Only fifty kilometers from Pedang Besar, Hat Yai is a magnet for Malaysian and Singaporean tourists. Not only Hat Yai is famous for tax-free shopping and eating; temple touring and an excursion to Tone Nga Chang Waterfall offers a nice balance to your Hat Yai vacation. Great value accommodations in Hat Yai are plenty but they tend to get busy during the weekends and public holidays so do not try your luck if you intend to walk-in!
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Diana is a bit off the city center. But it is close enough to shop. Main merchandise in the building is clothing. There is a Diana Department Store and there are a few small shops inside. There is a cineplex in the building. There are a few restaurants such as Pizza and Swenson's Ice-cream.
Odean Shopping Centre
"O.D.," as the locals call it, is a nice place to shop. It is not as fancy as the other department stores in town but they seem to have sale quite often. OD even has "Merdeka Sale" sometimes in August to celebrate Malaysian's independence day!!!
For Malaysian tourists, the skincare and cosmetics are cheaper in Thailand. In OD, head to the 2nd floor for these items. But be careful to check the expiration date on the products as I found that merchandise in OD is a bit old sometimes. But you will find good bargain there.
Local Markets: Santisok Market & Yong Dee Market
It is a popular place for the locals to shop. Don't expect it to be big like those in Bangkok. It is enough to serve the local shoppers and Malaysian and Singaporean tourists.
Pretty much anything from clothes (Polo, Abercrombie & Fitch, etc), sport shoes, electrical appliances, DVD/ CDs (of course pirated version with nice packaging), etc. However, don't expect to find many handicrafts or local souvenirs here.
Kim Yong Market
Kim Yong Market is famous for the locals to get imported snacks from Malaysia and Singapore. You will find many muslim vendors sellling merchandise on the street. The market itself has many small stalls nestled on narrow alleyways. It is covered and can get a bit clasterphobic sometimes.
According to my Thai friends, one of the most popular souvenir from Hatyai is Pringles potato chips! Apparently, they are imported from Malaysia and are cheaper than in the rest of Thailand. Other things to be considered at this market are local fruits, all sorts of nuts, and anything Thai!! Batik is also popular at this market.
Street Vendors & Hawkers: Honest Hawkers
Three streets away from Lee Garden Hotel (from the front entrance), you will find a Malay woman hawker who sells the usual dry titbits Malaysians love to buy home-cashew nuts, pistachios, durian cakes. The best thing about her is her honesty.
At the first look, you may complain of prices of her goods becaue they are definitely priced higher than many (actually only slightly higher) but that is because she sells you the products weighed with an accurate weighing machine.
I tested by weighing products bought from other hawkers on this hawker's weighing machine and found all much less than claimed.
Dried food stuff - cashew nuts, pistachios, durian cakes etc.
Street Vendors & Hawkers: Bargain for the Best Price!!!
If you like to buy the cheap cheap clothing, ear rings, souvenirs, etc... then Hat Yai is really a best place to shop. Some of the shopping complexes there offer goods in a good price, such as the Yong Dee store. Besides, you can also buy from the street vendors, which normally come out to sell their things in the morning and the night time. Noon and early evening is their resting time. So you too go back and have a nap before continuing the night activities!