Songkhla & Hat Yai Travel Information
Songkhla is a southern border province, adjacent to the State of Kedah (Sai Buri), Malaysia. It is an important port and coastal province of Thailand since the old days with Amphoe Hat Yai as the southern centre of commerce, transportation and rapid economic growth. The province is ideal for tourism because of its two distinct characteristics: the old buildings of Amphoe Mueang Songkhla, and the developed Amphoe Hat Yai, separated by only about 30 kilometres.
The old part of Songkhla is located at the presentday Amphoe Sathing Phra. Indians, Persians, and Arabs came to trade and called the place �Singhla�. The name came from two islands with the shape of crouching lions at the mouth of Songkhla lagoon. The islands are presently called Ko Nu and Ko Maeo.
Songkhla occupies an area of 7,393 square kilometres, and is administratively divided into 16 districts: Muang Songkhla, Ranot, Krasae Sin, Sathing Phra, Singhanakhon, Khuan Niang, Rattaphum, Bang Klam, Hat Yai, Na Mom, Chana, Thepha, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi, Sadao, and Khlong Hoi Khong.
The city of Hat Yai ,28 kilometres from the city of Songkhla, is the gateway to the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Singapore. It is only 60 kilometres from the port of entry at Sadao. Hat Yai has grown significantly into the commercial, transportation, communication, educational, and tourism centre of the south. Tourists can obtain various goods from fresh produce to consumer products such as electrical appliances. Niphat Uthit 1, 2, or 3 Road is the major commercial centre. There are several shopping centres such as Lido Shopping Centre, Odeon Shopping Centre, Sanehanuson, Hat Yai Plaza Shopping Centre, and Si Kimyong Market on Phetkasem Road.
Hat Yai Municipal Park , on Kanchanawanit Road, is six kilometres from the city centre on the Hat Yai-Songkhla highway. It is the major recreation for the people of Hat Yai and surrounding areas as well. The park is full of beautiful flowering plants, with a pavilion in the middle of the pond, avarium, and food stalls. At the foot of the hill near the avarium stands the statue of King Rama V. There is a Brahman shrine at the hilltop. And at the southern foothill near the boy scout camp stands the jade statue of Guan-yin, the Chinese Goddess.
Namtok Ton Nga Chang is located in the Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the beautiful waterfalls of the south, about 26 kilometres from the city. Follow the Hat Yai-Rattaphum road for 13 kilometres, then turn left at Ban Hu Rae for another 13 kilometres. This waterfall has seven levels, the third level is the most beautiful and is named after the waterfall. At the third level the stream separates into two, resembling the elephant�s tusks. Treks have been provided for more adventurous tourists. One can hire the motorised tricycle (tuk-tuk) to the waterfall for two to three hours at 300-400 baht, or one can take the minibus from the fresh market (Talat Sot Thet Sa Ban Hat Yai).
Wat Hat Yai Nai on Phetkasem Road, near Khlong U Taphao Bridge, is the site of a large reclining Buddha measuring 35 metres long, 15 metres tall, and 10 metres wide, named Phra Phuttha Hattha Mongkhon, believed to be the third largest reclining Buddha in the world - revered by both Thai and foreign tourists.
Ban Sattha is situated on a hill slope overlooking the Tinsulanond Bridge to Ko Yo. It is surrounded by coconut plantations. The city people had it built for H.E. Prem Tinsulanond, the Privy Councilor and Statesman, when he was the Prime Minister. Construction was completed on 26 August B.E. 2534. In B.E. 2539, H.E. Prem gave the house back to the people of Songkhla. There is a public library nearby.
Khao Kao Seng is located about three kilometres to the south of Hat Samila. It can be reached via the road to The National Coastal Aquaculture Institute. It is one of the beautiful beaches of Songkhla, dotted with large boulders one of which is on a rock, the locals call it �Hua Nai Raeng�. It was said that underneath this boulder there used to be treasures stored by the people as funds for the construction of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Chedi and had protecting spirits.
