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Hat Yai | Things To Do - Page 5

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Fisherman at Thale Noi

Fisherman at Thale Noi


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Activities And Things To Do In Hat Yai - Page 5

Hat Yai Activity Listings

This page (5 of 5) contains some more ideas and suggestions for activities and things to do in and around Hat Yai.

Thai Boxing - Muay Thai (NOW CLOSED)

Thai boxing stadium, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Thai: มวยไทยหาดใหญ่

Address: Niphat Songkhrao 1 Road, Soi 20
Map: Map 1

Comments: Near Jiranakorn sports stadium there used to be a medium sized boxing stadium in Hat Yai. It wasn't Lumphini or Ratchadamnoen but it was bigger and more authentic than the venues constructed in tourist areas just for the benefit of tourists. Just like the bullfighting arena in Hat Yai, it could be said of the stadium that every expense had been spared.

I only went once, when I first arrived in Hat Yai, and at the time I couldn't speak or read much Thai. I looked the the seat prices and told them I wanted a Bt180 seat. They kept shaking their heads and telling me that the price was Bt500. Later on I realised, of course, that this was dual-pricing in action. I was a farang and the farang price was Bt500. Welcome to Thailand.

It was OK, but Thai boxing doesn't do a lot for me and I was annoyed about being charged Bt500 on account of my nationality. I never went again.

Many years later someone wrote to me about Thai boxing in Hat Yai, but when I went back to the stadium it appeared to be closed.

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Thai Boxing Training

Boonyalee Thai boxing gym, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Impax Academy Muay Thai, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Thai: เรียนมวยไทยหาดใหญ่

Address: 66-70 Niphat Uthit 1 Road, Hat Yai
Map: Map 3
Telephone: +66 (0)74 244844, +66 (0)74 244855
Web Site: Boonyaree Facebook Page

Comments: Thai boxing training - along with courses in Thai massage and Thai cooking - is something that seems to be popular with many visiting farangs to Thailand.

This place is a combined music and martial arts school. For Bt900 per month you can learn to play the piano or guitar, or for Bt2,500 you can get 10 hours of tuition in Thai boxing. Other martial arts taught here include Taekwondo, Judo and Kung-Fu.

It's located near the Racha Hotel (which isn't shown on the map), but if you manage to find the hotel the school isn't far away. It's not too far from the VL Hotel, which is shown on the map. From the outside it's not obvious that there is a martial arts gym inside so look out for musical instruments instead.

The school is open from Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 until 19:00. From what I can make out, the Thai boxing training begins some time between 3pm and 4pm and I believe that the Thai boxing teacher attends only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

There is another place - Impax Academy Muay Thai - located above the restaurant that stands on the corner opposite Lee Gardens Plaza and the Regency Hotel. It is almost next door to the Konsortium travel agency. The telephone number is +66 (0)74 892095.

Impax is open from 09:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 20:30. It is certified by Rajadamnern, one of the famous Muay Thai venues in Bangkok.

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Thai Massage for Pleasure

Thai massage - Click for larger image

Thai: นวดแผนไทยหาดใหญ่

Comments: There are two broad categories of massage in Hat Yai: proper Thai massage for therapeutic purposes and massage purely for pleasure. Massage for pleasure can be further broken down into being cheap or expensive, sexual or non-sexual.

The more upmarket spa type places have relatively well trained therapists, pleasant surroundings, and no hanky panky. The cheap places can be a gamble.

Some cheap places are very pleasantly furnished and the girls are very good masseuses. However, other places are pretty awful and the girls don't have a clue what they're doing, especially if they are new to the job.

When they start working they only get a very basic course and some don't even get that. Thay just watch another girl to see what she does. A lot of the girls do the work because they are desperate for money and can't do anything else that would pay a similar amount of money.

Some Hat Yai massage shops (for example, Kings and Aladdin) have a lot of Burmese girls, some of whom can speak Thai but some of whom can't. 'Additional services' should not be assumed but certain establishments have a reputation for offering them. All Hat Yai taxi drivers will know where these places are.

