The Commercial Capital of Thailand
The southern commercial capital of Hat Yai may not have won
any major prizes for its daylight beauty, but it is indeed winning
greater appraisal for its nightlife activities. This once booming
rubber and tin town is rapidly becoming over-shadowed by its
sensuous soapy scene.
For those of you not familiar with these
soapy scenarios, they are mostly associated with massage palours and
brothels. It's best to ask Charlie Sheen to fill you in with all the
It may not be the place one would assume is
frequented by the usual American, British, German, Australian and other
habitual tourists of which there are far too many to mention here. No,
this town is mainly reserved for sybaritic Malaysians.
Whilst the nightclubs, massage palours and brothels are weightier magnets for single men and perhaps a few married ones too, (my lips are sealed) women and families come here for the wide range of shops and reasonably priced restaurants.
Before I continue with what's happening in town during the day, I just thought I'd inform you (for men only) that there are a number of massage palours in town advertising ancient massage. Now you might ask yourself is this for the older generation or is this some sort of trick question. I never got to find out myself, but what I will tell you is that it's no ordinary or quick rubdown routine.
Tin Seller at Kim Yong Market
Things to do around Hat Yai
You may ask yourself what is there really to do in Hat Yai
other than to engage in the wayward nightlife scene. After all, there's
little else in the way of cultural attractions and you are not here
because of your love of nature either. The only time worth visiting Ton Nga Chang Waterfall which is 24 kilometres west of the town, is during the cool season between November and January.
The only real attraction here is at Wat Hat Yai Nai. This temple can be found in the middle of town and houses the third largest reclining Buddha image in the world. It measures a total of 35 metres (115 feet) long and 15 metres (49 feet) high. You will be allowed to step inside the image via a small shrine. You will also find herbal saunas and traditional Thai massage on offer in the temple grounds.
A Quintessential Street in Town
This photo courtesy of www.pictures-thailand.com
What to do and Where to go
During the daylight hours there is much to do. These can easily be
broken down into two, but very fundamental formats. One I should imagine,
can be attributed to indulgence which in simple terms, means shopping
and the other hypothesis is associated with consumption which in simple terms means, the art of eating.
You have to pop down to Kim Yong Market
in town where you'll find Thai street vendors selling a wide range of
merchandise. It is an absolute rush. The market has a vibrant
atmosphere, lots of friendly locals and an air filled with some of the
strangest of smells. It varies from tin pots and pans to shark fin soup.
Speaking of sharks, for those of you who are more than willing to be adventurous when it comes to gastronomic inquisitiveness, you might want to pop into one of the shark fin restaurants. Customers can come from as far as Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to savour these delicacies.
Other specialties on offer include fried pigeon and smoked duck. If this is not quite your cup of tea, there are several open-air seafood restaurants you can try, many of which are accompanied by live music.
Fresh Ducks at Kim Yong Market
Locals and their Languages
Just as a matter of interest when strolling around the markets, but
especially the cosmopolitan downtown area of Hat Yai, you may or may not
be amazed to hear several different languages spoken other
than the southern Thai dialect. English, Malay, as well as Yawi, (a
Malay dialect) Mandarin Chinese, and Hokkien, (a dialect of Min Nan
Chinese) are also spoken. Due to its proximity to Malaysia, this part of
Thailand has a vast majority of Muslim inhabitants.
Strolling around the Market
Hat Yai Attractions - Thai Style Bullfighting
If you happen to be in Hat Yai over a weekend at the end of the month,
there is a very good chance that you could go to one of the bullfighting
events that take place in one or other arena around the city. Unlike
the Spanish-style corrida with matadors and picadors, this is strictly Thai-Style bullfighting
whereby bulls are pitted against each other. The winner in this case
being the animal who manages to force his opponent to retreat to the
outer edges of the ring, but in some cases a particular bull may simply
win when the other turns and takes fright and flees. You might find
the furious betting as much of a spectacle as the fight itself.
Shark Fin Restaurant Chefs
Getting to Hat Yai
If you are coming from Bangkok and have some time to spare,
you might decide to drive, but better than that, you can easily fly here
with one of the local carriers. If you are coming from Malaysia,
it's a whole lot better and more comfortable due to the strategic rail
and road links between both countries.
There is a railway link
that runs northeast from Malaysia then crosses the border into southern
Thailand. You could travel either from the town of Alor Setar near the
coast or from Butterworth, the connecting port for Penang Island. A
second rail link heads in a northwesterly direction from the border
town of Sungai Kolok. This route takes you to the town of Yala and from
there, all the way to Hat Yai.
Fresh Vegetables at Kim Yong Market
Return from Hat Yai to Southen Thailand
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