Transport Options in Hat Yai - Page 2
Hat Yai Transport Options
Further information about transport options in Hat Yai.
A few years ago most vehicles in Hat Yai that offered a taxi service weren't liveried and didn't have meters. Many were probably unlicensed. You couldn't hail them on the streets because you didn't know they were taxis, and the unmetered fares were a lot more expensive than metered taxis in Bangkok.
This changed some time in 2011 or 2012 when metered taxis appeared on the scene. At first there were just 10 but this number was increased to 50, and now I think there are a hundred or more.
The model of Toyota used is very comfortable; the uniform-wearing drivers are polite and courteous to their passengers (but not to other road users); and the cars have a very distinctive blue and yellow colour scheme. They are easily identifiable and can be hailed from anywhere.
Despite being metered, I haven't yet been on a journey where the driver has used the meter. However, the fares are quite reasonable.
When I first came to Hat Yai in 2003, the unmetered taxi fare from town to the airport was about Bt180. The fare kept going up and is now Bt350 or more.
The new metered taxis only ask Bt200 for the same journey, which is very reasonable, and they will even come to collect you from the airport for the same price. I can give the driver a decent tip and still save money.
The office number is 074 257281. Presumably you can call this number and they will order a taxi on your behalf. I say 'presumably' because I haven't used this number myself. Instead, I prefer to call the individual drivers directly. If the driver you contact is busy, he or she can probably give you the number of another driver to call.
If you have any corresponding telephone and taxi numbers not listed below that you can send me, the information would be appreciated. I will attempt to get more numbers. Some (probably all) taxis have multiple telephone numbers, and different number taxis sometimes have the same telephone number.
The numbers I have so far are:
- 088 396 1927 (Taxi No. 2)
- 087 296 0002 (Taxi No. 2)
- 082 436 9209 (Taxi No. 4)
- 080 543 0988 (Taxi No. 6)
- 088 396 1927 (Taxi No. 7)
- 087 296 0002 (Taxi No. 7)
- 084 313 3881 (Taxi No. 7)
- 082 297 7910 (Taxi No. 9)
- 088 505 9948 (Taxi No. 9)
- 082 297 7910 (Taxi No. 9)
- 083 552 4964 (Taxi Nos. 9 and 10)
- 084 463 9599 (Taxi No. 10)
- 087 169 4445 (Taxi No. 10)
- 088 390 5716 (Taxi No. 13)
- 083 656 0909 (Taxi No. 14)
- 082 261 9090 (Taxi No. 14)
- 086 299 9714 (Taxi No. 15)
- 081 969 4933 (Taxi No. 18)
- 089 976 2898 (Taxi No. 18)
- 080 541 8811 (Taxi No. 19)
- 089 299 1126 (Taxi No. 20)
- 089 298 6840 (Taxi No. 28)
- 085 080 0633 (Taxi No. 28)
- 087 391 1432 (Taxi No. 43)
- 083 186 5053 (Taxi No. 43)
- 088 389 1133 (Taxi No. 44)
- 089 975 7060 (Taxi No. 47)
- 081 896 8945 (Taxi No. 47)
- 084 749 5114 (Taxi No. 56)
- 087 436 6929 (Taxi No. 59)
- 086 287 4569 (Taxi No. 65)
- 092 273 2257 (Taxi No. 65)
- 087 645 4992 (Taxi No. 66)
- 093 729 6073 (Taxi No. 66)
- 081 540 3961 (Taxi No. 67)
A Malaysian visitor to this site who visits Thailand often told me that the driver he used could converse in English and Bahasa Malaysia quite well. I wouldn't be surpised if a few drivers can speak a little Chinese as well because there are lots of ethnic-Chinese tourists in Hat Yai who have a limited grasp of English.
When attempting to hire taxis in Bangkok I have had enormous problems with the drivers refusing to take me to certain destinations. I am not alone. This is a big problem and there is now a hotline to call so that drivers can be reported and fined. As far as I am aware, this problem doesn't exist with the Hat Yai metered taxis.
