Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

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Hat Yai Food and Travel Guide

Before I visit a place,  I would always look up the internet and research for things to do, places to shop and most importantly – places to eat! I must admit it was quite difficult to find great information on places in eat in Hat Yai in Songkla South Thailand – most of the blogs showcase pictures of the food they ate at restaurants or markets but lacked the necessary information on how to get there! It’s difficult to find out where to eat in Hat Yai.



Hopefully this blog post will shed some light on where to shop and where to eat in Hat Yai, a great cheap place for good eats and shopping! First and foremost, Hat Yai is a great place to visit if you’re visiting the food capital of Malaysia, Penang. Taking a van from Penang (buy it from the travel agents), costs only RM35 per person and you can arrange for them to pick you up from your hotel in Penang and drop you off at the hotel you make your booking in Hat Yai. Convenient and easy. It’s only a 3-4 hours drive if you travel on weekdays. I suggest taking a flight from Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur, instead of taking a road trip back to Penang. This blog post will show you some of the great places to eat, how to get there, how much to pay and what sort of food you will see. Yes, Hat Yai restaurants and street food! I will also introduce some good places to shop and how to get there too! Consider this a good guide to good food and shopping in Hat Yai. Yes – the Hat Yai food and travel guide to where you can find the best food in Hat Yai!



To me, getting around in Hat Yai is super convenient with the availability of Tuk Tuks – which is their version of taxi but it’s shaped like a truck. You simply just tell the driver the place and they will drive you to your destination of choice. The cost is usually 20 bath per person, which is equivalent to less than 1 SGD – to around 50 bath per person. It’s very safe and as long as you negotiated the price of your journey, its okay to hop on! For this guide – I will give you the name of the places and restaurants and you will only need to tell the tuk tuk driver the name of the place. I will also list the typical price so that you would not be overcharged!



*Picture taken from Tune Hotels Website*

For my Hat Yai Trip, I stayed in Tune Hotels Hat Yai which is very strategically located – walking distance to the most popular Lee Gardens and Centrepoint shopping areas – less than five minutes walk. Another surprising bonus is that Tune Hotel Hat Yai rooms are super spacious – more space to put your luggage – an actual desk where you can eat on or do your blogging with your laptop - beds are very comfortable and toilets are comfortably spacious too! I mentioned this because the rooms in Tune Hat Yai are actually 30-40% bigger and better than the Tune Hotel rooms in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Furthermore, I had a very good sleep as it’s not too near the too noisy or busy streets! To me – this is considered the best bargain for a good hotel room! Highly recommended!


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The first thing we did when we arrived at Hat Yai was to get a simcard for our phones so that we could connect to the Internet. We asked the Tuk Tuk driver to send us to Lee Gardens at the cost of 20 bath per person. Usually you can just walk to Lee Gardens in less than 5 minutes but because we’re still unfamiliar with the area, the Tuk Tuk driver saved us a lot of trouble. The sim card to buy would be AIS prepaid card. Most of the staff don’t speak English but some can speak good Chinese. I managed to meet an owner who speaks English at the basement level and she even helped me subscribe to the internet data plan! Be aware – remember to recharge your data plan as it’s about to expire because they will eat up all your remaining credit if you forgot to do so~ to me – this happened twice because I had forgotten to! A not too expensive lesson – but still a waste of money.



After settling our simcards and getting our internet connection ~ OOOOH YESSS ~ our first place to have dinner was the popular GAPS GARTEN – a highly rated place for tourists and Westerners who lived here. They serve great German food as well as having a good selection of German and Belgian beers! The address is 516/1 Soi Chuntarajanusorn, Thamanoonvithi Road but I tell you – it was very difficult to tell the Tuk Tuk driver to get to this place, luckily I wrote down the number of the restaurant and called them from my phone. The staff was kind enough to tell the Tuk Tuk driver the location! Please feel free to use your mobile to call +66 (0)86 963 6551 (German/English) and ask them to speak to your Tuk Tuk driver. The cost from Tunes Hotel to this restaurant is 50 bath per person.



The view of Gaps Garten from outside.



They have a stage for live performances but since we arrived on a weeknight – there wasn’t any.



They have pretty good retro pictures, posters and trinkets all around the restaurant walls. Be sure to walk around and check them out!



As I mentioned before – they have a wide range of Belgian Beers and German Beers – I admit it was tough to pick but I opted for one German and one Belgian Beer to try!



You each get a plate of salad free of charge from the salad bar. Pretty refreshing start to your meal but if you’re ordering a lot of food like I did, skip the salad and just enjoy your beer before the meal arrives!



