The small far southern Thai province of Pattani covers little more than 1,000 sq km and is situated to the north of Yala on the east coast of Thailand between Songkhla to the north and Narathiwat to the south. Predominantly flat and low lying, the provincial interior is intensely cultivated whilst the coast is virtually non-stop sandy beaches supporting a small fishing industry as well as the ubiquitous shrimp farms.
Rice is extensively cultivated on the low lying land as well as a variety of fruit and vegetable crops whilst large areas of scrub and grassland are given over to cattle raising, so the rural scenery, whilst lacking in topographic features can be more varied than the endless rubber plantations seen elsewhere in the far south. The population of the province is 80% Muslim/ethnic Malay, though Pattani town contains a large well established Chinese community.
Pattani province has borne the brunt of many of the attacks in the recent resurgence of violence in the far south of Thailand and visitors to the province should be prepared for a heightened security environment with frequent military and police check-points. Visitors should exercise caution and use their common sense when exploring Pattani province.
While none of the attacks in Pattani have specifically targeted western tourists, that isn't to say that things won't change. Keep up to date on current affairs, read the newspapers and keep an eye on Thai TV. Pattani has never been a high priority for western tourists so don't expect to meet too many other foreigners in the area (aside from the occasional resident).
By Stuart McDonald.