A few years ago the only way to get a taxi in Hat Yai was to order one by phone. There was no rank where you could go to find taxis and you couldn't hail one on the street because taxis weren't liveried and you had no idea which cars were taxis and which ones weren't.
That all changed when the yellow and blue meter taxis arrived, and a few years later an official taxi rank appeared downtown. It is located on Thamanoonvithee Road just outside the Odean department store. There are normally taxis waiting here and there is a small booth with a person inside who can help you.
The one thing that is slightly strange is that although the taxis are metered, the system works on fixed fares. The booth at the rank displays a list of fixed fares to various places. The prices are fairly reasonable, but it just seems odd that they should make a big thing about having meter taxis when none of the taxis use their meters.
Here are a few example fares from downtown Hat Yai (May 2015):
Songkhla - Bt400
Songkhla Zoo - Bt450
Tone Nga Chang Waterfall - Bt400
Dannok Immigration - Bt950
Satun - Bt1,350
Trang - Bt2,100
Krabi - Bt4,100
Phuket - Bt6,000
Bangkok - Bt12,000
A tour around the Municipal Park visiting the three temples inside costs Bt800. This is a good deal if you are in a group of two or three, or you can hire a taxi and driver for the day for Bt2,200.
Phone numbers are: +66 (0) 074 220022, +66 (0)89 323 7777, +66 (0)97 048 8948.
This is the quickest way to get from A to B in Hat Yai. There are hundreds of them around and it doesn't isually takes more than a minute or two to find one. They can be recognised by the coloured vests the drivers wear. The vast majority of drivers are men, but there are a few women also.
Because you are the sole passenger, the driver can't pick up other passengers on the way and take you on a ride around the houses (as happens sometimes in a tuk-tuk). Standards of driving vary between drivers but beware that some journeys can be quite hair-raising. One motorbike taxi driver very nearly involved me in an accident because of his reckless driving
The drivers are required by law to wear crash helmets but passengers don't get one. As a passenger I have only been given a helmet to wear in one place as a motorbike taxi passenger, and that was Mae Sot.
This is the sign that motorbike taxi drivers don't want you to see. I knew something like this must exist but after living in Hat Yai for six years I have only ever seen written details once. The sign disappeared shortly after it was put up.
Motorbike taxi fares in Hat Yai
You will notice that information in Thailand that foreigners aren't supposed to see is always written in Thai. The sign says that journeys up to 2km are Bt20; up tp 3km are Bt25; and up to 4km are Bt30. If the journey is over 5km you will need to negotiate a fare but normally motorbike taxis are only used for short journeys.
However, this isn't how it works in practice. A driver will never take note of the distance, and on many bikes the speedometer has been disconnected anyway. The driver will simply assess each passenger and, if you are a foreigner, quote the highest possible price.
Unless a driver knows the exact distance, which is unlikely, he should never quote you a fare before you set off but that is what happens all the time.
Before you set off take a glance at his odometer and measure the distance to your destination. From that you will be able to determine the fare. If you have problems, take the driver's number (on the back of his vest) and report him.
Hat Yai Airport and General Comments
Hat Yai airport is about 20 minutes away from the downtown area. The most convenient way to get there is by taxi and the fare varies from Bt200 to whatever the driver thinks he can get away with. Any of the travel agencies or hotels in town can arrange taxis to take you to the airport and the locals always seem to know someone who has a car and can take you.
If you can't find someone to book you a taxi, you can contact Hat Yai Airport Taxi and Limousine Service directly. Their number in downtown Hat Yai is +66 (0)74 238452 or +66 (0)74 363398-9. Their number at Hat Yai airport is +66 (0)74 227236.
My personal recommendation would be to use one of the metered taxis listed above. Not only are they far more comfortable, but they are a lot cheaper.
The cheapest way to get into town from Hat Yai airport
There is an official 'limousine' service at the airport and a number of taxis waiting outside. There is also a minivan service running from the airport into town which costs around Bt80 per person - a cheaper option if you are travelling alone.
