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- 19 Sep 2019, 3 nights
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A bustling city in the far south of Thailand, Hatyai is a kaleidoscope of colour. It's a shopping haven, with everything from high-end shopping centres to a floating market held in in traditional boats, where you can try iconic street foods like mango sticky rice. Stroll through night markets hung with lanterns, or discover the city's vibrant food scene, with street hawkers, international dining restaurants and cool cafés. Hatyai is also home to ornate Buddhist temples, as well as the annual Loy Krathong lantern festival (held in November).
The Hatyai hostel scene includes rustic accommodation nestled in the jungle, a modern hostel at the heart of the city or sleek contemporary lodgings close to shopping at Nora Plaza. You'll find hostels with cosy social spaces (including a rooftop space), dorm beds with curtains for privacy, and extra features like reading lights and individual power sockets for convenience, plus free toiletries and hairdryers. Look out for a Hatyai hostel with an on-site café where you can relax with a book and a cup of coffee.
The centre of Hatyai is a shopping hotspot, where you'll find places like Kim Yong Market and hundreds of food stalls. It's also home to temples and historical landmarks such as the city's Clock Tower. Head north for the Khlong Hae Floating Market, open Friday to Sunday. Nearby places to explore include Songkhla on the coast (with a lake and sandy Samila Beach) and Ko Yo Island, where there's a folklore museum and numerous seafood restaurants.
Cultural sights in Hatyai include Wat Hat Yai Nai temple, with a 35-metre-long reclining Buddha statue, and hilly Hat Yai Park, with a golden standing Buddha, a soaring cable car and ornate sculptures including golden elephants. For cool photos, head to the Magic Eye 3D museum, where you can put yourself into various optical illusions. For nature-lovers, there's the dramatic Ton Nga Chang (Elephant Tusk Falls), and keen shoppers can haggle to their heart's content at the Asean Trade Bazaar.
Hat Yai airport is a 15-minute taxi or songthaew (shared taxi) ride away from the city centre. You can also reach Hatyai by bus from a number of Thai cities, including Bangkok (15 hours' journey) or Krabi (minibus only, 5.5 hours). Trains can be a little faster – from Bangkok it's a 13.5-hour ride. You can also take a train from Padang Besar in Malaysia (around 1 hour). In Hatyai, you can get around by scooter, taxi and tuk-tuk, or on local buses.