Things To Do - Page 3

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A favourite Thai activity

A favourite Thai activity


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Thai Language Tip

Many English names and words are used in Thailand, however, the Thai pronunciation is very different. To be understood by Thais, add stress to the final syllable. Also remember that final 'l' consonants in Thailand take on an 'n' sound. For example, Central becomes 'sen-dtrun' and Oriental becomes 'orien-dtun'.

Activities and Things To Do in Hat Yai - Page 3

Some more ideas and suggestions for activities in and around Hat Yai.

Spa Treatments
Sittara Spa, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Comments: One of the biggest reasons for Malaysians and Singaporeans visiting Hat Yai - apart from shopping - is to receive some pampering. Whether this takes the form of massages, facials, manicures, etc., the Thais are well geared up to give visitors what they want.

Hat Yai is full of cheap massage shops but, as is always the way in life, "You pays your money and you takes your choice." The service at some of the cheaper places is awful.

Considering that a two hour massage only costs Bt200 at some of these places, what can you expect? However, if you want a really memorable experience it is necessary to pay some more money and go to a proper spa. By Thai standards the prices for these places are high but they are cheap by international standards.

You will enter a peaceful realm where it is possible to completely relax in comfortable surroundings while a properly trained therapist works on your body. However, don't entertain any thoughts of massaging the massage girl while she massages you at these places. If you want that kind of a tactile experience, stick to the cheap hotels and massage shops.

There are a number of places around. The most centrally located (and probably the most expensive) is the spa located inside the Novotel hotel but some of the others may require a tuk-tuk ride if you don't feel up to walking.

Here's a word of warning though. Anyone who takes a customer to one of these spas gets a commission. Thais always seem to be very helpful when it comes to helping visitors get what they want but it isn't necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts. The going rate is about 20%.

Therefore, if you pay Bt1,000 for a treatment, the person who took you there (a tuk-tuk driver or your hotel bellboy) will get Bt200. If you make your own way, the spa doesn't have to pay any commission. Because of this - and provided your haggling skills are sufficient - you may be able to negotiate a discount.

  • Preuksa Spa: 210/7 Niphatuthit 2 Road near the old Lee Gardens hotel (not Lee Gardens Plaza). Telephone + 66 (0)81 189 0443; + 66 (0)83 192 9493; (Map 3) For more information and photos see Preuksa Spa
  • Garabuning Spa: 50/6 Sripoowanat Road near Diana department store. Telephone + 66 (0)74 354140 (Map 4)
  • Sittara Spa: 78 Rajyindee Road Soi 7 near the Acoustic Pub. Telephone + 66 (0)74 238594 (Map 2)
  • Som Spa: 163 Niphat Uthit 3 Road near the Hat Yai Central hotel. Telephone + 66 (0)74 238261; Mobile +66 (0)81 959 2795 (Map 3)
  • Tita Beauty and Spa: 99 Klongrien Road near the Bangkok Hat Yai hospital. Telephone + 66 (0)74 464188; Mobile +66 (0)86 692 4994 or +66 (0)81 459 4856 (Map 2)
All of these spas offer a range of treatments as well as the use of saunas and steam rooms, etc. Treatments and massages are priced separately but multi-treatment packages are also available which lower the prices considerably.

If you were looking for C-Spa, it closed some time during 2007. It was a big place but expensive and not very well located. As such, it became one of the first victims when the economy turned sour in 2007.

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Suntisuk Market
Suntisuk Market, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Latitude: N 07° 00' 19.5" (N 07° 00.326')

Longitude: E 100° 28' 15.9" (E 100° 28.266')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: Suntisuk market (Map 3) consists of a number of small stalls in narrow covered lanes that run between Niphat Uthit 2 and Niphat Uthit 3 roads. It's a typical Thai market and although the quality of a lot of the stuff sold there is dubious, it's worth a visit.

It's cheap and I was convinced that a lot of the goods on sale were counterfeit but the compact flash card I bought for my camera seems to be genuine and it works fine. The locals tell me that prices are cheap because goods sold at Suntisuk are not subject to tax. When I asked why they said it's because Suntisuk is near to the border but that also applies to every other shop in Hat Yai, which add tax, so it's hardly a satisfactory explanation.