This Kasteel is a Belgian beer which has an alcohol content of 11%. It is a type of live beer, in which it’s secondary fermentation happens inside the bottle it is stored in. Can you believe it has a shelf life of 15 years if not opened!? It has a slightly sweet honey malty taste with a slight hint of butterscotch and is pretty complex. Verdict? I SIMPLY LOVE IT! A strong brew but very delicious!



Erdinger is one of the popular German Beers served here – so when eating German Food, how can you not pair it with German beer? Pretty good and although it’s not as unique as the Belgian beer I ordered – it goes well with the nom nom we’re about to witness.



CHEERS in languages around the world! Coolness ~~ KAMPAI !!!!!!! I did not find the Hokkien one which is LIM AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! or YAM SENG!!!!!



I am impressed with the amount of condiments they have on the side to flavour your food. Pretty much most of the popular sauces I’ve seen before can be found here!



We ordered the Hungarian Goulash Soup which was pretty spicy but quite fragrant. Goes very well with the German Bread (pretty dense)



This dish is pretty delicious. Kidneys stir fried in an onion garlic sauce. Very unique and a must order for this restaurant.



Being a fan of German Sausages – you can order their German Sausage platter with a cool selection of four different type of German Sausages. Yum yum ~



Of course , the famous German Pork Knuckle! I was quite excited to see this one the menu and you can match it with two sides. I ordered mine with German pasta called Spätzle. Verdict? Out of all the dishes I had – I liked the kidneys the most – very delicious and I will highly recommend it. The German sausages are pretty good as well. The German Pork Knuckle I had was crispy enough but I felt it was too dry. As a person who love pork knuckles and tried many before – I have to say this was not as good as the Filipino versions. If you seldom eat pork knuckles, this might be a treat for you – but not for me or any Filipinos. The Spätzle to me was pretty rubbery and not enjoyable as well. There are other dishes in the menu (they have a huge choice) which you can try and if there’s many of you – try as many different beers as possible!



To get back to your hotel – you can ask the waiting staff to help you hail a tuk tuk. I must mention that the service I got from my waiting staff at Gaps Garten was top notch! It was drizzling and he walked quite far to help get a Tuk Tuk just for us! Now that is what I called good service! The journey back to Tune Hotel is 50 bath per person.



The next morning – we took a Tuk Tuk ride to a famous Dim Sum place in Hat Yai. Tell the Tuk Tuk driver to take you to Chok Dee – and the journey should cost 20 bath per person since it’s only a short journey.



You basically pick the dimsum, which is still raw – and they will steam it for you after you order. I like this concept as this means the food would only be cooked when you order – not like those you see cooking and steaming in normal restaurants till overcooked ~~



As you can see there’s so much choice! Hmm ~~ so much choice ~~ so limited tummy space ~



How cute! The place is packed but they are pretty quick with their service!



Chok Dee means Lucky as shown in the Chinese Characters of their sign.. but I also see they serve Bah Kut Teh !!



Oh my ~~ can you see the lovely pork intestines and spare ribs in that Bah Kut Teh ?? DROOOLS!!






Mini Char Siew Baus ~~



Thai style coffee ~~ ooooh yess ~~



Refreshing honey ginger tea ~~



What a good breakfast! The best thing is – it’s pretty cheap! I didn’t even bother counting! Overall – their dim sum is pretty good and unique but it’s not out of this world or as nice as the one I had in Penang (click on link to read more about this Penang food hunt)



During my minivan trip – I met a nice lady from Hat Yai who highly recommended this chicken rice stall called Mui Kee. Just tell the Tuk Tuk driver to drive to Mui Kee and they should know where it is as it’s a pretty popular place.



If you’re into roasted chicken rice, you won’t be disappointed even if they don’t serve roasted chicken rice. Why …?



You can see from this picture that their chicken is moist and tender. Simply delicious! Oh YES!



They say a picture speaks a thousand words but in this case it doesn’t. I must tell you how delicious this rice is! So fragrant yet not oily. Perfect texture and taste! SUPER GOOD OKAY! I dare declare that it’s one of the best chicken rice I’ve ever tasted!



You can add dark soy sauce which is in the teapot ~~



Or do what the Thais do ~ and add fish sauce ~ very nyummy too!



The décor is very simple and down to earth old school kopi tiam. Very nostalgic!




Soya bean drinks to quench our thirst!




Overall – I enjoyed my meal here despite a big breakfast at Chok Dee. The rice is one of the best I’ve tasted while the chicken ranks very highly in my list. Mui Kee is a restaurant that you must visit if you are in Hat Yai.


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Another good breakfast place that’s just next to Chok Dee is this Ching Jie restaurant – specializing in great salted vegetable pork spare parts soup! To get here – simply as the Tuk Tuk driver to drop you at Chok Dee and this restaurant can be seen easily!


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As you can see from the red sign – in Chinese it reads – Pork Leg Rice (oh yummers!)


