Songkhla is a border province in Southern Thailand, adjoining the state of Kedah in Malaysia. It has been known as a principal sea port and coastal trading post from time immemorial. As a historic town, Songkhla has inherited ancient ruins, arts, and places of cultural importance in addition to its unique tradition, dialect, and folk entertainment, a reflection of its rich cultural heritage for later generations to appreciate.
Songkhla has fine beaches, enchanting waterfalls, and a tranquil lake - a manifestation of its abundant natural resources. While Songkhla is noted for its fishery industry, Hat Yai, the major district of the province, serves as a transportation and communications hub of the South, with this bustling town linking with various destinations in the neighboring provinces and in Malaysia. Only 30 kilometers apart and with contrastive characteristics, Hat Yai and Songkhla can be ideal places for the tourist to visit: Hat Yai, a fast booming city in trade and business, while Songkhla remains a sleepy town still able to maintain its unique identity of ancient and historical flavors.
Songkhla covers an area of 7,393.9 square kilometers (approximately 1,848,472 acres). It is divided into 16 administrative Amphoe (districts), i.e. Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Hat Yai, Amphoe Chana, Amphoe Ranode, Amphoe Bangklam, Amphoe Namom, amphoe Khlong Hoykhong, Amphoe Nathawee, Amphoe Thepha, Amphoe Sabayoi, Amphoe Sadao, Amphoe Rattaphoom, Amphoe Singha Nakhon, Amphoe Khuanniang, Amphoe Rattaphum, and Amphoe Krasaesin. The population of the province is 1,159,672.
Things to see & do sights & experiences
Lying approximately 2.5 kilometers from the municipal market, the beach is characterized by fine white sand and lined with shady pine trees. From Samila Beach one can see Laem Son Onn to the northeast and Chalathas Beach to the south. On a clear day, Kao Seng Hill can be seen further to the south.The major landmark of the beach is the Golden Mermaid statue, a prominent symbol of Songkhla.
Laem Son Onn
This is a promontory which lies northwest of Samila Beach. Hundred of pine trees line both sides of the road leading to Laem Son Onn. At the tip of the promontory is located the statue of Kromluang Chumphon Khate Udomsak, where the open view provides an ideal location for admiring the sunset and scenic beauty. Food stalls under the shade of pine trees offer a variety of delicious snacks and local dishes. From Laem Son Onn, Rat Island can be seen at its closest point.
Cat and Rat Island
These prominent marine landmarks facing Samila Beach and Laem Son Onn with rodent - like and feline shapes have been the symbol of Songkhla since ancient times. These islets' coastal waters are favored by local anglers.
Kao Seng is a small fishing village 3 kilometers south of Samila Beach. Near the village is the National Institute of Coastal Marine Aquaculture and a Buddhist monk sanctuary. Kao Seng, the present name of the village, is a corruption of the name derived from the Thai word "Kao Saen", refering to the nine hundred thousand Baht treasure and the rock is called Hua Nai Raeng.
Lying 100 meters behind the Samila Beach, this hillock is accessed by winding paved roads. At the foot of the hillock on the eastern side is a mini-park where food is sold to park goers and where tennis courts are available for the athletic-minded. On the northeastern side, there is a small topiary garden. The hilltop also contains a fitness park and the statue of Kromluang Lopburi Ramase. For nature advocates, a herd of wild monkeys roaming the slope freely is a sight to remember.
Recreational Garden (Suan Pa Prem) The garden is located on the shore near the head of the first section of Tinnasulanon Bridge (From Baan Nam Krachai to Koh Yo). This lakeside garden is filled with flowering and ornamental plants and provides shady and cool area for picnic. It also features a children's playground.
The bridge is part of Highway 4146, linking Highway 407 (Hat Yai - Songkhla) and Highway 4083 (Songkhla - Ranode). It starts from the mainland side at Baan Nam Krachai, passing through Koh Yo, and is connected to Khao Khiao on the other side of the mainland. The bridge contains two sections. The first section links Amphoe Muang Songkhla at Baan Nam Krachai with the southern shore of Koh Yo island, 940 meters in length, excluding a tied beam of 100 meters at each end. The second section links the northern shore of Koh Yo island with Ban Khao Khiao on the mainland with a length of 1,700 meters, excluding a 225 meters tied beam.
