Hippie-at-heart Ko Pha-Ngan has become so synonymous with the wild and massive Full Moon Party on Hat Rin that the rest of the island – and even Hat Rin outside of full moon week – gets eclipsed, and forgotten. This is a massive shame, as there's so much else to enjoy and explore.
Songkhla & Around
‘The great city on two seas’ is photogenic in parts; however, slow-paced Songkhla doesn’t see much in the way of foreign tourist traffic. Although the town hasn’t experienced any of the Muslim separatist violence plaguing the provinces further south, it’s still catching the same bad press.
Nakhon Si Thammarat Province
If you’re searching for less-trodden paths and fewer faràng, then this relatively non-touristy province might be the gem you’re looking for. Much of it is covered with rugged mountains and forests, its verdant jungles teem with lush vegetation and it was once the last refuge of Thailand’s communist insurgents.
Sitting on the banks of the Bang Nara River, Narathiwat is probably the most Muslim city in Thailand, with many mosques scattered around town. There are still a few old Sino-Portuguese buildings lining the riverfront (although blink and you'll miss them), and there are some excellent beaches just outside town. But few tourists pass through, due to the security situation.
Lovely Ao Khanom, halfway between Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat, quietly sits along the blue gulf waters. Overlooked by tourists who flock to the jungle islands nearby, this pristine region, simply called Khanom, is a worthy choice for those seeking a serene beach setting unmarred by enterprising corporations.
Once the heart of a large Muslim principality that included the neighbouring provinces of Yala and Narathiwat, Pattani Province has never adjusted to Thai rule. Although today’s political situation has stunted the area’s development, Pattani Town has a 500-year history of trading with the world’s most notorious imperial powerhouses.