The rather laid back town of Songkhla sits on a narrow peninsula separating the great inland sea of Thale Sap from the ocean. The current city sits on the south side of the opening between the Thale Sap and the sea. The area around the opening has been settled for more than two millennium. Sathing Phra, on the north side of the opening, was an important trading port during the Srivijaya Empire from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries.
A succession of Muslim rulers came to power after the Srivijaya Empire waned, and by the seventeenth century the city-state had become so powerful it was becoming a major player in the region. Threatened by this growing influence, King Narai of Ayutthaya sent his army to attack and destroy the city.
Songkhla's revival came in the late eighteenth century, when a Chinese trader named Yieng Ho was granted the right to collect bird nests (as in bird nest soup) around the Thale Sap. Rama I later named Yieng Ho governor of the province, once Thai authority over the area was settled with the British in Malaya. His descendants held the governorship for several generations. One of them built the huge mansion that today houses the National Museum.
Here's a list of the main sights around Songkhla town. See our map of Songkhla town for the general layout of the city.
- National Museum
- A huge yet elegant Chinese styled mansion that was originally built by the city's deputy governor.
- Wat Matchimawat
- This large and imposing temple near the heart of the old city also houses a branch of the National Museum.
- Songkhla City Pillar
- A short distance from Wat Matchimawat is Songkhla's city pillar, housed in a Chinese style shrine.
- Khao Tung Kuan & Khao Noi
- Two hills on the north side of town separate the city from the beach.