Khu Khut Water Fowl Park
The park is located 3 kilometers off Highway 4083 at Moo 4, Tambon Khukhut, Amphoe Sathing Phra, 55 kilometers from Songkhla. The park has an area of 364 square kilometers. It is one of Songkhla Lake's water fowl sanctuaries worth visiting and ideal for bird watching. According to a survey conducted by the Forestry Department, there are 44 families, 137 genuses, and 219 species of birds at the sanctuary. Boats can be hired for sight-seeing at a rate of 150 Baht per hour. The park is best visited during December to March when species of birds, both migratory and resident are in abundance. For further information, please call (074) 397042.
The beach is located 500 meters from the Sathing Phra District Office. The three kilometers long beach with crystal sand is serene and an enjoyable location for swimming. It is lined with pine trees, providing cool shade for relaxation.
The beach is about 53 kilometers from Songkhla on Asia 4 Highway. It is about 15 kilometers from Amphoe Chana and one kilometer off the main highway. Nearby is another beach called Haad Soi Sawan. These are ideal locations for camping and picnic. A small island across from the beach is Koh Khaam where fish abound and providing a good fishing site for anglers.
Songkhla Lake is the largest lake in Thailand covering extensive areas in Songkhla and Phatthalung province, The latter some 80 kilometers from the estuary to the north. The width of the lake ranges between 20 to 25 kilometers. It is a fresh water lake except in the area close to the sea where the water is brackish. Numerous species of water plants and marine life are found in abundance in the lake.
Wat Tham Talord
The temple is located 25 kilometers from the District Office at Moo 6, Tambon Khao Daeng, Amphoe Sabayoi. The cave serves as a natural tunnel linking one side of hill with the other. Inside the cave are an ancient cement Buddha statue, approximately 100 reclining Buddha statues of varied sizes, and a statue of a 6 foot tall giant guarding the entrance of the cave. The cave provides cool shade and a relaxing atmosphere.
Roo Noksak Cave
The cave is located 14 kilometers from the District Office at Moo 4, Tambon Khooha, Amphoe Sabayoi. A crystal clear stream flows along the cave. Stalagmites and stalactites of various shapes and forms are most fascinating for visitors. Part of the 300 meters long cave is dark while the other is bright. Trekking through the cave is quite adventurous since trekkers have to climb some steep cliffs in order to complete the exciting journey.
Tone Nga Chang Waterfall
Waterfall is located in a wildlife reserve area 26 kilometers from Hat Yai. It can be reached by taking the Hat Yai - Rattaphum Road, turning left at the 13 kilometer milestone and going further for another 13 kilometers. Of all the seven cascades, the third one is the most fascinating, with the water falling into two large streams resembling an elephant's tusks (Tone Nga Chang means "waterfall like an elephant's tusks" in the local dialect). The water flows all year long. The area is also ideal for trekking and enjoying unspoiled nature.
Hat Yai City Municipality Park
The park is located 6 kilometers from Hat Yai city center on Kanchanavanit Road (Hat Yai - Songkhla). It is a recreational area for Hat Yai residents as well as other visitors. The park complex is decorated with beautiful flowering and ornamental plants. A pavilion was built jutting into a small man - made lake. A small size zoo and a bird park provide visitors with a glimpse of wild animals and various species of birds. At the foot of the hill near the bird's park is a statue of King Rama V. On the hilltop is a shrine of the Hindu god Brahma. On the north side of the hilltop overlooking the scout camp is located a shrine of the Chinese goddess Kuan-Im
This waterfall is located in Amphoe Rattaphum on Highway 406 (Hat Yai - Satun) at Km. 34-35. A one kilometer road leads to the small and beautiful waterfall.
