Located 12 kilometres southwest of downtown, Hat Yai International Airport is serviced from Bangkok by Thai Airways, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air and Air Asia; from Chiang Mai by Thai Lion Air and Air Asia; from Kuala Lumpur by Air Asia; and from Singapore by Tiger Air. At the airport you can pay 100 baht per person for a minibus to any place downtown, or 300 baht for a taxi.
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Hat Yai’s train station, located at the west end of Thumnoonvithi Road, is gated off and accessed through a security checkpoint due to the threat of attacks relating to the trouble in Thailand’s deep south.
From Bangkok, trains depart for Hat Yai three times from 13:00 to 16:00 and again at 22:50, and take around 17 hours. Fan sleepers cost around 800 baht, with fares going up for air-con or private sleepers and down for regular seats. Several trains also depart for Hat Yai from Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung.
From the south, Hat Yai can be reached by trains departing at 06:30 and five times from 09:00 to 15:00 from the Malaysia border at Sungai Kolok, which itself can be reached by train from as far south as Singapore. Note that Malaysian trains also run to the Padang Besar border crossing.
From Hat Yai, trains run north to Bangkok four times from 14:45 to 18:10. A train terminating at Chumphon departs Hat Yai at 06:40, with another departing at 11:00 and terminating at Surat Thani, and two more departing at 09:20 and 14:00 and terminating at Nakhon Si Thammarat. Heading south, trains depart for Sungai Kolok four times from 06:45 to 07:55 and again at 10:20 and 12:30.
The large Hat Yai Bus Terminal (Bor Kor Sor) is located south of downtown next to Central Festival; expect a 60-baht motorbike taxi ride from here to the train station.
Bangkok: Second-class buses depart at 15:30 and 18:30 for 500 baht. First-class buses depart at 07:30, 09:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00 and 20:00 for 640 to 750 baht. VIP buses depart at 08:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:30 for 1,000 baht. Most buses stop at both Sai Tai Mai (Southern) and Morchit (Northern) terminals in Bangkok, but you should ask to make sure. The trip takes 15 hours.
Betong (Malaysia border): Minibuses depart hourly from 08:00 to 20:00 for 230 baht and take five hours.
Chiang Rai: A bus departs at 09:30 for 1,365 baht and takes -- a long time.
Chumphon: Buses depart at 08:15, 09:30, 12:00, 16:20 and 21:00 for 355 baht and take seven hours.
Dannok / Sadao (Malaysia border): Minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 20:00 for 57 baht and take 1.5 hours.
Don Sak (Pier for Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao): Regular buses depart at 08:00 and 10:30 for 240 baht and take five hours, making a stop in Khanom. Otherwise you can take a minibus to Surat Thani for a transfer.
Nakhon Si Thammarat: Regular buses depart at 05:15, 11:00 and 16:00 for 140 baht and take four hours. Minibuses depart hourly from 05:00 to 19:00 for 150 baht and take 3.5 hours, making a stop in Phatthalung.
Nakhon Ratchasima: A bus departs at 16:30 for 950 baht and takes 18 hours.
Padang Besar (Malaysia border): Minibuses depart every half-hour from 06:00 to 18:00 for 50 baht and take just over an hour.
Pattani: Minibuses depart hourly from 05:00 to 18:00 for 100 baht and take two hours.
Phuket: Regular buses depart hourly from 08:00 to 18:00 for 250 to 330 baht, with VIP buses departing at 19:30, 20:10 and 21:30 for 370 to 500 baht. The trip takes six hours and most of these buses stop in Trang, Krabi and Phang Nga.
Ranong: Regular buses depart at 07:00, 11:00 and 21:00 for 367 baht and take eight hours.
Rayong: A bus departs at 15:30 for 930 baht and takes around 18 hours, making a stop in Pattaya.
Satun: Minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 19:00 for 80 baht and take two hours. Make a transfer in Satun if heading to Langkawi.
Songkhla: Minibuses depart every 20 minutes from 06:00 to 19:00 for 28 baht and take an hour. Note that Songkhla-bound minibuses can also be caught at the clock tower just north of downtown off Phet Kasem Road.
