Songkhla province is not famous for its beaches and islands in the same way that neighboring provinces are, but it does have a lot of local flavor. With the provincial capital situated whereThailand's largest inland body of water meeting the Gulf of Thailand, it has a number of long beaches, colorful Muslim fishing villages, and a restful pace. Largely undiscovered by tourists, it is an interesting destination for visitors who want to get off the beaten path and explore places where they can get an authentic view of the mixture of cultures which makes southern Thailand unusual and distinctive.

Samila Beach

Hat SimilaHat Samila is a clean, quiet and rather ordinary beach on a cape between the inland sea/lake and the Gulf of Thailand in Songkhla. The nearly three km of sand facing the Gulf is rarely crowded, perhaps because it is not very good for swimming, and because Thais generally don't see Songkhla's famous Golden Mermaidthe point in sunbathing. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for a minimal charge or free if you order snacks from the right food vendor. Opposite the beach are numerous seafood restaurants. Landmarks are the statue of the Golden Mermaid, and Khao Noi, a small hill behind the beach where you can find an old chedi, a topiary garden and fine views of the surroundng area.

Ko Yo

Ko YoA heavily forested island in the inland sea known as Songkhla Lake, Ko Yo is connected to the mainland by a 2.6 km long causeway called Tinsulanond Bridge. The market is one of the main attractions on Ko Yo (pronounced 'Kaw Yaw'), where cotton weaving is an important cottage industry. You can observe the fabric being hand woven on traditional looms and if you have a talent for bargaining you can get pretty good prices on lengths of the distinctive cloth or on garments made from it.

Two Wats, or temples, Wat Khao Bo in the north of the island and Wat Laem Po in the south, also make for interesting observation of the local culture, and at the north end of the island you will find the Institute of Southern Thai Studies which has an excellent Folklore Musuem with exhibits covering religious art, beads, pottery, textiles and a number of other fascinating subjects. On the grounds are a number of attractive gardens including ones devoted to bamboo culture and medicinal herbs.

Hat Sai Kaeo

Beach SceneSet just across Laem Son On, Hat Sai Kaeo is a long stretch of sandy beach. The three-km beach offers a scenic view of a shore with smooth, white sand fringed with coconut palm trees. Hat Sai Kaeo is a nice spot for picnics for families and couples. Concentrated along the clean beach a wide range of accommodation is available for your convenience. Located 7 km from the provincial town, the beach is to be found along Songkhla - Sathingphra Road.

Khao Seng

Painted BoatA small Muslim fishing village on the Gulf side of the peninsula, Khao Seng is known for the colorful hand painted boats which are a favorite of picture taking tourists. It is a headland about 3 km south of Samila beach. Located another km to the south is the Institute of Coastal Aquaculture which was established in 1981 to assist in the development of fish and prawn farming. It has a small museum and visitors can arrange to view the laboratories and hatcheries. Call + 66 74 311-895 to schedule a visit.

Son On Beach

Fiery SunsetHat Son On is at the end of the cape marking the separation between the Gulf of Thailand and Songkhla Lake, just north of Samila Beach. Son On beach is the nearest point to Ko Nu (Rat Island, named after its shape). Shady and spacious it attracts few visitors Son On Beacheven during normally crowded weekends and holidays. Tasty fresh seafood is available from stalls and vendors as well as from some restaurants opposite the beach. The northernmost portion of Son On Beach is a nice spot to relax on deckchairs and enjoy the spectacle of sunset on the coastal waters.

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