Southern Thailand stretches from the peninsula between the South China Sea and the Andaman Sea all the way south down the Maylasian border. The soil is fertile and there is an abundance of natural resources. Sandy beaches crowd the coastline and offshore islands, while the central regions are thick with forests and mountain ranges.
The eastern coast along the gulf of Thailand is a relaxed region with calm seas and scenic resorts. The Andaman Sea on the other hand is for the more adventurous, with limestone formations and high cliffs jutting out along the rugged coastline.
Southern Thailand is unique in that it has two monsoon seasons, the southwest monsoon from May to October and the northeast monsoon from November to February. However rain rarely falls on both coastlines at once.
Once part of the Buddhist Srivijaya Empire, southern Thailand was later ruled by Ayutthaya and finally Bangkok. Maylasian and Chinese influences are strong across the provinces, primarily in the southernmost regions. In fact, there are many muslin communities across the southernmost provinces.
Tourists flock to the coast, particularly Samui island in the gulf (a more relaxed atmosphere with premium scuba diving opportunities), and Phuket along the Andaman Sea (Thailand’s premier holiday resort). Adventure-seekers can be found along the islands of Phang-nga, Trang and Krabi, indulging in activities such as diving and sailing.
The mountains, rivers and forests in the national parks in the interior of the peninsula are also gaining popularity with eco-tourists, as evidenced by the growing numbers of safari expeditions in the region.
The South of Thailand consists of 14 provinces: