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Songkhla at a glance

Songkhla, one of Thailand's important ports and coastal provinces, is located 950 kilometers from Bangkok. Occupying an area of 7,393 square kilometers on the eastern side of the Malaysian Peninsula, the province is bordered by the States of Kedah (Sai Buri) and Perlis of Malaysia to the south and the Gulf of Thailand to the east. In addition, Songkhla borders on Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung Provinces to the north, Yala and Pattani Provinces to the south, and Satun and Phatthalung Provinces to the west.

An undeniably historic town endowed with ancient ruins, arts, and places of cultural importance, Songkhla, a melting pot of Thais, Chinese and Malays, charms visitors with its unique traditions, dialect, and folk entertainment. These characteristics are reflections of the provinces rich cultural heritage, which has been preserved and passed down from generations to generations.

Hat Yai, a district of Songkhla, is perhaps better known than the provincial capital itself. Hat Yai serves as a southern hub of communication, trading and transportation as well as a gateway to Malaysia and Singapore. In light of this, Hat Yai has gained importance as the driving force of economic growth in the southern region.

 History of Songkhla

Songkhla, a medieval pirate stronghold, is a historic, albeit sleepy town with a thriving fishing community. Another Srivijaya outpost in Thailand's southern region, Songkhla was initially named Sa-thing". Previously a port and a coastal trading post where Indian, Persian and Arabian merchants came to exchange their products, the place was named "Sing Lha" after the 2 lion-shape islands at the mouth of the city's lake. At present, these 2 islands are Koh Nu (Rat Island) and Koh Maeo (Cat Island). The old part of Songkhla is located at the present-day Amphoe Sathing Phra.

 Todays Songkhla

Over the last few decades, Songkhla has been rapidly developed and is currently a unique attraction worth visiting. Blessed with natural resources such as fine beaches, enchanting waterfalls, and a tranquil lake, the province has an abundance of tourist attractions and an amazing range of seaside resort towns. Moreover, the old section of Songkhla still maintains its unique identity of ancient and historical flavors through local architecture and cuisine.

While Songkhla is noted as a fishing community set in a peaceful atmosphere, Hat Yai, on the other hand, serves as a transportation and communications hub of the south with links to various destinations in the neighboring provinces and Malaysia.

Despite being only 30 kilometers apart, Songkhla and Hat Yai have uniquely contrasting characteristics and are ideal places to visit.

Songkhla is administratively divided into 16 districts: Muang Songkhla, Ranot, Krasae Sin, Sathing Phra, Singhanakhon, Khuan Niang, Rattaphum, Bang Klam, Hat Yai, Na Mom, Chana, Thepha, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi, Sadao, and Khlong Hoi Khong.

 Distances from Amphoe Muang Songkhla to Neighboring Districts:

Ranot 73 kms.
Hat Yai 26 kms.
Krasae Sin 74 kms.
Na Mom 34 kms.
Sathing Phra 36 kms.
Chana 37 kms.
Singhanakhon 26 kms.
Thepha 73 kms.
Khuan Niang 72 kms.
Na Thawi 52 kms.
Rattaphum 60 kms.
Saba Yoi 104 kms.
Bang Klam 46 kms.
Sadao 70 kms.
Klong Hoi Khong 43 kms.

By Car
From Bangkok: take Highway 4 passing Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat,Trang and Phatthalung Provinces in order to reach Songkhla Province. The total distance is 950 kilometers.
By Air
Thai Airways International has several daily flights connecting Bangkok and Phuket with Hat Yai. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000, their Hat Yai office at tel. 07424 5851-2, or view their website at http://www.thaiairways.com/.

Air Asia operates several daily flights on route Bangkok Hat Yai. The flight time is 1.20 hours. Visit http://www.airasia.com/ to reserve your seat online, or simply call 02 5159999 for more information.

Orient Thai provides three daily flights connecting Bangkok and Hat Yai. The flight time is 1.25 hours. Call 1126 to make reservations or visit http://www.onetwo-go.com/ to make online reservations.

Nok Air operates three daily flights between Bangkok and Hat Yai. The flight time is 1.30 hours. Call 1318 for reservations or visit http://www.nokair.com/ to purchase an e-ticket.

Phuket Air offers a daily flight connecting Hat Yai and Phuket. The flight time is 1.25 hours. Call 02 679 8999 for reservations or visit http://www.phuketairlines.com/ for more information.

By Bus

From Bangkok:
There are daily buses from Bangkok to Songkhla and Hat Yai. The journey takes about 13 hours. For the current schedule and further information contact the Southern Bus Terminal at tel: 02 435 1199-200 or visit http://www.transport.co.th/. For Hat Yai, call the Transport Co., Ltd. (Bo Kho So) at tel: 074 23 2789, 0 7423 2404, Piya Tour 0 7442 8972, Thai Doen Rot 0 7442 9525.

From Hat Yai: From Hat Yai Bus Terminal, there are buses to Bangkok and other provinces in the south. Buses depart from a small bus station located across the ferry station in the city. They include daily 2nd class buses that depart for Bangkok 4 times a day (437 baht). There is also one VIP bus that runs directly to Bangkok departing at 4.45 p.m. with a fare of 870 baht. In addition, first-class buses leave for Bangkok twice daily (562 baht) in late afternoon and in the evening. In addition, there are also buses depart from the same terminal to Chumphon (245 baht), Nakhon Si Thammarat (100 baht) and Surat Thani (150 baht).

Pho Thong Transportation Co., Ltd. (tel. 0 7431 1126) provides bus services from Songkhla to Hat Yai.

Minivans and share taxis normally leave from Ramwithi Road for Hat Yai at the rate of approximately 20-30 baht/person.

Minivans depart from the southern part of Sisuda Road to Pattani and Yala at the rate of 70 baht.

Ranot Transportation Co., Ltd. (tel. 0 7431 1523) operates buses from Songkhla to Nakhon Si Thammarat.

By Train
The State Railway of Thailand provides daily rapid and express train services from Bangkok to Hat Yai. The trains depart from Bangkok's Hualamphong Railway Station at 12.25 p.m., 2.20 p.m., 2.45 p.m., 3.50 p.m. and 10.50 p.m. Travel time is about 17 hours. For further information call 1690, 0 2223 7020, 0 2223 7030 or Hat Yai Railway Station at 0 7424 3705, 0 7423 8005 or visit http://www.railway.co.th/.

Getting around the city
Songthaews around the city would cost 10 baht / trip. Motorcycle taxis around town cost between 10 baht and 20 baht (daytime). There are several guesthouses in town that provide bicycle and motorcycle rental services at the rate of approximately 100 baht / day and 200 baht / day respectively.


 Bull Fighting
Bull fighting is a traditionally 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 is led into the arena for each bout where spectators can cheer and place bets. During the fight, specially trained bulls lock horns until one decides to call it quits and runs away. Each bout normally 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 District, approximately 40 kilometers from Hat Yai District on Highway 408, where dove lovers from neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore flock 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.

Reference: www.tourismthailand.org
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