Capital of the same-named province, Narathiwat sits on the bank of the Bang Nara River, 1,473 km south of Bangkok by road. A particularly friendly spot, Narathiwat has the rustic charm that has disappeared from so many of the other far southern Thai provincial capitals. Although the bulk of the town is now comprised of the typical concrete egg-carton style buildings, it still has a generous helping of old wooden buildings and a few sino-portuguese shopfronts by the riverfront.
Most travellers treat Narathiwat as an overnight stop (if that) as many choose to head north to the larger centres such as Hat Yai, while others bypass it completely, in part no doubt due to the ongoing difficulties that blight this portion of Thailand. Narathiwat appears to be very popular with cyclists who use it as a breather before pushing on north or south.
For those who choose to stay though, expect to be rewarded with some excellent southern Thai hospitality and enough Muslim eateries and curries to last a lifetime. Those who do choose to stay here often find themselves marking Narathiwat as a place to return to -- we did!
As far as security is concerned, the bulk of security incidents have taken place outside the provincial capital, mostly in rural districts that most travellers would be unlikely to find themselves. Nevertheless, care should be exercised and the early evening curfew instituted by some hotels, is best adhered to.
The word Narathiwat comes from the "nara" and "athiwas" which means a residence of good people -- you'll find no shortage of them in Narathiwat.
Narathiwat's central post office is on Phichit Bamrung Rd towards the southern end of town, two blocks south of the clocktower. All main Thai banks have branch offices in Narathiwat. Exchange facilities are readily available as are ATMs. The central police station is in the administrative area of town to the south of the clocktower, on the corner of Phichit Bamrung and Suriya Pradit Roads. While there's certainly not an overflow of internet cafes, there is a handy one just to the east of the clocktower.
By Stuart McDonald.