If you are on a real budget (or just stingy like me), sawng-thaews run from the airport to the clock tower on Phetkasem Road and then onward to the bus station for just Bt30. To find them, exit the airport and walk through the carpark to the road at the back. The sawng-thaew stand is to the left but if a flight has just arrived there will normally be one waiting on the road. They only seem to run during the daytime. If your flight arrives when they are running this is definitely the cheapest way to get into Hat Yai. I always take a sawng-thaew if possible.
If you decide to travel TO the airport by sawng-thaew give yourself plenty of time. Sawng-thaew drivers hate going anywhere unless they have lots of passengers on board and will hang around for as long as it takes to fill the seats. If you are in a hurry, catching a sawng-thaew is not a good option.
Until around 2004, Thai Airways had the monopoly on flights but the national carrier's hold on the market was then broken by a number of budget airlines. The no-frills style of the budget airlines allowed them to offer cheap fares, which Thai Airways couldn't compete with. Eventually, Thai Airways decided that it would suspend flights between Hat Yai and Bangkok on 30 March 2014.
There are no hotels at the airport and the nearest hotel is Nutchana Hill Boutique Hotel, a few kilometres away on the airport road. If you need to spend a night in Hat Yai it is best to go into town. The downtown area is only a short distance from the airport and there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.
GPS coordinates for Hat Yai airport:
Latitude: N 06° 56' 13.3" (N 06° 56.221')
Longitude: E 100° 23' 36.9" (E 100° 23.615')
Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View
The majority of flights at Hat Yai airport arrive from, and depart for, Bangkok. If you are travelling beyond Bangkok, you will probably (but not always) need to change flights in Bangkok.
From Hat Yai, I believe that the only airline flying into Suvarnabhumi is Thai Airways. However, Thai Airways will stop its Bangkok to Hat Yai service on 30 March 2014. All other airlines go into Don Meuang, the old airport. Always check first with the relevant airline.
THAI Smile (Thai Airways budget subsidiary) will be taking over the Hat Yai to Bangkok route and will still be using Suvarnabhumi.
International flights departing Thailand leave from Suvarnabhumi, therefore if you are connecting with an international flight and fly into Don Meuang you will need make an airport transfer. If this is the case, ensure that the flight schedules allow you enough time to make the transfer.
When I first arrived in Hat Yai, there were regular flights to Singapore, Phuket, and maybe elsewhere. That all stopped for a while.
At one time there was just one carrier operating flights to Singapore (Tiger), and one carrier operating flights to Phuket (Nok, I think). Then - much to my dismay - both airlines stopped those services.
Hat Yai airport continued billing itself as an international airport, yet it only handled domestic flights to Bangkok.
In November 2009, Tiger resumed their Singapore service - much to my delight. A little later, Happy Air started offering direct flights from Hat Yai to Phuket and Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur, however, the Phuket service didn't appear to last for very long. Air Asia and Nok Air now also have direct flights between Hat Yai and Chiang Mai.
At the end of August 2013, Business Air will start direct flights between Hat Yai and Seoul.
The information on this page is only a guide.
Everything changes very quickly in Hat Yai, and airline schedules change even more quickly than most other things. Previously, I included flight schedule information on this page, but it was impossible to keep up to date and so I removed it.
By all means use this information as a guide and ONLY as a guide, but ALWAYS ALWAYS check directly with the airline or with a travel agent first.
The trend for budget airlines that started off in Europe some years ago went crazy in Thailand during 2004 with the arrival of Nok, Thai AirAsia, Tiger, One-Two-Go, and others.
These airlines make air travel accessible at a very reasonable cost and who cares about not getting a curly sandwich or a plastic cup of water when the flight is only an hour long if the fare is a lot cheaper? But can it be as good as it seems?
My experience of budget airlines has been hit-and-miss depending on the carrier. Tiger Airways (based in Singapore) is fantastic. This airline uses new planes, has great service, and I have never suffered a delay.
