1. Language/ communication
The local Thai mostly able to communicate in Hokkien Chinese and Malay. Some of their ancestors are Malaysian Chinese. Even though I'm not that good in Hokkien, but to understand it, it's not that difficult. Hatyai Thai is not that advanced as Bangkok, many of them do not understand English. For receipt, signboard, road name, there are available in Thai language and or English.
Some useful Thai language to communicate or shopping purpose:
Lot dai mai? - cheaper a bit?
Mai dai -cant
Ao - want?
Ao mei ao - dont want
du ti nai- where is it?
Hong nam - toilet
(Where is the toilet? > Du ti nai hong nam?)
King cow - eat rice
Rangka How rai - how much the price?
Nidroi -a bit
neng roi -100
neng pang -1000
suai - pretty
kao zai mai? - understand or not?
*you might get cheaper rate if you can talk in their language* wink
For food, there is famous mango sticky rice to try. You can simply found it at the roadside stalls outside Lee Garden Plaza. You can find Chinese food too like Dim Sum but the taste and portion are different from Malaysia. Halal Malay food is available but not so much. I spotted a row of bars and nightclubs when I on a tuk-tuk. The nightlife in Hatyai is never bored as those days.
Our morning breakfast - Thai Dim Sum
Souvenirs you can shop at night market, located at the street along Lee Garden Plaza. You could find dress, shirt, toys, watch, keychains and etc. But for myself, I bought Thai chilli sauce, soya drink, snacks instead which I never see any in Malaysia. On top of all, please visit their 7-Eleven, lots goodies selling compared to Malaysia.
Black soya drink packed in 6 selling for 35 baht
In Hatyai, local main transport is tuk-tuk. There is another called "song tail" (songthaew) which looked exactly like tuk-tuk but the size is bigger, the legroom area is longer. Songthaews are painted in different colours to serve various routes. Fare is as low as 10 baht.
The songthaew that runs the airport route has the word “airport” written in Thai at the top of its front. It is 30 baht per passenger from Hat Yai International Airport to Hat Yai town centre, passing by Kim Yong Market or Clock Tower. But songthaew has no limit on total passengers and stops at many stations. When there is no seat, you either wait for another under the hot sun or you stand at the stair. From my experience, the local Thai men are gentlemen in general, they give the seat to us ladies (while they stand at the stairs with their heavy luggage).
Tuk-tuks run in the town centre and the fare for a ride is as low as 20 baht to 30 baht. They are available for charter as well, if you plan to go somewhere not within the town centre. Hailing a tuk-tuk is very easy. Just walk along the road and there are drivers honking at you. Always negotiate the price down, but be reasonable with your counteroffer. Or you could ask around other people who go to the same destination to share the tuk-tuk charter fare with you.
There are also motorbike public transport. The motorcyclists wear a vest that anyone can spot from afar. This is the cheapest transport alternative compared with other two if you travel alone. You can opt to rent a car also which cost at 1150 baht per day at airport (the only place offers car rental). I will recommend for a car rental if you plan to visit Samila beach (an hour drive).
Thai men standing at the staircase of songthaew.
Can you spot the difference? Songthaew has more space above my head before I hit the top while tuk-tuk is almost hit my head! To rate, songthaew is more comfortable!
The exchange rate Malaysia currency (Ringgit) to Thai currency (Baht) is RM12.68 : 100 baht (March rate). Changing baht at Thai, they give lower exchange rate. Even more expensive at the airport. Hatyai is not that advanced yet like Bangkok thus at many places, we still need to pay by cash as Visa/Master card usage is not that convenient or not available.
- 30 baht (songthaew from airport to Kim Yong market, walk to Sakura Budget Hotel); return (=60 baht)
- 400 baht (charter tuk-tuk service to stainless steel temple - 2 persons)
- 10 baht (songthaew from Kim Yong market to Wat Hat Yai Nai - per person); return (=20 baht)
- 20 baht (songthaew from Lee Garden Plaza to hotel)
- 200 baht (cable car ~ The Great Brahman Shrine Hatyai Park)
- 30 baht (hotel to Central Festival Mall); return (=60 baht)
- Dimsum as shown above plus a bit more for 4 persons = 320 baht
- fish porridge = 70 baht
- fried rice = 70 baht
- shrimp fried rice = 45 baht
- sticky rice = 40 baht
- bread at 7-eleven = 45 baht
- herbs drink = 20 baht
- mineral water = 77 baht
- coconut = 20 baht
Total expenses = 4614 baht (estimation for 4 days 3 nights) ~ USD 140 / RM560
WIFI connection is available for free at hotel and some cafe. But if you would like to take GRAB or communicate with local people, the best way is to get a SIM CARD with data plan. There are different packages offered for the SIM pack. We bought 5 days unlimited 4G mobile internet for 99 baht that comes together with SIM card. But then different shops charge you a different price depends on location. In Hatyai town near Lee Garden, the cheapest rate is 149 baht (seller offered 99 baht for SIM and extra 50 baht for data). If you take bus/car, you better buy at Danok town after custom clearance (Malaysia- Thai border) for only 99 baht. Passport is required during the SIM card purchase. For our case, we being turned down by a dealer when we told we don't have original passport with us as being kept by hotelier. Some that not strict they still help to proceed with a photocopy of our passport and with our portrait photo taken on the spot.
I hope all these tips are useful for you guys! Next, I will share the attractions in Hatyai :)