Going Down South

This month I joined my old friend Frans for an inspection trip down South. We flew separately to Hat Yai, met at the airport, rented a car and drove to Songkhla, a new adventure was about to start.

Not much water but still impressive: Budo-Su-Ngai Padi National Park

After 2 great days there we continued to Pattani, Sungai Kolok, Tak Bai, Narathiwat, Yala and back to Songkhla, wonderful trip, plenty to see and do, and the number of western tourists we could count on 1 hand!

Su-Ngai Kolok; soldier and police man guarding a cat

On the other hand (lame, I know) there were plenty of Malay tourists (extended families!) sightseeing/shopping and they didn’t seem particularly worried either.

Most towns have distinctive street signs, this one is in Yala

We walked in and around the old town, crumbling city walls, ruined fortresses, renovated shophouses, various kinds of temples and mosques, busy harbors, colorful fishing boats, deserted beaches, enjoyed checking out wall paintings and eating great food, etc., in brief we had a ball!

Although Hat Yai is a large, modern city, luckily it still has some old shophouses left

That Songkhla is ignored by most western tourists seems completely absurd as it is a perfectly safe place and well on its way to become a great destination for visitors as it has so much to offer.

Tak Bai's lively riverside is the border with Malaysia

Especially if you’re interested in history Songkhla (& the whole region in fact) has a fascinating mix of Thai, Chinese, Malay and foreign (Portuguese, Dutch VOC, British) influences over a few centuries.

Cruisin' along Songkhla's inland lake we passed lots of fisherman's settlements

Two museums are chockfull with remnants of this melting pot’s past.

One of Songkhla's better preserved old fortresses from a distant past

Old shophouses can be found not only in Songkhla, but in most towns in the South.

Narathiwat old wooden shophouse

Songkhla’s location is unique, it’s a seaside town but also bordering on a large inland lake which offers excellent opportunities for boat trips as we discovered.

Hala Bala National Park is a bird watchers paradise

As the South is predominantly muslim there are lots of mosques, some of them quite old.

View from Wadil-husen Mosque, built in 1624

Despite that there are also some intriguing Buddhist places worth checking out.

Yala's Wat Phutthaphum is a different story altogether!

The area’s fishing fleet is having a hard time due to more law enforcement and competition among others.

Songkhla's boat 'graveyard' is a sad sight, but does provide great photo opportunities

For now you can still see the colorful 'kohlae' traditional fishing boats in Pattani province!

'Kohlae' fishing village

Despite the various countries’ advises against all but essential travel due to its 'turbulent history', we traveled for 7 days through the deep south of Thailand without a scratch...

Songkhla foam parade decorations left over

Quick fact check; indeed in the past there have been attacks and explosions, but nowadays it’s a different story (*), especially in the main towns.

This Songkhla cat wasn't particularly worried about any travel warnings...

Of course there were army check points at lots of places but we never felt unsafe at any time (**).

No lack of good beaches either, this is Samila beach, Songkhla

In brief, the South is a great destination for the more adventurous traveler, go for it!


(*) Sadly enough a few days after our Pattani trip there was a report in the papers about a bomb exploding at an evening market in Pattani's Nong Chik district resulting in 2 people killed and 14 others wounded…


(**) Not entirely true, during breakfast at a small vegetarian restaurant the owner suddenly decided to join us for a discussion on the various religions…, wrong time & wrong place!


#Pattani #TakBai #Yala #SungaiKolok #Songkhla #Narathiwat #HatYai #tourism #Thailand #culture #history #VOC #beaches #streetart #unspoiled #fishing #boats #lake #nationalpark #nature #Chinese #Malay #buddhist #muslim

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