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A sneak peek at their huge pot of delicious pork leg stew ~~ ooooh mama mia ~~


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Now tell me – isn’t that a beauty? Tenderlicious saucy pork leg with eggs that were braised in that delicious stew! Hubba hubba!


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The yummy pork spare parts soup ~ pork liver, pork intestine, roasted pork ~~ a very satisfying soup indeed!


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Oh my spicy chili!


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Last but not least is this thinly sliced pieces of roasted pork. Words cannot describe how tasty this is! I really like how the way their roasted pork is sliced and it contributes to a very delicious texture and mouthfeel. A MUST MUST MUST try dish in Hat Yai.


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Of course ~ How can I not talk about the best restaurant in Hat Yai in this post? A restaurant that’s so good – it deserves a separate post. Step forward Basil Restaurant! For information on how to get there ~ simply visit this link for both BASIL Restaurant and WINE SOCIETY restaurant. A MUST VISIT foodie place! 



Chef Anusorne’s special Crab Crepes. Very delicious!


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The next restaurant in my list is KAN ENG restaurant. To go there – simply take a Tuk Tuk – tell the driver to go Kan Eng (Gun Enck) – the cost is only 20bath per person. Kan Eng is my go to place for great Thai food at cheap prices! You can walk here if you want -The nearest landmarks are the two BP hotels - the BP Grand Tower and BP Grand Suite - and the restaurant is located opposite a Chinese temple. Address is 50/3 Kimpradit Road.


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The opening hours and address in Thai and Chinese.


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The good news is that the waitresses here speak Chinese so it really does help with the ordering of food. They also have pictures as well to make ordering easier.


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Delicious seafood Tom Yum Hat Yai style. Please let them know if you can’t take the heat and go for a milder version.


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Thai style prawn cakes! Usually you will see fish cakes – but prawn cakes are so much better! Yumness! Hurray for prawn cakes packed with Thai style spices!


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Spicy minced pork with Thai basil – looks simple but utterly delicious!


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This dish is actually yellow curry with crab meat and eggs! Can you imagine this dish is less than SGD 8? So much crab meat – which goes very well with the curry! Kan Eng comes highly recommended and suitable for big groups! There’s still lots of other dishes to try here!


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Lee Garden for me has quite a lot of franchises and good places to dine in. They have Sizzlers for steaks and their famous all you can eat salad bar, which is something I really like but I opt not to eat buffets during my food travels – as there’s plenty of other choices. There’s also an all you can eat Japanese buffet too if that catches your fancy.


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Not Krispy Kremes but I decided to give them a try ~~


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Pretty cute! Taste wise – it’s not Krispy Kremes but acceptable if you have cravings for donuts.


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Malaysians love to dine at Swensens in Thailand. Why? More choices and cheaper prices.


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I wish I could bring these home! Lovely looking drinking glasses.


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As you can see – we’re spoiled for choice in the number of flavours and toppings they have – and there are some new flavours not included in this page too! I’m not complaining! More please!


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The chocolate fondue set looks pretty good at only 330 bath! About 15 SGD. 9 scoops of ice cream, fruits and brownie with delicious fondue! How can you say no to that?!


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Oh hubba hubba!


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Aerial shot of the set ~


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I ordered a chocolate lava cake to go with my chocolate fondue set – greedy me!


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Their 7 Elevens are pretty good and I was happy to find Meiji Milk and Chocolate Soy ~~ CHEERS!


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They have plenty of interesting stuff such as this bacon wrapped sausage – I mean – how can you say no to that?! More of these please!


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Now one should never visit Hat Yai and not visit their street markets and street food! You won’t miss them as they’re scattered everywhere! Selling all sorts of goodies!


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Roasted or baked coconut enhances their flavours! Do try if you see any of these!


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Two of my favourite desserts in Thailand – roasted coconut juice and mango sticky rice! I’m lovin it!


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In the morning, it’s fun to check out the famous Kim Yong markets – easy to reach by walking and if you’re lazy it’s just 20bath tuk tuk ride. It’s fun to the life of the market in the early morning.


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I wonder how do you use these? Are these similar to the Clitorial bush that Gordon Ramsey’s curious about during a Malaysian Cooking filming? To colour the rice ~~


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The locals buying and selling seafood on the streets of Kim Yong market ~


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Durians! King of the fruits!


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You gotta loved their glass bottled soft drinks ~ it’s a refreshing change from the plastic bottles.


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Yes – they have coke zero ~~ w000 ~~ less calories ~~


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Glutinous rice in different colours ~


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Durian flavoured sweets or caramel ~~ very addictive for some of the people I know who loved these Dodols!


