Floating Market in Hat Yai - One of the most popular places which is located about 20 minutes from Hatyai town. This is a food lovers haven as the food vendors come by boat via river to sell their unique Thai dishes. Not to be missed if you love Thai food and honestly, some of the best hawker food and drinks can be found here. There is also a land market selling all sorts of things too so this is hands down one of the must-not-miss places in Hat Yai. The floating food market only operates on weekend evenings. Time here: 1-2 hours.
Hat Yai Cable Car - One of the new attractions in Hat Yai, it is actually quite fun and interesting to ride on this. The surroundings of the cable car are also not to be missed as it takes you one way up the hill to another interesting 'Elephant' Temple. Views from around here show parts of Songkhla district. Time here: 1-2 hours. A fee applies to ride the Hatyai Cable car.
The Great Serpent Nag in Songkhla - A statue attraction located by the sea, the Serpent Nag shoots water into the ocean. This is also part of a three piece dragon that is strategically located around the area. The head portion faces the sea while the other sections are nearby. It is believed that Nag is to bring good fortune, wealth, fertility and prosperity to the people of Songkhla City. No entrance fee at this attraction.
Hat Yai Food Experience - The streets are littered with all types of hawkers selling local Thai food. Not to be missed, you can find a lot of stalls by the roads in the day and night. Famous dishes like Thai Fish Cakes and Grilled Seafood are easily found at popular areas. Try the local restaurants for some authentic Thai food. There are also halal Thai food at some restaurants in Hat Yai town.
Khao Kop Cave in Trang - Located about one to two hours drive from Hat Yai, this cave offers a very unique experience. Boating and caving at the same time. See the picture and you will know what I mean. A fun adventure which is suitable for all ages and prepare to spend at least two to three hours here. Entrance fees applies too.
Songkhla Aquarium - Another popular attraction located about 45 minutes from Hat Yai city, there are also other activities available around here. The Songkhla aquarium caters to freshwater and also salt water fishes and overall a fun place to visit and if you have kids, that is a bonus. An underwater show in a large tank is also the end attraction here. Admission fees applies where there are some promotions going on so check with the counter.
Phu Pha Phet Cave in Satun - Another cave worth a visit is the Diamond Cave or Phu Pha Phet Cave in Satun area, about an hour and a half drive out from Hat Yai. Here, you have the option of exploring these beautiful caves on foot where various structures can be seen. A 'Jade' rock sits in the middle of the 18 acre cave. A total of 20 caves are found inside while there are seven floors to explore. However, only two floors are open to the public. If you love caves, this is the third largest caves in the world. Outside the main area, vendors sell local Thai handicraft and food. Time here: About 1-2 hours. Admission fee is only Baht30.
Hat Yai Ice Dome - Another interesting attraction which is located at the Hat Yai Park near the cable car, this ice dome is the first of its kind in Thailand.Visitors have an opportunity to experience the ice cold feeling inside the dome. A number of structures on display are carved by well known Chinese sculptors from Harbin, China. Ice carvings of well known places around the world are also displayed along the walkway here. Time here: 30 minutes to an hour. Fees applies to go in.
If you are visiting Hatyai anytime soon, there are many things to do apart from just shopping around town. Some of the places above require only half a days trip so they are pretty much nearby the main city area. You can get more information from tour operators and hotels on Where to go in Hat Yai, Thailand.