Buses and trains leave the southern transportation hub of Hat Yai heading northwards to the capital all day long. With buses you have more choices and spend less time on the move. With trains your journey lasts longer but if you buy a night sleeper, an 18-hour journey turns out to be not as bad as it seems at the beginning.
From Hat Yai to Bangkok by bus
You have a wide choice of buses leaving Hat Yai for Bangkok any time of the day. Calculate that you journey will last about 13 hours, so the most convenient option is to take a night bus to save some baht on a hotel room and arrive to your destination in the early morning. With morning buses you lose the whole day, though it is quite interesting to observe the pictures of the countryside passing by as you cross the country from the South to the North. Note that as a rule buses which travel by day are not as cold as the night ones. Do not forget, either, that with all the morning departures you reach Bangkok well after dark, so it is a wise idea to have your accommodation in Bangkok booked. Buses from Hat Yai arrive to the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok, Sai Tai Mai, located on the Western banks of Chao Phraya. It may be easier to take a taxi to go to your accommodation if you arrive in the evening than to try to figure out the MBTA bus routes.
Piya and Sri Siam Tour bus companies both operate Express, VIP and VIP24 buses from Hat Yai to Bangkok and offer very similar service which includes snacks and water for passengers of express buses and meals and some sort of entertainment program for VIPs and VIP24s.
Two VIP24 leave in the evening at 5.30pm (arriving to Bangkok at 4.30am) and 7.30pm (8.10am) and cost around THB1150. VIP24 means only three seats per row and allows you to travel with maximum comfort.
There are VIPs at 6.20am (7.40pm), 4pm (4.40am), 6.30pm (7.10am) and 8pm (8.45am) at THB850 and ordinary Express buses at 9am (9.40pm), 3pm (3.45am), 5pm (5.40am) and 6pm (6.40am) at THB730.
In general buses in Thailand are relatively comfortable but be ready to get off the bus for fueling at gas stations even during night journeys. In any case, it is usually not a bad idea to stretch your legs.
From Hat Yai to Bangkok by train
Trains are generally a slower means of transport in Thailand compared to buses, and on Hat Yai–Bangkok leg your train journey may last six hours longer than if you opt for a bus – 18 hours instead of 12 hours. But it does not mean that you have to say ‘goodbye’ to the idea of travelling from Hat Yai to Bangkok by train. Book a sleeper and enjoy your over-900-km journey to the accompaniment of a rhythmical clickety-click.
Tip: On their way to Bangkok, trains travelling the Southern Line of Thai State Railway from Hat Yai pass Suratthani, Chumphon and Hua Hin, so if you have time you may split your journey by calling to the islands of the Gulf or checking in at the first official royal Thai sea resort.
There is a whole bunch of trains leaving Hat Yai in the afternoon and in the evening and reaching Bangkok in the morning. The fastest one is #42 at 4.20pm. It completes the journey to Bangkok in 13½ hours, arriving to Hua Lamphong train station by 6am; but it has third class AC seats only which is definitely not the best investment at THB925.
Two afternoon trains – #170 at 2.30pm and #172 at 3.30pm – both bring you to Bangkok in about 18 hours and have second class AC and fan sleepers at THB1050 (#170 offers slightly cheaper fan sleepers at THB825). From the point of view of the quality-vs-price ratio, AC and fan sleepers are the best choice for your travel, especially if you book a lower berth which is wider that the upper one. Though AC carriages may seem a better idea at first glance, it often gets really freezing cold inside, so be sure to have warm clothes at hand or book a second class fan sleeper.
Evening trains #38 at 6pm and #36 at 6.30pm are faster and cover the distance between Hat Yai and Bangkok in about 16 hours. They offer second class AC sleepers at THB1125 and first class AC sleepers at THB1850. Though roughly one-third more expensive than the second class sleeper, the first class sleeper generally gets great reviews from travellers. So if you wish to travel with maximum comfort, consider buying the most expensive option. There is a ladies only second class AC sleeper in #38 which is the best choice for solo women travellers or women with kids. Tickets to the ladies only carriage are sold at the same price as normal second class sleepers.
From Hat Yai to Bangkok by plane
With a good choice of daily flights between Hat Yai and Bangkok operated by several low-cost airlines offering stunningly attractive airfare, it is worth considering flying between the two cities. A one-hour-and-forty-minutes flight saves you a lot of time and – in certain cases – money and nerves.
Thai Lion Air is one of the low-cost carriers based in Hat Yai Airport with seven daily flights to and from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport. There is a very convenient morning flight at 8.10am which arrives to Bangkok at 9.50am. Then there are flights at 10.05am, 12.15pm, 2.40pm, 5.05pm, 7.10pm and 10.05pm. If taking any of the three evening flights, remember that you will need about an hour to get to the city from the airport. It may turn out to be a wise idea to book your accommodation in advance then and to advise your host about your arrival time. Tickets from Hat Yai to Bangkok with Lion Air cost from THB1025 up to THB4000 and include 15 kg of checked-in luggage and 7 kg of cabin luggage. Normally even the last minute deals offer a great value, but you anyway have to book at least 36 hours in advance.
Hat Yai International Airport is locates about 15 km from the central part of Hat Yai. It may take you up to one hour to get there from the city as Route 4135 which links the city to the airport sees a lot of traffic. Taxis from the city ask from THB250 to THB320 for a ride to the airport. Taxis, songthaews and tuk-tuks are plentiful and there are always drivers hanging around Hat Yai railway station and the old market.
In Bangkok Lion Air is based in Don Mueang International Airport to the north of the capital. It is connected to the city by airport shuttle buses (routes A1 and A2). A1 terminates at Morchit bus terminal calling en route to Morchit BTS. A2 heads to Morchit BTS first and then proceeds to Saphan Kwai BTS, Ari BTS, Sanam Pao BTS and finally reaches the Victory Monument (THB30). Travel time depends on traffic and is from 60 to 80 minutes. There are commuter trains between Don Mueang airport and Hua Lamphong train station, too. Trains take about 50 minutes to get from the railway station to the airport and are always a secure bet. Operating time is from 3.10am till 10.15pm.
From Hat Yai to Malaysia and Singapore
Billion Stars Express operates one bus a day from Hat Yai to Sungai Nibong on Pulau Pinang and to Butterworth, which sits on the mainland in Malaysia. The bus leaves from the company’s Hat Yai bus station in Sheutit Rd., off Sangchan Rd. The whole journey takes about three hours and costs THB350.
From Sungai Nibong, Billion Stars has a further connection to a 9.15pm bus heading to Ipoh. It takes two hours and THB170 to get there. The same bus proceeds then to Singapore to Golden Mine Tower (8hrs 40min, THB550).
Note: Before buying your ticket from Hat Yai to Malaysia or from Hat Yao to Singapore, check visa requirements for your passport.
Have you had enough of the South?
From Hat Yai to Trang and Phuket
Sri Trang bus company offers direct buses from Hat Yai to destinations on the Andaman Coast. Seven buses a day leave Hat Yai bus station heading for Trang and Phuket from 8am till 9.30pm. It takes 2¼ hours to get from Hat Yai to Trang or seven hours to reach Phuket. Tickets cost THB260 and THB380 respectively.
From Hat Yai to other southern destinations
Interprovincial and southbound buses and minivans leave from the main bus terminal in Hat Yai which is located 2km southeast from the centre. From Hat Yai you can get to Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat in the south or head northwards to Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani or Chumphon. There are vans and buses to Dannok, Padang Besar and Sudan Kolok on the Thai-Malaysian border, too.