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Needless to say – there’s a lot of street food to try out in the early morning


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This aunty sells a good spicy cheong fan (rice noodles)


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Slight sweet and spicy! Yum


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Charcoal fire baked cakes caught my attention.


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So nostalgic indeed! Slow food at its best!


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Steamed corn anyone?!


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Siew Mai ~~~~~~


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I decided to take a seat at one of the street side stalls to have tom yum and Thai style kolomee.


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Thai Style Kolo Mee


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Clear soup tom yum bee hoon – you can adjust the soup to your liking with the condiments on the table. I saw a local Thai man put in so much chili – the soup look glowingly red!


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I also ordered a simple kway teow clear soup to try. Very nice too.


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Dried tomatoes anyone? Pretty useful for cooking definitely!


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Keep an eye out for Mango and Durian sticky rice combo here too! They also have one near the Lee Gardens. For those who loved both Durian and Mangoes!


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At night – a good market to go to is the Green Way Market and Asia Market. Ask the tuk tuk driver to go to GREEN WAY and the cost should be 50bath per person. Asia market is just 8-10 minutes walk from Green Way. Walk towards the right side if you’re exiting Green Way all the way and you will find Asia Market – it’s useful to use Google map or ask the locals. If in doubt – tuk tuk ride will be 20bath per person as it’s pretty close by.


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Both Green Way and Asia Market have a food section and shopping section. Green Way is smaller than Asia Market but it’s good to visit here first – then pop over to Asia Market (bigger and more choices). The ladies will be very happy here as they can shop till they drop!!! Personally you will spend most of your shopping here!


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Naturally I had a great time with the snacks available here ~~ oh yes ~~ hello STREET FOOD! Look at those crispy chicken skinnnn!!!


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Shishamo anyone? (breaded and fried pregnant fish – with lots of fish eggs) Very tasty and cheap!


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Colourful assorted dim sum!


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These are not edible but how retro! Game Catridges ~ relics from the past!


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Steamed cakes ~~


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Thai style mini sushis are quite popular and they’re a must try!


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My favourite is their sunny side up quail eggs sushi~~ super delicious with wasabi and soy sauce!


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Pretty cheap if you ask me ~~ who wants some Thai Sushi?


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Itadakimasu!!!!!! I wonder what the Thais say when they’re about to eat!


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There’s quite a few Sushi stores around and it’s not hard to find halal ones here – Hat Yai has quite a lot of Muslims and it’s common to see women wearing tudung. Fan sushi~~ nice name ~~


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Teppanyaki anyone?


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There’s crazy stuff like fried locusts and silkworms but I wouldn’t touch these as I wonder how long they kept these and sell them the next few nights. Eeeeekkkkk


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I didn’t try these but I think they’re fried gingko nuts?


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It’s common to see families working together in a stall – very heart warming to see ~


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These Thai style mini pancakes or blinis are pretty popular here ~


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Choose your snacks and they will grill it for you ~~


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Ohhhh yess ~~~


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Oh that stew looks delicious!


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Wacky looking Tshirts and Underpants caught my attention ~~ Darth Vader, Superman vs Batman or Ninja Turtles boxers for less than 3 SGD! Unleash your inner geek and impress the ladies – or maybe not ~~~ lol


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I must say – I find this dress to be very chic. I would wear it if I’m a lady – I mean what better way to express your inner food nerd – macarons and how to make them – in French. How cool is that?! Now to get back to your hotel – look out for Tuk Tuks and it should be the same price to get back 50 bath per person.


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For those who like birds nest – there’s a store nearby the hotel. Be wary of imitations though – the authentic one will have the original packaging displayed.


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You can see their grade on the menu. I decided to order the 500 bath one. Pretty expensive but it’s cheap compared to Malaysia and Singapore.


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Different grades and types of birds nest you can buy home as souvenirs or for own consumption.


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I like my birds nest cooked with gingko inside a roasted coconut. Oh yes – they have a candle burning in that bowl to keep your birds nest drink nice and warm!


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Bon Appetit! Now that ends my food and travel guide for Hat Yai. There are still plenty of places and restaurants to explore but I guess I will cover more of that for my next trip! You can always go for a tour of temples, buddha statues and the famous Floating Market – which is only available during weekends (I only spent the weekdays in Hat Yai unfortunately). There’s plenty of information about these in other blogs I’ve read. Tune hotel has an uncle there daily who speaks good English and Chinese, who can arrange tours for you as well as the taxi to take you to the airport – about 300 bath which is less than 14 SGD. I hope this guide was informative to you and aid your food hunt and shopping in Hat Yai! I will update this post if I visit Hat Yai again!


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This cute dog can be seen walking around happily around Lee Gardens and Centrepoint area. A well fed and beautiful street dog whom I caught sleeping one early morning and took a snapshot! Be sure to say hi to him if you spot him! Adorable!

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