Like a rebellious child that can never get along with his stepmother, Pattani has never quite adjusted to Thai rule. It was once the heart and soul of a large Muslim principality that included the nearby provinces of Yala and Narathiwat. Although today’s political situation has stunted the area’s development, Pattani has a 500-year history of trading with the world’s most notorious imperial powerhouses. The Portuguese established a trading post here in 1516, the Japanese passed through in 1605, the Dutch in 1609, and the British flexed their colonial muscle in 1612.
Yet despite the city’s interesting past, there’s little of interest in Pattani except its access to some decent nearby beaches. Unfortunately, the ongoing insurgency has made all but a handful of these sandy destinations unsafe for the independent traveller.