Hat Yai is a popular destination for Malaysians due to its close proximity to Malaysia. Whereas for Singaporeans, it was a popular destination for temple visits and nightlife. Having heard from sources that there isn’t much to do in Hat Yai, I decided to head down and check it out to debunk the myth.
This is a foodie-focused guide as we explored more food and cafes during our trip.
Where to Stay?
Unlike the metropolitan city of Bangkok, where new hotels open every month, many hotels in popular locations in the quaint Southern town of Hat Yai are aged and outdated. We began our quest to hunt down the newest and most Instagrammable hotel in Hat Yai, which will attract the younger generation to want to stay at a glance. Thankfully, we found one of the newest hotels in Hat Yai – The Lantern Hatyai Hotel, recommended by Doreen of HatYaiGo3, who tirelessly brings you the latest in Hat Yai through her weekly livestreams.
Read our full review here.
Where to Eat?
Gai Tod 1 – Kaitod Decha [Halal]
You can’t visit Hat Yai and not have Gai Tod (Fried Chicken) because it is a well-known street food everybody loves. Most Thais prefer Gai Tod Hat Yai because of the rich flavours and distinct inclusion of fried shallots with glutinous rice. I told Doreen of HatYaiGo3 to bring me to her favourite Gai Tod Hat Yai shops, and here they are.
The first Gai Tod recommendation is at Kaitod Decha – a restaurant with proper seating. To many visitors, this is a must-visit restaurant in Hat Yai. Apart from serving piping hot fried chicken, they also have other Thai seafood dishes. We highly recommend you try their Gaeng Som (Southern Thai Sour Spicy Fish Curry Soup) and wash everything with their Thai Milk Tea.
Just a few steps away during the day, you can find another popular Hat Yai Gai Tod shop by the roadside called Kaitod Sofeeya. If you happen to find them open, just walk over and get some to try.
Gai Tod 2 – Chue Chang Food Court ตลาดโต้รุ่งฉื่อฉาง [Halal]
The second Gai Tod recommendation is at Chue Chang Food Court along Supasarnrangsan Road. The food court is newly renovated, and it is a nice comfortable place for you to dine in. This is a good place to get your dinner fixed if you prefer a variety of food options.
*Do note that the Gai Tod shop opens only in the evening.
Gai Tod 3 – opposite Hatyai Post Office [Halal]
The third Gai Tod recommendation is from a popular street cart opposite Hatyai Post Office. Along the stretch, there are many carts selling Gai Tod, so you will have to look out for this particular cart. They are open only in the evening. Although it draws a long queue, it clears quickly. It is relatively far from the other recommendations, but if you are a Gai Tod fan and have time to spare, this is a must-eat! There are no seats, so you can only do take-away.
We heard a lot about this restaurant and were extremely surprised by the quality of the food there. If you are looking for Western food in Hat Yai, this has to be it. Their pork ribs have to be one of the best I have eaten recently. They are also popular for their burgers. We can’t wait to be back.
Qing Jie Restaurant 清姐猪肠咸菜
Qing Jie Restaurant is a popular breakfast place selling pork intestines soup, roasted pork, and braised pork leg. Unlike other shops, their soup is not peppery and is a clear and light version which is a healthier option for breakfast.
Krua Pa Yad
Krua Pa Yad is popular for Thai dishes, and some locals say it is the best place for local Thai food in Hatyai. They have a wide variety of dishes, and the prices are reasonable.
Doreen of HatYaiGo recommended me to check out Chok Caffe. It is a simple coffee stand by the road (opposite iNoble Clinic on Thumnoonvithi Road) serving local-style coffee. Each cup of coffee is hand-brewed upon order.
Mun Duey Tua – Hatyai Traditional Dessert
This unassuming shop near Hatyai Train Station is very popular with locals, and they sell traditional Chinese-style desserts called Mun Duey Tua. It is filled with beans, pineapple and coconut milk. It makes a good thirst quencher, especially in the hot Hat Yai weather.
