Thursday, December 8, 2022

[Travel/ Food Guide] Itinerary to Hatyai, Thailand (合艾,泰国) 2022

Ever since Thailand uplifted the foreigner entry requirements  (no vaccination cert required) in Oct 2022, many Malaysian tourists are resuming their pilgrimage visits to Hatyai, the southern town of Songkhla. With only 60km away from the Malaysia-Thai border, it is a popular destination for a short getaway. Clearing customs and immigration is as easy as before, just present a valid Passport and relevant forms (if driving). There are many changes to Hatyai- with some places closed down for good but there are also quite a lot of new places sprung up. We too did the routine, ritual shopping at Kim Yong Market and Central Festival Mall but apart from that, we had ventured further to explore new places that we haven't been before. 

Read our previous blog entries to Hatyai here: Year 2017 and Year 2019

1) Cheevit Cheeva Hatyai
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 43/22, Rajyindee Soi 6/1 Road, Tambon Hatyai, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 83 168 8889

Shokupan Sangkaya Bingsu (255 THB/ Regular)

Bua-Loi Bingsu (255 THB/ Family Size)

Cheevit Cheeva Cafe has been luring young crowd lately, the fairly new cafe churns out eye-pleasing sweet treats and thus, gaining a lot of attention on social media sites. There are only limited seating in Cheevit Cheeva and the place is usually very packed on weekends so do plan your trip ahead if you wish to avoid the crowd. No mains are offered here at Cheevit Cheeva, only some pastries and desserts... their best sellers are their Bingsu. Cheevit Cheeva's signature Bua-Loi Bingsu is a different interpretation of the traditional Thai Bua Loi dessert- Glutinous Rice Balls in Coconut Milk. The Milk-infused shaved Ice was fine and light on the palate; the chewy Glutinous Rice Balls added a different layer of texture to the icy treat. We were contented with the Bua-Loi Bingsu but we were then wow-ed by the Shokupan Sangkaya Bingsu. We were literally blown away by the Sangkaya-Bingsu combo, made better with the fluffy-soft Bread drizzled with luscious, creamy-sweet Sangkaya. Extra Coconut Milk is also provided for those who prefer creamier texture. We unanimously voted the Shokupan Sangkaya Bingsu as the best dessert we've had for this trip. 

2) Jae Lek Thai Restaurant
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 190/3-4, Nipatutid 2 Road, Tambon Hatyai, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 82 656 9478

Thai Herb Salad (150 THB)

Stir Fried Malindjo Leaves with Egg (80 THB)

Tom Yum Goong (180 THB)

Pad Thai (120 THB)

Tab Tim Krob (50 THB)

An old-school Thai restaurant that has been running since 1967, Jae Lek is probably a name that you have heard of for many times and its very popular amongst both locals and tourists. The Thai restaurant is also strategically located in city centre, a short 5-min walk from Lee Garden Mall. They have a big Thai menu offering all the classic Southern Thai delights, expect restaurant-level price point though but considering the portion and the restaurant is fully air-conditioned, the prices are still reasonable. 

Thai Herb Salad was the most unique order here, it has a concoction of Peanuts, Ginger, Shallots, julienned Lemongrass, Keffir Lime Leaves, Dried Shrimp, Fried Pork Rinds... tossed in a sweet, spicy sauce. When wrapped with Betel Leaves, the dish resembles flavors and texture of Mieng Kham. The Tom Yum Goong on the other hand, was a let down. The flavors were muted, we were expecting a sweat-inducing experience with bold sour-spicy notes but it did not happen. We can probably find better Tom Yum here in Penang. The Stir Fried Malindjo Leaves with Egg was good, it possessed a nice smoky touch and best spooned over rice. 

3) NamKee Cafe
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 117-119, Chotevittayakul 1 Road, Tambon Hatyai, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 8 am to 5 pm. Closed on Thursdays.
Contact Number: +66 80 395 5454

Foi Thong Cake (85 THB)

Matcha Croissant (120 THB)

Rum and Raisin Croissant ((120 THB)

Hot Matcha Green Tea (65 THB)

A short walk from Central Festival Mall Hatyai- Nam Kee is a homey space most frequented by locals. It is not a place for big meals but rather, a place for sweet treats over Coffee or Tea. It has a minimalist interior decor with a small selection of Cakes and Pastries. Their choices for Croissant are surprisingly big with many interesting flavors like Matcha Croissant, Rum and Raisin Croissant etc. Fully air-conditioned and very comfortable space to chill, a casual hangout place. We had our Caffeine fix here before hitting the highway. As for the Croissants, there was nothing extraordinary. The Rum and Raisin was interesting but the Matcha version was disappointing... a little too dry to our liking and the flavor did not shine. Foi Thong Cake was a fun attempt though. 

