Founded in the early 1400s, Pattani was once a semiautonomous Malay-speaking sultanate. Today, it is the heart of Muslim South Thailand (75 percent of the province’s population are followers of Islam). Pattani is one of four southern provinces that have seen rising violence by Islamic extremists against the minority Buddhist population.
Apart from the Matsayit Klang mosque, there are few notable sights, but the town is lively, particularly around the harbor with its brightly colored boats.
The mosque of Kru Se, 4 miles (7 km) east of town, is unremarkable in design but has an interesting story behind it. In the 1570s, Lim To Khieng, a Chinese merchant, married a local woman and converted to Islam. To show his devotion to his new faith he started building a mosque. His sister, Lim Ko Niaw, sailed from China to protest about his conversion, and he swore he would return to China as soon as the mosque was finished. However, he made sure that it never was, and his sister, on her deathbed, cursed the building and anyone who attempted to complete it. Her shrine and the still unfinished mosque attract huge numbers of devotees.