Meet Hat Yai: The Thailand City Set to Be the NEW Bangkok!

Here’s Why You Should Visit This Thailand City That is Set to Be the NEW Bangkok!

Thailand’s Hat city that’s a better, budget Bangkok!

Bangkok has long been a crowd favourite of Thailand, holding the fort as both the shopping and gastronomic haven of Thailand. But wouldn’t it be great to have an alternative where you’re not bumping heads with other tourists every step of the way?

hat yai at night

Image credit: All Of Me with you

Meet Hat Yai.

For a long time, Hat Yai’s been a booming destination for many Singaporean and Malaysian travellers searching for an adventure. Not many people know this, but it’s similar to Bangkok in many ways (sometimes even better). Here’s a roundup of reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on this city which has it all!

It’s Faster and Cheaper to Fly To

Hat Yai’s tucked in the far south of Thailand, near the Malaysian border. This is awesome news for Singaporeans — travelling to Hat Yai is cheaper and faster than it is to get to Bangkok! 

With return flights going as low as $115 and the journey only taking 1.5 hours, travelling to this dynamic city has never been easier. Currently, only Scoot conducts regular flights to Hat Yai, with at least one outbound flight per day.

A ‘Hat’ Food Scene: Thai, Chinese & Malay Cuisine

When in Hat Yai, do as the locals do. This means indulging in food from all cuisines — the variety of food you can find here is unbeatable. From common street food to modern indie cafes, this city has it all. Its close proximity to Malaysia accounts for the Malaysian and Chinese influences in its gastronomy. Here are some options to get your Hat Yai culinary pilgrimage started!

Thai Cuisine: Maliam Restaurant

maliam restaurant hat yai

Image credit: @ezanymalek

Located five minutes away from the Kim Yong market, Maliam Restaurant serves authentic Thai food (it’s also halal!). Crowd favourites include seafood Tom Yum, Baby Kai Lan and their fresh coconuts. The restaurant is easily accessible by foot from Kim Yong, and has ample space for a comfortable dine-in experience.

Address: 90110 45 Thumnoonvithi Rd, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand

Malay Cuisine: Sulaiman Restaurant

sulaiman restaurant hat yai

Image credit: @prettypacks

Around the corner of Maliam Restaurant is Sulaiman Restaurant – or as some would call it, roti canai paradise. This restaurant offers a variety of rotis to satisfy your cravings. Imagine having Malaysian-style street food like murtabak and roti canai in Thailand!

Address: Nipatuthit 2 Road, Tambon Hat Yai, Amphoe Hat Yai, Chang Wat Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 6am – 9pm daily

Chinese Cuisine: Ama Dim Sum, Nai Roo Restaurant, Betong Chicken

ama dim sun hat yai

Image credit: @david_dsym

Chinese cuisine is extensive on its own, and Hat Yai provides plentiful options.

When you enter Ama Dim Sum, you’ll see just how popular it is with the locals. For years, their handmade dim sum has captured the hearts of locals and tourists. The best part? Affordable prices that mean you get to have a feast as you choose from the large variety of both steamed and fried dumplings on the menu!

Address: 542 Thumnoonvithi Road, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 6am – 12.30pm daily

nai roo restaurant hat yai

Image credit: @celestialdelish (top left, top right, bottom left), @easteryeoh (bottom right)

Being one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in the city, Nai Roo Restaurant has definitely retained its homeliness over the years. It’s found in a location that’s off the beaten track, which makes it all the more special. The moment you enter the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff, together with the sights and smells of Chinese dishes being cooked. Favourites include deep-fried pork neck and crunchy spring rolls.

Address: 13 Soi 1, Nipat-Utid 3 Rd., Hat Yai 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 11am – 8pm daily

betong chicken rice hat yai

Image credit: @aunbever

Betong Chicken is often credited for serving the people of Hat Yai the best chicken rice in town! While the plate of chicken rice looks pretty similar to a typical one back home, the owner has an amazing special sauce that complements the dish, consisting of fermented bean sauce, green chilli and garlic.

Betong chickens are – you guessed it – Betong town’s homegrown chickens! They’re said to be extra tender and have less fat; why not try it for yourself?

Address: 30, Kimpradit Rd, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 9am – 2pm daily

Try Local Craft Beer at a Hipster Hat Yai Cafe

roy beer hat yai

Image credit: Roy Beer

For something exclusively Hat Yai-an, try out ROY Beer! This locally-crafted beer is one of the city’s pride, providing tourists with an alternative to mainstream brands like Singha and Chang.

homeless house hat yai

Image credit: Homeless House

Ride on the ROY wave at Homeless House, immersing yourself in its industrial-chic interior and warm atmosphere. The beer classics include Indian Pale Ale (IPA) priced at 160 baht (~S$7). Here, you’ll also rub shoulders with many local youths devouring their famous burgers and bobbing their heads to live music.

