Visit Hat Yai, one of Thailand’s largest cities, for shopping and viewing temples. Its proximity to Malaysia makes it a major commercial hub, popular with tourists from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Hat Yai Municipal Park offers varied leisure activities northeast of the city center. The golden Standing Buddha near Kuan Im Temple gleams in the sunlight. Known as Phra Buddha Mongkol Maharaj, it is over 60 feet (20 meters) tall. Walk through a gleaming dragon head with an extended tongue to the sitting Laughing Buddha. The Hat Yai Observatory features exhibits about space and telescopes on its observation level. Ride the Cable Car from this complex to the Four Faced Buddha. Enjoy aerial views of the city on one side and forest on the other.
In addition to the Buddhas, look for other monuments and statues honoring King Rama V, Guan Yin, Guan Yu and other gods. Get out of the heat in the Hat Yai Ice Dome to see ice sculptures created by expert carvers from Harbin, China, and slip down the giant ice slide. Walk around the lake to have a picnic or rent a rowboat for lazing in the still water.
Overlooking the U-Ta Phao river is the Wat Hat Yai Nai. Look inside this temple to see one of Thailand’s largest reclining Buddhas.
For shopping, visit the city’s many department stores and high-end boutiques catering to Asian tourists. Stop at the flea market and floating market, where bargaining is welcome.
Rent a moped to ride to the Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of the city center. During the wet season, cascading waterfalls provide great photo opportunities. Splash around in the pools beneath the falls.
Although Hat Yai is in Thailand, it lies on the Malay Peninsula, far closer to Malaysia than to Bangkok. Fly to Hat Yai International Airport, about a 30-minute drive southwest of the center of the city. Use tuk-tuks or motorcycle taxis to get around town.