Songkhla is a small town near Hat Yai with a population of just over 60,000 permanent residents that is popular with tourists. What makes it popular is its coastal location near a large lake, relaxed atmosphere and interesting old town area. Songkhla receives a lot of Thai and Malaysian tourists, as well as workers from the off shore oil rigs, but not so many other foreign visitors.
Travel to Songkhla
From Hat Yai it takes around 40 minutes to travel by road to Songkhla. The cheapest way to travel from Hat Yai to Songkhla is to take a minivan from Hat Yai Bus Station to Songkhla Bus Station. These minivan service depart frequently from 05:00 to 19;00 every day and the cost is 34 Thai Baht per person (2021 prices) payable on board the minivan. By taxi the journey costs 400 to 500 Thai Baht which needs to be negotiated in advance.
Songkhla Bus Station is at the southern end of Songkhla town, 4.1 km away from the Samila Beach area where the most popular tourist hotels are located. There are hotels which are closer, including those in the Old Town which you could walk to if you are fit and carrying a light bag. Otherwise we recommend taking a local tuk-tuk service to your accommodation. The journey across Songkhla in a tuk-tuk should cost around 60 THB (2021 prices) which also needs to be agreed in advance.
Location of Songkhla Bus Station
- Songkhla is 42 km by road from Hat Yai Airport.
Samila Beach in Songkhla
Samila Beach is at the northern tip of Songkhla. The beach is 3 km long and its most famous feature is its statue of a mermaid. Songkhla’s mermaid statue assumes the same pose as Mae Thoranee who, in Buddhist, mythology is the Earth Gooddess who washed away the Demon God Mara by wringing water from her hair. The other famous statue on Samila Beach is of a cat and mouse. According to local legend a dog, cat and mouse who were on a passing ship stole a magic crystal and attempted to swim to shore with it. All three died with a the dog transforming into the hill behind the beach and the cat and mouse becoming the two islands in the bay.
Samila Beach isn’t a swimming or sunbathing beach. It is, however, a popular to visit in the early evening with seating at the edge of the beach as well as space for people to play games like football. The other popular activity for visitors is horse riding, particularly for children. There are places to buy food and drink near the beach
Songkhla Old Town
Songkhla has one of Thailand’s most interesting Old Town areas. Songkhla has a large Chinese-Thai community which built Chinese style wooden fronted shop houses during a period from the 1830s through to the 1940s, many of which still stand today. Some of these buildings are beautifully persevered and have been converted into boutique style shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s very tourist oriented, however, it’s also unique and well done.
The focal point of Songkhla Old Town is the Hub Ho Hin, or Red Rice Mill. This large wooden building built in 1921 which contained a large steam driven rice milling machine and was painted bright red. Its free to enter Hub Ho Hin, which contains stalls from a range of local producers and displays of art work. At the rear of the mill is a jetty which was once used to transport rice to and from the mill. The jetty is worth visiting as it looks out over the massive Songkhla lake and a wide of ships that still dock there. It’s an atmospheric spot and lots of visitors go there to take photographs.