No ordinary park
Published: 20th July, 2017
Offering a lot more than your typical urban green space, Hat Yai Municipal Park stretches around a mountain, Khao Kho Hong, with a series of religious images and viewpoints where you can gaze north and west over the city.
At the foot of the mountain you’ll find a bunch of pavilions, playgrounds and food stalls overlooking a large pond where lovebirds pedal swan boats. Though relaxing and fun for people watching on weekends, this area is just the introduction to the park, which is called Suan Satharana in Thai.
A sealed road winds up the hill, passing broad tamarind trees before arriving at a four-faced statue of Brahma, the Hindu creator god. Beyond that, at the top of the mountain, a 25-metre-tall standing Buddha is supposedly the largest Buddha image in the blessing posture found in Southern Thailand. Nearby you can relax under a Bodhi tree or sip on a coffee while enjoying the views.
Next to the Buddha image, a gondola will carry you across the valley to the Brahma image for 200 baht per person -- it was added in recent years simply for the thrill and does not run all the way down the mountain. Fronting the Buddha image is a long stairway shooting down to a large white statue of Kuan Yin, Chinese “goddess” of compassion. Wander into the lower room to find smaller Kuan Yin statues numbering 108, an auspicious number in Buddhism.
The road to the top is challenging if going on foot; we ended up taking a ride from a friendly family from Tak Bai who saw us sweating it out. To avoid that you could take one of the trams that depart every half-hour from the north side of the pond, just beyond the “fitness park,” and stop at the Brahma statue on the way to the top, hitting the Kuan Yin statues on the way back down.
If walking, you’re best off heading to the south side of the pond and following the road before taking the stairs near a Chinese pavilion. This way leads straight to the Kuan Yin statue and the Buddha image up top, though you’d have to take the cable car or another road running behind to reach the Brahma statue from there.
While not a must-see, the park is a great place to watch the sunset and it can be hit on the same trip as Khlong Hae Floating Market.
Hat Yai Municipal Park is located eight kilometres northeast of the train station off Karnchanawanich Rd (aka Route 407), a major highway running north out of the city. White songthaews run here from in front of Central Festival near the main bus terminal, or you can take a tuk tuk or taxi for around 400 baht round trip from downtown.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.