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Thai Massage for Therapy

Thai massage - Click for larger image

Thai: นวดแผนไทยหาดใหญ่

Address: Thung Sao 1 Road
Map: Map 4

Comments: Most of the massage places in Hat Yai are geared up for ethnic Chinese tourists who like sitting in comfy chairs having their feet rubbed. It's a case of satisfying demand and Thais know what their customers want. However, what is provided isn't strictly authentic massage.

Most of the masseuses in these places haven't had much training and even though it can be a pleasurable experience it may not be what some people want. There are loads of foot massage shops in Hat Yai with fancy reflex charts on the walls but you will struggle to find a masseuse who can identify reflex points and tell you which organs of the body they correspond to.

There aren't actually that many authentic massage shops in town. My friend, Aachom, who teaches Thai massage and has his own massage business used to have a small shop in central Hat Yai but moved out to the Big C area and his new shop is quite difficult to find now.

For more details about the different types of massage offered in Hat Yai, along with some customer comments, see 'Massage in Hat Yai'.

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Thale Noi

Thale Noi wetlands area, Phattalung province - Click for larger image

Thai: ทะเลน้อยพัทลุง

Comments: Thale Noi in Phattalung province is an easy excursion from Hat Yai. It can be done in one day but an overnight stop makes the trip more relaxed. It is a beautiful and tranquil environment not seen by many foreign tourists.

Lots more photos and details can be found on my Thale Noi page.

If you like natural places and find yourself stuck in Hat Yai you may wish to check out my Nature page for ideas of places to go in order to escape the noise and general craziness of southern Thailand's busiest city.

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Tinsulanonda Park

General Prem Tinsulanonda Historical Park, Songkhla - Click for larger image

Thai: สวนป๋าเปรม

Latitude: N 07° 08' 50.5" (N 07° 08.841')

Longitude: E 100° 33' 44.0" (E 100° 33.733')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: General Prem Tinsulanonda is probably Songkhla's most famous son. After serving in the military he went on to become Prime Minister and now leads the King's privy council. His government was one of the least corrupt that has ever served Thailand. At the time of writing this he is 91 and still one of the most important people in the country.

The two long bridges that connect Yo island to the mainland in Songkhla province are named after him, as is the General Prem Tinsulanonda Historical Park. I'm not exactly sure what's historical about it.

The park is located just before the first bridge if you are travelling from Songkhla to Yo island. Entrance is free and it's open every day.

The English transliteration of Prem's surname is a perfect example of why I hate Thai to English transliteration. The last syllable is non. After this is a Thai 'T' consonant but above it is the consonant killer symbol, indicating that it isn't pronounced.

The pronunciation is tin-soo-la-non. I don't have a clue where the extra -da comes from because it follows no logic at all.

If you add -da you will sound just like a freshly-arrived tourist ordering a sing beer with an extra -ha.

For more details about the park, see my Nature page.

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Tone Nga Chang Waterfall

Tone Nga Chang Waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Dual pricing at Tone Nga Chang Waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Thai: น้ำตกโตนงาช้าง

Latitude: N 06° 56' 23.4" (N 06° 56.390')

Longitude: E 100° 15' 00.0" (E 100° 14.999')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: The Ivory Tusk falls are 26km west of Hat Yai. It's best to drive yourself or to go on a tour bus but the waterfall is also on a sawng-thaew route. The sawng-thaews leave from Phetkasem Road and go over the railway bridge, past the police station (Map 3), passing Wat Hat Yai Nai towards Rattaphum and Satun. At the 13km marker they turn left and go a further 13km before reaching the falls.

The fare is just Bt20 but that is the cheap part. The waterfall is in an area which has been designated as a national park and that means there is an entrance fee. For Thais it is Bt20 but for foreigners it is ever so slightly higher. The fee for foreigners is just 10 times more than the fee for Thais at Bt200. Thank you Thailand.

It's a national disgrace but this practice is widespread throughout Thailand. It happens everywhere. The Thais themselves are ashamed of what goes on, so to hide the bad news from foreigners they write the Thai pricing details in Thai and often use Thai numerals (Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 26).

The vast majority of foreigners in Thailand can't read Thai and so they are oblivious to how they constantly get ripped off by the smiling locals.