Located at No.189 Songkhla - Chana Road, Tambon Khao Roop Chang, Amphoe Muang, Songkhla, the open zoo houses a variety of animal species, domestic and foreign, ranging from camels, birds, red bulls, tigers, crocodiles, etc. The zoo serves not only as a place for viewing various species of wild animals, but also as an ideal bird's eye view spot for admiring the scenic beauty of Songkhla. Food is available for visitors. For further information, please contact Tel. (074) 325037-8, 323649.
Khao Nam Khang National Park
The area in the park is covered with virgin forests where there are two waterfalls called Tone Dard Fah and Tone Lard Fah. The park can be accessed by two routes: 26 kilometers from Sadao and 31 kilometers from Nathawee on Nathawee - Baan Prakob Road. For more information, please contact Nathawee District Office. Tel. (074) 371010
Institute for Southern Thai Studies
The institute is located on Highway 4146 in Moo 1, Tambon Koh Yo, Amphoe Muang Songkhla, on the northeastern side of the island near the upper section of Tinnasulanon Bridge.
Built on a site of approximately 10 acres in 1978, the institute serves as the center for studies and research on Southern Thai cultures. The complex of the institute includes the exhibition buildings, some at the foot of the hill while others are on the hill-top. Each building houses a special collection of culturally valuable items, art objects and artifacts discovered in the South. Exhibitions of the Southern people's way of life and customs from the early period to modern times are also shown. A special library caters for individuals interested in Southern Thai history and culture. The outdoor compound is decorated with miniature plant gardens and Thai styled pavilions. Souvenirs can be obtained from the gift shop in the compound. From the hilltop one can see a panoramic view of Koh Yo as well as Songkhla Lake. Accommodation is also provided for visitors. Admission fee is 10 Baht for children, 20 Baht for adults 30 Baht for Asian nationals, and 50 Baht for other nationals. For further infornation, please contact Tel. (074) 331185 - 8.
Songkhla National Museum
Located on Wichianchom Road, the Museum, a former residence of Phraya Soonthornrak (Nate Na Songkhla), was built in 1878. In 1894, Phra Wichit Worasart (Chao Phraya Yommarat) designated it as a residence for provincial inspectors of Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat, and from 1896, it was used as a city hall of Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat. At present, the Museum houses art objects and archeological artifacts from the pre-historic period of Baan Chiang and the Stone Age and the Neolithic period of Kanchanaburi as well as the artifacts from the ancient Srivijaya Kingdom. It is open for visitors from 9:00 to12:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday to Friday. It is closed on official holidays. Across from the Museum lies the old city wall of Songkhla.
Khao Tang Kuan
This hill lies next to Khao Noi and on its top (2,000 feet above the sea level) is located the important temples of Songkhla. Built during the Nakhon Si Thammarat era using the Thavaravadee art style. The hilltop commands a panoramic view of Songkhla and is reached by climbing the stairway on Rachadamnoen Road. The temple performs an annual ceremony of placing a robe around the pagoda, Tak Bart Devo (offering food for hungry souls) and a Buddha statue procession in October. Next to the temple is a red pavilion built in 1888 by the then ruler of Songkhla, Phraya Wichien Khiri (Chom), under the command of King Rama VI.
Cannon Fortress at Laem Sai
The fortress, now lying behind the premise of Songkhla Police Station, was built in the reign of King Rama III at the same time Songkhla was moved to the present site.
Wat Matchimawat/Wat Klang
Built 400 years ago as a royal temple, this monastery is located on Saiburi Road. The interior of the temple displays murals depicting history of Songkhla and Buddhist philosophy, In addition, the "Phattharasin" museum in the temple houses interesting ancient art objects collected from Amphoe Muang Songkhla, Sathing Phra, Ranode, and elsewhere.
