SADAO, Southern Thailand, April 19 Sadao, located some 20km from the border of Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah state, might not be as well known to Malaysians as other Thai destinations.
Few stop to explore the region even though those heading towards Hatyai for a vacation would most likely have to travel through it.
However, this small district used to be a part of Kedah. It is today under the Songkhla Province of Thailand with a mere population of 21,662.
A majority of them are of Chinese or Thai descent and they practice the Buddhist or Muslim faith.
In the bid to increase the number of tourists to the region, the Sadao Municipal Council recently launched the Sadao Tourism Promotion programme.
This writer and several other media representatives had the chance to attend the programme that was held at the Elderly's Center for Quality of Life (ECQL), near here.
The programme launched by Songkhla's Deputy Governor Kajornsak Jareonsopha featured a march by the local community dressed in traditional Thai attire.
Sadao Mayor Sumet Sasithon told Bernama that as part of the effort to support the Amazing Thailand Tourism 2018 campaign, the municipal council is promoting the province as a transit destination en route to Hatyai.
This event is held to uplift the image of Sadao City and increase its tourism potential. It will also help generate a side income for the local people, he said.
KHAO LE MOUNTAIN
A lesser-known attraction in Sadao is the Khao Le Mountain, located near the Malaysia-Thai border.
The locals dub the 295-metre-high attraction as the mountain in the sky, referring to the view that climbers would be rewarded with once they make it to the top.
A municipal council personnel, who wanted to be known as Annasser, said that climbers would be able to enjoy the expansive view of the surrounding skies at the top.
The climb may take three to four hours, depending on a person's stamina, he said in fluent Malay.
UNIQUE STREET FOOD
Thai cuisine is popular the world over and its street fare is no less tasty.
While in Sadao, this writer had the chance to sample a variety of delicious street food at a night market.
There are several night markets across the city, each operating on certain days and hours. However, one of the more popular ones was the one on Monday evenings in Thapuutayya.
Also as popular are the ones in Thapu I Road, open on Fridays, and in Thapu II Road, open on Saturdays and Sundays.
This writer tried traditional fare like the "Pong-Neng, fist-sized fried flour balls that come in a variety of flavours.
Another interesting dish is the "Bua Loy Ka Ti Sod" colourful rice balls immersed in coconut milk and served in boat-shaped leaves. It is soft, sweet and rich in texture and flavour.
This writer sampled almost every treat and each was as delicious as the last, so much so that she made plans to come to the night market again to try those that she missed.
A landmark of Sadao is the Buddha Park which features six idols representing the main deities of the Buddhist faith.
The 800,000 square-metre park is located atop a hill and is popular among visitors, especially those of the Buddhist faith.
Those driving over from Malaysia need not worry about parking space as the Sadao municipal council has a reserved a 2.4 hectare land near the Sadao sports field for the purpose.
The car park had cost the council around 40 million Baht (approximately RM5 million) to build and can accommodate around 200 cars.
Having the carpark just 12km off the border will help address the lack of parking space for visitors to Thailand from Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah and Padang Besar, Perlis.
We are also building business premises in the area and Malaysia-Thai handicraft markets which would be operating every Monday. This will add to the overall cost of building the carpark (and other facilities), bringing the total to about 200 million Baht (RM24.8 million), said Sumet.
Bukit Kayu Hitam State Assemblyman Ahmad Zaini Japar said that the Malaysia-Thai relationship has always been nurtured through jointly organised activities.
Among them was the Thailand-Malaysia Relationship Sports Tourism 2017" programme which took place in Feb 2017.
Some 1,300 cyclists from Thailand cycled from Sadao to the Universiti Utara Malaysia campus in Sintok, Kedah.
The programme was held in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Thailand, in addition to promoting tourist attractions along the 69km route.
Ahmad Zaini also hoped that more Thai tourists would come to Malaysia and visit the attractions in Kedah.NNN-BERNAMA
Source: NAM News Network