If you live in Thailand, speak/read some Thai, and have some form of Thai ID (driving licence, work permit, etc.) you can sometimes get the Thai price - but not always. I can't be bothered arguing any more and I refuse to be ripped off like this. If I can't get the normal price, I leave.

To avoid arguments and bad feeling, I normally stay in the car out of sight while my Thai wife pays the entrance fee.

The waterfall consists of seven tiers, all individually named (Tone Ba, Tone Plew, Tone Nga Chang, Tone Dum, Tone Nam Proy, Tone Rue Sri Koy Bo, Tone Met Choon). The area has also been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.

It is a pleasant excursion from Hat Yai and even though it is relatively close the experience is completely and utterly different to being in the city area. There are swimming opportunities so take your swimming costume.

The development of the waterfall has been carried out very well. There is just enough to make it easy for visitors to access what was once an inaccessible area, but not too much as to spoil a very beautiful natural attraction.

As far as safety is concerned, some of the trails are a bit tricky and the rocks around the water are slippery. Don't go too far off the trail, as one foreigner once did a few years ago. It required search parties to find him and he was in a bad way when he was eventually found.

It's quite isolated and popular with gangs of young Thai males who go there to mess around and drink beer. Be alert to potential problems and stay where there are other people around. This applies especially to girls visiting the waterfall alone.

From the waterfall area, going further into Rattaphum and towards Satun and Malaysia it is quite jungly. I understand that if you go far enough there are still wild tigers and elephants living in the jungle. However, you are unlikely to see much wildlife as wild animals make a point of avoiding humans.

There are plenty of hungry fish in the swimming areas, some attractive butterflies flying around, some huge ants, and in certain areas the sound of insects in the trees is very loud.

Cooked food is available in the park near the waterfall and it is pretty good. There are a lot of Thai Muslims in this area and this is reflected in the food. In Hat Yai city, which is Chinese dominated, there is lots of pork and not much beef. In Muslim areas there is beef on the menu and no pork.

There is also accommodation inside the park. Rooms with one bed cost Bt500, and with two beds the cost is Bt1,000. Call Khun Bprawit on +66 (0)81 276 8746 for more information and bookings but don't expect much English to be spoken.

Tone Nga Chang waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Nga Chang waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Nga Chang waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

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Tone Plew Waterfall

Tone Plew Waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Thai: น้ำตกโตนปลิว

Latitude: N 07° 00' 09.8" (N 07° 00.163')

Longitude: E 100° 14' 13.1" (E 100° 14.219')

Google Maps: Street Map or Satellite View

Comments: If you ask anyone in Hat Yai about visiting a waterfall, they will tell you about Tone Nga Chang. This also applies to guide books. It's as if there is only one waterfall in the area.

Because it is so well known, Tone Nga Chang waterfall tends to get very crowded at certain times. Crowds are OK sometimes, for example when attending sporting events, but when you want to go somewhere to appreciate nature you don't want to share it with thousands of other people. Well, I don't.

Tourists in Thailand go to the same places because they only know about these places. However, there are lots of places in Thailand that tourists don't know about. The locals keep these places quiet so that they can enjoy them alone. I don't blame them.

Idiots like me create web sites and let out all the good secrets so that eventually there will be no beautiful, quiet and peaceful places to go in Thailand.

The Rattaphum district of Songkhla, located in the north-west corner of Songkhla province and bordering Satun and Phattalung provinces, is really beautiful. Gorgeous areas of forest with waterfalls can be found just 25kms outside of ugly Hat Yai and once there you feel as if you are a million miles away from the noisy, overcrowded, congested downtown area.

If you take the road out of Hat Yai to Tone Nga Chang but keep on going instead of turning left, you will see a sign on the left to Tone Plew Waterfall. If you turn left and go to the end of the road you will see another sign. Turn left and you will come to the waterfall entrance.

Now for the bad bit - dual pricing. How I hate this practice.

At the entrance to the park you will see a sign. If you can only read English you will see that it says the charge for adults is Bt200.

However, if you can read Thai you will see that it says the charge for adults is Bt20. I refuse to pay ten times as much as Thais and this normally gets me into an argument. This policy discriminates based on race and it is illegal in the civilised world.