On the other hand, my flight back to Hat Yai from Bangkok in July 2004 with Thai AirAsia was delayed seven hours and being stuck in the old Bangkok airport for that amount of time wasn't much fun. When Thai AirAsia first began operating, their reputation for cancelled and delayed flights was horrendous.
However, some years later I started to hear better reports about AirAsia. They have been advertising the fact they have new planes in their fleet and their reliability definitely seems to have improved.
When there is a problem with a budget carrier they don't have any resources to fall back on, unlike the big carriers who can get passengers on other flights. Normally it is just a case of waiting but if the problem is serious it can be a very long wait.
The terms and conditions for the tickets on budget airlines absolve them of any liability. If you miss a connecting flight because your budget airline flight was delayed it is tough luck. The budget airline won't compensate you for wasted time or missed flights.
I think the emergence of so many budget airlines is a great thing for the free market but they are maybe not quite as fantastic as they first appear. If you need to get somewhere at a certain time (to catch an onward flight, for instance) think twice about budget flights. Either plan to arrive very early (just in case) or use Thai Airways.
Another side-effect, of course, is that with competition from the budget airlines eating away at their profits, the national carrier has lowered its fares so now it is cheaper to fly Thai Airways than it was previously.
It's difficult to provide fares because they vary so much, based on demand. If you want to fly to Bangkok at the weekend or on a public holiday, expect to pay more than flying mid-week. The airlines run fairly frequent promotions and it also pays to book in advance.
Some of the information below is now quite old. Flight numbers, times, and fares change often so always check first.
On 30 March 2014 Thai Airways suspended its service between Hat Yai and Bangkok. The arrival of budget airlines 10 years ago drove down fares on this busy route and Thai Airways can't compete. Instead, the airline's budget subsidiary THAI Smile will compete with the low-cost carriers.
Thai Smile, the budget arm of Thai Airways, has taken over the Bangkok to Hat Yai route from its parent company. The flight is only just over an hour and the majority of people aren't concerned about meals or fancy service. They just want the lowest fare possible.
This is not a market that Thai Airways wants to be in and Thai Smile (a budget airline) is better geared up to compete with the many other budget airlines that offer domestic flights within Thailand.
At the moment Thai Smile only offers one route and the only place you can fly to from Hat Yai is Bangkok. They seem to have a direct flight between Phuket and Chinag Mai and maybe in the future they will offer a direct flight from Hat Yai to Chiang Mai.
Thai Air Asia
Thai Air Asia, along with OneTwoGo, Tiger Airways and Nok, is another Southeast Asian budget airline that has sprung up and I guess it can only be a good thing for consumers. The fares vary depending on such factors as how far in advance you book, supply and demand, promotions, etc. My return fare between Hat Yai and Bangkok in 2004 seemed like a real bargain (less than Bt1,600) because I booked well in advance but after a seven hour delay with the return flight I rather regretted my decision.
Probably the easiest way to book is online at Thai Air Asia. The web site is easy to use but I didn't want to use my credit card for an online booking because I've had fraud problems before in Thailand.
The AIS mobile phone company has an office on Phetkasem Road which has a desk for Thai Air Asia. It is possible to make reservations there and pay in cash. The telephone number for Thai Air Asia's desk at Hat Yai airport is +66 (0)74 227297.
Nok Air is the budget airline arm of Thai Airways. It therefore has the backing of a big airline but with budget prices. I have not had any problems with them so far. The service is good and they allocate seats at check-in.
For a while, there was a direct service from Hat Yai to Phuket but this was cancelled in November 2007 around the same time as Tiger cancelled the Hat Yai to Singapore service.
I flew with Nok from Hat Yai to Phuket on the day before the service was cancelled. I had a return flight booked but they didn't tell me at the check-in desk. I only found out by overhearing a conversation on the next check-in desk.
