Living in Hat Yai
Most of the information on these pages is read by tourists, mainly from Malaysia and Singapore, and therefore there is an emphasis on tourist information, such as hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Some other people, myself included, choose to live permanently in Hat Yai. When living in the town, there are certain things you need to know that aren't relevant to tourists and vice-versa. This page is intended to cover some of those things.
Why Live In Hat Yai?
The original purpose of this page was to provide some useful information to people who had already decided to live in Hat Yai. However, it occurred to me later that there might be some people who were thinking about moving to Hat Yai to live and that they might want to know a little more about living in the town.
Some foreigners who become expats in Thailand don't have much say about where to live. Those foreign men who get involved with Thai women (and some foreign women who get involved with Thai men) end up living in their partner's home town.
I fell into that category after I got married because my wife wanted to stay close to her family in Hat Yai, but it wasn't the case when I first arrived as a single man. When I first moved to Thailand I could have gone anywhere.
Where you choose to live in Thailand is a very personal decision. No one is right and no one is wrong, although many foreigners I have spoken to regard 'their' part of Thailand as being the best, and everywhere else as being inferior. All places have their advantages and disadvantages, and all people have their likes and dislikes.
I know a foreign couple who lived in Songkhla for a while, but after a while they found it incredibly boring and moved to Hat Yai where there was a lot more going on. Conversely, I have a friend who lives in Songkhla and loves it. Everyone is different.
Personally, I don't like tourist hot spots, especially those areas in Thailand that are popular with Western tourists. These places have great food and they are often quite attractive, but I find them artificial. They also tend to attract some bad foreigners and some greedy Thais. This is the reason that I didn't choose to live in Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, etc.
Bangkok is an amazing city in many respects with lots to offer, but I honestly couldn't live there. I always enjoy my visits to the capital (about twice a year on average), but after a few days I am ready to leave. It's just too big, too congested, too polluted, too claustrophobic, etc etc.
After you discount Bangkok and the major tourist resorts there isn't a whole lot left, apart from swathes of rice fields and countryside. These places have a similar effect on me to Bangkok. I really like to visit the countryside and I love the peace and tranquility, but living there permanently would probably drive me nuts after a few months.
Living in Hat Yai solves a lot of problems. It's small in comparison to Bangkok (as is every other provincial city in Thailand), but it is the biggest commercial centre in southern Thailand.
I can buy most things I need (not all) and most manufacturers of household appliances have a service centre in Hat Yai, so I can get most things fixed. With two young children it is important that there are schools and good medical facilities nearby, and Hat Yai has these things in abundance.
The town has two large public hospitals, four private hospitals and hundreds of small, privately run clinics. Dentistry is also very well catered for and there are some great dentists.
From my house I can get to the local airport in a few minutes where there are direct flights to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Pattaya and maybe a few other places in Thailand, as well as direct flights to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. There are lots of flights to Bangkok every day and if you keep an eye out for promotional fares you can fly very cheaply. The flight to Bangkok only takes a little over an hour.
The shopping, schools and medical facilities are 20 minutes from my house in one direction, but if I go in the other direction I can be in the middle of rice fields and glorious countryside in the same amount of time. If you like playing golf, there are also around five golf courses a short distance away.
Hat Yai does attract a lot of tourists, but it doesn't seem that way. One of the reasons is that they are from other parts of Asia, therefore they don't seem like tourists to me. The other reason is that they tend to stay in the downtown area and I only encounter them if I go to that area.
In many ways, Hat Yai gives me the best of both worlds and that's what I like about it. However, it must be stated that there are some downsides, especially related to food.
I have lived in Thailand since 2003 and although I have acclimatised quite well, my stomach still craves certain food types. Most tourists who visit Hat Yai are ethnic Chinese, as are many of the locals, and thus the food on offer is the type of food that they enjoy.
I wouldn't want to live in Phuket or Pattaya, but when I visit these places I get quite envious about the food on offer. Every year new restaurants open in Hat Yai and the food scene has gotten better, but for Western food addicts it still isn't that great. Fortunately, my wife likes to cook and she cooks up a lot of Western food that would otherwise be unavailable to me.