Historical Tunnel, Nam Khang Mountain
The historical tunnel is situated on Moo 1 Tambon Khlong Kwang, Nathawee District, Songkhla, 4 kms from Khao Nam Khang National Park. It is open to the public as a new tourist attraction of Songkhla, different from others destinations. Nice sceneries of mountains and forest around the tunnel, pure air, the history of the tunnel as well as the lives of residents are very interesting and worth to study. Interested tourist can visit the tunnel via Hat Yai - Nathawee - Ban Prakop - Khao Nam Khang route (90 kms). Alternatively, tourist can go to Sadao, then take the route to Khao Nam Khang, opposite to the Sadao District Office.
City's Pillar Shrine
Called "Sarn Chao Lak Muang Songkhla" and located on Nang Ngarm Road, the shrine was revered and worshipped by people in Songkhla and from neighboring provinces. Built to commemorate the founding of the city, the Chinese architectural styled shrine has influenced other buildings in the town. Particularly prominent are the Sino - Portuguese styled houses on Nakhon Nai and Nakhon Nork Road
Wat Chai Mongkhl (A pagoda containing Buddha bone relics)
This revered pagoda is located in Wat Chai Mongkhol on the corner of Petch Mongkhol and Chai Mongkhol Road. In 1892 a Buddhist monk named Na Issaro who taught Pali at the temple visited a town is Sri Lanka where relics of Buddha's bone were kept. The monk became acquainted with a rich Sri Lankan merchant who had many pieces of Buddha's relics in his possession and agreed to donate some to the monk. Upon his return to Songkhla, the monk constructed a pagoda which contained the holy Buddha's relics where devotees came to worship regularly.
Khao Noi Palace
This mansion is located to the south of Khao Noi hillock on Sadao Road. It was built as a residence of Prince Chao Fah Yukhon Khamphorn(Krom Luang Lopburi Ramase) when he was Phra Samut Thesaphibaan of Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat, and later Somdet Upparat of Monthon Pak Tai (Southern Territory). The present King and Queen used to stay at this mansion on an earlier trip to the South in 1959. At present the mansion is used as the residence of Governor of Songkhla.
Baan Sattha (Home of Faith )
This house was built in 1991 by residents of Songkhla for its famous son, former Prime minister H.E. General Prem Tinnasulanon, senior statesman and a Privy Councilor. The house was later returned to Songkhla people in 1996 and a public library was built next to the house to commemorate the King's 50th Anniversary of His Ascension to the Throne. Situated on the hill, the house, which is open to the public, serves as advantage point for enjoying the scenery of Songkhla, overlooking Tinasulanon Bridge, the longest in the country. Surrounding the house are decorating plants and trees which provide cool shade for visitors.
Twin Pagodas on Khao Daeng Hill
Black Pagoda is located on the top of Khao Daeng Hill in Amphoe Singha Nakhon. It was built by Chao Muang Phra Khlang (Dis Bunnag) or Somdet Phraya Ongyai (Somdet Phra Borom Maha Prayoorawong on occasion of a victory over the rebellion of Kedah in 1830.
White Pagoda was built by Phraya Sri Phiphat (Thad Bunnag) or Somdet Maha Phichai Yat in memory of the victory over the rebellion of the rulers of Kedah, Patani, and Penang. After suppessing the rebellion, Phraya Sri Phiphat governed Songkhla for two years, during which time he built the white pagoda on top of the hill as a twin of the black one.
Wat Chathing Phra
The temple is located 200 meters from the District Office at Moo 4, Tambon Chathing Phra, Amphoe Sathing Phra. Formerly called "Wat Sathing Phra", The temple built in 1009 A.D., shelters ancient structures of the Srivijaya Period such as the pagoda containing Buddha's relics, a chapel housing the reclining Buddha statue, and a bell hall.
Wat Phakho (Wat Rachpraditsatharn)
Built around 43 B.C., this renowned temple is located on the hill of Phiphatthasing at Moo 4, Tambon Chumphon, Amphoe Sathing Phra. The revered monk named Somdet Phakho, who commands much respect among local residents, used to reside at this temple. Many ancient objects and artifacts housed in the temple included a reclining Buddha statue, Buddha's footprint, a magical crystal ball belonging to Somdet Chao Phakho, in a posture of meditation, and statue of Somdet Chao Phakho in a pilgrimage posture. The temple can be reached by taking Highway 407, across Tinnasulanon Bridge, entering Highway 4083 (Songkhla - Ranode), and then taking a left turn at Km. 110. It is about 48 kilometers from Songkhla.