The flight to Phuket took about 40 minutes. For the return trip, I had to come back via Bangkok with a long wait at Bangkok airport for the connecting flight and it took the best part of a day.
Tiger AirwaysTiger cancelled their excellent direct service between Singapore and Hat Yai in November 2007, but the great news is that in November 2009 they started it again!
Those 15-hour overnight bus journeys between Hat Yai and Singapore were beginning to get a little boring.
Check the Tiger Airways web site for flight schedules and prices.
Tiger is a Singaporean budget airline. Their fleet is modern, their service very efficient, and I have never suffered a delay of more than a few minutes. The cabin crew tend to be Singaporean, but the pilots always seem to be Australian.
Tiger fly into Changi's budget terminal. If you've been to Changi airport, the budget terminal isn't anything like it. Being 'budget' it's clean, efficient, but low on thrills.
The great thing is that whenever I've arrived on a Tiger flight there haven't been any other flights arriving at the same time. This means that collecting your luggage, and getting through immigration and customs, tends to be very rapid.
As is usual in Singapore, there is a line of cabs waiting outside and you don't have to wait. I think the last time I flew with Tiger, I was at my brother's place in Singapore just over an hour after the plane's wheels had hit the runway.
Happy AirThis is another budget airline that has sprung up recently. I don't know anything about them, but I hope their airline service works better than their website:
For those in Hat Yai, probably the key fact is that they have a flight to Phuket (Bt1,900 each way). Since I've been in Hat Yai, flights to Phuket have come and gone.
On one occasion, a previous carrier operating this route cancelled the service the day after I flew with them to Phuket. I therefore had to make alternative arrangements for my return flight. The flight there took 45 minutes.
To get me home they flew me to Bangkok first, and then I had to wait several hours for a flight to Hat Yai. My return journey took most of the day.
Phuket isn't far from Hat Yai as the crow flies but if you have to fly via Bangkok, or get the bus, it takes a long time. The bus journey is about 7.5 hours.
Happy Air also has a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai, and flights from Phuket to Bangkok, and Phuket to Langkawi.
These are interesting routes and I don't believe anyone else competes with these flights, apart from the Phuket to Bangkok route.
As I mentioned above, the web site is awful. Several links simply don't work, there is a glaring spelling error on the front page, and no on-line booking facility.
If you want to use Happy Air it looks as if you need to find a travel agent who deals with them.
December 2012 Update: While trying to find a flight from Phuket to Hat Yai with Happy Air, I noticed that their web site no longer includes this route. Either the service has ended, or the web site is wrong.
Since I have lived in Hat Yai, the flights from Hat Yai to Phuket have always been sporadic. They come and go, come and go. It looks as if another one just went.
Thai Regional Airlines
At Hat Yai airport I saw an advertising banner for Thai Regional Airlines offering a flight between Hat Yai and Phuket. I don't know the price, and the on-line flight booking facility on their website doesn't as yet show Hat Yai or Phuket as an 'Origin City'.
This is probably because the flight isn't operational yet, but no starting date is given.
Thai Regional Airlines
According to the sign at the airport, their Hat Yai to Phuket service will run on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to their website, the service will run every day. I'm therefore not sure which version is correct.
The flight schedule on the sign also differs slightly to the information on the website.
The contact numbers are +66 (0)2 134 7152, +66 (0)82 051 4747, and +66 (0)82 051 7474.
As of writing (August 2012), Firefly is the latest airline to offer a service into Hat Yai. The company has a single route between Hat Yai and Kuala Lumpur (Sabang).
There only appears to be one flight each way at the moment and only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Fares look quite cheap. Bear in mind that the time in Malaysia is one hour ahead of Thailand.
Business AirThais are obsessed with all things Korean. There are lots of Korean TV programmes shown in Thailand that are dubbed into Thai. Thai teenagers are obsessed with Korean fashion and listening to K-Pop performed by Korean boy bands and Korean girl bands.
Thais in provincial Thailand who wish to visit Korea first have to travel to Bangkok in order to catch their flights and this adds to the cost of their journey.