On my first visit to Tone Plew I had the usual argument and after a lengthy conversation in Thai explaining that I lived in Thailand and wasn't a tourist he said he would charge me Bt50.

I still wasn't happy about paying 2.5 times the Thai price, but it was better than paying ten times as much and Bt50 isn't a great deal of money. On the second visit I was charged the Thai price.

This practice is out-and-out racism. There's no other word for it. It's disgusting and the fact that Thais try to hide what they do from foreigners by writing the Thai prices in Thai means that they are actually quite ashamed of what goes on. And so they should be.

Anyway, rant over.

This national park area isn't as well developed as Tone Nga Chang, which is both good and bad. It's good because it is still relatively unspoilt but I was hungry when we arrived and there isn't much food on offer.

At the back of the waterfall area there is an iron staircase which you can climb to get a good view of the water streaming down from the mountain.

The water empties into a large swimming hole and there were lots of Thai kids enjoying playing in the water. From the swimming hole the water cascades down into progressively smaller pools until it disappears.

I had lived in Hat Yai for almost nine years before anyone told me about this waterfall. When I went I was really impressed, but a little disappointed that I hadn't been told about it before. And also very disappointed about yet more dual pricing.

Regarding the transliteration, it's poor as usual. The first word is an unaspirated 't' so 'dtone' might be better. The second word is an unaspirated 'p' and has an 'iw' or 'ill' sound.

Something like dtone bpliw would probably be more accurate. I saw the sign in English and pronounced 'plew' to rhyme with 'flew'. My Thai wife immediately reprimanded me. When I saw the name written in Thai I knew why it sounded stupid to her.

Tone Plew waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Plew waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image
Tone Plew waterfall, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

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Working Out and Swimming

Lee Gardens Plaza swimming pool, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Novotel swimming pool, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

The swimming pools at Hat Yai Sports Club are no longer there - Click for larger image

The small swimming pool in the Choksamarn Community Area - Click for larger image

Free exercise machines, Hat Yai - Click for larger image

Comments: With so many gyms in Hat Yai I decided to start a separate page:

Gyms In Hat Yai

Visit that page if you want information about gyms.

If I have time I will do the same with swimming pools. Until I do, the information about swimming pools will stay here.

For hotel guests staying at Lee Gardens Plaza hotel, use of the swimming pool is free but to use the sauna and fitness centre costs Bt200. For non-guests, use of all three facilities costs Bt200 per session or Bt1,000 for a month (Bt900 a month if you sign up for three months and there is a further Bt100 discount on the monthly and three-monthly rates if two or three people sign up together at the same time).

Rates are inclusive of tax and service charge. Lockers and towels are available which require payment of a Bt500 deposit. The facility is open from 7am to 9pm Mondays to Fridays and from 8am to 8pm on weekends and public holidays.

Swimming is not catered for very well in Hat Yai, especially since the demise of Hat Yai Sports Club in 2012. The main pool at Hat Yai Sports Club was a good size and you could do some serious laps. The pools that remain in Hat Yai are generally smaller and have lots of kids playing in them.

There are swimming pools at Hansa JB Hotel, Centara Hotel Hat Yai, Hat Yai Paradise and Buri Sriphu Hotel. Use of the swimming pool at hotels is free for guests but there is a charge for non-guests.

There used to be a swimming pool within a housing development opposite the municipal park, but this was also closed down. There are now very few independent swimming pools left in Hat Yai that aren't attached to hotels.

There is a small pool located in an area referred to an the map as the 'Choksamarn Community Area'. Its name is 'chuup-chee-waa'

Name: Chuup-chee-waa Community Swimming Pool
Address: Soi 1, Rattana Uthit Road, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110
Map: Map 1
Telephone: +66 (0)86 692 0099, +66 (0)81 957 5716, +66 (0)81 609 5227

It's clean, but quite small and there are normally lots of young kids splashing around. It is open from 16:00 to 20:00 every day, and additionally from 07:00 to 10:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

If you drive from the direction of Raj Uthit Road, you need to turn down Soi Buun Gaew Uthit. These are my own transliterations and the street signs are probably only in Thai. If you can't read Thai, you may need to ask for some assistance.

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