What else may people not like? If you look on a map, you will see that Hat Yai has no coastline. Many foreigners who go to live in Thailand want to live near the sea, so Hat Yai wouldn't be a great choice.
Neither is it good for afficianados of Thai culture. The further I travel north in Thailand the more I feel as if I am in Thailand. Hat Yai has huge Chinese and Muslim populations. Sometimes when I am in the downtown area all I can hear being spoken is Chinese and in other areas it feels very Islamic. I quite enjoy the mix of cultures, but quite often it doesn't feel like being in Thailand.
And I mustn't forget the climate. Northern Thailand has three seasons, one of which is a cool season. Southern Thailand has only two - hot and dry, and hot and wet. It is damn hot all year round and the only time it isn't hot is when it's raining. Even after 13 years I still find it very difficult dealing with the heat for most of the year. Even Bangkok gets a lot cooler at certain times of the year and can feel quite pleasant, but rarely in Hat Yai does it get cool enough to feel pleasant.
So, that's my very quick summary. Had I not got married, or had I married someone else, it is unlikely that I would still be in Hat Yai because I wanted to move to the north of the country - probably Chiang Rai.
As it is, I am still in Hat Yai. It's not absolutely idea, but I don't mind it and there are worse places to be. I am only a few hours' drive from some beautiful places near the sea and when time allows it is easy to visit those places.
Is it right for you? I don't know. There are certain questions that we can only answer ourselves, thus there is no point asking someone else.
Living in Hat Yai
The following information may be useful to both expat residents and tourists.
Comments: If you're living in Hat Yai you probably won't want to stay permanently in a hotel, although this might suit some people. If you plan to be a permanent resident in a hotel you will get a daily cleaning service, but make sure you negotiate a decent discount.
In addition to hotels, I've listed some apartment buildings in my accommodation pages. These are often, but not always, referred to as 'Mansions'. I've only listed a tiny fraction and there are lots more in Hat Yai. Just walk around and you will find them.
Farangs posting on Internet forums attempt to make their rented accommodation sound grand by referring to 'my apartment', or 'my condo', but most are anything but grand.
The standard rented room in Thailand consists of one room where you sleep and do everything else, and a small bathroom. Better apartments will have a water heater in the shower and an A/C unit. You may also get a small balcony.
Rented rooms start at less than Bt2,000 per month (pretty grotty), and go up to over Bt20,000 if you stay at Weenee Place.
To get to a standard where most foreigners would feel comfortable, you need to spend more than Bt4,000. For example, Terrace View where I used to stay, is a really nice building and has comfortable rooms starting at about Bt5,500.
Some places do have a separate living room and bedroom, but these are a lot more expensive. These larger places might even have a tiny kitchen. In standard Thai rented rooms there is no kitchen.
You normally need to pay a deposit of two months rent up front (at some places three). Be aware that some landlords will try lots of tricks in order to keep some, or all, of the deposit. They don't pay any attention to the room but when you leave they inspect everything with a finetooth comb and accuse you if they find the slightest thing wrong.
I had major problems with a landlord who had rented rooms built above his private residence. His apartment building is not listed in my pages.
Electricity and water bills are paid for separately. When you get your bill each month, it will show how much for utilities. Water is often a minimum Bt100 per month and it is unlikely it will be more. Electricity depends very much on how much you run your air-conditioner.
If you hardly switch the A/C on, it might only be a couple of hundred per month. If you have the A/C on constantly you might be paying Bt2,000 or more.
If you decide to rent a house it can be difficult finding somewhere suitable. In Hat Yai you can't go to an estate agent and request a list of all their rental property, It doesn't work like this. Neither are there any useful Internet resources with a list of current property to let.
Thais advertise houses for rent by writing signs written in Thai and posting them on lampposts. You need to familiarise yourself with the Thai for 'House for rent' and walk around looking for such signs.
Most places are unfurnished and most are not up to a standard that many foreigners would be happy with. After the difficult task of finding a suitable place to rent, I then had to spend a lot of my own money getting it to a decent standard. Thai landlords don't like spending money on their rental properties.