There are lots of food products on sale including chocolate, packets of biscuits, coffee, nuts, etc., etc. The locals shop here too so it isn't just a place to rip off tourists. Although I am reliably informed that a lot of stuff on sale is legitimate, some of it definitely isn't.

This is the place to buy your pirated movies, music and software in Hat Yai. I have bought a couple of CDs and they have been OK but I don't know about DVDs or how the pirates get around activation codes with computer software.

There is also a lot of porn on sale. Nong Nat, Thailand's most famous porno star, is well represented and the different types of porn are categorised into sections with all tastes catered for. It's one of those things that intrigues and disgusts me at the same time. I'm all for looking at beautiful female bodies but would rather not see young girls performing with animals.

A frightening array of weaponry is sold at Suntisuk (and elsewhere in Hat Yai). Take your choice of knuckle-dusters, fighting sticks and huge, deadly knives. No civilised country should be selling weapons like these. At least they will never get out of the country as no airline would allow them on board but that doesn't solve the problem in Thailand.

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Tennis courts at Jiranakorn Stadium, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Address: Niphat Songkhrao 1 Road
Map: Map 1

Comments: There are nine tennis courts at the Jiranakorn Stadium. I don't know how much the hire of a court costs but this is Thailand so it won't be expensive. Not surprisingly, the courts are deserted during the daytime.

Energetic outdoor activities in hot and humid southern Thailand are really only feasible in the morning or evening. There is floodlighting so it is possible to play after dark.

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Ten Pin Bowling
Ten pin bowling, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Address: Central Festival
Map: Map 4

Comments: When I first arrived in Hat Yai at the end of 2003 there were ten pin bowling lanes in the basement of Diana Department store. At some stage they disappeared and I never got around to updating the information here.

However, ten pin bowling returned to Hat Yai when Central Festival was opened in December 2013. This is where you need to go if you feel a sudden urge for strikes and spares.

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Thai Boxing - Muay Thai
Thai boxing stadium, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Address: Niphat Songkhrao 1 Road, Soi 20
Map: Map 1

Comments: There is a medium sized boxing stadium in Hat Yai. It's not Lumphini or Ratchadamnoen but it's bigger and more authentic than the venues constructed in tourist areas just for the benefit of tourists.

The location is a Soi off Niphat Songkhrao 1 Road on the same side of the road as Jiranakorn sports stadium. Going away from central Hat Yai, it's past the sports stadium but before Big C.

Bouts are held every Friday night starting at 8pm. The initial bouts are normally youngsters and it's fairly gentle. However, as the evening goes on and the heavier weight boxers enter the arena it gets a lot more frantic and aggressive. If you've never been before, the whole thing is very ceremonial. The boxers stage a carefully choreographed dance before the fight which varies in accordance to which school they train with. Every school has a different dance. The boxers wear ceremonial headdresses when they enter the ring which are removed before the fight.

Throughout the contest Thai musicians play the weird music that accompanies all Thai boxing matches. Gambling is a major theme of the evening even though it is illegal in Thailand. The Thai spectators work themselves up into a frenzy while waving their betting slips in the air. I had not seen passion like this at a sports venue since my days watching football at Upton Park.

It's a good night out and a unique Thai experience that every visitor to Thailand should see. The only bad thing is the old Thai habit of dual pricing. When I arrived the price was clearly advertised - Bt180. I asked (in Thai) for a Bt180 ticket but she just kept telling me "haa roy Baht" - Bt500. At first I thought she hadn't understood me but I was wrong.

The price is Bt180 for Thai men, Bt50 for Thai women and Bt500 for foreigners. The raised seating, where most people were, looked fine but I was shepherded into the ringside enclosure. This was supposedly the privilege I was entitled to for paying a lot more than everyone else but I didn't think the view was as good.

I was the only person in the ringside enclosure apart from the musicians. I was also the only person in the whole place who had been given the honour of paying Bt500 to spectate. I wasn't happy and it showed on my face. One of the girls working there detected my feelings and brought me over a beer which she insisted was free. I think this gesture was out of guilt. It was a small token but it made me feel a bit better.

It's easy to make your own way to the stadium but there are many travel agents in central Hat Yai who will arrange it for you.

