On 25 February 2016, JOM NAIK KERETAPI embarked on a trip around the Malay Peninsular from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Hat Yai, Thailand with the northbound journey via Sungai Golok on the eastern side of the Malay Peninsular, and the southbound journey via Padang Besar, on the western side of the Malay Peninsular.
After arriving from Sungai Golok and Yala, we checked in to the hotel and after a short wash up, we headed straight out to see what Hat Yai has to offer.
The hotel has tuk-tuks on standby, with fares set by haggling with the driver. These are converted from minivans or lorries, significantly different from the ones found in Bangkok but the operating style is almost the same.
The typical tuk-tuk fares around Hat Yai are:
Around Hat Yai Municipal Town: 20 baht/passenger
Distance of up to 4km for up to 4 passengers: 45 baht/trip
Distance of more than 4km for 3 passengers or less: 65 baht/trip
Other trip combinations: Discuss with driver
Journeys starting between 9pm and 5am: Discuss with driver
4 of us were charged 100 baht for the trip from our hotel near the railway station to Hat Yai Plaza Trade Centre – a journey of 850 meters by foot or 2.5km by driving due to the one-way roads. It worked out to 25 baht per passenger, 5 baht more than the first fare rate, but more than double the second fare rate.
We just paid anyway.
Hat Yai Plaza Trade Centre
After about 10 minutes, we were alighted at Hat Yai Plaza Trade Centre. The name is not well-used yet though, you might find it easier to say “clock tower” or just “market”.
The facade of Hat Yai Plaza Trade Centre.
Most of the offerings here are clothes for everyone, including T-shirts, pajamas, jeans and jerseys. Do remember to bargain of course, especially when buying in large quantities. Food can also be found along the street.
The more prominent and well-known Clock Tower.
After the shopping was done, we walked for about 1 kilometer to Lee Gardens. Though actually the name of the adjacent hotel and shopping centre, the area is colloquially known as Lee Gardens today. The actual location is around the junction of Saneha Nosorn Road and Soi Trok Sukonthahong. I think I’d stick to calling it Lee Gardens just like everyone does, including the locals.
Here, you can get the typical Mango Sticky Rice for dessert at the many stalls and carts. Prices according to the season.
You can also get the famous giant prawns of Hat Yai here. Prices according to the season.
For Muslims, no worries in southern Thailand as there are some stalls Muslim-owned or Muslim-operated, and some even Halal-certified.
From Lee Gardens, we walked back to the hotel for about 350 meters to rest for a while before the night visit to ASEAN Night Bazaar.
ASEAN Night Bazaar
We got the tuk-tuk once again to ASEAN Night Bazaar. This time, the journey of 3.2km costs 20 baht per passenger, or around 200 baht per tuk-tuk with around 10 of us in one.
ASEAN Night Bazaar is the latest addition to the night market scene in Hat Yai. While sometimes compared to Bangkok’s Chatuchak, the actual experience is kind of far from it.
The stalls are arranged neatly with goods on the first floor and food on the second. Lanes are named after each national flower belonging to each ASEAN nation. However, the items on sale are pretty repetitive with almost if not more than 80% of the stalls selling clothes and catered more for females.
There is also a small portion of hipster stalls such as barbers and apparels along the non-sheltered part between the 2 buildings (which I did not get a shot of) which looks influenced from Bangkok’s Rotfai Market, but that was pretty much it.
After the tour around Hat Yai, we retired back to the hotel for the night before the return trip the next day.