretty impressive standout.
By bus. Bor Kor Sor (02-793-8111) operates a daily bus from Bangkok to Hat Yai. Catch it at Southern Bus Station (B1,162). Approximately 13 hours.
By plane. Thai Airways (www.thaiairways.com), Nok Air (www.nokair.com), Air Asia (www.airasia.com) all fly direct.
Centara Hotel Hat Yai (3 Sanehanusorn Rd., 074-352-222). From B2,300 a night.
Hansa JB Hotel Hat Yai (99 Jootee Anusorn Rd.,074-234-301). From B1,600 a night.
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