Hatyai again!

I can’t believe I actually made 2 trips to Hatyai this year! Once in January and in a mere gap of 10 months I’m there again for the weekend 😀 But this time around, the trip was somewhat different.  I didn’t exactly go on a shopping spree (the excitement is not so high) and the weather was rather bad too.  It rained most of the time when we were there but we are really thankful for getting out of the town on time before the flash flood.  We were so closed to being one of the 10,000s trapped in the waist-high flood…

Seeing that I did not put together all the useful information in my last trip, I thought I could as well put them in this time around.  There’s a lot to share for this mini-weekend trip which I think most of you can easily go for one too if you are interested in some shopping and some eating.  I must warn you though…things are not cheap in Hatyai anymore.(Exchange rate: MYR1.00 = THB9.55).  To begin with, you may want to look at this map and note that I usually just roam within the “greyed” areas in the map.  Anything outside this area, you may prefer to take a Tuk-tuk or drive around.

Warning: This post contains a lot of images.  May require some time to load them..

Transportation

Going to Hatyai

We used to charter a van (10-12 seater) and drive from PG to Hatyai.  But the cost is getting very high.  The last we paid for it was around MYR800 for the entire transportation fee and usually we don’t go in such big group.  Hence we started to opt for driving our own car (downside is the limitation on headcount) to Changlun.  There, we will hire a driver who pick us up from Changlun rest stop (where we park our car) all the way to Hatyai.  In fact, the usual practice is to have them book the hotel and they will pass you the Hotel Voucher for you to check in.  There may be some additional charges somewhere but the room rates can sometimes be lower (I guess it’s kinda compensated back into their commission).  The drivers that we hired were a Malaysian and a Thai.  The Malaysian car charges MYR60 per trip and the Thai car charges MYR70 per trip.  I would recommend you to opt for the Malaysian car cos we had a bit more trouble with the Thai car when we exited at the customs.  I guess our M’sian customs just wanted to make life difficult..

Note: You can change your currency here at Changlun rest house.  The rates are usually quite standardized.  It’s more convenient that way.

 

Within Hatyai town

Tuk-tuk is the main transportation options for tourists.  That’s the Thai taxi.  The charges have gone up significantly and you are definitely advised to bargain before you hop on especially if you go in a larger crowd.  We have to pay about THB120 for 8 pax for a short distance (it was raining most of the time).  Some can charge as high as THB15-20 per pax.  If the weather is good, going around by foot is the best unless you are really tired from all the shopping 😛

 

Hotel

I have stayed in a few hotels in Hatyai.  One of the most commonly visited ones are the Siam Center Hotel (a.k.a Siam City Hotel) and Diamond Plaza Hotel.  Both these hotel room rates have gone up to an average of THB1000/night. Rooms in the Diamond Plaza are bigger in size but we usually opt for Siam Center because of the convenience in accessing the massage salon that we like.  This trip, we stayed at a refurbished hotel known as the Mayflower Grande Hotel.  The room rate was THB930/night and the corner rooms that we were assigned to were rather spacious (still smaller than Diamond).  But because the hotel was recently refurbished, it was very comfortable inside. Note: My aunt didn’t like her room because it was filled with the stench of cigarette smoke.  As noted in the map, all these hotels are within walking distance to the street shops and the shopping centers.

The connecting room from mine even has the space for the couch area (corner unit).  The door system has a mini-alarm system installed where the alarm will beep (softly) if you leave the door open for maybe…more than a couple of minutes? 7-11 is directly opposite the hotel.

The next trip we might be staying at the Golden Crown Hotel which is also another refurbished hotel that seems to be in a better location.  While Mayflower is extremely convenient in accessing the main shopping areas, you also have to walk past a stretch of massage/beauty salons that may seem not so decent.  So, if you prefer somewhere less crowded (esp at night), perhaps the other 3 options above are better.

 

Shopping

If you intend to shop along the streets of Hatyai town, you’ll have to equip yourself with very good bargaining skills.  In general, I think the prices are marked up to at least 30% higher.  So, you can try to bargain from 50% and slowly work your way up.  At any point the merchants show signs of resistance to reduce, you just have to walk away.  There are other stalls out there that sell similar products.  Take your time to shop around; but do note how to go back to the stalls since the roads can look rather similar for 1st timers.   I usually shop at the main mall in Hatyai town – Central Departmental Store.  Here, always start off by checking out the sales or promotion options.  Sometimes, buying via credit card may give you additional discounts (of course, take note of the exchange rate charges by your respective banks).  Many times, they have this “reward” system that you can benefit from. For example, the last time I went they had this “sticker stamping” where you collect stamps as you shop.  So, you can utilize the stamps accordingly to gain extra discounts.  This time around, they introduced the reward card call the 1Card (maybe they found out about our 1Malaysia!) where you get to enjoy special discount rates.   There is also a food court at the basement where Tops supermarket is.  There’s a lovely bakery there and Dairy Queen too!

We were trapped in the mall that afternoon because of heavy rain.  Hence we get to enjoy our coffee break here 🙂  The coffee costs us only THB40 for a classic and THB50 for a latte.  Was bored & tired, hence thought I’ll practice on cam-whoring skills (faildotcomdotmy).

