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A Long Weekend in Phatthalung and Songkhla Provinces

Phatthalung: This small province on the east peninsular coast is located about 850 km from Bangkok. The town lies at the foot of rugged limestone cliffs, 9 km to the west of the shore of Thale Luang Lake, an inland sea of brackish water. Phatthalung has some interesting cave temples and several natural attractions in the surrounding countryside, making it a worthwhile overnight stop on the route southwards. The waterfowl sanctuary of Thale Noi (Uthayan Nok Nam Thale Noi), a freshwater lake and marsh to the northeast of Phatthalung, is of special interest to bird watchers. This is an important nesting site, with more than 180 recorded species, and is best visited at dawn when the birds are the most active and the temperature is still cool. This shallow freshwater lake (30 sq km) and marsh (1-1.5 m) attract water birds such as cormorants, herons, egrets, storks, and ducks, and also support abundant aquatic life. There is also a rich variety of reeds and water lilies. Thale Noi is a glorious sight when the entire lake turns pink from the lotus blossoms. This birdwatcher’s paradise is part of a non-hunting area that covers about 45 sq km. Near the park is a village where the craft of reed weaving is being kept alive. Colourful bags and mats are being sold locally. On the east of the town, a large freshwater lake separated from the Gulf of Thailand by a strip of land is a distinctive natural feature. Visitors will enjoy wonderful views of the picturesque limestone peaks and a large freshwater lake.

Wang Kao and Wang Mai are two old palaces that belong to former governors of Phatthalung. Both palaces were restored by the Fine Arts Department and are now open to the public as museums.

Ban Lam Pam is a small fishing village and market on the shore of Thale Luang. There are many interesting temples and the internal walls of the ubosots are covered with magnificent murals, painted in the late 18th century or early 19th century and are still in remarkably good condition.

Songkhla: Located 950 km from Bangkok, it occupies a narrow peninsula that separates the Thale Sap Songkhla from the South China Sea. With its well-protected natural harbours, it has long been an important fishing port, but the lake has recently suffered from the impact of over-fishing. Despite being the provincial capital, Songkhla has remained a quiet and leisurely seaside town.

History: Songkhla seemed to have been an important centre in the maritime empire of Sri Vijaya, which flourished in Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and the Gulf of Thailand at least as far north as Nakhon Si Thammarat from the 8th century to the 13th century. It was still an important trading centre in the 16th century when the first Europeans, who called it by its Malay name of Singora, arrived in the Gulf of Thailand. Little remains of the architecture of the Sri Vijaya period in southern Thailand or elsewhere, but a large number of important stone and bronze sculptures have been found at several sites in the area, including Sathing Phra, between the east shore of the Thale Sap and the sea.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the city was moved from its original site on the north side of the narrows of the harbour to a more protected position to the south of the lake and further from the sea. The ruins of the old city, notably the fortifications of Khao Hua Dang, can still be seen. Today, Songkhla, although still the provincial capital, has been overtaken by Hat Yai and has become an economic backwater, relatively unscathed by modern development and retaining much of its traditional charm. It also has substantial Thai-Malay and Chinese populations.

Attractions: Thale Sap Songkhla and the Folklore Museum at the northern end of the island at Ban Ao Sai, is the largest folklore museum in Thailand run by The Institute of Southern Thai Studies. The complex of Thai-style pavilions overlooking the Thale Sab Songkhla contains well-created collections of folk art. Songkhla National Museum is housed in the former town hall. The museum is devoted to all works of art of all periods found in Songkhla and southern Thailand. Wat Matchimawat, one of the town’s most important temples, was first found in the late Ayutthaya period, with magnificent murals painted in 1863. The museum of this temple is no less important with many art objects dated to the 6th – 7th centuries,15th century and 18th century. All indicated the importance of Songkhla’s former maritime trade links. Songkhla is an attractive city to walk around and the oldest of Songkhla is the narrow streets to the west of Wat Matchimawat and Wat Pho Patthamawat. Here, a number of late 19th-century houses can be seen, especially on Nakhon Nai and Nakhon Nok Road. This area is also the Muslim quarter, with a mosque and small cafes serving halal food. While walking uphill, you can see the view of Thale Sap from the peak of Khao Tang Kuan. The city has been taking better care of the strip of white sand along Hat Samila which is quite a pleasant beach for an early morning stroll under the shade of the trees.

The Siam Society will arrange a long weekend study trip to explore some sites of interest in Phatthalung and Songkhla provinces, under the leadership of Khun Euayporn Kerchouay.


Friday, 26 to Sunday, 28 January 2024


Khun Euayporn Kerdchouay

Senior Consultant of The Siam Society


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Friday, 26 January 2024: Bangkok – Hat Yai – Phatthalung      
07:30 Check in at Bangkok Don Mueang Airport, Nok Air Counter, Domestic terminal
09:40 Depart Bangkok for Hat Yai by Nok Air flight DD502
11:05 Arrive at Hat Yai Airport and proceed to Phatthalung by bus
Noon: Lunch at the local restaurant
Visit the museum and many sites of interest at the old centre of Phatthalung
Proceed to Thale Noi and check in at Sri Pakpra Boutique Resort, Phatthalung
Evening: Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 2: Saturday, 27 January 2024: Phatthalung – Songkhla     
Early morning: Visit the Waterfowl Sanctuary of Thale Noi by Longtail boats. Coffee and sandwiches will be served during the boat trip.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant
Afternoon: Proceed to Songkhla province and visit Thale Sap Songkhla and the Folklore Museum
Evening: Dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight at Laguna Grand Hotel & Spa, Songkhla
Day 3: Sunday, 28 January 2024: Songkhla – Hat Yai – Bangkok              
Breakfast at the hotel
09:00 Visit the Songkhla National Museum, the old part of Songkhla’s city, the museum and see the mural paintings at Wat Matchimmawat. Then, visit some of the old buildings built along the shore of Thale Sap Songkhla
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant in Songkhla
Afternoon: Proceed to Hat Yai Airport
15:15 Depart Hat Yai for Bangkok by Nok Air flight DD505
16:45 Arrive at Don Mueang Airport

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.

Important notes:

– The Siam Society may utilise photos taken from study trips, lectures, performances, and other activities as part of its public relations and marketing communication campaign. These photos, which may sometimes contain image(s) of activity participants, can also be featured on the Society’s website and other online social media channels.

The contribution of THB 25,500 (THB 27,000 for non-members), single room surcharge THB 2,250, will cover air tickets, transportation, meals as mentioned in the programme, accommodation for 2 nights (two persons per room), entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.  A photocopy of the identity card or identification page on your passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the payment has been made. In addition, basic travel insurance is included. There is a 3% surcharge for credit/debit card payments to cover bank charges. Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Transfer can also be made to The Siam Society travel account at TMBThanachart Bank (ttb), savings account no. 053-2-18000-7 or by scanning the QR code on your right. Once payment has been made, please e-mail the transfer docket to us.

We kindly ask that you confirm your reservation by Tuesday, 28 November 2023


– Extra surcharge for aviation fuel and those related to air travel.

For further information and bookings, please contact Khun Thun at 02-661-6470-3 ext. 205 or The Society office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

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