For this reason, Business Air has already started operating direct flights to Seoul Incheon (ICN) from provincial Thailand (Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and Phuket), and now they will be adding Hat Yai to the list. I can already hear the screams from thousands of excited teenage Thai girls.
Starting on August 31st 2013, Business Air will schedule flights between Hat Yai and Seoul on Tuesdays and Saturdays. When I have flight schedule details I will post them here.
Thai Lion AirI started seeing signs for Thai Lion Air early in 2014. From Hat Yai, there were international flights to Medan Kuala Namu in Indonesia and Subang in Malaysia. Three domestic flights were also available to Bangkok, Hua Hin and Surat Thani.
The flights from Hat Yai to Surat Thani and Hua Hin were unusual. No other carrier offered flights from Hat Yai to these destinations and the distances weren't great. Anyone flying to these places who needed a car would have to rent one and the obvious thing seemed to be to drive instead of fly.
Apparently, these routes weren't very successful and at the end of 2014 Lion Air announced that they were being abandoned. The service between Hat Yai and Medan Kuala Namu was also abandoned.
Lion Air still operates a service between Hat Yai and Bangkok, Don Meuang. From Bangkok there are up to eight daily services to Hat Yai and there are three weekly flights between Hat Yai and Udon Thani.
For these services the company uses a fleet of eight Boing 737-900ER (Extended Range) aircraft. I haven't flown with Lion Air personally, but the reports I've heard have been fairly positive.
In 2015 yet another small regional airline appeared out of nowhere offering a direct flight from Hat Yai to U-Tapao airport near Pattaya. I thought that this was a military airport, but apparently civilian aircraft also use it.
Whether this flight gets cancelled or not will depend on how popular it is. In the past, flights to several places from Hat Yai have been cancelled due to lack of demand.
In 2015 Bangkok Airways announced that they would be starting a direct service between Hat Yai and Phuket on 11th October 2015. In the past other operators have offered this route, but then withdrawn it - presumably because of low demand.
I once flew direct from Hat Yai to Phuket and the flight took around 45 minutes. While I was in Phuket I was contacted by the airline (I can't remember which one) and told that the direct service had been cancelled. To get back to Hat Yai I had to fly to Bangkok and wait several hours for a connecting flight. It took all day.
I hope that Bangkok Airways have more success with this route. My brother lives in Phuket and if I decide that I don't want to drive, this flight could be useful.
This airline is headquartered in Malaysia and offers services to Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
From what I can work out, the only flight from Hat Yai goes to Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport, therefore if you want to go anywhere else from Hat Yai you have to go to Don Mueang first and then get another flight.
Malindo seems to be quite concerned about exploding mobile phone batteries and prohibits the use of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.
Unlike tuk-tuks there is a lot of headroom in the back of sawng-thaews so I don't have to sit there like a hunchback. Also, unlike tuk-tuks, the fares are fixed so there are never any silly arguments about prices as there often are with tuk-tuk drivers who try to inflate fares whenever a farang appears.
With the ever-increasing cost of oil, sawng-thaew fares have risen steadily since I first arrived in Hat Yai. Fares went from Bt5 to Bt7 to Bt8, and then from Bt8 to Bt10. Half-way through 2008 the fare went up to Bt12 when oil prices peaked but they then returned to Bt10 after oil prices went down again. My Thai friends can remember when the fare used to be Bt3.
They can be hailed from anywhere and there are buttons in the back to signal to the driver that you want to get off. Because they operate on fixed routes they may or may not be available to you as a transport option, depending where you're going.
A little local knowledge, or the ability to read Thai is required in order to use sawng-thaews. Their destination and route are written on the side (in Thai, of course). They are also colour-coded, which is useful for regular passengers, but it probably won't help tourists very much.
I have a couple of gripes with sawng-thaews. The first is that the drivers don't like going anywhere unless they have a truck full of passengers. If it's a quiet time of day, they will just sit and wait honking their horn at potential passengers. If you are already on board this can be really irritating as they will sit there for 10 minutes or more.