Many people ask me why I like to shop in Hatyai.  Firstly, it’s not because things are cheaper.  It’s a myth!! Unless you are referring to brand-immitations or some T-shirts sold on the streets.  Basically the malls carry local Thai brand that are sometimes quite good in quality.  So, you get to buy things that are not seen in M’sia.  Also, when the sales are on, you can  grab some good bargains but do note the quality.  If you have children or you typically like to collect toys or plush toys; you’ll love the collections here.  Try to avoid buying plush toys from the streets.  I think they are extremely dirty!  If you are a fan of Sanrio products (Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars, Doraemon, etc) or Disney characters, you’ll find some irresistible junks here too 😛 LOLx.  The home & decor department has always been my favorite because they do carry quite a wide range.  Not cheap.  If you are looking for undergarments, you can get most of them in Central but if they run out of sizes, go ahead and try Odean Departmental Store, Diana or Robinsons (the latter two are further away).

Also note that almost 90% of the products sold off the streets are imitations.  Some may claim that they are original but Made in Thailand.  I’m not sure how true it is, but some products in Thailand do have the license to manufacture certain designs off the good brands.  Well, for your own discretion.

 

Food

While some of the prices have gone up in the past years, I still find food very affordable and cheap here.  Taking Thai food in PG for example, a simple meal for 2 at Lang Sae Lee cost me MYR61 whereas a meal at Hatyai for 8 pax cost at most THB1120.  Awesome Thai food (obviously) and if you like kerabu (salad), you’ll love them here in Hatyai.  There are a few places that I usually visit.  Some of them are revisited this round (pictures not complete..sorry!).

Since there are a lot of images to share in this section, I will separate out the food options in different posts (Coming up live after this..).  Will try to list down the details.

Apart from those above, there are lots of other options along the streets.  Try any if you want…just be mindful of hygiene 🙂  I would recommend you to try some of the followings:-

  • Mango/Durian glutinous rice

  • Bird Nest (and shark fin if you want…) – selling at average of THB180-200 for the cheapest option. Usually serves the duno-wat-root tea for free

  • Fragrant Bake Coconut – THB25

  • Thai Chicken Rice (personally think it’s not that great but some do like it)

Massage

Thai massage is a must if you are keen on body massage.  We personally prefer to go for the services that we have tried & approve on; and we have not tried any of the massage salons on the streets.  Namely because body massage requires you to be at your most comfort (a.k.a almost-nude) and thus hygiene and environment is very important.  While we do not visit expensive spa for that service, we just try to go for hotel massage services instead.  To the least, we want to make sure there are no hanky-panky services 😀  As mentioned earlier, we frequent the massage at Siam Center Hotel, Level 2.  Here, the charges are THB120/hour.  That’s like REALLY cheap!  We normally go for 2 hours massage for a full body.  Of course, you do not have to be nude for Thai massage.  Usually you will be given a full suit of pyjamas to change into (male may be given just a “fisherman pants“).  For us, we prefer to bring our own pyjamas for hygiene reasons.  We have also tried the massage at Lee Garden, Level 9 (i think) but the recent visit proved that it is still better to stick to Siam Center.  Lee Garden massage charges THB240/90mins and the masseurs are not as good on top of the noisy ambiance.

If you are not up for full body massage, there are foot massage, shoulder massage or back massage that you can choose from.  The shops at the street may sometimes offer cheaper option.  For your own discretion 🙂  Ladies, manicure & pedicure are also available everywhere.  Again, to me…these are very very intimate services.  Hygiene is really crucial not just in the aspects of the shop/location but also in the tools.  So, be careful where you go.  Sometimes paying a bit more will give you some peace in mind…

 

Recommended Duration of Stay

Personally I think 3D2N is an ideal duration if you do not intend to go out of Hatyai.  This duration gives you enough time to stroll around, check out some prices and then decide what you really need to buy.  However, if you intend to visit Songkhla or neighboring town/outskirts, perhaps a 2D1N would suffice.  I will usually go on a Friday and leave on Sunday after 2PM (checkout time is usually around 1PM Thai).

 

 

Oh, something random to share.  Hatyai has McCafe….but PG doesn’t! A cup of cappuccino is sold at THB50.  That was our 1st breakfast for this trip because of the rain.

That’s all I have so far for Hatyai.  If I remember anything else, I will update the post 🙂

Do check out the rests of the Hatyai food posts 😉

 

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4 thoughts on “Hatyai again!

  1. Hi, i came across your blog.
    Just want to check with you how do you book Mayflower Grande Hotel at Hatyai? Do you have any contact that i can book directly with the hotel?

    Hope to hear from you. Thank you

  2. Just came back fr Hatyai.
    Avoid Mayflower. Staff not friendly – cannot extend check-0ut time – room smelly and water marks near the air con vent – toilet stains.
    Worst is that they charged us THB50 for breaking a drinking glass which we did not even touch. We went to check with the housekeeping and can’t understand what they were talking becos they spoke in thai. Brought down the glass (still wrap in plastic bag) to the check out counter, told them we did not use the glass, they still insisted we pay. Why would we use the glass when there is no tea making facilities.
    Usually we stay at the hotel opposite, but since there are alot of good reviews, we tot we give it a try. This will be the first and last time.

    • Thanks for the sharing! Sorry to hear your bad experience with Mayflower. What a shame they could not sustain their level of service. Hope the next time we set foot in Hatyai it gets better.

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