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Southern Thailand





From Trang on the Andaman Coast, down to the Malaysian border, then back up to Songkhla on the Gulf of Thailand. As there is so much coastline (with some of the finest / most pristine islands in Thailand), the opportunity to alternate between one coast and another depending on weather / season (they vary from one to the other), and with so much cultural heritage. It is surprising that the deep south is not packed with tourists.

The predominance of seafood, plus Chinese and Malay descendants, has created some of the very, very best cuisine in Asia. From yellow curries, to bar-b-q'd shellfish, to and Muslim roti to shark fin soup. If food is a motivator, you dare not miss this opportunity.

There are some areas of lessor attraction. As the south is a wealthy business area, plus a border region with Malaysia. Some places are far too commercial or too sordid (cross border sex trade) to be of interest to most tourists. But most is so very good!


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Hat Yai Food Stall / MarketHat Yai
Is the commercial capital of Southern Thailand. With a very large number of Chinese descendants, Hat Yai has some very good shopping opportunities, especially gold from the large number of gold shops (you buy jewelry by weight). But it really is not of much interest rather than that. More info here.

Trang (Click left for more information)
The "City of Waves", has many rubber plantations, caves, waterfalls and original tropical forestry. But very few tourists. It often wins "The Cleanest City in Thailand" award, and has the best surfing waves throughout the entire kingdom. Long, "Robinson Crusoe style", white sandy beaches, with limestone outcrops / islands in crystal clear waters. Make this one of the most worthy destinations in Thailand. Of the offshore islands, Koh Hai has the best rooms and views. On Libong Island, you can find the Libong Beach Resort.

Satun (Click left for more information)
Borders Malaysia and therefore explains why over 60% of the population speak Malay, not Thai. Although the town is not of much interest, just offshore are the most beautiful and easily accessible islands in Thailand; Koh Tarutao & Koh Phetra National Marine Parks. However, only basic accommodation is available on the islands that are allowed operate "hotels". So a hotel in Satun itself may not be such a bad idea. Thaleh Ban National Park, about 20km out of Satun, has pristine sections of "white" rain-forest

Yala (Click left for more information)
This town competes with Trang for the Cleanest City award. It has many wide boulevards and central parks, giving it a much more spacious, pleasant feel to many cities. Again, it has many Chinese and Malay descendants for its population, so it is culturally unlike the main tourist destinations further north. Every year, it has two major / very large festivals during the first weekend of March, and the last 6 days of June.

Narathiwat (Click left for more information)
A small town with many old wooden buildings, with the nearby Taksin Palace (open to the public except from August to October for 2 months, when the royal family are in residence). Narathiwat has some exceptional beaches / coastline, all the way down to the Malaysian border. Many of these beaches have wonderful seafood restaurants. The coast also provides probably the best windsurfing in Thailand, and picture postcard images with its large painted fishing boats. There is an annual fair during the 3rd week of September. Sungai Kolok, is the main border crossing town / point with Malaysia with a huge number of brothels accommodation visiting Malay gentlemen.

Pattani
A predominantly Malay, quite forbidding town with much Portuguese architecture still obvious. It is the home of the second most important mosque in Thailand. Its nearby beaches are some of the prettiest in Thailand, with long white sandy stretches. Although, women swimming without t-shirts will normally attract much attention. And the beach at Laem Tachi, the one closest to the town, can suffer from pollution problems.

Songkhla
Is renowned for its superb seafood and, these days, oil workers and expat community. The beaches are casurina lined for the most part, but nowhere near as good as Samui or further south. It also has one of the best, most beautiful national museums in Thailand. Plus ready access to the Khukhut Waterbird Sanctuary.

Nakhon Si Thammarat
An enchanting town, often left out because of its proximity to Koh Samui. It also the main Thai religious and festival center for the south. Of the temples, Wat Mahathat is easily the most important in the entire south. It has a very relaxed atmosphere plus fine local cuisine and handicrafts (especially nieloware and basketware) to its name.

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