Sungai Kolok (Malaysia border): Regular buses depart at 12:30 and 15:30 for 204 baht and take four hours. Minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 18:00 for 200 baht, making a stop in Narathiwat.
Surat Thani: Regular buses depart at 08:00 and 13:00 for 140 baht and take five hours. Minibuses depart hourly from 08:00 to 17:00 for 235 baht. Some Bangkok-bound buses also stop in Surat.
Trang: Minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 18:00 for 100 baht and take three hours. Many Phuket-bound buses also stop in Trang.
Yala: Minibuses depart hourly from 09:00 to 17:00 for 100 baht and take two hours.
In addition, some minibuses depart from Talad Kaset Station on Phet Kasem Road, a few kilometres west of the train station.
Krabi: Departs hourly from 08:00 to 17:00 for 230 baht and takes five hours.
Nakkhon Si Thammarat: Departs every half-hour from 07:00 to 17:30 for 140 baht and takes three hours.
Pakbara (Pier for Ko Lipe, Ko Tarutao and Ko Bulon Lae): Departs every 40 minutes from 08:30 to 18:30 for 110 baht and takes three hours, dropping off right at the pier after a stop in Satun.
Phattalung: Departs hourly from 06:00 to 20:00 for 80 baht and takes two hours.
Phuket: Departs every two hours from 09:00 to 17:00 for 360 baht and takes six hours.
Satun: Departs hourly from 06:00 to 20:00 for 80 baht and takes two hours.
Surat Thani: Departs hourly from 08:00 to 17:00 for 235 baht and takes five hours.
Trang: Departs hourly from 05:00 to 18:00 for 100 baht and takes three hours.
In addition, buses and minibuses run to various points in Malaysia and include waiting time at the border. As far as we know, these can only be booked through travel agents.
Penang: Minibuses depart at 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30 for 400 baht, making a stop in Butterworth.
Kuala Lumpur: VIP buses depart for times from 09:00 to 12:00 and again at 19:00 for 450 baht.
Ipoh: VIP buses depart at 09:30 and 18:00.
Dozens of travel agents in Hat Yai sell combined minibus and ferry tickets to certain Thai islands. With an office below Cathay Guesthouse on Niphat Uthit 2 Road, Cathay Tour is a popular option with an English-speaking owner (T: (089) 466 2591; (086) 488 0086 ; firstname.lastname@example.org).
In high season from 15 October to 15 May, minibuses depart Hat Yai at 08:30, 10:30 and 12:30 for 600 baht, arriving at Ko Lipe around three hours later after a transfer in Pakbara. In low season there’s only one departure from Hat Yai at 08:30. Note that Ko Lipe can also be reached by all-in “fly and ferry” fares via Hat Yai Airport offered by Nok Air and Air Asia.
You can also take the 08:30 departure in high season to reach Ko Bulon Lae or Ko Tarutao via Pakbara, also for 600 baht.
Transfers are also available from Hat Yai to Ko Lanta at 09:30 and 13:00 for 500 baht; Ko Phi Phi at 09:30, 13:00 and 17:00 for 600 baht; Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui at 09:00, 11:30 and 21:00 for 650 baht; and Langkawi at 09:30 and 12:00 for 600 baht. Note that all of these may not be available in low season.
Downtown Hat Yai is fine for walking, with decent footpaths and signs marking most roads. Motorbike taxis and tuk tuks hang around the train station, bus stations and other key places and charge 40 to 100 baht for short trips. Hat Yai also has regular taxis that can be arranged through hotels, at a taxi stand just east of the train station on Thumnoonvithi Road, or by calling (089) 323 7777.
Motorbikes can be rented at Cathay Tour for 250 baht, and The Aree Hostel for 300 baht. Otherwise you could try Hat Yai Rent a Ride, which can deliver and is a better option for a long-term rental (T: 094 319 7393 ; https://m.facebook.com/bikeshatyai/). Car rental is available at the airport through agencies like Avis and Sixt.