You will deal with the utility companies directly because utility bills are given to the current occupant. The good news is that it is cheap to rent a house. Our house is quite large and costs only Bt4,500 per month. Remember though, that I did spend a small fortune getting it to a decent standard.
Comments: A few people have arrived at this site after searching for book shops in Hat Yai so I thought it was about time I added some relevant information. It didn't take long.
Hat Yai is not a great place for foreigners who like books. English language books are like Western food in Hat Yai: they exist but the selection and quality aren't very good.
The best selection of English language books I know of in Hat Yai is in the main library at the Prince of Songkla university but I'm not sure about their borrowing policy if you don't work or study at the university.
The selection of English language books there is very good, and the books are virtually untouched. Most of the books I have borrowed were covered in dust and last loaned out many years ago. The library is a quiet place and Thai students find it a good place in which to sleep.
The book shops around town have a good selection of Thai language books but all of them have just one tiny section for English language books. This is a reflection that Hat Yai is a provincial Thai town with a Chinese heart, and that most of its visitors are of Chinese origin.
In areas of Thailand where there are lots of farangs the situation is somewhat different.
There are no branches of large independent book chains so don't expect to find a big branch of Kinokuniya or anything similar. For that kind of thing your nearest options are Bangkok or Singapore (maybe KL but I'm not sure).
The independents are generally small and the best options are chains within department stores and shopping malls. Here's a summary:
- Kids Book Party is a small shop that I recommend HIGHLY if you have young children!
English language books for children that are written in Thailand tend to have terrible standards of English, and English language books from abroad are quite expensive. The solution is to go to Kids Book Party.
This shop imports thousands of books from England by the container load. The books are either second-hand (but in quite good condition) or new, but sold cheaply because the UK retailer overstocked.
Naturally, with books published in England there are no spelling or grammatical errors and the prices are very reasonable. Despite the name of the shop, there is also a section for adults.
The owner is a lovely lady called 'A' (with a rising tone). Her telephone number is: +66 (0)86 597 9730. The address is 87/6 Supasarnrangsan Road, which is quite near Gim Yong market and also Chia Color Lab.
- B2S on the 4th floor of Central department store (Map 3). There is a small English language section in the corner containing tourist-type books, some American self-help type books, dictionaries and Thai language learning resources. They also have TEFL books which may be of interest if you are a teacher.
- Plearn Aksorn Book Center Co. Ltd. next to the Robinson department store car park near the train station (Map 3). 3-7 Soi Hat Yai City, Hat Yai, Songkhla. Tel. +66 (0)74 354273. Fax. +66 (0)74 354274. This is quite a big store with three floors. Like most book shops in Hat Yai there isn't much of an English language selection apart from TEFL text books. However, there's quite a good map section.
Latitude: N 07° 00' 12.4" (N 07° 00.206')
Longitude: E 100° 28' 05.5" (E 100° 28.092')
Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View
- Seng Ho Bookstore on the 3rd floor of Lee Gardens Plaza (Map 3). This is probably the biggest book shop in Hat Yai but it caters very much to the local market. There's a big Thai magazine section covering favourite Thai subjects such as fast and customised vehicles, street racing, and supernatural amulets. There is a very large selection of material for language learners - both Thais learning English and farangs learning Thai - and probably the biggest selection of dictionaries in Hat Yai. However, the section for English language books is very small with just a few novels and some tourist stuff.
- Raan Supayapun (Map 3). This is a small, independent newsagent and book shop just in front of Hat Yai station at 8-10 Thamanoonvithee Road. Tel. +66 (0)74 233214. There is no English sign outside. They carry mostly Thai books but they sell English language newspapers and have a small book selection.
The selection of books isn't huge but occasionally they have interesting books. This is where I bought my copy of John Laird's 'Money Politics, Globalisation and Crisis' and they have some useful bird guides, etc.
- B2S at Robinson department store (Map 3). This branch of B2S used to carry English books (it's where I picked up a copy of James Higbie's 'Thai Reference Grammar), but that is no longer the case. For a long time now - maybe three years - B2S at Robinson has stopped stocking English language books. It doesn't mean there isn't useful material there but you need to be able to read Thai.