October 2013 Update: I wrote the information above many years ago and, to be quite honest, I'm not even sure whether the stadium is still active. As with everything else on this site, if you have any updated information please let me know.

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Thai Boxing Training
Boonyalee Thai boxing gym, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Address: 66-70 Niphat Uthit 1 Road, Hat Yai
Map: Map 3
Telephone: +66 (0)74 244844, +66 (0)74 244855
Web Site: Boonyaree Facebook Page

Last updated: 16th October 2013

Comments: Thai boxing training - along with courses in Thai massage and Thai cooking - is something that seems to be popular with many visiting farangs to Thailand.

This place is a combined music and martial arts school. For Bt900 per month you can learn to play the piano or guitar, or for Bt2,500 you can get 10 hours of tuition in Thai boxing. Other martial arts taught here include Taekwondo, Judo and Kung-Fu.

It's located near the Racha Hotel (which isn't shown on the map), but if you manage to find the hotel the school isn't far away. It's not too far from the VL Hotel, which is shown on the map. From the outside it's not obvious that there is a martial arts gym inside so look out for musical instruments instead.

The school is open from Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 until 19:00. From what I can make out, the Thai boxing training begins some time between 3pm and 4pm and I believe that the Thai boxing teacher attends only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A Malaysian visitor to this site does Thai boxing and wrote to ask me where he could buy Thai boxing equipment. I didn't know, so went to this shop to ask. The man in the shop didn't know either. I will attempt to find out, but at the moment I don't have any answers.

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Thai Cookery Classes
Thai cookery classes at Long Oie restaurant, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Address: Saeng Sri Road (next to the temple)
Map: Map 2

Latitude: N 07° 00' 38.3" (N 07° 00.639')

Longitude: E 100° 28' 31.6" (E 100° 28.527')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: Lessons for foreigners on how to cook Thai food are popular in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and probably Phuket but I wasn't aware of anywhere in Hat Yai until the owner of one of my local restaurants mentioned it.

Her husband is a very good cook and it turns out that he has been providing a lot of free lessons so they have decided to try to turn his skills into a business. In one day he will teach you how to prepare five Thai dishes of your choice. The cost is Bt2,000 and everything is included. At the end of the day the students and teacher will eat together and you can take home the dishes you prepared earlier.

Call Nam or Chok at Long Oey restaurant on one of the following numbers: 09 197 2414; 04 853 9665; 074 350500. They can both speak a little English.

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Thai Massage for Pleasure
Thai massage - Click for larger image
Comments: There are two broad categories of massage in Hat Yai: proper Thai massage for therapeutic purposes and massage purely for pleasure. Massage for pleasure can be further broken down into being cheap or expensive, sexual or non-sexual.

The more upmarket spa type places have relatively well trained therapists, pleasant surroundings, and no hanky panky. The cheap places can be a gamble.

Some cheap places are very pleasantly furnished and the girls are very good masseuses. However, other places are pretty awful and the girls don't have a clue what they're doing, especially if they are new to the job.

When they start working they only get a very basic course and some don't even get that. Thay just watch another girl to see what she does. A lot of the girls do the work because they are desperate for money and can't do anything else that would pay a similar amount of money.

Some Hat Yai massage shops (for example, Kings and Aladdin) have a lot of Burmese girls, some of whom can speak Thai but some of whom can't. 'Additional services' should not be assumed but certain establishments have a reputation for offering them. All Hat Yai taxi drivers will know where these places are.

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Thai Massage for Therapy
Thai massage - Click for larger image
Address: Thung Sao 1 Road
Map: Map 4

Comments: Most of the massage places in Hat Yai are geared up for ethnic Chinese tourists who like sitting in comfy chairs having their feet rubbed. It's a case of satisfying demand and Thais know what their customers want. However, what is provided isn't strictly authentic massage.

Most of the masseuses in these places haven't had much training and even though it can be a pleasurable experience it may not be what some people want. There are loads of foot massage shops in Hat Yai with fancy reflex charts on the walls but you will struggle to find a masseuse who can identify reflex points and tell you which organs of the body they correspond to.

There aren't actually that many authentic massage shops in town. My friend, Aachom, who teaches Thai massage and has his own massage business used to have a small shop in central Hat Yai but moved out to the Big C area and his new shop is quite difficult to find now.

