Songkhla

Laem Samila beach

Songkhla (สงขลา) is the provincial capital of Songkhla Province. The city itself is surrounded by beaches such as Samila (สมิหลา) & Son Awn (สนอ่อน) and also known as "the great city on two seas". With the beaches, some historical centres and nice green parks, this place is definitely a good place to recharge before heading to more lively Hat Yai.

Understand

Songkhla or "Singgora" in Malay, was a city of the old Malay Kingdom of Langkasuka with heavy Srivijayan influence. It has been part of the Thai Kingdom since the 18th century.

The city has moved over no less than three separate sites around the coast and harbour since it was established, so bear in mind that visiting all the sites will require some transport. A hired car is ideal. You can get a good overview of the location of the city during various historic periods at the Songkhla National Museum which has a map overlay on the immediate left once you enter the main courtyard.

Previously a port and a coastal trading post where Indian, Persian, and Arab merchants came to exchange their products, this place was initially named "Sing Lha" after the 2 lion-shaped islands at the mouth of the city's lake. These 2 islands are today known as Ko Nu (Rat Island) and Ko Maeo (Cat Island).

In the 18th century many Chinese immigrants from Guangdong and Fujian came here. One of them won the bidding for the major tax farm of the province in 1769, thus establishing the Na Songkhla (i.e., "from Songkla") family as the most wealthy and influential. In 1777 the family gained political power, when the old governor was dismissed and Luang Inthakhiri (Yiang, Chinese name Wu Rang (吴让)) became the new governor. In 1786 the old governor started an uprising, which was put down after four months. The post was inherited and held by 8 of Wu Rang's descendents until 1901, when Phraya Wichiankhiri (Chom) was honourably retired as part of the administrative reforms of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab. The family's former home is now used as the Songkhla National Museum.

Get in

By bus

The government bus station is on Nakhon Nok Rd (ถนนนครนอก), a few metres from Viva Hotel.

To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัท ขนส่ง จำกัด (บขส.), baw-kaw-saw) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Songkhla bus terminal daily. The distance is ~984 km and normally takes 12.5 hours.

To/from Chumphon: Class 2 bus (ม2) costs 290 baht, departs daily.

To/from Nakhon Si Thammarat: Class 2 bus (ม2) costs 125 baht, departs daily.

To/from Surat Thani: Class 2 bus (ม2) costs 125 baht, departs daily.

To/from Hat Yai: Ordinary buses depart to Hat Yai from Raamwithi Rd (ถนนรามวิถี) for 18 baht. From Hat Yai, you need to catch one at the bus stop on Phetkasem Rd (ถนนเพชรเกษม), at the intersection close to Montri 1 Rd (ถนนมนตรี 1).

By minivan

Minivans depart to Hat Yai from Raamwithi Rd (ถนน รามวิถี) for 30 baht. Minivans leave for Yala and Pattani for 120 baht from the south end of Raamwithi Rd (ถนน รามวิถี), at the intersection close to Chaimongkol Rd (ถนน ชัยมงคล). You can also get a songthaew from the clock tower in Hat Yai, 20 baht.

By taxi

In February 2015 (Chinese New Year), a most of day taxi trip from Hat Yai to Songkhla, taking in various sites and returning to Hat Yai as a round trip cost 2000 baht. This is a reasonable guide. With a group of people it's an excellent way to see the various sites without hassle.

Get around

Songthaews cruise around the city for 12 baht. Motorcycle taxis do the same for 20 baht. Expect rates to double at night.

See

Ko Nu and Ko Maeo (เกาะหนู – เกาะแมว)

These well-known symbol of Songkhla is off the shore of Samila Beach. A legend says that a dog, a cat, and a mouse on a Chinese sampan stole the merchant's magic crystal and tried to swim ashore, but drowned and lost their lives. The mouse and cat became the islands in Songkhla Lake while the dog died on shore and became the hill called Hin Khao Tang Kuan near the bay. The crystal was destroyed and became the white sandy beach called Hat Sai Kaeo.

Naga head at Song Thale Park

If you are interested in history, the Institute for Southern Thai Studies and Songkhla National Museum are definitely must see locations. The former has an extensive collection of local cultural artifacts from prehistory through present organized in to anthropological or physical themes, whereas the latter has a sparser, better presented selection of artifacts with more of a temporal progression in its design and layout, including some very impressive Chinese carvings and foreign artifacts from ancient shipwrecks.

Mermaid statue at Samila beach with Ko Nu and Ko Maeo in the background
Songkhla National Museum

Do

Buy

Eat

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 500 baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 baht
Splurge Over 1,500 baht

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Cope

Consulates

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, September 22, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.