- Inter Book Centre (Map 3). This is a small independent opposite Kosit hotel. The name of the shop is English but it is written in Thai script on the outside of the shop. They carry tourist stuff - including maps - and a few novels but there isn't much.
- SE-ED at Diana (Map 4). This place probably has the most interesting selection of English language books available to buy in Hat Yai. The English language section is still not large but the list of titles is a little more interesting than other places.
There are quite a few books on 'House and Garden', and also some business-type books. They also carry the standard small selection of novels and tourist stuff. There are also quite a few English language books for young kids, that other places don't seem to have.
- SE-ED at Carrefour (Map 2). Pretty much the same as the rest. There is a small selection of tourist stuff, resources for foreigners learning Thai, and a few novels.
- SE-ED at Tesco Lotus (Map 4). Same again.
- These is also a book shop near the Rong Chaang cafeteria within the Prince of Songkla university. The English language books stocked are more academic so there are a lot more titles related to, for example, English grammar than travel and tourism. It's good if you need resources to teach English but not for much else.
- Bookazine at Hat Yai airport. Bookazine is part of Asia Books. Unfortunately, the only branch in Hat Yai is in the departure lounge at the airport. This means that to visit the shop you need to have a boarding pass for a flight flying out of Hat Yai. This is hardly convenient.
It's a real shame because they actually have a good selection of English language books. The phone number is +66 (0)82 993 4763. The telephone number for Asia Books (in Bangkok) is +66 (0)2 715 9000.
Address: 155/5 Suppasanrangsang Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Telephone: +66 (0)74 342028/9, 234799
Fax: +66 (0)74 342271
Web Site: DHL Thailand
Map: Map 2
Latitude: N 07° 00' 41.0" (N 07° 00.684')
Longitude: E 100° 28' 42.7" (E 100° 28.712')
Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View
Comments: DHL used to have an office behind Jiranakorn sports stadium but it closed unexpectedly some time in 2010 (much to my horror). I didn't know if a new office had opened to replace it. Fortunately a new office did open but it took me a while to find.
The sales manager is Khun Bancha Temboonsak.
The new office was difficult to find. The address is Supasarnrangsan Road but it is nowhere near Supasarnrangsan Road. It is actually located near to Som Tum Chaba restaurant, which is located on Soi 4, Supasarnrangsan Road, but the DHL address makes no mention of Soi 4.
The Thai addressing system is a disaster. It's something that you don't pay any attention to until you are actually looking for an address. It is only then that you realise that none of the building numbers are in sequence and that nothing makes any logical sense.
Som Tum Chaba is quite well known so if you can find it with some help from the locals, you should be able to find DHL. The staff at DHL are very helpful and if you can get to a nearby landmark, such as JB Hotel, they will come and collect you.
If you are a British national in Thailand and need a new passport, the British Embassy in Bangkok no longer provide this service. New passports are now issued in Hong Kong.
This isn't exactly convenient but DHL have a special service where they will courier your application to Hong Kong and then send back your new passport. The fee for this service is Bt962, which I think is quite a bargain.
Comments: There isn't a single place in Thailand that doesn't have some form of an expat community. In some places it is large, while in others it is small. In Hat Yai it is fairly small. Those foreigners living in Hat Yai tend to be retired or work in the English teaching profession. It is similar in nearby Songkhla, but additionally Songkhla has an expat community of oil workers.
In addition to farang expats, there are also a number of Malaysians and Singaporeans who live in Hat Yai either permanently or temporarily throughout the year. You will also find small community of Filipinos working in the town as English teachers, a few Burmese, and others.
The expat scene in Thailand is a really mixed bag. Thailand attracts the best and worst kinds of foreigner. Some are truly amazing people, but there are a lot of farangs in Thailand who are best avoided. The worst kind are generally attracted to well-known tourist locations in the country and fortunately Hat Yai isn't one of them. Generally there are few problems involving the Hat Yai expat community, unlike certain other places in Thailand.