For more details about the different types of massage offered in Hat Yai, along with some customer comments, see 'Massage in Hat Yai'.

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Thale Noi
Thale Noi wetlands area, Phattalung province - Click for larger image
Comments: Thale Noi in Phattalung province is an easy excursion from Hat Yai. It can be done in one day but an overnight stop makes the trip more relaxed. It is a beautiful and tranquil environment not seen by many foreign tourists. More details can be found on my Thale Noi page.

If you like natural places and find yourself stuck in Hat Yai you may wish to check out my Nature page for ideas of places to go in order to escape the noise and general craziness of southern Thailand's busiest city.

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Tinsulanonda Park
General Prem Tinsulanonda Historical Park, Songkhla - Click for larger image
Latitude: N 07° 08' 50.5" (N 07° 08.841')

Longitude: E 100° 33' 44.0" (E 100° 33.733')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: General Prem Tinsulanonda is probably Songkhla's most famous son. After serving in the military he went on to become Prime Minister and now leads the King's privy council. His government was one of the least corrupt that has ever served Thailand. At the time of writing this he is 91 and still one of the most important people in the country.

The two long bridges that connect Yo island to the mainland in Songkhla province are named after him, as is the General Prem Tinsulanonda Historical Park. I'm not exactly sure what's historical about it.

The park is located just before the first bridge if you are travelling from Songkhla to Yo island. Entrance is free and it's open every day.

The English transliteration of Prem's surname is a perfect example of why I hate Thai to English transliteration. The last syllable is non. After this is a Thai 'T' consonant but above it is the consonant killer symbol, indicating that it isn't pronounced.

The pronunciation is tin-soo-la-non. I don't have a clue where the extra -da comes from because it follows no logic at all.

If you add -da you will sound just like a freshly-arrived tourist ordering a sing beer with an extra -ha.

For more details about the park, see my Nature page.

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Tone Nga Chang Waterfall
Tone Nga Chang Waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Dual pricing at Tone Nga Chang Waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Comments: The Ivory Tusk falls are 26km west of Hat Yai. It's best to drive yourself or to go on a tour bus but the waterfall is also on a sawng-thaew route. The sawng-thaews leave from Phetkasem Road and go over the railway bridge, past the police station (Map 3), passing Wat Hat Yai Nai towards Rattaphum and Satun. At the 13km marker they turn left and go a further 13km before reaching the falls.

The fare is just Bt20 but that is the cheap part. The waterfall is in an area which has been designated as a national park and that means there is an entrance fee. For Thais it is Bt20 but for foreigners it is ever so slightly higher. The fee for foreigners is just 10 times more than the fee for Thais at Bt200. Thank you Thailand.

It's a national disgrace but this practice is widespread throughout Thailand. It happens everywhere. The Thais themselves are ashamed of what goes on, so to hide the bad news from foreigners they write the Thai pricing details in Thai and often use Thai numerals (Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 26).

The vast majority of foreigners in Thailand can't read Thai and so they are oblivious to how they constantly get ripped off by the smiling locals.

If you live in Thailand, speak/read some Thai, and have some form of Thai ID (driving licence, work permit, etc.) you can sometimes get the Thai price - but not always. I can't be bothered arguing any more and I refuse to be ripped off like this. If I can't get the normal price, I leave.

To avoid arguments and bad feeling, I normally stay in the car out of sight while my Thai wife pays the entrance fee.

The waterfall consists of seven tiers, all individually named (Tone Ba, Tone Plew, Tone Nga Chang, Tone Dum, Tone Nam Proy, Tone Rue Sri Koy Bo, Tone Met Choon). The area has also been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.

It is a pleasant excursion from Hat Yai and even though it is relatively close the experience is completely and utterly different to being in the city area. There are swimming opportunities so take your swimming costume.

The development of the waterfall has been carried out very well. There is just enough to make it easy for visitors to access what was once an inaccessible area, but not too much as to spoil a very beautiful natural attraction.

As far as safety is concerned, some of the trails are a bit tricky and the rocks around the water are slippery. Don't go too far off the trail, as one foreigner once did a few years ago. It required search parties to find him and he was in a bad way when he was eventually found.

