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The Underrated Hat Yai

Hat Yai an amazing backpacker place

“Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.”
― Bill Watterson

That’s what I thought when I ended up spending 5 days in a place I never thought I would pay a visit.

Hat Yai, located at the southern part of Thailand near Malaysian border. Hat Yai doesn’t sound new to me, I spent more than a year in Malaysia and have heard about this place from few of my friends who visited this Thai province for a quick weekend getaway, and I know, it doesn’t have much stuff to offer, that it’s just a typical developing city.

Hat Yai, may not be worth visiting for many people but this trip of mine is definitely one of those worth remembering.

I am supposed to head back to Kuala Lumpur; I boarded a late night bus ride from Phuket to Hat Yai. The original plan is to take another bus from Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur. It was past 4:00am when I reached the bus station.  I was a bit hesitant if I should really head back to KL that time or to stay at least for a night in Hat Yai, it took me a while to decide, I stayed in the bus station for more than an hour, next thing I knew I was riding a motorcycle taking me to a hostel I found online.

Hat yai Backpackers Hostel


The hostel may not have all the amenities that I would want in a place I would normally stay, but hey, they got the basic things that you need. Plus you don’t expect much when you’re paying less than 250 baht per night.

They have comfy beds, 2 bathrooms for their guests, fast WIFI connection, free bread and coffee and the place is really cozy- full of art works, it’s like you’re in a café with beds on its 2nd floor. Not exaggerating things, but I was so okay with the place.

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In backpacking, you’ll end having new acquaintances, sharing each others’ travel experiences, at some point you feel like your bonded by one thing, passion to travel, to know the world and its people [ too deep. haha.]

What made this Hat Yai trip special were the moments that I’ve had with the people that I met, and ended up being friends with them, until now.

I won’t forget the help that I got from my first Thai friend, named Natt. I almost ran out of cash and wasn’t able to withdraw from my bank account as I wasn’t able to advise the bank to activate my card for overseas usage. As I am short of funds and couldn’t really visit other places in Hat Yai, Natt was kind enough to give me a free tour using his motor bike. He took me to some of the tourist spots of the city and made me realized why Hat Yai is worth visiting.

Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol


Definitely one of the most interesting Buddhist temples I’ve ever visited. From its facade you will already notice its uniqueness, but it doesn’t end there, wait until you get inside the temple.


There are lots of circular holes, if that’s the best words to describe it, which serve as the entrance to other parts of the temple. Inside it there’s a ladder that connects to the top of the temple. If you’re a Buddhist you might find it really interesting, Natt was telling me how to interpret things you’ll find inside this temple, just that I couldn’t digest much of the info, but it is indeed a one of a kind temple.

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Markets in Hat Yai


If you love window shopping, looking for some stuff to buy or just plain hungry… Markets in Hat Yai won’t disappoint you.

Being in Hat Yai for 5 days, I never missed a day going to their markets- as I am always hungry anyway. Here you can find authentic Thai food in a more affordable price and sometimes they have free stage performance.

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Khlong Hae Floating Market


If you haven’t been to any floating market then you may find the place amusing. It is colorful and you can smell the foods that they are cooking which will make you starve. Its exotic vibe would surely make you feel that you’re really in Southeast Asia. People here sell different Thai and some Malay food. Budget friendly and will certainly fill up your stomach.

This is the part of my trip where I enjoyed taking much photos.

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Hat Yai Park


It was 6 am, just before I head back to KL, we also visited an amazing park where you could get a great view of the whole city. The view up there is incredibly stunning and relaxing. It is unquestionably worth-visiting.

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Instead of taking a bus back to KL, it was my first time to take a long hour train ride, from one country to another. The experience was great in a sense that you get a different view instead of just seeing the roads when you’re riding a bus.

TIP: Make sure you get a train ticket in advance, at least few days before your intended travel date as tickets get fully booked easily.

In conclusion, this is undoubtedly one of my best trips for couple of reasons; backpacking alone, I ran out of cash, boarding a train and meeting nice people like Natt, other backpackers in the hostel where I stayed.

This trip may be a bumpy one, but hey, I wouldn’t want it any the other way.

/// Written by Michael Caberi, The Philippines