Fishing life and a great museum
Published/Last edited or updated: 27th April, 2017
The small island of Ko Yo sits in the lake just south of town and is home to fishers, weavers, temples and a huge collection of Southern Thai artifacts at the excellent Folklore Museum.
If coming from the south across Tinsulonanda Bridge you’ll be greeted by Wat Laem Pho, a lakeside temple featuring a 20-metre-long reclining Buddha image laid out in the open air. Wander further back to find a crumbling ordination hall near a Bodhi tree draped over a quirky collection of Buddhist and Hindu statuary, including Brahma, Vishnu and Erawan.
Rather than sticking to busy Route 408, we cut west on a quiet street from Wat Laem Pho and passed flower-strewn villages and hundreds of stilted fishing huts dotting the brackish water. Baan Suan Mai Road continues along the west coast up to a larger village nestled on a bay behind the museum. Here you’ll find several homestay programmes, including Chan Yam, where you can settle into a house perched directly over the lake.
After cutting briefly over to 408, we turned into the Folklore Museum run by Thaksin University’s Institute for Southern Thai Studies. Before heading inside you might climb the viewing tower and gaze west over the Baan Ao Sai fishing village, and north to the long bridge linking Ko Yo to Sathing Phra. Within view to the northeast is Songkhla town.
The Folklore Museum has dozens of rooms exhibiting 4,000-year-old beadwork; 1,000-year-old ceramics from China; nang thalung shadow puppets; Buddhist statuary from the Srivijaya civilisation; examples of local silk and cotton wears; kites shaped like buffalo heads; finely carved “rabbits” used for grating coconut meat; traditional musical instruments -- and much more.
English and Thai info boards explain historical details and cultural distinctions between Southern Thailand’s 14 provinces. After each room, visitors follow open-air stairs and paths to the next exhibition -- and it can feel like the museum has no end. Towards the end you can detour to a botanical garden and a traditional wooden house.
From here you could take the bridge up to Sathing Phra and then the car ferry back to Songkhla town, or do as we did and dip back south to shops selling locally woven fabrics off 408. If you get hungry, several seafood restaurants dot Ko Yo’s coastlines. Near the bridge back to the mainland, Sri Koh Yor Resort offers comfortable air-con rooms starting at around 1,000 baht.
Chan Yam Homestay: Baan Suan Mai Rd; T: 081 766 6247; 081 897 9783.
Southern Thai Folklore Museum: Off Route 408 at the northern end of Ko Yo; admission 100 baht; open Wed–Mon 08:30–17:00; T: (074) 591 611-8.
Sri Koh Yor Resort: Route 408 at southern end of Ko Yo; T: (084) 067 2722; (093) 629 7092.
Ko Yo (also spelt Yor) is located 10 kilometres southwest of Songkhla old town; head south on Tinsulonanda Rd and cut briefly west on Route 408, which runs straight up to the island. You can also get here from the north via Sathing Phra. Bringing your own vehicle is best for exploring the whole island, but maroon songthaews running between Songkhla and Sathing Phra, which park just west of the clock tower on Chana Road in Songkhla town, can drop you at the Folklore Museum. These cost 15 baht and run frequently, with the last one returning to Songkhla at around 17:00.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.