It's quite isolated and popular with gangs of young Thai males who go there to mess around and drink beer. Be alert to potential problems and stay where there are other people around. This applies especially to girls visiting the waterfall alone.

From the waterfall area, going further into Rattaphum and towards Satun and Malaysia it is quite jungly. I understand that if you go far enough there are still wild tigers and elephants living in the jungle. However, you are unlikely to see much wildlife as wild animals make a point of avoiding humans.

There are plenty of hungry fish in the swimming areas, some attractive butterflies flying around, some huge ants, and in certain areas the sound of insects in the trees is very loud.

Cooked food is available in the park near the waterfall and it is pretty good. There are a lot of Thai Muslims in this area and this is reflected in the food. In Hat Yai city, which is Chinese dominated, there is lots of pork and not much beef. In Muslim areas there is beef on the menu and no pork.

There is also accommodation inside the park. Rooms with one bed cost Bt500, and with two beds the cost is Bt1,000. Call Khun Bprawit on +66 (0)81 276 8746 for more information and bookings but don't expect much English to be spoken.

Tone Nga Chang waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Nga Chang waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Nga Chang waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

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Tone Plew Waterfall
Tone Plew Waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Latitude: N 07° 00' 09.8" (N 07° 00.163')

Longitude: E 100° 14' 13.1" (E 100° 14.219')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: If you ask anyone in Hat Yai about visiting a waterfall, they will tell you about Tone Nga Chang. This also applies to guide books. It's as if there is only one waterfall in the area.

Because it is so well known, Tone Nga Chang waterfall tends to get very crowded at certain times. Crowds are OK sometimes, for example when attending sporting events, but when you want to go somewhere to appreciate nature you don't want to share it with thousands of other people. Well, at least I don't.

Tourists in Thailand go to the same places because they only know about these places. However, there are lots of places in Thailand that tourists don't know about. The locals keep these places quiet so that they can enjoy them alone. I don't blame them.

Idiots like me create web sites and let out all the good secrets so that eventually there will be no beautiful, quiet and peaceful places to go in Thailand.

The Rattaphum district of Songkhla, located in the north-west corner of Songkhla province and bordering Satun and Phattalung provinces, is really beautiful. Gorgeous areas of forest with waterfalls can be found just 25kms outside of ugly Hat Yai and once there you feel as if you are a million miles away from the noisy, overcrowded, congested downtown area.

If you take the road out of Hat Yai to Tone Nga Chang but keep on going instead of turning left, you will see a sign on the left to Tone Plew Waterfall. If you turn left and go to the end of the road you will see another sign. Turn left and you will come to the waterfall entrance.

Now for the bad bit - dual pricing. How I hate this practice.

At the entrance to the park you will see a sign. If you can only read English you will see that it says the charge for adults is Bt200.

However, if you can read Thai - as I can - you will see that it says the charge for adults is Bt20. I refuse to pay ten times as much as Thais on principle and this normally gets me into an argument.

I told the guy I live in Thailand and that if he insists I pay Bt200 I will simply turn around and leave. I also told him that if he were to travel to England, or most other places in the world, he would pay the same price as locals.

It's not bloody fair in Thailand. I was angry.

He said he would charge me Bt50. I still wasn't happy about paying 2.5 times the Thai price, but it was better than paying ten times as much and Bt50 isn't a lot of money.

This practice is out-and-out racism. There's no other word for it. It's disgusting and the fact that Thais try to hide what they do from foreigners by writing Thai prices in Thai means that they are actually quite ashamed of what goes on. And so they should be.

This national park area isn't as well developed as Tone Nga Chang, which is both good and bad. It's good because it is still relatively unspoilt but I was hungry when we arrived and there is just one small restaurant with a very limited menu.

At the back of the waterfall area there is an iron staircase which you can climb to get a good view of the water streaming down from the mountain.

The water empties into a large swimming hole and there were lots of Thai kids enjoying playing in the water. From the swimming hole the water cascades down into progressively smaller pools until it disappears.

I had lived in Hat Yai for almost nine years before anyone told me about this waterfall. When I went I was really impressed, but a little disappointed that I hadn't been told about it before. And also very disappointed about yet more dual pricing.