4) Lao Lao Cafe
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Nipatsongkrew 1, Soi 15 Road, Tambon Hatyai, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 4 pm to 11:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 80 696 3766

Deep Fried Seabass served with Fruit Salad (280 THB)

Fresh Surat Thani Oysters (150 THB)

Signature Deep Fried Pork (100 THB)

Som Tam Pla Ra (80 THB)

Stir Fried Chicken with Holy Basil (70 THB)

Probably our best discovery for Thai restaurant this trip- Lao Lao Cafe left us with the deepest impression. It was quite a challenge to order as the menu is not foreigner-friendly and the server did not seem to be able to communicate in English well. But fortunately we did not give up. We've managed to place our order by choosing the photos on their social media page. The place has a beautiful and seemingly Bohemian-style setting but a pity that the place is not air-conditioned. 

We recommend trying their Surat Thani Oysters which came in surprisingly affordable at 150THB. Extremely fresh and plump, the Oysters were served with Thai Chili sauce and some condiments. Equally good was the Deep Fried Seabass served with Fruit Salad, the fish was expertly cooked with crispy edges and soft-tender meat. It was delicious on its own but even better with the addition of the saliva-inducing Salad. It is possible to change to Mango Salad but we wanted to have a change so we had the Fruit Salad instead. Not for the faint-hearted, the Som Tam Pla Ra was lip-burningly hot with a peculiar smell. Pla Ra is a type of Thai seasoning by fermenting Fish so it does exude an exquisite and exotic flavor. We were very happy with our meal here and looking forward to our next visit already. 

5) SeaVerse Cafe & Restaurant
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Lopburi, Ramesuan Road, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 11 am to 8 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 66 047 2047

Grilled Chicken Breast served with Fries and Vegetables (250 THB)

Stir Fried Spaghetti with Malindjo Leaves and Egg (180 THB)

Stir Fried Spaghetti with Red Curry Chicken (220 THB)

Tobiko Pizza (280 THB)

Mango Sticky Rice Latte (115 THB)

SeaVerse is definitely the hippest tourist spot in Hatyai right now, the place is thronged with tourists on weekends with many tour buses and local visitors seen at the car park. Located at the outskirt of Hatyai town, the place is accessible only by cars or Tuk Tuk, it is not possible to reach there by foot (unless you are prepared to walk for hours). It is a gated park where visitors can take photos and enjoy the countryside scenery. Do note that there is an entrance fee of 20 THB required per person but that can be used as a discount voucher for any purchases at the cafe and restaurant. Fun for novelty experience but nothing overly exciting here. 

As for the restaurant, it serves a Thai-influenced Western menu where you will find Pasta, Pizza, Grill dishes on the menu with above-average prices. We had a couple of Pasta dishes and found both overly seasoned and a tad salty to our liking. The serving portion was smaller than expected too. Tobiko Pizza was alright but it did not quite strike us, the Tobiko was merely an extra touch, it had not done much in its aid. The Grilled Chicken Breast was probably the best dish here but again, nothing to shout over. 

6) After You Hatyai (Central Festival Mall)
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Ground Floor of Central Festival Mall, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 10 am to 9 pm. Opens Daily.

Mango Sticky Rice Kakigori (285 THB)

Strawberry Cheese Cake Kakigori (285 THB)

After You needs no further introduction, the dessert chain is especially popular in Thailand. The branch in Central Festival Mall Hatyai is equally busy as compared to the rest of the branches in Bangkok but if you are there on a weekday, chances of partaking in a long queue are low. We passed by on Friday evening and it was rather quiet but when we returned on Saturday evening, it took us 1.5 hours to get our seats. The menu is pretty much standard across Thailand and their Kakigori is definitely their best sellers. We recommend trying their Mango Sticky Rice Kakigori, the shaved Ice is infused with Mango, making the icy treat bold in Mango flavor. We also like the extra touch of Glutinous Rice and creamy Coconut Cream on top. After You can be found on Ground Floor of Central Festival Mall Hatyai, right next to Starbucks Coffee and opposite Uniqlo. 