Some expats in Thailand don't seem to be able to survive without knowing other expats, while some aren't bothered whether they meet expats or not. A few others make an effort to avoid their own kind altogether.
I was surprised when a Thai woman knocked at our house and spoke to my wife (our house, of course, being well known locally as a 'baan farang'). Her farang husband was lonely and wanted a farang friend. I can't quite understand foreigners like this.
If you wish to meet foreigners in bars, the expat bar scene is located on Thamnoonvithee Road. It isn't difficult to find. On my first week in Hat Yai I wandered into one of the expat bars during the daytime. There were no customers but I found a blackboard with a lot of farang names written on it and their current standing in that month's drinking competition.
I had lots of plans for my new life in Thailand, but competing with other farangs to see who could drink the most alcohol each month wasn't one of them. Many farang expats in Thailand have serious drinking problems. I stopped drinking altogether shortly after after I arrived in Thailand and I have never participated in the expat bar scene.
There are a number of churches around town and farangs with Christian beliefs get involved, as do most of the Catholic Filipinos.
I have never actively sought out other Westerners to befriend. Of course, I have crossed paths with a number of foreigners over the years and some I keep in touch with.
Address: Phetkasem Road, Hat Yai Nai, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Map: Map 2
Latitude: N 07° 00' 08.9" (N 07° 00.148')
Longitude: E 100° 27' 24.8" (E 100° 27.413')
Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View
Comments: The district hall (tee waa garn um-pur) is referred to simply as um-pur by Thais and the standard English transliteration is Amphoe. Depending on your own personal circumstances, you may or may not have a need to go there.
Road distances from different towns in Thailand are calculated from the position of the Amphoe in each place. I'm not sure of all the functions that take place, but the important one is civil registration.
I have been on two occasions: to register my marriage and then to register the birth of our daughter. Presumably, this is also where deaths are registered.
It is located in Hat Yai Nai. To get there, leave central Hat Yai by crossing the railway bridge and go past the police station. Continue straight on until you see a large school on the left. The Amphoe is located next to the school.
Comments: Hat Yai, being a big tourist destination, has its own branch of tourist police. Yes, there are policemen around whose job it is just to look after you. I have never called on their services so can't tell you personally how effective they are but it's worth keeping in mind.
I have heard some very good things about the Hat Yai tourist police. A Malaysian guy I met said he had once got himself into a very bad state as a result of drink. He collapsed in the street, unable to do anything, and it was the tourist police who got him back safely to his hotel.
On another occasion I was waiting at Cathay Guesthouse for a minivan down to Penang and the tourist police arrived to pick up a farang staying there to assist him with something or other.
The tourist police station is no longer opposite the Florida Hotel, as some guide books will tell you. It is now on Niphat Uthit 3 Road at the end near to Sripoovanart Road. The location is inside the building which is fronted by the large Aeon credit company office.
Walking along Niphat Uthit 3 Road away from central Hat Yai, it is just past the police station which is located at the junction of Niphat Uthit 3 Soi 2, on the left hand side (Map 3).
The special phone number to call is 1155.
Comments: The on-line world has changed beyond recognition since I first started this site. At the end of 2003 when I first arrived in Hat Yai, hotels and apartments didn't routinely have Internet access. New apartments had started adding broadband access but it was unusual.
At that time my only choices to get on-line were to use a dial up connection from my room or to visit an Internet shop. There were quite a few small Internet shops around then because people didn't have access at home.
Nowadays, almost all apartment buildings provide Internet access and many hotels provide a Wi-Fi facility. In apartment buildings it is free or there is a monthly charge which seems to vary from Bt300 to Bt500 a month. For some years, laptop computers have had built-in Wi-Fi so just turn up with your laptop and you can get connected straight away.
As a result, many small Internet shops have closed down. New Internet shops still open but they tend to be large places where Thai kids congregate in the evenings to play on-line games and mess around on Facebook.
If you are in town without a laptop then finding somewhere to get on-line should still be fairly easy and it should only cost around Bt20 an hour.
If you are considering renting a house and need to get an Internet connection installed yourself, it isn't too expensive. 3BB offers a 10MB connection for Bt590 a month which, after taxes, is about Bt632.