Regarding the transliteration, it's poor as usual. The first word is an unaspirated 't' so 'dtone' might be better. The second word is an unaspirated 'p' and has an 'iw' or 'ill' sound.

Something like dtone bpliw would probably be more accurate. I saw the sign in English and pronounced 'plew' to rhyme with 'flew'. My Thai wife immediately reprimanded me. When I saw the name written in Thai I knew why it sounded stupid to her.

Tone Plew waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Plew waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Plew waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

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Working Out and Swimming
Lee Gardens Plaza swimming pool, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Novotel swimming pool, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

The swimming pools at Hat Yai Sports Club are no longer there - Click for larger image

The small swimming pool in the Choksamarn Community Area - Click for larger image

Free exercise machines, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

The Gym, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Comments: There are plenty of opportunities for horizontal gymnastics in Hat Yai, but if you want a more conventional method of working out the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel has a well equipped gym. There is also a sauna and outdoor swimming pool. Everything is located on the 12th floor of the hotel.

For hotel guests staying at Lee Gardens Plaza hotel, use of the swimming pool is free but to use the sauna and fitness centre costs Bt200. For non-guests, use of all three facilities costs Bt200 per session or Bt1,000 for a month (Bt900 a month if you sign up for three months and there is a further Bt100 discount on the monthly and three-monthly rates if two or three people sign up together at the same time).

Rates are inclusive of tax and service charge. Lockers and towels are available which require payment of a Bt500 deposit. The facility is open from 7am to 9pm Mondays to Fridays and from 8am to 8pm on weekends and public holidays.

Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel
Address: 29 Prachathipat Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Map: Map 3
Telephone: +66 (0)74 261111
Fax: +66 (0)74 353555

Latitude: N 07° 00' 20.1" (N 07° 00.335')

Longitude: E 100° 28' 16.8" (E 100° 28.280')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

There's a gym underneath the Genting Hotel and it's cheap to use. If money is really an issue, there are a number of locations in public areas around Hat Yai that have free exercise machines.

Obviously, you only get what you pay for and you can't expect state-of-the-art equipment for free. The free exercise machines are painted green and they are very basic, however, they serve a purpose. You might also consider joining one of the many aerobics classes that take place every evening. The cost is very low and if you go over to the university it is free.

Swimming is not catered for very well in Hat Yai, especially since the demise of Hat Yai Sports Club in 2012. The main pool at Hat Yai Sports Club was a good size and you could do some serious laps. The pools that remain in Hat Yai are generally smaller and have lots of kids playing in them.

There are swimming pools at Hansa JB Hotel, Centara Hotel Hat Yai, and Hat Yai Paradise. Use of the swimming pool at hotels is free for guests but there is a charge for non-guests.

There used to be a swimming pool within a housing development opposite the municipal park, but this was also closed down. There are now very few independent swimming pools left in Hat Yai that aren't attached to hotels.

There is a small pool located in an area referred to an the map as the 'Choksamarn Community Area'. Its name is 'chuup-chee-waa'

Chuup-chee-waa Community Swimming Pool
Address: Soi 1, Rattana Uthit Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Map: Map 1
Telephone: +66 (0)86 692 0099, +66 (0)81 957 5716, +66 (0)81 609 5227

It's clean, but quite small and there are normally lots of young kids splashing around. It is open from 16:00 to 20:00 every day, and additionally from 07:00 to 10:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

If you drive from the direction of Raj Uthit Road, you need to turn down Soi Buun Gaew Uthit. These are my own transliterations and the street signs are probably only in Thai. If you can't read Thai, you may need to ask for some assistance.

The Gym, located opposite Rajyindee Hospital, is quite a large place and has a good selection of exercise machines. Steam rooms are available. There is also a swimming pool located just behind the gym building.

To use the gym costs Bt100 per day. The monthly charge is Bt850 for one person or Bt750 each for two people. Alternatively, you can buy a coupon for Bt600 which entitles you to 12 visits. You must use all your visits up within three months.

Use of the swimming pool at The Gym costs Bt100 per session. The monthly cost is Bt1,000 and they throw in another 15 days, therefore you get up to 46 days. Coupons for 12 visits cost Bt500 for children under 15 and Bt800 for adults. Coupons must be used up within three months.