7) LaMoon Hatyai
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 224, Soi 5 Bantungree, Kho Hong, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 12 am on every Monday to Saturday, 5 pm to 12 am on Sundays. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 97 351 0517

Yam Lamoon (200 THB)

Kheng Som Seabass (350 THB)

Chicken Stew with Turmeric (220 THB)

Deep Fried Pork Belly (450 THB)

Stir Fried Water Spinach (100 THB)

LaMoon Hatyai was once very popular but things did not go as expected ever since they moved to the current location. Though  the hard core fans are still supportive, they have lost the competitive edge to some competitors. The Thai restaurant offers a rather unique Southern Thai menu with live band performance on weekends (in the evenings). Unlike any traditional Thai restaurants, the place has a modern-chic vibe with outdoorsy ambiance. Price points are on the higher side though. 

On our visit, we had Yam Lamoon, a signature dish of LaMoon with plenty of Seafood dressed in a sweet-sour-spicy sauce and served with some crunchy elements like Cashew Nuts and Fried Fish Maw. It was lovely. Equally good was the Pork Belly- beautifully marinated and expertly cooked with crunchy texture. The meat inside was tender and worked well with the Thai dipping sauce (sweet Soy sauce and Green Chili sauce). The Kheng Som Seabass was a let down. The broth was somehow bland and the flavors were muted. Raw Pineapples were used and the sweetness went missing, it was quite flat. Considering the hefty price tags, our interest of returning to this restaurant is greatly discounted. 

8) Pa-Ad Fresh Milk
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Chee Uthit Road, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 6 pm to 12:30 am. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 81 767 5215

Steamed Bread with Sangkaya (50 THB)

Fresh Milk (20 THB)

Grilled Squid, Fish Balls and Sausages

A popular supper spot for many tourists and local Thai, Pa-Ad Fresh Milk has been around for years. The place specializes in offering warm Fresh Milk and their signature steamed Bread with Sangkaya. The bread is served piping hot with creamy, sweet Sangkaya. It is best for sharing and enjoyed with a cup of warm, rich Fresh Milk to cut through the sweetness. Interestingly, there is another stall right next to Pa-Ad that sells skewers. They offer various Sausages, Fish Balls and even Squids... to be grilled over coal fire. We found ourselves enjoying the skewers more than the steamed Bread with Sangkaya. A good novelty experience nevertheless.  Pa-Ad Fresh Milk is only a short walk from Lee Garden Mall. 

9) Ton Moung Dim Sum 
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Phet Kasem Soi 8/1, Amphoe Hatyai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand.
Business Hours: 6 am to 2 pm, 5 pm to 8 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 61 532 3546

Fish Maw Stew

Bak Kut Teh

Various Dim Sum

Another good alternative to Dim Sum is Ton Moung Dim Sum, right next to Big C Extra in Hatyai town. Chok Dee and Cook Chai are getting busier with tourists so to avoid the crowd, you may consider checking out this place instead. The location is slightly far away from Lee Garden (the benchmark for Hatyai center). There are slightly lesser choices here at Ton Moung but the seating arrangement is definitely more comfortable. There is an air-conditioned corner where one can enjoy the Dim Sum dishes comfortably without worrying on the tropical heat. Like most Dim Sum joints in Hatyai, the dishes are steamed to order so you will need to head to the order counter and pick your own dishes. Apart from Dim Sum, Bak Kut Teh and Fish Maw Soup are also available. For those who seek for heavier meals, the lunch menu featuring various Thai delights are also available (like Pork Knuckle, stir fries etc). We particularly enjoyed the Fish Maw Soup, the Bak Kut Teh was alright and same for the Dim Sum dishes but glad to say that none of them disappoint. 

10) The Bay Cafe and Eatery Songkhla
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 17, Chalathat, Bo Yang, Mueang. Songkhla District, Songkhla, 90000, Thailand.
Business Hours: 10 am to 8 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 98 669 9743

Mocha Macadamia Cake (105 THB)

Lemon Tart (90 THB)

Citron Yogurt Smoothie (95 THB) and Iced Mocha (80 THB)

If you are taking a leisure stroll along Samila Beach near Songkhla Old Town, make your way to The Bay Cafe. It has a cozy, comfortable setting perfect to rest your feet. The Bay Cafe can be found approximately 5 min drive away from the famous tourist spot- Mermaid statue. The beach is right in front of the cafe and if you are seated outside, you get to enjoy the soul-touching sea breeze. On the food offering, there are no mains, just some simple cakes and pastries. Nothing to shout over for the food but the interior decor is really something, every spot in the cafe seems to offer a good photograph-opportunity. Another good way to enjoy the sea-nery and a short respite from the big crowd. 

Have Fun Exploring Hatyai! 

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