Comments: Getting clothes washed and ironed is extremely easy in Hat Yai. It also used to be cheap, but (like everything else) it is now a lot more expensive. All hotels and guest houses will offer a laundry service and almost every Soi has at least one small laundry shop. These are easily recognised by the clothes hanging up to dry inside and outside the shop.
Some places charge a fixed price for one machine load (about Bt85) and others charge per item with fixed prices for each type of item. For long stays in Hat Yai it is possible to pay a fixed amount up front for one month's worth of laundry (typically Bt500). Some places impose a limit on the number of items per month but others don't.
Comments: Hat Yai does have some public libraries. The original one is located directly opposite the immigration office, which is next to the police station near the railway bridge (Map 1).
It is in the same little Soi as the Hat Yai VD & AIDS Control Unit.
To join for a year costs Bt100 and you can borrow up to five books. You will need to show some form of picture ID in order to join.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that the library only has two small shelves of foreign language books, and most of the books in English are aimed at Thai students learning English. There are also a couple of books for foreigners learning Thai but there is nothing else. Unless you can read Thai, it's really not worth visiting.
On the other hand, if you can get access to the library at the Prince of Songkla university it is a very different story.
The university has lots of books in English and many are very interesting. I had access for about four years while I was working at the university and most of the books I have read about Thailand were borrowed from there.
If you work or study at the university you should be able to get access to the library. I'm not sure what the library policy is if you don't.
Another public library opened in the old TOT building next to the clocktower. As with the first one, there is a very limited selection of books and virtually nothing in English.
Comments: In Hat Yai there used to be people on the street offering cheap rate phone calls. They bought mobile phone contracts that had very good deals for high usage and then sold phone time. Provided they sold enough time they could make some money and people using the service also got a good deal.
Of course, the world has changed since then and now we all use Skype to make long-distance calls for free.
Comments: There are several photo labs around offering various services. They can process film and digital images, burn digital images to CD, or take photos of you for passports and things. Teenage (and older) Thai girls like having their photos taken with cute little teddy bears while officious looking Thais with serious faces get the labs to cut and paste photos of their heads on to crisp white uniforms with lots of medals and sashes. You might just want something boring, such as a passport photo in order to get a visa extension.
I like Chia Colour Lab at 58-60 Suphasarnrangsan Road (Map 3). Telephone + 66 (0)74 246808, + 66 (0)74 231390 and Fax + 66 (0)74 237141. Their service and quality is good and they seem to be the cheapest place in town. I've had some 8x10 inch prints made from digital images which normally cost Bt50 at Chia but there was a promotion and I got them done them for Bt30. Everywhere else wanted Bt100.
Chia also have a selection of cameras for sale. It's not Singapore or Bangkok and professional photographers or keen amateurs are unlikely to find much of interest but the choice isn't bad for Hat Yai. For SLR equipment you will find a better selection at the Fuji shop. See my Hat Yai Shopping page for details.
For those of you who can read Thai, you probably already spotted that a better transliteration of the name of the shop would be Jia.
Comments: The main post offices (tii tum gaan bprai sa nii) are indicated on the Map of Hat Yai by small envelope signs. The post office in the photo is near the train station on Rattakarn Road. If you get really bored in Hat Yai you can visit the Hat Yai philatelic museum upstairs.
The length of time mail takes to arrive overseas is variable. Letters I have bought stamps for and posted in mail boxes on the street have taken an age to get to their destinations. Ones posted at the post offices normally arrive faster.
There used to be a really great post office inside Tesco Lotus. It stayed open a lot later than regular post offices, the service was good, and it was convenient. However, towards the end of 2010 Tesco Lotus started to be completely refurbished and when everything was finished early in 2011 I found that the post office had disappeared. This was a great shame.
There is a small post office inside Diana Department store and there is also a mobile post office that can often be seen adjacent to Lee Gardens Plaza opposite the Konsortium travel agent.
Latitude: N 07° 00' 28.4" (N 07° 00.473')
Longitude: E 100° 28' 29.7" (E 100° 28.495')
Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View
Comments: Shoes get an extra lease of life in Thailand compared to many other countries. Thai shoe repairers will carry out all kinds of repairs that repairers in Western countries wouldn't even be willing to do.
