If Hat Yai is the financial and commercial centre of the far south, sprawling Yala is the administrative capital. As such it is particularly well kept, clean and outside of the small bustling central area, very orderly.
Being the capital of a land-locked province, the locals have a particular obsession with the water and open green space, and the capital has numerous examples of both.
While the parks, all located a long walk from the central part of town, are pleasant, they are hardly reason for visiting this low-key provincial capital. The one attraction here is an outstanding seafood restaurant -- so good it is almost worth staying an extra night to sample yet more of their succulent seafood.
Yala is also the proud host of the ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival, an annual event taking place in March. The event brings feathered friends from many Asian countries including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia to take part in dove competitions, the main one being a cooing contest with close to 1,500 participants.
You may be able to pick up a bargain prize-winning bird which are bought and sold during the festival, the current price record being one million baht -- a lot of money for a fancy pidgeon, but this is a serious business.
By Stuart McDonald.