My second gripe is that when they do have a truck full of passengers, some drivers drive frighteningly fast with no regard for the safety of their passengers. But that's just Thailand.
Map: Map 3
The coordinates for Hat Yai train station are:
Latitude: N 07° 00' 15.3" (N 07° 00.256')
Longitude: E 100° 28' 04.4" (E 100° 28.073')
Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View
Hat Yai is on the main rail route between Bangkok and Butterworth in Malaysia. It's an interesting, relaxed way to travel but very slow. Depending on your destination and the time of day you want to travel there are up to three classes of compartment available. Some trains have all three classes, while others offer only one. The cheaper compartments may have the option of A/C or fan. In fan compartments there are windows and shutters that can be opened, which allow a cool breeze to circulate.
In third class the lack of A/C is not so much a problem but the worst thing I found was the discomfort of sitting on a hard wooden seat. I had to keep moving around and my four-hour-plus journey to Nakhon Si Thammarat was quite uncomfortable.
Sleepers are available in first and second class on certain overnight trains. I haven't taken one, but have spoken to Thais who have. It's not the Orient Express, but it's fairly clean and comfortable. The journey from Hat Yai to Bangkok by train can take anything up to 17 hours. Some of the scenery is good if you have plenty of time and enjoy train rides.
By road the journey from Hat Yai to Bangkok takes about 12 hours, and flying only takes just over an hour. Flying used to be the expensive option but with the arrival of budget airlines this is no longer the case. You can often find promotional fares from one of the budget carriers.
Going north towards Bangkok, the train goes through Phattalung, Surat Thani (gateway to Koh Samui), Chumpon (boats to Koh Tao), and Nakhon Pathom (relaxing university town and home to the largest Chedi in Thailand).
Going south, the trains go as far as Butterworth in Malaysia where you can go over to Penang by car or ferry, or you can make another train connection and go on to Kuala Lumpur, and then all the way down the peninsula to Singapore. Be aware that the ongoing insurgency problems sometimes affect train services in the deep south.
Train stations and railway lines have been targets for insurgents and it is usual now to see heavily armed soldiers patrolling the platforms at Hat Yai station. Occasionally, train services in the deep south are cancelled as a result of terrorist activities.
There is a ticket counter selling tickets for travel on the same day and also an advance booking office where you can buy tickets from one to sixty days in advance. The advance booking office is open from 7am until 5pm.
The following information was current at 27th August 2013. You should treat times as a guide only because this is Thailand, not Switzerland or Germany. Thais have very different ideas about time compared to the rest of the world.
At the station I found different timetables with the same train numbers, but different times. I also found that the train numbers on the large timetable displayed in the station do not match the train numbers on the printed timetable.
As with everything else on this site, I can't take any responsibility for accuracy so check first. This information changes frequently and is difficult to keep up to date. Not only that, but I could have made a mistake.
The printed timetable refers to two websites:
A visitor to this site from the UK told me about another site called Seat 61 which has useful train information.
There is also a 24 hour call centre, which can be contacted on 1690 if you are in Thailand. I'm not sure how proficient the operators are in English.
For fares to other places, apart from Bangkok, you will need to check at the ticket office or on-line. In 2004 or 2005 I took a third class train to Phattalung and the fare was Bt18. When I asked about the fare to Phattalung in August 2013 I was told that it was Bt48.
The full list of stations in between Butterworth and Bangkok is below. These are on different lines and train services from Hat Yai do not pass through all of these stations, only some. For some of the destinations on branch lines you will need to get a train to the appropriate junction and then change trains.
As I suggested above, use the information here as a guide only but make sure that you confirm details with the ticket office before travelling.