Shoe repairers often have roadside stalls. In Hat Yai there are several located under the railway bridge near the police station.
Alternatively, you could visit the Whiteroom Shoe Cleaning Expert. The owner, Bpui, (who is a very sweet girl) tells me this is the only business of its kind in the whole of Thailand.
They bill themselves as shoe cleaning experts but the owner tells me it is a 'one-stop service' for any kind of shoe problem. Give them your shoes and they will take responsibility for getting any repairs done that need doing, and then they will clean the shoes.
When finished, your shoes come back in a nice storage bag and there is even a photo of your newly renovated footwear attached. Charges vary from Bt10 to Bt200 depending on what needs doing, what type of footwear, and whether you require the express service or not.
Whiteroom is open every day from 9am until 7pm.
Comments: Map: Map 3
The local Immigration Office is located next to the main police station on Phetkasem Road just over the railway bridge on the other side of central Hat Yai. This area is known as Hat Yai Nai.
This is the place to get your visa extensions, re-entry permits; and it is where foreigners living in Thailand do their 90 day 'alien' registration.
It is pointless trying to give advice about visas in Thailand because the rules change all the time and everything is at the discretion of immigration. What's valid one day may not be the case the next day; and what applies to one person may not apply to another.
Comments: There is probably no easier place in Thailand to get a teaching job. As well as being southern Thailand's major transport hub and busiest commercial city, Hat Yai is also a major education centre.
There are dozens of schools, large government and private universities in both Hat Yai and Songkhla, and dozens of tutoring places where students study in the evenings and at weekends. In addition, many students from other provinces come to Hat Yai during the school holidays for tutoring.
Most foreigners have a holiday in one of Thailand's beach resorts and if they return to Thailand to teach English they want to work in the same type of location. They want to work in Phuket, or Samui, or Pattaya, or Chiang Mai, or Bangkok. The majority of farangs visiting Thailand aren't wild about Hat Yai.
Having farang teachers at a school gives the establishment a lot of kudos and you will find that many Thais only want to learn English with a farang teacher.
When you combine all these factors - the high demand and low supply - it makes it almost impossible not to be able to find work in Hat Yai. If you make enquiries at a place they will often bite your hand off in the rush to employ you.
I have been approached in restaurants and I was even approached in one of the local supermarkets by the owner of a small language institute who desperately needed a teacher. She wasn't at all worried about my teaching credentials, and I could have been the worst teacher in the world. All she wanted was a farang to put in front of her students. I have turned down far more work than I have accepted.
Word of mouth is big in Thailand and I often receive phone calls from people I don't know (but who know someone who knows me), asking if I am available to teach.
My students have ranged from junior high school kids to PhD students. Because Hat Yai is also a major commercial centre, and because the English language is an important skill when doing business, I have also taught employees of companies and hospitals.
If you can't find a teaching job in Hat Yai, it is unlikely that you will be able to find a teaching job anywhere. So, how do you find a job?
First, you just need to get yourself known. My first attempt at finding work involved printing several copies of my CV and going to various schools. The first school I went to wanted to employ me immediately.
A lot of tutoring places are located around Juti Anusorn Road near the JB Hotel (Map 2). This would be a good place to start but there are also lots of language institutes and tutoring places elsewhere.
Getting started might take a little effort and a little footwork but anyone should be able to find work easily. You might also want to familiarise yourself with Thai school term dates because there is more demand for full-time teachers just before the start of a new term.
The main summer holiday runs for about two months in April and May. During that time there is a lot of part-time tutoring work available. This is also a good time to find work in schools for when the new school year begins after the summer break.
Latitude: N 07° 00' 24.1" (N 07° 00.401')
Longitude: E 100° 28' 15.2" (E 100° 28.253')
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Comments: If you are living permanently or temporarily in Thailand there will probably be times when you need to get a document translated into Thai. It could be a qualification if you want to teach English, your driving licence if you want to get a Thai one, a letter from your Embassy verifying your income for visa purposes, or your passport for another reason.
