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readers' submissions

 

Hat Yai Advice

by Charlie Smith

Free Hat Yai / Songkhla maps are available all over town. And they are printed with north up! Not always the case in this part of the world. Also the Tourism Authority Of Thailand (TAT), Southern Office, Region 1, has lots of good info including free maps AND a free, very complete ‘Accommodation Guide’ last edition dated October 2002, that lists every hotel and guest house in Hat Yai, Songkhla, Satun, outlying islands, many of the area’s other small towns, and National Parks. It shows addresses and phone, fax, email, how many rooms, prices, if there are other facilities on the premises, and is separated into sections for each town or city. The TAT Office is at 1/1 Soi 2 Niphat Uthit 3 Road, Hat Yai, Songhkla 90110, Thailand. Phone: (074) 243747, fax: (074) 245986, Email: tathatyai@hatyai.inet.co.th. They are in a little alley (Soi 2) that runs east off of Niphat Uthit 3 Road, one block north of Sripoovanart Road.

Some of my own comments would be: Hat Yai’s main downtown streets are Niphat Uthit 1 Road (which in Thai would be “Thanan Niphat Uthit 1,”) Niphat Uthit 2 Road, Niphat Uthit 3 Road, and the one about midtown that crosses them and dead ends at the Railway Station is Thamanoonvithee Road.

There is a large new Robinson’s Department store across the street from the railway station that has a good food court on the ground floor 1030 AM to 2030 PM. A new and very good place for Bakery type snacks, cream puffs, sausage rolls, pizza slices, etc is: Hi-D Snack, 51 Supasanrungsun Road (NE corner where it intersections with Niphat Uthit 3 Road) 630 AM ­ 6pm, phone 076 244072 but they don’t speak English. I always really pig out there and completely fill up a tray or more for less than 100 baht. My all time favorite of the low price places is Boat Bakery Café, 730 AM ­ 9 PM, at 200/10-11 Niphat Uthit 3 Road, one block north of Sripoovanart Road and across the street from an Esso Station, phone 076 246603. Most there do not speak English but the menu is in English, it is very extensive, almost nothing is more than 25 baht per plate, fruit juices at 12 baht per glass, sandwiches15-20 baht, hamburger 25 baht. It’s a nice cheerful place and no matter what you order they seem able to get it to you in just about 3 minutes flat!!!

For email I like Owen Tour, nice computers at 25 baht per hour. 49 Thamanoonvithee Road, between Niphat Uthit 1 Road and Niphat Uthit 2 Road, or 2 1/2 blocks east of the train station. They also sell transportation tickets cheaper than some of the others.

If you want a bus or mini-bus to Songkhla, Sadao border, Pedang Besar Border, ask a tuk tuk or motorbike taxi to take you to ‘the plaza’ which is a market place where many of the local buses leave from. The native Thai price for tuk tuks is 20 baht to go almost anyplace in Hat Yai, but not if you grab one that is sitting in front of a hotel! If going far, like Krabi, Phuket, Bangkok, etc forget the mini-buses and go straight to the long distance bus terminal and take a blue government bus. Much more comfortable, safer, cheaper, and usually faster too as the mini-busses often zig-zag all over the place picking up and dropping off people. The orange government buses are the slow ones that stop anyplace someone flags them down so only take those if going a short distance.

To Penang:
Mini bus (AC van) fare is anywhere from 180 to 250 baht at tour offices all over town, normally takes 3 1/2 hours and is a good deal. Owen Tour at 49 Thamanoonvithee Road, between Niphat Uthit 1 Road and Niphat Uthit 2 Road charges 200 baht. If coming to Hat Yai from Penang the fare all up and down Chulia Street, in Penang, is 18 to 25 Ringgit.

To Langkawi and South Thailand’s outer islands: It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to go to expensive Langkawi where there is no transportation except taxis, high priced mediocre food, high cost lodging and not much on offer that lives up to the extensive propaganda they print and distribute on slick brochures. But if anyone does, there is a mini-bus stand in Hat Yai across the street from the railway station and 1/2 block north that will take you to Satun for 60 baht, every ½ hour from 7 AM to 7 PM, then you catch a seong teow the 10 more kilometers to the ferry terminal at Tamalang Jetty ­ 20 baht, and the ferry to Langkawi at 220 baht. From the same mini-bus stand (across from the train station) you can also connect to the boats to the outlying islands like, Taratao, the Butangs, Like Ko Lipe and Ko Adang, and others

The high season Ferry schedual, from 20 Nov 2003; from Satun to Langkawi is: 0830 0930 1030 1330 1430 1600. From Langkawi to Satun is: 0830 0930 1030 1200 1400 1500. In off season there are 4 boats a day and last year it was, from Satun: 0830 0930 1330 1530. From Langkawi: 0830 1000 1300 1500. There is possibly another more direct bus from Hat Yai to the Langkawi Ferry at Tamalang (Satun) but I have not checked on it. One real problem in Thailand is that buses start and terminate at terminals all over town rather than consolidate transportation services to one place, plus the language barrier does not help.

I have also seen tour offices sell Langkawi bound people tickets in the Penang vans. The van driver drops them off alongside the highway near Changlun and points out a place where they can catch a taxi for 25 Ringgit to Kuala Perlis. Then they can catch a ferry from there that runs hourly until about 6 PM. But I consider that the hard way and a rip off. And the border crossing is much more involved.

There are also ferries from/to Langkawi/Kuala Kedah about hourly in daylight hours. Langkawi to penang, 1430 and 1730 at 35 Ringgit one way, 60 return. Penang to Langkawi is 0800 and 0830.

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