Butterworth, Padang Besar, Su-ngai Kolok, Tanyong Mat, Yala, Pattani, Chana, Hat Yai Junction, Phattalung, Cha-uat, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Khao Chum Thong Junction, Kantang, Trang, Thung Song Junction, Na Bon, Khlong Chandi, Chawang, Ban Song, Na San, Surat Thani, Ban Thung Pho Junction, Chaiya, Tha Chaha, Lamae, Lang Suan, Sawi, Chumphon, Pathio, Map Ammarit, Bang Saphan Noi, Bang Saphan Yai, Ban Krut, Thap Sakae, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Pran Buri, Wang Phong, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Phetchaburi, Pak Tho, Ratchaburi, Photharam, Ban Pong, Nam Tok, Wang Pho, THam Krasae Bridge, Tha Kilen, Khwae Yai Bridge, Kanchanburi, Suphan Buri, Nong Pladuk, Nakhon Pathom, Salaya, Taling Chan Junction, Thon Buri, Bang Bamru, Bang Sue Junction, Sam Sen, Bangkok.
There's a facility at Hat Yai railway station for storing luggage. It's open every day from 05:00 until 20:00. The cost is Bt30, Bt40 or Bt50 per day depending on the size of your luggage.
I can't vouch for how safe or secure this service is. There is someone in attendance during opening hours, but the cages in which bags are left are open. You would therefore need to ensure that your luggage is securely fastened with suitable padlocks.
Where would Thailand be without its tuk-tuks? At one point the country even got upset that similar vehicles in other countries were being called tuk-tuks. Thailand is so proud of them apparently that it wants to copyright the name.
The ones in Hat Yai are the 4-wheel version with a steering wheel as opposed to the sam-lor (three wheel) types in Bangkok that have handlebars and are driven more like motorbikes. They are designed for drivers and passengers no taller than 5 feet 2 inches. It doesn't matter whether I sit in the back or in the front passenger seat I am always cramped and have to bow my head down.
I have a love/hate relationship with tuk-tuk drivers. In the past I have been stuck in the middle of nowhere during huge rain storms when a kindly old gent (maybe with his wife beside him in the cab) has got me to my destination and charged me Bt10. However, many of the worst scoundrels I have come across in Thailand have also been tuk-tuk drivers.
The ones that wait outside tourist attractions and prey on foreign visitors are definitely to be avoided. Hat Yai doesn't see that many farang tourists but there are still many tuk-tuk drivers who think they can double, treble or quadruple their prices whenever a farang appears. Some will even refuse to take farangs if they refuse to pay the over-inflated price.
A sure sign that a tuk-tuk driver is trying it on is if he gives you a fare straight away after you tell him where you want to go. If he immediately says, "50 Baht" or "60 Baht" he is trying to take advantage. The majority of fares around Hat Yai are Bt20. Locals never negotiate prices. With a local the only discussion before the journey is whether the driver wants to go to their destination. Once at the destination the Thai hands over the standard fare which is understood by both parties.
A favourite place for tuk-tuk drivers trying to scam farangs is outside the train station. New arrivals in town don't know what fares should be so are easy targets. Without fail, whenever I arrive at Hat Yai train station I get quoted four times the normal price. I just walk away. Normally the driver follows, as he brings the price down, but if he doesn't I just walk along Thamnoonvithee a little way and hail a tuk-tuk from there. The over-charging is only a problem directly outside the station.
Another place where I sometimes have problems with tuk-tuk drivers is at Tesco Lotus. I have been quoted Bt80 to get back to central Hat Yai on several occasions which is ridiculous. An alternative is to walk to the road and hail one from there or to board a sawng-thaew, many of which wait just outside Tesco Lotus and go back to Hat Yai via Phetkasem Road. The sawng-thaew fare is just Bt10.
A disadvantage with tuk-tuks, compared to motorbike taxis, is that tuk-tuks can accommodate several passengers and it is likely that they are all going to different places. If he decides to drop you off last it is possible you will experience an unwanted tour of Hat Yai before you get to where you want to go.
Get The Best Deal On Your Hat Yai Hotel Room
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. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
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.
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
- S Hadyai Hotel
Near Central Festival