芒果店 Khao Neow Mak Muang Nong Art
If you are looking for the most popular Mango Sticky Rice in Hat Yai, head to this shop beside Chue Chang food court. It has been featured by many TV channels and online media in Thailand.
Chokdee Dimsum is well-known for its Thai-style dim sum and is highly recommended by many for breakfast. They have a wide variety of dim sum for you to choose from, steamed upon order. They also serve herbal Bak Kut Teh similar to the ones you find in Malaysia.
Where to Cafe-Hop?
Locals HDY is a beautiful cafe not to be missed. It is spacious, the environment is cosy and there are lots of instagrammable spots.
Apart from coffee, do try their desserts. Their waffle is also very unique – literally Khanom Ba Bin pressed into a waffle with crispy edges. Try it, it’s delicious.
If you are a serious coffee drinker, check out Away Coffee. They offer different bean selections from light to medium roast, catering to your needs.
We had their best-selling signature HOLO Coffee, topped with wild honeycomb and don’t leave without having their almond croissant.
Lantern Cafe on the ground floor of The Lantern Hotel attracts many locals and tourists who visit for meals, light bites and of course, photos. The theme of The Lantern Hatyai Hotel is “Luxury Modern Chinese Style” and you can notice all the small little details all around the hotel, even in the snacks at the cafe.
Butterfly Cafe [Halal]
We spotted this beautiful cosy cafe while driving on the main road. There is a photo spot outside the cafe popular with customers.
Apart from coffee, they also serve Thai food. Although it’s named “cafe”, it is essentially a restaurant with lots of food options. As we already had our lunch, we decided to just have roti.
Where to Chill (Nightlife)?
This is my favourite place to hang out in Hat Yai. Villa Vanilla houses different concepts – cocktail, wine and beer, catering to a wide group of customers with different preferences. I personally prefer the cocktail section as it’s spacious and comfortable. It is a nice place to just chill and relax. The bartender recommended this special cocktail of the month and it was so good that I had seconds!
Do check out their outdoor section, it’s so beautiful and perfect for those who prefer alfresco settings.
Homeless Bar is a hidden bar located right beside Homeless Grill. We recommend you have dinner at Homeless Grill and then hop over to Homeless Bar for a change of environment to an intimate, cosy vibe over some delicious cocktails. Seatings are limited though.
If you prefer something more happening, check out this popular night spot called The Library. This is perfect if you want somewhere to party and dance to the tunes of the DJ. You can also expect juggling performances by the bartenders.
Where to Massage?
I found Jaroen Massage on Google with good reviews and decided to try it. I didn’t regret it as the masseuse was experienced and knew how to do a proper massage to leave you feeling relaxed. The owner Rick was also very friendly and recommended several spots for good food in Hatyai.
DD Healthy Massage
Recommended by Doreen of HatYaiGo3, this is more of a healthy massage to treat aches and pains, so if you are looking for a soothing massage for relaxation, this might not be suitable.
Where to Shop?
This is a pop-up night market which attracts both locals and tourists. This hipster night market features unique shops selling fashion, collectables and food. Do check out their Facebook Page to check when their next pop-up will be.
Greenway Night Market
Greenway is the biggest night market in Hatyai. Like most night markets in Thailand, it makes a good healthy after-dinner activity for some shopping or more food.
Entering Central Hatyai feels as if you are back in Bangkok. It is a modern shopping mall with all the shops and restaurants you need in any city. This is also the biggest shopping mall in Hatyai.
Where to Sight-See?
SeaVerse Cafe & Restaurant
Seaverse is a brand-new attraction in Hatyai featuring a cafe and a magnificent viewpoint overlooking the beautiful property aiming to let visitors learn about the “fishing industry” in Songkhla.
Central Mosque of Songkhla
Central Mosque of Songkhla is located right opposite Seaverse Cafe and Restaurant. You can drop by for some photos of this majestic mosque.
Our visit to Hat Yai was an eye-opener for us as the food we had was delicious and affordable. Despite being there for 5D4N, we still didn’t manage to fully explore Hat Yai. Hence, we will be back soon to explore more. Do let us know if there are any recommendations that we should check out during our next visit.