Welcome to Songkhla, Thailand!
Songkhla is not the kind of place to simply be introduced, adequately, through the window of a passing tour bus; you need more than a day to enjoy all the city has to offer. Songkhla’s cultural authenticity and heritage even renowned towns in Thailand and neighboring Malaysia. Surprisingly, despite its somewhat sleepy-looking façade, there are a lot of things to do and see, in Songkhla.
A visit to Songkhla will teleport you to a world that you won’t want to leave. So, to narrow it down and give a starting point for your time there, here is our insider’s guide to some of the coolest spots in Songkhla for the worldwide local.
Worldwide Local Tip: You can reach Songkhla directly by bus from Bangkok, this will take you around fourteen hours. If you are coming from other parts of Thailand you will probably have to head to Hat Yai, the neighboring (and much larger) city a few kilometers inland, which has an airport and bus linking to most of the rest of the country.
Start with a Tram Tour
The Singora Tram Tour is a fantastic way to see the highlights of Songkhla Old Town, especially if you are short on time, and it’s absolutely free! Although they post their operating times as running the 30 to 40-minute tours hourly, they are somewhat inconsistent in their schedule. However, it is well worth taking the trip, because they make a scenic loop through the area. They may even make a few stops along the tour, it all depends on the guide’s enthusiasm.
Worldwide Local Tip: The tour runs from the old prime minister’s birthplace by the city wall/national museum six times a day from 9 am, although if not enough people show up, it probably won’t go. We recommend that you visit them soon after your Songkhla arrival, to increase your chances of actually finding them operating.
Get Outdoors in Songkhla
Don’t spend your whole trip lazing in your Songkhla hotel! Any stay here will be incomplete without visiting Samila beach and learning about the Golden Mermaid. Several vendors congregate along the Songkhla beachfront, selling everything from cheap snacks to unique Songkhla souvenirs, so bring extra cash.
Trek up Khao Tang Kuan (Tang Kuan translates to Monkey in Thai l). Behind the iconic mermaid, you’ll spot Mouse Island and Cat Island both of which get their names from a local folktale. Whether or not you believe in old legends, this hill is a stunning point to enjoy an aerial view of Songkhla Lake and the Gulf of Thailand. You’ll also see several monkeys gather around the foot of the hill and see them go crazy when someone tries to feed them will be your treat.
Worldwide Local Tip: There is more than one way to get to the top of dog mountain; each more challenging than the other. The simple way would be to take the Tan Kuan Hill lift at Sukhum Road, which for 30 baht you can ride an elevator 105-meters (344 feet) up the side of the mountain. If you are more adventurous, you may want to ascend via the free Naga stairs on Ratchadamnoen Alley, across from Wat Laem Sai. Be warned, the distance from the first step to the hilltop Dvaravati chedi, is a full 300 plus step, calorie-burning vertical climb.
Eat Like a Local
You’ll be sure to be spoiled for food as Songkhla has so many cheap eats. From the most popular street food, like satay or any other meat on a stick, to the more elaborate authentic Thai cuisine like braised duck and gizzards. You will never have to walk very far for a culinary treat in Songkhla. If you are lucky to be in town on a weekend, Friday through Sunday, the Night Market is a not-to-be-missed, one-stop shopping.
You will find the street lined up with mobile vendors, especially in the evenings, along Wichiamchom Road, near the Ancient City Wall. If you don’t want your food on the go, you can sit at one of the plastic tables and chairs set up along the sidewalks for diners, to relax, and enjoy the ambiance. Here, you will always find fried and barbecued chicken, guay teow (noodle soup), along with pad thai and papaya salad, as well as sweets such as kao tom mag (sticky rice) and tasty blended juice drinks.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are looking for some authentic Chinese-Thai cuisine, the area neighboring the City Pillar Shrine and Nang Ngam Road have several eateries, including the renowned 80-year-old Tae Hieng Lew restaurant that offers the best in town.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Visiting Thailand doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to visit some of the smaller cities in the country. As a worldwide local, explore cities like Songkhla which remain visitor-friendly, less crowded, and still give you that immersive cultural experience a worldwide local is looking for.