The deep south of thailand has more in common with Malaysia than with the distant thai heartland to the north. Many visitors come here to experience the region’s distinct culture, dialect, and food, and to learn about the local history and religion. the scenery, with spectacular mountains in the interior of the peninsula and unspoiled beaches and islands on the west coast, is equally alluring
In many ways Thailand’s Deep South doesn’t feel like Thailand at all. The influence of Indian, Chinese, and Malaysian culture can be seen in the region’s architecture and ethnic makeup. Skin tones are noticeably darker than the rest of the country. The population speaks an unusually intonated dialect of Thai, and Yawi, a language related to Malay and Indonesian. Also, the food is spicier, characterized by often bitter curries laced with turmeric. South of Songkhla, especially near the coasts, most people are Muslim, and the minarets of mosques replace the gilded peaks of Buddhist temples. Indeed, Pattani, an important Malay kingdom in the 17th century, is still a center of Islamic scholarship. Even so, Wat Phra Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat, the South’s cultural capital, is one of the most revered Buddhist temples in Thailand. Also, numerous Hindu shrines and customs, not least the Hindu-inspired manohra dance, are evidence of Nakhon’s role as a major religious center on the ocean trade routes between India and China. Modern Songkhla has become the educational capital of the South. Nearby Hat Yai has grown from an agricultural service and railroad town into an important shopping and entertainment center. However, tourism in the area remains low-key due to spiraling separatist violence perpetrated by Muslim extremists seeking local autonomy. In the troubled southern provinces of Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, hostilities are ongoing, and tourists are advised against all but essential travel in these areas.