Saturday, November 11, 2023

[HAT YAI] Two Buddhas for Your Pit Stop


Hat Yai has always been on my radar as far as gateways to Southern Thailand are concerned. It wouldn’t be my first time to the south. After all, I’ve already visited Phuket eons ago. However, I was still on the hunt for southern airports to explore other areas, and Hat Yai filled that gap. I thought this would be nothing more than a glorified pitstop en route to neighboring Satun, and so I was surprised when Hat Yai, apparently, has its own tourist attractions in store.


The airport is a bit far from the city center, but nothing that Grab couldn’t reach. I paid THB175 (~PHP275) for the thirty minute ride, which isn’t bad if you ask me. That’s almost just as far as NAIA to Las Pinas and yet you wouldn’t find a Grab Car charging less than PHP500 for that route. My hostel was in a crowded area in front of a night market, which made everything accessible. It was a mere ten minute walk to the train station, which would come in handy for my trip to Satun two days later.


Since Grab Car and Grab Bike are ubiquitous in Thailand, I decided to take advantage of the convenience that it brings. The thing is, no Grab Bike would take me to the cable car station. I booked three and all of them were canceled, which forced me to book a more expensive Grab Car, which charged THB123 (~PHP190) for the 25-minute drive. He dropped me off right at the cable car station all the way up the hill. Wait, where are we again in the first place?


This attraction is the Hat Yai cable car, which wasn’t operational when I went. Is that a bad thing? If you are a big fan of aerial views, then maybe yes. However, the Buddha attraction as well as the terraces going downhill are located right there at the cable car station, which means they are accessible even without the cable car coming into play. First stop was the golden Buddha looking over Hat Yai perched atop his very own hill. You can climb all the way to his platform and enjoy the view from there.


A few steps down will lead you to the terrace leading to yet another complex, this time with white statues. I no longer bothered to head down there because I am a lazy ass mofo, but you can obviously go. By all means. That saves you a lot of time by circumventing the zigzag road heading down. As for me, I chanced upon a Grab Bike who went all the way up the hills just to pick me up. Otherwise, it would have been a very long walk down back to the entrance.


There are more attractions there up the hills. They even have a small planetarium of sorts as well as several other Buddha statues such as the baby Buddha grotto next to it. There are also some benches overlooking the cliff, if looking down at the city is your thing. While this attraction is popular among tourists, you will also find a lot of locals going there just to have a good time, perhaps as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of downtown Hat Yai down below.


Another tourist attraction of choice once you are done here is a place called Wat Hat Yai Nai. This one is another Buddha but reclining, and considered to be the largest reclining Buddha in the region. The Grab Bike trip from the cable car station took 20 minutes and I was charged a measly THB80 (~PHP125). The temple is really quiet and located a block or two away from the main road. Just a few souls were there when I went for a visit, which helped in preserving the serene atmosphere.


And that was Hat Yai for me. I’d say give it a shot. If you are landing at Hat Yai airport, you might want to stay over for a night or two just to visit the two Buddhas. Hat Yai’s airport has connections to Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Kuala Lumpur. From here, you can take a van or a bus to the neighboring provinces of Thailand in the south which includes the beaches of Ko Tarutao National Park in Satun next door.

[HAT YAI] Two Buddhas for Your Pit Stop

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