Hat Yai pronounced Haad Yai or Had Yai is a city in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. In 2008 it had a population of 157,359 in the city itself and about 800,000 in the greater Hat Yai area. Hat Yai is the largest city of Songkhla Province, the largest metropolitan area in the South, and the third largest metropolitan area of the country. It is often mistaken for being the provincial capital. In fact, Songkhla is the capital and the center of administration and culture while Hat Yai is the business center. The two cities are considered twin cities due to their geographical proximity, and accordingly, Hat Yai and Songkhla form the Greater Hatyai-Songkhla Metropolitan Area.
The name “Hat Yai” is a short version of “Mahat Yai”, meaning big mahat tree, a relative of jackfruits in genus Artocarpus.
Hat Yai has a reputation for being a shopping destination for both Thais and foreigners. There are numbers of department stores, shopping malls and markets throughout the city. Kim Yong market on Supasarn Rungsan road and Suntisook Market on Nipat U-tid 1, 2, and 3 roads are among the best-known. Their main products are imported processed food, cosmetics, fabrics, gadgets and electrical appliances. The city’s major wet market is located near the railway station whereas other smaller wet markets can be found around the city.
The city has two large weekend markets, namely Asian Trade and Greenway, which are both located on Kanchanavanit Road. They mainly sell second-hand products, including clothes, shoes, decor and souvenirs. In addition, there are several large shopping centers in the city, including Diana, Odean, Robinson, Central, Siam Nakharin, Big C, Big C Extra, Tesco Lotus and Makro. By the end of 2013, Central Festival, one of the largest shopping centers in Southern Thailand, will be opened.
Ton Nga Chang Waterfall. Ton Nga Chang Waterfall is located about 25 kilometers away from Hat Yai city center. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Songkhla province and for good reason. If you arrive here following the rainy season you will find the fall at its most spectacular. The water fall is made up of seven stories and on one of these, the water breaks up into two cascades; they look like twins and create a visually stunning effect.
The most important Buddhist temple of the City is Hat Yai Nai Temple or Wat Hat Yai Nai is home to the third largest reclining statue on the planet. This is a really impressive sight and it is difficult to not feel at least a little in awe. People travel from all over Thailand just to pay respect to this statue. Held in the first night of October, the Chak Phra tradition is a Buddhist festival specific to the south of Thailand. It is celebrated with Buddha boat processions or sports events like a run up Khao Tang Kuan hill. In September or October at the Chinese Lunar festival, the Thai and Chinese present their offerings to the moon or Queen of the heavens in gratitude for past and future fortunes.