Hat Yai (Thai: หาดใหญ่, pronounced [hàːt jàj], also Haad Yai or Had Yai) is a city in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. It is 946 km (588 mi) south of Bangkok, and has a population of 156,802 (2019) in the city itself and an urban population of about 400,000 (2021) in the entire district of Amphoe Hat Yai. Hat Yai is the largest city of Songkhla province and is part of the Greater Hat Yai-Songkhla Metropolitan Area (a conurbation with a population of about 800,000), forming the largest metropolitan area in the south, and the third largest metropolitan area of the country. The city is often mistaken for being the provincial capital. In fact, Songkhla is the capital and the center of administration and culture while Hat Yai is the business center.
Originally named Khok Samet Chun (โคกเสม็ดชุน, "shore eugenia knoll"), Hat Yai was a small village until the southern railway was built there, making it one of the major rail hubs of the line. The junction which connected the town of Songkhla with the main route was formerly in the U Tapao area, but was later moved to Khok Samet Chun in 1922 when the U Tapao area turned out to be flood-prone. At that time, Khok Samet Chun had only four residents, but thanks to the investments of Khun Niphat Chinnakorn (謝枢泗, Jia Gi Si, 1886–1972, Hakka Chinese), the railway contractor for the railway line from Nakhon Si Thammarat to Pattani, it quickly grew into a small town.
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