Wat Khongkha Liab
The temple, belonging to the Mahayana Buddhist sect, is located at Baan Nongkhuan Moo 5, Tambon Tha Chang, Amphoe Bangklam on an approximately 4 acre plot. This temple is considered a holy place revered by both Buddhist Thais and Buddhists from other countries, many of whom travel to pray at this place.
Wat Hat Yai Nai
The temple is located on Phetchkasem Road near U-Taphao Bridge. It houses a reclining Buddha statue called "Phra Buddha Hattha Mongkhol", once believed to be the world's third largest, a size of 35 meters long, 15 meters high, and 10 meters wide. The temple is visited by both local residents and foreign devotees.
Wat Aek Cherngsae
Formerly known as Wat Aek, the temple is located at Tambon Cherngsae, Amphoe Krasaesin. It houses a sacred Buddha statue made of coral reef. The present figure, a size of 70 cm. At the lap and 120 cm. high is covered with cement. For further information, please contact the temple at (074) 399075.
It is located at Moo 4, Tambon Koh Yai, 7 kilometers from the District Office. The legend says that a Buddhist monk named Phra Sin Narai and a layman called Khoon Vichai Bhrama Sarn traveled from India to the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and on their way they stopped over and dug a well here, claimed to be sacred. The water in the well runs abundantly all year long.
Wat Tham Khao Roop Chang
This temple is located in Tambon Padang Besar, Amphoe Sadao. It utilizes a cave in the premise as place for performing religious practices. Exotic stalagmites and stalactites are eminent in the cave. The interior of the cave is partitioned into many chambers. The temple premise is cool and peaceful. It is about 13 kilometers from Padang Besar market.
Bull fighting has long been a popular sport among the people in the South. Unlike bull fighting in Spain where a matador fights with a bull, the bull fighting of the South features a bull fighting another bull. A pair of fighting bulls are led into the arena for each about where spectators can cheer and bet on the winner. During the fight, specially trained bulls lock horns until one decides to call it quits and runs away. Each bout mornally takes between 15 to 30 minutes.
Dove Singing Contest
Cooing doves are popular among Southerners, particularly residents of the five Southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun and Songkhla. The most sought after birds are from breeding farms in Chana, some 40 kilometers from Hat Yai on Highway 408, where dove lovers from neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore flock the district to purchase the birds. Dove cooing competitions are held annually between January and July. Criteria used in judging the quality of dove's sound is based on pitch, melody, volume, and continuity in its singing
Songkhla's two shooting ranges are open to the public daily.
* Roochirawong Shooting Range is opposite Hat Yai Police Station. Open daily, the range offers pistols and rifles for rent, along with training coaches. Details may be obtained by contacting (074) 243311.
* Songkhla Navy Base Shooting Range is located in the premise of Songkhla Navy Base on Chalathat Road. Open daily, the range also offers pistols and rifles for rent. Food is also served at its seaside restaurant. Contact (074) 311451-5 for further details.
A martial art unique to Thailand, has been a popular national sport. Boxing competition is organized throughout the country. Two boxing stadiums are open to visitors to Songkhla. Songkhla Navy Base Boxing Stadium (074-311451-5, Ext. 2049) and Hat Yai Boxing Stadium(074-232682) organizes a fight on occasions. Tickets are available at the gate.
Pa Prem Recreational Garden
The garden is located on the shore near the head of the first section of Tinnasulanon Bridge (From Ban Nam Krachai to Koh Yo). This lakeside garden is filled with flowering and ornamental plants and provides shady and cool area for picnic. It also features a children's playground.
is enjoyed by a large number of people in Thailand. Golf courses have mushroomed during the past decade. There are many golf courses in Songkhla to cater to local golfers as well as those from Malaysia and Singapore.