Address: 14, Pracharom, Hat Yai 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 11.30am – 12am daily

hopster cafe hat yai

Image credit: Wong Nai Hat Yai

You can also have a taste of ROY at other cool joints such as The Hopster Cafe.

Address: 489/3 Petchkasem Road, Hat Yai 90110, Thailand

Opening Hours: 10am – 12am daily

The Markets Are like Chatuchak…But Better

Khlong Hae Floating Market

khlong hae floating market hat yai

Image credit: Yeoh Thean Kheng

This canalside market features vendors selling Thai street food, drinks and souvenirs from boats. Although Bangkok has floating markets of their own, none quite matches up to the convenience of Khlong Hae. 

It’s an open-air market with ample space to walk, shop and eat. The stationary boat vendors face the customers, which makes browsing and buying easy and fuss-free. Also, it’s a pretty cool and rare sight to see cash transactions being made using long poles with plastic buckets attached on its ends!

Most of the food here is Muslim-friendly, with various options like grilled prawns, khanon jeeb (steamed dumplings), pad thai, ba-bin (coconut pancakes) and more.

Address: Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 3pm – 9pm from Friday to Sunday

Kim Yong Market

kim yong market hat yai

Image credit: Axel Draineville

One of the main markets in the Hat Yai district, Kim Yong is frequented by both Songkhla locals and tourists. Although the goods that you find here are similar to those in big Bangkok markets like Chatuchak, those imported from Malaysia are way cheaper.

Address: Supasarnrangsan Rd, Tambon Hat Yai, Amphoe Hat Yai, Chang Wat Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 6am – 6pm, daily

ASEAN Market Bazaar

Presenting one of the biggest markets in Hat Yai! Comprising of two floors, the first floor is a place of endless rows of clothes and accessories whilst the second floor is home to Muslim food vendors. Like the rest of Hat Yai, they sell a variety of food like fried chicken, sushi, Hello Kitty pancakes, mango sticky rice and more!

Address: Thonon Chotevittayakul 5, Tambon Hat Yai, Amphoe Hat Yai, Chang Wat Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Opening hours: 3pm – 10.30pm from Tuesdays to Sundays (except for 5pm – 10.30pm on Thursdays)

Greenway Night Market

greenway night market hat yai

Image credit: Greenway Night Market

The cashcard systems and organised stalls makes Greenway a modern night market. At this market you’ll find the latest and cheapest clothes, bags and accessories. But, what you won’t want to miss out on is the greatest gift of all — being able to shop in complete comfort.

Address: 1406/3 Karnjanavanit Roadd, Hat Yai, Thailand
Opening hours: 5pm – 10pm from Tuesdays to Sundays

This City is Not Only for Shopping

Apart from being a shopper and foodie haven, Hat Yai is also home to some spectacular spots where you can catch the best views — these include amazing nature spots as well as stunning monuments!

Ton Nga Chang Waterfalls

ton nga chang waterfalls

Image credit: @lbzero (right), @eingsworld (left)

Bask in the gorgeous sights of these ‘elephant tusk falls’. It’s a great place to walk around, relax or have a picnic! The entrance fee is 200 baht per person (~S$8.70). 

Address: Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary, Amphoe Hat Yai, Hat Yai, Thailand
Opening hours: 8am – 5pm

Songkhla Zoo

songkhla zoo hatyai

Image credit: Songkhla Zoo

Bring your family out for a fun-filled day at the zoo! Tickets are priced at 150 baht per person (~S$6.60). To watch the seal and penguin show, it’s an additional 20 baht per person (~S$0.90).

Address: 189 Ban Khao Rup Chang, Songkhla, Thailand
Opening hours: 8.30am – 5pm daily

Songkhla Central Mosque

songkhla central mosque

Image credit: Tanyanat Pichitwong

Most call this the Songkhla Central Mosque, others call it Hat Yai’s Taj Mahal. Marvel at one of Thailand’s biggest mosques, and its beautiful reflection in the lake that stretches out far and wide. It is about 10 minutes from the Khlong Hae Floating Market by tuk tuk.

Address: Lopburi Ramesuan Road, Hat Yai 90110, Thailand

You’d be surprised at how much Hat Yai matches up to Bangkok. Whether you’re a foodie, an avid shopper or an explorer, Hat Yai is a city that lets you be all of those!

For more information on underrated places in Thailand, visit Tourism Authority of Thailand’s official website and Facebook page.

Also read: Experience the Wonders of the World, Right Here in Thailand!

Brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand (Singapore Office).

About Author

Nadhira Putri
Nadhira Putri

Obsessed with the world and its people, Nadhira launches into lengthy, deep conversations with just about any local she meets in her travels. She can also be a homebody who spends too much time on Youtube - switching from beauty tutorials, to crime documentaries - then back to beauty again.