Southern Thailand tourist attractions guide

Lots of pristine beaches to be found

Southern Thailand comprises the provinces along the peninsula that forms the lower part of the country, beginning with Chumphon and extending to the Thailand-Malaysian border. The Gulf of Thailand lies to the east with the Indian Ocean is the region’s border to the west. The entire coastal area is characterised by palm-fringed beaches, traditional fishing villages, forested mountains with cascading waterfalls, rubber plantations and temples often situated side-by-side with mosques.

Southern Thailand comprises the provinces along the peninsula that forms the lower part of the country, beginning with Chumphon and extending to the Thailand-Malaysian border. The Gulf of Thailand lies to the east with the Indian Ocean is the region’s border to the west. The entire coastal area is characterised by palm-fringed beaches, traditional fishing villages, forested mountains with cascading waterfalls, rubber plantations and temples often situated side-by-side with mosques.

Phang Nga National Park (Phang Nga)

Covering an area of more than 500 square-kms, this park is situated around 10kms from the city of Phang Nga. It features a combination of interesting limestone karst formations and islands plus evergreen mangrove forests. You’ll find boats available at the landings near the park office that will take you on a tour around some of the more interesting islands.

Phra Borommathat Chaiya (Surat Thani)

Located just around 50kms north of the provincial capital, this ancient pagoda dates back 1,200 years to the Srivijaya period. The Chaiya National Museum on the site is housed in two buildings, and boasts exhibits of bronze and stone sculptures that were unearthed in the ancient city of Chaiya. There are also artefacts from a number of important historical periods such as Ayutthaya, Dvaravati, Lop Buri, Sri Vijaya and Sukhothai.

Tarutao National Park (Satun)

Established in 1974, this was Thailand’s first national marine park. It comprises more than 50 islands off the western coast of Satun. Koh Tarutao is the largest of the park’s islands, and is where you’ll find the park office. At one time political dissidents were imprisoned here, and you can see ruins of the prisons today at the bays known as Ao Talo Udang and Ao Talowao.

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Wat Phra Mahathat (Nakhon Si Thammarat)

Set in the centre of the provincial capital, this monastery is reported to have been built during the Srivijaya Period and follows in the tradition of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. The 30m pagoda is the focal point for the extensive complex. Buddha relics brought to the site from Sri Lanka over 1,000 years ago are contained in the pagoda, and numerous art objects discovered in the region are on display in the temple museum.

Haad Yai (Songkhla)

This is the name of the local beach and the city that’s the hub of Thailand’s southern region. Haad Yai city is the urban centre for Songkhla province, and as such provides a good range of accommodation, entertainment and shopping options.

Thale Noi Waterfowl Park (Phattalung)

Part of Songkhla Lake, approximately 30kms north of the city of Phatthalung, has been set aside as a refuge for waterfowl. There’s a boat available to take tourists around the protected area to have a closer look at the birds. The December to April period is the ideal time for a visit, when the avian population is at its peak and pink lotus blossoms can be seen all around. Handicrafts made from woven bulrushes are available at shops in the village.

Hat Narathat (Narathiwat)

This long, sandy beach is lined with pine trees, and is situated just outside the town of Narathiwat. This is the most popular of the area’s beaches, and it considered the best of the lot for swimming – attracting large numbers of Thai families when the weather is at its hottest. 

Kru Se Mosque (Pattani) 

What you’ll find here today are ruins of a mosque that was built on the site more than two centuries ago. Located on the Pattani-Narathiwat highway just over five kilometres from Pattani town, these ruins are in the form of a rectangular roofless building surrounded by a partially-intact brick wall. Adjacent to the mosque ruins is a shrine dedicated to Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo, which was built in traditional Chinese style. 

Betong (Yala)

This is the southernmost area, bordering Malaysia, and is located around 120kms from the city of Yala. Betong is popular with tourists from Malaysia and Thailand for its misty, scenic mountainous terrain and excellent local cuisine. A road linking the two countries passes through the Betong checkpoint.