Hat Yai Exclusive Golf Club (18 holes, 7,010 yards, 480 acres) is located at Ban Wangpa, Tambon Thungsao, Amphoe Rattaphum (near Tone Nga Chang Waterfall) Tel. (074) 234921, 243179, 346148-9.
Hat Yai Country Club (9 holes. 52 acres) is located at Tambon Banphru, Amphoe Hat Yai. Contact the sale office at Tel. (074) 232582, 343121.
Khor Hong Golf Course (9 holes, 20 acres) is located in Senanarong Military Camp of the Fourth Region Army(Tel. 074-211500-3, Ext. 549).
Thong Yai Golf Course (9 holes, 32 acres) is located next to Samila Beach in Songkhla. Contact the sales office at Tel. (074) 323761.
* Southern Hill Golf & Country Club (18 holes, 192 acres) is located in Tambon Thunglung, Amphoe Hat Yai, Contact the sales office at Ban Suzuki Co., Ltd. Tel. (074) 343560-3.
Festivals & events what's happening on the local scene
is celebrated on April 13th each year. The traditional festival is held country- wide. In Songkhla, the festival starts with the merit making ceremony by participants respectfully pouring water on their venerable elders and ending up with throwing water at each other. In Hat Yai, the festival is held on Niphat Uthit 1, 2, or 3 Road from morning until afternoon and the event is enjoyed not only by local residents but also by Malaysian and Singaporean tourists who arrive in Hat Yai in large number to celebrate this fun-filled event.
Thamboon Duen Sip Festival
Celebrated by the Buddhists of the South, the Merit Making on the Tenth Lunar Month festival originates from the belief that during the waxing moon of the month, souls of the deceased ancestors are allowed a period of freedom to visit their living relatives. It is the duty of the living to prepare food and bring it to the temple to make merit, In Sathing Phra, tall figurines representing venerable elders respected by the villagers parade along together in the procession.
Lark Phra and Tak Bat Devo
The festival is celebrated by residents of Songkhla on the first day of the waxing moon in the 11th lunar month (around October) in Songkhla town. The festival starts one day early with the robing of the pagoda on the top of Khao Tang Kuan. Early in the morning of the festival day, hundreds gather on the hill and proceed down the stairs to receive offerings from the faithful. Late morning is the scence of processions of artistically decorated vehicles with Buddha statue from temples in and around Songkhla. The vehicles are paraded around the town and the faithful make merits by joining the procession. Finally the decorated vehicles gather at Sra Bua (The Lotus Pond) for competition.
Thai Agricultural Products and Thai Fruit Festival
The festival is organized annually around October with the aim of promoting agricultural products from various provinces in the South. Fruits and other products are sold at cheap prices.
is a Thai traditional event dating from the Sukhothai period. It is held throughout the country on the 15th night of the waxing moon of the 12th lunar month (around the middle of November). The festival is held to honor the goddess of the river and to make atonement for offenses made during the year. A float is made from banana leaf or other buoyant material. Candles and incense sticks, and even pieces of nail and coins are placed in the "Krathong" to float away one's misfortunes. The fun-filled night also features fireworks, float design competition, and the Miss Noppamas beauty contest.
Local flavor from food to handicrafts
are a common snack or used in cooking in many Thai dishes. They are sold in the baked or uncooked form and can be bought from vendors in Hat Yai or shop selling local products.
Koh Yo Hand-Woven Fabric is the island's famous cottage industry. The long lasting fine cloth with varied designs made by the locals can be tailored into men's or ladies's apparels. The fabric is sold in shops selling local products and souvenir shops in Hat Yai and Songkhla, and at the market in Koh Yo.
is a folk entertainment of the South and is popular among the people in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Trang, and Songkhla. The puppets are crafted from cow hide, painted, and when used in shadow plays, are placed against the screen where strong back light outlines the shadow of the puppet on the screen master. Crafted shadow puppets are sold for souvenirs or decoration.
Shrimp or Fish Rice Crisps
produced in Songkhla are well-known for their taste and reasonable price. They are available at shops selling local products.