Translating anything from English into Thai is something that many people can do, but for official purposes you need to get it translated and officially certified.
There are various places dotted around Hat Yai that can perform this service but one (C & L Translating Service) seems to be more popular than the others. It is located in the road that runs alongside the Golden Crown hotel (Map 3).
To find it, look for a small courtyard opposite the Golden Crown Hotel and inside is a place that sells traditional Thai coffee. At the back of the courtyard is a small office where you will be able to find Mr Chanchai Namaikalarp. The sign outside his office says 'The Chanchai Institute of English'.
Khun Chanchai is a friendly man who speaks good English. He has spent time in England and has one son who is currently studying there, as well as four other well educated children.
He provides you with a nice colour photocopy of your original document, the Thai translation, and his official stamp. In addition, his rates are apparently cheaper than at other places.
He's a talkative guy and visiting him normally takes a while. He will try to help you using the knowledge he has acquired helping other people and he may be able to pre-empt problems with immigration by knowing about something that they will ask you for.
On the other hand he may frighten you by telling you about all kinds of things that immigration will ask for, but actually they won't ask for these things. Nonetheless, whatever he tells you, he does try to be genuinely helpful.
Another place is J.T. Translation where they can help you with the Thai marriage registration process and also offer various visa services. The person you deal with is Juti Jearasilpa.
Address: 5 Soi 3 Rajuthit Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Telephone: +66 (0)74 253314, 252576
Mobile: +66 (0)81 896 4960
Comments: Hat Yai has a plethora of travel agents. When I first came to Hat Yai I used travel agents, but now I don't. I have my own transport and accommodation these days, and I book flights online. In the past I have used Konsortium on Prachathipat Road opposite Lee Gardens Plaza, and also the small travel desk below the Cathay Guest House which is popular with backpackers.
Although Cathay Guest House would not be my first choice for accommodation, the travel desk downstairs is fine. The staff are helpful and because of the number of farangs they deal with they understand what farangs want and can communicate in English. Other travel agents that deal predominantly with Chinese Malaysians and Singaporeans don't always understand farang requests because culturally there is a big difference. Many also have problems communicating in English.
Any travel agent in town should be able to help you but you might have more luck with the two I have mentioned. As well as onward travel by road, sea, train or air they will also be able to assist you with finding accommodation when you arrive in Hat Yai. What's more, they will be able to give you discounted rates which are cheaper than walking directly into the hotels.
Among Malaysian visitors, Davis Tour & Travel Service is very well known. Not only do they organise travel to Malaysia and Singapore from Hat Yai but their office (Map 3) is where many Malaysians arrive and depart from Hat Yai by coach.
Davis Tour & Travel Service
Address: 9 Chee Uthit Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Telephone: +66 (0)74 236593, +66 (0)74 355204, +66 (0)74 355305, +66 (0)74 355306
There are several travel agents, including Davis Tour, located close togther on the small stretch of Chee Uthit Road that runs between Sanehanusorn Road and Niphat Uthit 3 Road (Map 3).
If you suspect that a travel agent is not being truthful with you, try somewhere else. Many agents are only interested in selling their own services and will lie or hold back information.
Many years ago I wanted to go to Krabi by large bus, but the agent wanted to sell me a ticket for their minivan and made up a story about the bus station being too far away. It isn't. As usual, the minivan was overloaded and, as usual, the driver was a maniac.
I watched another agent trying to make two Western tourists pay for a private minivan to KL - at great expense - instead of telling them where to buy a cheap bus ticket. I told them myself when they walked out.
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Listed opposite are some of my personal recommendations for hotels in Hat Yai based on budget. I have lived permanently in Hat Yai since 2003 and my recommendations are based on a lot of local knowledge.
Each link will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Every time I research hotel prices the Agoda price is always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people.
If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.
Images of Thailand
- Buri Sriphu Hotel
- Centara Hotel Hat Yai
- Crystal Hotel
- The Habita
- Hansa JB Hotel
- Hatyai Signature Hotel
- La Pause
- New Season Square Hotel
- Regency Hotel