Thailand’s southernmost region is a land of diverse cultures and fascinating heritage. Tourists visit, but not in droves, so those who do venture here enjoy candid insight into the culture with the opportunity to visit national parks and Andaman beaches.

Introduction

Historically, portions of southern Thailand have more in common with Malaysia than they do with the ancient kingdom of Siam. This is apparent in the local architecture, especially in the mosques that populate the coastal villages. The spicy and aromatic cuisine also suggests Malay influence.

Descendents of Chinese traders are another important demographic in southern Thailand, especially in the historic trading port of Trang. The infusion of Chinese beliefs and cuisine along with the staple mix of Thai and Malay influence is tantalizing for connoisseurs of culture.

Narathiwat Province borders Malaysia and is best known for its mountains and jungles. Phattalung Province is similar. Both of these regions have unique geological formations and a few prominent temples.

Islands of the Andaman Sea are an important asset for the tourism industry. Satun and Songkhal provinces both boast islands as well as inland forests and national parks. Songkhal is also home to the largest lake in Thailand where visitors can spot pods of rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

Trang also fronts the Andaman coast and is hemmed in by mountains. Dozens of islands are found just offshore, boosting the area’s tourist appeal. Trang is well connected to the rest of Thailand with excellent road, rail and air links.

In recent years, southern Thailand has unfortunately been colored by spurts of violence fueled by tension between the government and tight-knit Muslim communities. Pattani is the most notorious province, and visitors have wisely stayed away in the past few years. This violence is tightly contained, however, and tourists can visit the Far South’s more hospitable provinces without any problems.

The upshot to this pocket of violence is the degree to which tourists avoid the entire region. Take a trip to the islands in Trang, Satun or Songkhal and you’ll find all of the Andaman appeal without the crowds that characterize Phuket and portions of Krabi. All of this seclusion makes Southern Thailand an ideal getaway for the right brand of tourist.

Destinations

Narathiwat Province
Narathiwat, Sungai Kolok
Pattani Province
Pattani
Phattalung Province
Khao Poo Khao Ya National Park, Phattalung, Thale Noi Waterbird Sanctuary
Satun Province
Ko Phetra Marine National Park, Ko Tarutao Marine National Park, Pak Bara, Satun, Thaleh Ban National Park
Songkhla Province
Hat Yai, Songkhla
Trang Province
Hat Chang Lang, Hat Jao Mai National Park, Hat Pak Meng, Hat Yao, Hat Yong Ling, Ko Kradan, Ko Libong, Ko Muk, Ko Ngai, Ko Sukon, Trang
Yala Province
Yala