Ready to take the plunge? Plan your Thailand trip today.

Is Songkhla Worth Visiting?

As was the case with Hat Yai itself, Songkhla Old Town has been high on my list since a good friend of mine came here a few years ago. Previously, I had almost no interest in this part of Thailand.

While I did end up enjoying Hat Yai quite a bit on the whole, Songkhla was something of a let down. (Although as you’ll see if you continue reading, this was somewhat my fault.)

So, is Songkhla worth visiting? It’s not a yes or no question, although I will spoil the answer a bit. Namely, it depends on your Southern Thailand travel plans, and how much extra time you have to play with.

Need help planning your trip to Thailand? Commission a custom Thailand itinerary!

Differentiating Songkhla Province and Songkhla Old Town

Before I dig into whether or not I find Songkhla worth visiting, I think it’s helpful to define some terms. Well one: “Songkhla.” While I intend to write this post primarily about the Songkhla Old Town, the reality is that Songkhla is an entire province, which includes the aforementioned city of Hat Yai. When taken in that context, there’s a much clearer case to be made that you should, in fact, go to Songkhla.

Songkhla Old Town, meanwhile, occupies a somewhat narrow isthmus of land right near the coast; the main part of the town is just a few streets. Now, if you’re already planning to be in Hat Yai, there’s less of a risk to going here, even if you don’t end up benefitting a lot. On the other hand, I can say right now that I would never get on a plane and fly south simply to explore Songkhla Old town.

What to Do in Songkhla

Explore Songkhla Old Town


Old town or old street? It doesn’t matter, I guess, but when your minivan drops you off in Songkhla, you’ll want to walk southward toward the old buildings and warehouses the make up this area. I do warn you: You’ll probably finish before you even really get started.

Ascend Tangkuan Hill


One possible next step is to walk northward until you reach the base of Tangkuan Hill, which does provide a great view of the town and the surrounding area. However, I can’t personally say it’s proof that Songkhla is worth visiting. The cable car wasn’t working; I had to walk up a poorly-maintained trail alongside lots of monkeys.

Visit Koh Yo—or don’t


Looking southward from Tangkuan Hill, you see massive Koh Yo. An island located within Songkhla Lake and crawling with fisherman’s villages and other local culture, this is a nice place to visit in theory. However, if you’re just coming to Songkhla for the day from Hat Yai, it might not be worth your while.

Hit the beach


I can’t say with a good consciences that beaches would be why Songkhla is worth visiting. On the other hand, several of them (namely Samila Beach) are nothing to shake a stick at, particularly if you set realistic expectations about the water and the sand you’ll arrive to discover.

Watch sunset at the mosque


Whether you stay in Songkhla or back in Hat Yai, the Songkhla Central Mosque (which sits roughly halfway between these two places) is a standout attraction. I highly recommend going at sunset—and staying after the sun sinks beneath the horizon, just in time for the whole sky to take on color.

Songkhla vs Hat Yai

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Songkhla Old Town is merely one destination within the larger Songkhla province. Hat Yai is, too, although it’s a huge city, and not just a tourist area. It does attract a certain number of tourists—namely, Chinese Malaysians looking to eat cheap seafood, and Muslim Malays looking for discreet massage parlors—but at the end of the day it’s a real city.

Ironically, although Songkhla Town is more calibrated toward tourists, the fact that it isn’t a “real city” actually makes me less inclined to feel that Songkhla is worth visiting. There simply isn’t enough “there” there for me to want to go back anytime soon. I guess I could say the same about Hat Yai to be fair, although at least flying there unlocks a number of other onward travel possibilities.

Other FAQ About Visiting Songkhla

Is it worth going to Songkhla?

A half-day trip to Songkhla Old Town (or a full-day one including Koh Yo island) may be worthwhile if you already plan to be in nearby Hat Yai. However, I don’t think I would get on a plane and fly southward simply in order to be able to spend a day in Songkhla.

Can you swim at Songkhla Beach?

You can swim at beaches in Songkhla, although in my opinion neither the water nor the sand is very nice. Additionally, jellyfish have been known to lurk in the waters just offshore—and since they aren’t extremely clear, it can be hard to spot them.

Is Songkhla and Hat Yai the same?

Songkhla and Hat Yai aren’t the same. Hat Yai is a city in Songkhla province, which also includes Songkhla Old Town about 30-45 minutes away by minivan. So in other words, while Hat Yai is part of Songkhla, you can also say it’s separate from Songkhla.

The Bottom Line

Is Songkhla worth visiting? Yes, but only if you already have space within your itinerary for it. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to travel here, certainly not if that means decreasing the amount of time you can devote to island hopping (for example). Looking back, if I could’ve, I definitely would’ve nested a trip to Koh Yo into my trip to Songkhla Old Town, which on its own wasn’t really compelling enough for me to justify the trip. Want even more honest insights to aid you in planning your own trip to Thailand? Consider commissioning a custom Thailand itinerary!


Subscribe to email updates!


Words, images and design ©2019-2024 Robert Schrader, All rights reserved. Read Privacy Policy or view sitemap.