Southern Thailand

Southern Thailand

Southern Thailand is a distinct region of Thailand, connected with the Central region by the narrow Kra Isthmus.


Southern Thailand is located on the Malay Peninsula, with an area around 70,713 km², bounded to the north by Kra Isthmus as the narrowest part of the peninsula. The western part has steeper coasts, while on the east side river plains dominate. The largest river of the south is the Tapi in Surat Thani , which together with the Phum Duang in Surat Thani drains more than 8,000 km², more than 10% of the total area of Southern Thailand. Smaller rivers include the Pattani, Saiburi, Krabi and the Trang. The biggest lake of the south is the Songkhla lake (1,040 km² altogether), the largest artificial lake is the Chiao Lan (Ratchaprapha dam) with 165 km² within the Khao Sok national park in Surat Thani.
Surat ThaniRunning through the middle of the peninsula are several mountain chains, with the highest elevation at the 1835 m high Khao Luang in the Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Ranging from the Kra Isthmus till the Phuket island is the Phuket chain, which connects to the Tanao Si Mountain Range further north. Almost parallel to the Phuket chain but 100km to the east is the Nakhon Si Thammarat or Banthat chain, which begins with the Samui island Ko Pha Ngan Ko Tao in Surat Thani and ends at the Malaysian border at the Ko Ta Ru Tao archipelago. The border to Malaysia is formed by the Sankalakhiri range, sometimes subdivided into the Pattani, Taluban and Songkhla chain. At the border to Malaysia begins the Titiwangsa chain.

The limestone of the western coast has been eroded into many steep singular hills. Those parts submerged by the rising sea after the last ice age now form the many islands, like the well known Phi Phi Islands. Also quite famous is the so-called "James Bond Island" in the Phang Nga Bay, which featured in the movie "The Man with the Golden Gun".


The Malay peninsula was settled since prehistoric times. Archeological remains were found in several caves, some used for dwellings, other as burial sites as well. The oldest remains were found in Lang Rongrien cave dating 38,000 to 27,000 years before present, and in the contemporary Moh Khiew cave.

In the first millennium Chinese chronicles mention several coastal cities or city-states, however they don't give exact geographical location, so the identification of these cities with the later historical cities is difficult. The most important of these states were Langkasuka, usually considered a precursor of the Pattani kingdom; Tambralinga, probably the precursor of the Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom, or P'an-p'an in Phunphin distric Surat Thani, probably located at the Bandon Bay Tapi River. The cities were highly influenced by Indian culture, and have adopted Brahman or Buddhist religion. When Srivijaya in Chaiya extended its sphere of influence, those cities became tributary states of Srivijaya.The city Chaiya in Surat Thani Province contains several ruins from Srivijaya times, and was probably a regional capital of the kingdom. Some Thai historians even claim that it was the capital of the kingdom itself for some time, but this is generally disputed.

After Srivijaya lost its influence, Nakhon Si Thammarat became the dominant kingdom of the area. During the rule of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great of Sukhothai, Thai influence first reached Nakhon Si Thammarat. According to the Ramkhamhaeng inscription Nakhon was even a tributary state of Sukhothai. During most of the later history Nakhon became a tributary of Ayutthaya.

The deep south belonged to the Malay sultanates of Pattani and Kedah, while the northernmost part of the peninsula was under direct control of Bangkok.

During the "thesaphiban" reforms at the end of the 19th century, both Nakhon Si Thammarat as well as Pattani were finally incorporated into the central state. The area was subdivided into 5 "monthon", which were installed to control the city states ("mueang"). Minor "mueang" were merged into larger ones, thus forming the present 14 provinces. With the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 the boundary to Malaysia was fixed. Kedah came under British control, while Pattani stayed with Siam.


Usually the south is identified with the 14 provinces (Feb 1, 2008)


Southern Thailand has around 8.672 million inhabitants and its population density is around 122 inh/km².

Ten Major Cities in Southern Thailand


In 2006, Southern Thailand had the GRP (Gross Regional Product) about 774,162.40 million Baht (23,109.32 million USD). The regional economic hubs of the region are Hat Yai City for Lower Southern, Surat Thani City for Upper Southern and Phuket City for Westcoast Southern.


Southern Thailand is connected with Bangkok, the economic center of Thailand, by railway as well as highway. Also several regional airports are located at the larger towns. The main transportation hub of all southern Thailand is Hat Yai, which developed from a small village to the current city within few decades.

Phetkasem highway is the longest road of Thailand, and runs from Bangkok along the Kra Isthmus and then at the western coast of the peninsula. From Trang it crosses over to the eastern coast to Hat Yai, and then ends at the Malaysian border.

The southern railway also connects Bangkok to Hat Yai, and continues from there to Su-ngai Kolok. There are a branch from Ban Thung Phoe Junction to Kirirat Nikhom, two smaller branches of the railway run from Thung Song to Trang and Nakhon Si Thammarat, and from Hat Yai Junction to Malaysia and Singapore.

Two Asian highways run through southern Thailand. Asian highway 2 runs mostly parallel to the railroad all the way from Bangkok. It crosses to Malaysia at Sadao, and continues on the western part of the peninsula. Asian highway 18 begins in Hat Yai and runs south along the eastern coast, crossing to Malaysia at Sungai Kolok.

Southern Thailand has 5 International Airports and 6 Domestic Airports named as follows.
* Phuket International Airport(With international service)
* Hat Yai International Airport
* Krabi International Airport
* Surat Thani International Airport
* Koh Samui International Airport (With international service)
* Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport
* Trang Airport
* Narathiwat Airport
* Chumphon Airport
* Ranong Airport
* Pattani Airport

ee also

* South Thailand insurgency
* Yawi language


*Suthiwong Pongpaiboon. "Southern Thai Cultural Structures and Dynamics Vis-à-vis Development". ISBN 974-9553-75-6.

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