Twelve hours of swimming lessons cost Bt1,600 for children under 15 and Bt1,100 for adults.

The Gym is open from 07:00 until 22:00, including the swimming pool. Swimming lessons start at 7am, 8am and 9am in the morning and 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm and 8pm in the evening. Swimming lesson groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people.

For monthly membership you will need to supply a photo.

The Gym
Address: Rajyindee Road, Opposite Rajyindee Hospital, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Map: Map 4
Telephone: +66 (0)74 225433

Latitude: N 07° 00' 02.5" (N 07° 00.041')

Longitude: E 100° 28' 47.3" (E 100° 28.788')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Another alternative for swimming lies behind the airport and it is possibly Hat Yai's best kept secret. I first saw this place from the air while taking off on a Nok Air flight bound for Bangkok.

With its lawned and landscaped grounds, distinctive red-brick buildings and swimming pools, I thought it must be a private hotel or resort. It's not the sort of place you stumble upon naturally because when you exit the airport you instinctively go the other way in the direction of Hat Yai.

If you go against your instincts and drive behind the airport instead of into town you will see a big sign saying 'Aeronautical Radio of Thailand'. It wasn't clear to me from the sign what it was. However, a member of staff told me it was a club for air traffic controllers. Despite this, it appears to be open to everyone.

The fee per session is only Bt60. There is a good size adult pool and also a children's pool. The catch is that you need to join as a member before you can use the pool and to become a member you must show your Thai house registration document. This could be a problem for tourists.

It's a really nice place. In addition to the pools there is a restaurant, tennis courts, a basketball court, some very attractive, quiet and peaceful grassed areas to relax or play on, and lots of tropical palm trees. It's one of the few places in Hat Yai where my young daughter can play safely without fear of being mown down by a maniac motorcyclist or pickup truck driver.

The GPS coordinates are:

Latitude: N 06° 56' 08.4" (N 06° 56.141')

Longitude: E 100° 23' 15.3" (E 100° 23.255')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

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Yun Yong Market
Yun Yong Market used clothes, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Yun Yong Market used shoes, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Yun Yong Market used junk, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Fake Raybans at Yun Yong Market, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Latitude: N 06° 59' 59.1" (N 06° 59.984')

Longitude: E 100° 27' 38.9" (E 100° 27.649')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: Thailand continues to become more Westernised in certain aspects, but Thais still love their traditional way of life. There are lots of traditional markets in the Hat Yai area (as there are all over Thailand) and these are always crowded.

Yun Yong operates on Tuesdays and Fridays. Some vendors are ready for business at 5am and everything wraps up around noon, so get there early. A few vendors sell food (meat, fish and vegetables) and there are a few stalls selling old things. To call these old things antiques would be something of an overstatement. The term 'junk' is probably more accurate. You can also find the usual fake items (kong bplom) and even some plants.

However, these items are secondary to the main business at the market. Most stalls at the market are in the business of selling clothes, both new and second-hand.

Buying second-hand clothes may not seem very attractive (the second-hand shoes certainly don't look attractive), but many used items look new and the prices are ridiculously cheap. I asked some vendors where the items came from and they told me mostly from Japan and sometimes from Europe.

My wife has bought a lot of clothes for our young daughter. She is growing quickly and her clothes don't last long before she outgrows them. Children's clothes from department stores are expensive, but the market sells clothes that look as good as new for a few Baht.

When I first saw used clothes from the market I thought they were new. We treat them with disinfectant in the initial wash, just as a precaution, but then launder them with the other clothes as normal.

Many of the items carry brand names, but in this part of the world that doesn't mean much. A pair of Bt80 sunglasses may have a Rayban label, but they're still an Bt80 pair of sunglasses. Items could be genuine, but take your chances. On the other hand, if you can't tell whether something is genuine or fake what difference does it make if it is fake?

The market is located in the Hat Yai Nai area. Go over the railway bridge, past the police station and immigration office and you will see a large school on the left (Hat Yai Wittayalaisomboonkulkanya School).

Turn left just before the school into Phon Phichai Road, go past Tessabaan 2 School on your left, and you will see the market on your left.

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