Noi , near Laem Samila, has a road to the hilltop for paying
homage to the statue of Prince Lop Buri Ramet (The Southern Viceroy),
and to view the city. On the east is a public park with food services
and tennis courts. On the northeast is Suan Seri, another park with
ornamental plants in animal shapes. Tamnak Khao Noi, on the south, was
built in B.E. 2454 as the residence of Prince Lop Buri Ramet and was
used by His Majesties the King and Queen on their visit to the south
in March B.E. 2502. Today the mansion is the residence of the Songkhla
Khao Tang Kuan at Laem Samila has the Sala Vihan Daeng, the royal pavilion built during the reign of King Rama V. On the hilltop is a Dvaravati chedi housing the Buddha�s relics that was built during the Nakhon Si Thammarat Empire. In October there is a festival to clad the chedi with a cloth, to pull the Buddha�s image, and to offer alms to monks. A panoramic view of the city and the Songkhla Lake can be enjoyed on the hilltop.
Ko Nu and Ko Maeo well-known symbol of Songkhla, is situated off the shore of Laem Samila. A legend says that a dog, a cat, and a mouse, on a Chinese sampan stole the merchant�s magic crystal and tried to swim ashore but drowned and lost their lives. The mice and cats became the islands in the Songkhla Lake while the dog died on shore and became the hill called Hin Khao Tang Kuan near the bay. The crystal was totally destroyed and became the white sandy beach called Hat Sai Kaeo.
Ko Yo is a small island in the Songkhla Lake but is the important tourist attraction of Songkhla. The island, covering an area of 9,275 rais (3,710 acres), can be reached via Tinsulanond Bridge The coastal plain is suitable for agriculture, resulting in famous fruit-growing such as a special kind of jackfruit called Jampada. Another famous product is the hand-woven fabric.
Laem Sai Estuary Fortress was constructed in the reign of King Rama III, at the time of the city�s establishment. Today this fortress is behind the Songkhla Provincial Police Headquarters.
Laem Samila is in the City Municipality, about 2.5 kilometres from the fresh market (Thalat Supsin or Thalat Sot Thetsaban). This peninsula is well-known for its white sandy beach, shady pine groves, and the statue of a mermaid that is Songkhla�s symbol. It is serviced by Hat Yai-Songkhla buses. From within the city, one can take a minibus to the beach.
Phathammarong Museum on Chana Road near the Songkhla National Museum. It was constructed in a Thai style to resemble the birthplace of H.E. Prem Tinsulanond, the former Prime Minister and Statesman who is a Songkhla native. The construction was based on his testimony when his father was the prison warden.
Songkhla Lake , the only natural lake in Thailand is about 80 kilometres long and 20 to 25 kilometres wide. It is a freshwater lake with brackish water near the mouth. There are several islands across from its mouth, the major ones include Ko Yai, Ko Si, Ko Ha, Ko Kaeo, Ko Mak, Ko Rai, and Ko Yo. Boats are available for touring the lake. The port behind the post office or the fresh market has all-day long-tailed boat services.
Songkhla Zoo is an open zoo, on the Songkhla-Chana Highway, Tambon Khao Rup Chang. It was established for the preservation of Thai wildlife and to return them to the wild. The zoo covers a hilly area with an asphalt ring road. The various animals have been grouped separately, such camels, birds, red gaur, tigers, crocodiles, and others. One of the highlights in the zoo not to be missed is the viewing point for the city where food stalls are available. For more information please call 0-7432-5037-8.
Songkhla�s City Pillar ,on Nang Ngam Road, is a revered site to Songkhla�s population. The Chinese architectural style building was constructed together with the city itself. Nearby dwellings, especially on Nakhon Nai and Nakhon Nok Roads also bear the same influence. The Chinese immigrants who came to settle there at the beginning of the 24th Buddhist Century had a major role in the establishment of Songkhla, hence, the distinctive Chinese lifestyle of the area.
Tinsulanond Bridge spans the Songkhla Lake and is part of Highway 408. It is the longest concrete bridge in Thailand, with two parts: the first part connects the coast of Amphoe Mueang Songkhla at Ban Nam Krachai to the southern coast of Ko Yo, this part is about 1,140 metres long; the second part connects the northern shore of Ko Yo to the coast of Ban Khao Khiao, a length of 1,800 metres. It was opened to traffic on 25 September B.E. 2529.
Wat Matchimawat or Wat Khlang , on Sai Buri Road, is a large temple and the most important in Songkhla. It is about 400 years old. It was said that Yai Si Chan, a millionaire of Songkhla donated a large sum of money to construct the temple. Later on Wat Liap was built on the north, and Wat Pho on the south. The people then changed the name of the temple from �Wat Yai Si Chan� to �Wat Khlang� or �Wat Matchimawat�. This temple also has the Phattharasin Museum that houses various artefacts gathered from Songkhla, Sathing Phra, Ranot, and elsewhere.