Historically, Pattani Province was the centre of the Sultanate of Patani, a semi-independent Malay kingdom that paid tribute to the Thai kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. After Ayutthaya fell under Burmese control in 1767, the Sultanate of Patani gained full independence, but under King Rama I (reigned from 1782 to 1809), the area was placed under Siam's control in 1785.
In 1909 the province was recognized as part of Siam by the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, negotiated with the British Empire. Along with Narathiwat, Yala was originally part of Pattani Province, but the Thais made them separate provinces. There is a small separatist movement in Yala, which after being dormant for many years, erupted again in 2004. In 2014 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises its citizens to only undertake essential travel in the province, while the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends that travellers do not enter the province.
Eight bombs exploded in the province over the course of two days, 6 and 7 April 2014. The explosions resulted in one death and 28 injuries, as well as damage to a warehouse estimated to be THB100 million. Local officials consequently tightened security in the province due to the Songkran festivities scheduled for mid-April.
Yala is one of the four provinces of Thailand with a Muslim majority. About 72% of the people are Malay-speaking Muslims and mainly live in rural locations. The remainder are Thai and Thai Chinese Buddhists, who live in towns and cities.
City Pillar Shrine (ศาลหลักเมือง): This shrine houses the City Pillar made of Chaiyapruk wood. It is 50 centimetres tall, bottom circumference is 43 inches, top circumference is 36 inches with the four-faced Bhrama and a flame on top.
Yala Central Mosque (มัสยิดกลางจังหวัดยะลา): is the main mosque of the province in western architectural style intertwined with the unique mosque frame. The front has about 30 wide steps leading to the upper terrace.
Sanam Chang Phueak Park (สวนสาธารณะสนามช้างเผือก): Used as the ground to give the King a white elephant (chang phueak) named “Phra Sawet Sura Khachathan”. The Park has a pavilion in the middle of a large pond and various sculpture of animals.
Suan Khwan Mueang (สวนขวัญเมือง): Its vast area of 207 rai has a separate sportsground and a 69 rai pond, landscaped with sandy beach and sea pines to remedy the landlocked problem of the province
Wat Khuhaphimuk or Wat Na Tham (พระพุทธไสยาสน์วัดคูหาภิมุขหรือวัดหน้าถ้ำ): One of the three most-revered places of the south. A figure of a giant, made in B.E. 2484 and named by the villagers as “Chao Khao”, protects the entrance of the cave that houses the reclining Buddha. Inside the cave is a large chamber that has been converted into a religious area.
Tham Mae Nang Montho (ถ้ำแม่นางมณโฑ): Inside the cave are large connecting chambers that are mostly dark. A torch is highly recommended. The highlight of this place is at the end of the cave with a large stalagmite resembling the shape of a meditating lady, hence the name of the cave.
Tham Sin (ถ้ำศิลป์): This is a very small and dark cave with ancient mural of different postures of the Lord Buddha and a painting of three women standing together on the cave wall that has deteriorated with time. A torch or a lamp is highly recommended to view the mural and the cave itself.
Bang Lang Dam (เขื่อนบางลาง): This Dam is the first multi-purpose dam in the South, on Pattani River. It is 85 metres high with a crest of 422 metres long, and the reservoir capacity of 1,420 million cubic metres.
Tham Krachaeng (ถ้ำกระแชง): A cave located at Ban Ka Sot, Tambon Bannang Sata, about 50 kilometres from Amphoe Mueang Yala.
Namtok Sukthalai or Namtok Kue Long (น้ำตกสุขทาลัยหรือน้ำตกกือลอง): It consists of five levels. The Princess Mother named it “Namtok Sukthalai”.
Namtok Than To (น้ำตกธารโต): A large waterfall with cascading water running through seven levels with pools for swimming. The surrounding forest is lush with many interesting species including Si Yala (Saraca thaipingensis Cantley ex Prain) with yellow blooms in February.
Namtok La-ong Rung (Rainbow Waterfall) (น้ำตกละอองรุ้ง): A slippery trek that leads along the stream from the waterfall. During the rainy season, the waterfall has the effect of the rainbow, hence the name.
Sakai Village (หมู่บ้านซาไก): The Sakai is an ancient nomad tribe who exists on hunting and gathering, is an expert on herbal plants and using darts for hunting. Recently the Department of Social Work has developed the village by segregating the Sakai in one area and introduced rubber planting as their occupation.
Namtok Bu Ke Pilo or Namtok Tawan Ratsami (น้ำตกบูเก๊ะปิโลหรือน้ำตกตะวันรัศมี): About 19 kilometres (12 mi) from Amphoe Mueang, the entrance to the waterfall is about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the village. When sunlight shines onto the water, the underwater rocks turn yellow.
Betong (เบตง): A Malay word meaning “bamboo”. This district is at the southernmost point of Thailand. The Betong city centre is surrounded by mountains, resulting in a cool climate and high rainfall, with frequent fog in the morning. It is therefore dubbed “The City in the Fog with Beautiful Flowers”.
Phra Mahathat Chedi Phra Phutthathammaprakat (พระมหาธาตุเจดีย์พระพุทธธรรมประกาศ): This chedi is built in the modern Sivijaya style, covered in a gold color. It is 39.9 metres (131 ft) high, built to commemorate the 69th birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen.
Suan Sut Sayam (Betong Municipality Park) (สวนสุดสยาม): Overlooks the city, consisting of ornamental plants and a flowering plants garden, avarium, health garden, sportsground, swimming pool, and playground.
The Largest Mail Box in Thailand (ตู้ไปรษณีย์ใหญ่ที่สุดในประเทศไทย): Built in B.E. 2467, before World War II, as the communication post for the townspeople, with a radio installed on top of the box and a mail slot below it. A new and larger box was built (9 metres (30 ft) high), and is located at the City Convention Hall (Sala Prachakhom).
The Swift (นกนางแอ่น): At dusk, the swifts fly around the city centre and come to rest on houses, buildings and electricity lines—especially on the Bell Tower that is well lit at night. The birds have become one of Betong’s symbols.
Betong Hot Spring (บ่อน้ำร้อนเบตง): Situated at Ban Charo Parai Village, Tambon Tano Mae Ro, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) before the Betong city centre.
Namtok Inthason (น้ำตกอินทสร): About 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Betong city centre and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the Hot Spring.
Piyamit Tunnel (อุโมงค์ปิยะมิตร): The tunnel was built in three months in B.E. 2519 and winds through the mountain for about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi)—it is about 50 feet (15 m) wide with multiple entrances. It was used as the air-raid shelter and food storage area.
Bala-Hala Forest (ป่าบาลา-ฮาลา), or Suan Pa Phra Namaphithai Phak Tai, Section Two (สวนป่าพระนาภิไธยภาคใต้ ส่วนที่ 2): A lush rainforest with many rare plants and wildlife—especially birds. Also the home of the Sakai tribe, this forest occupies a large area at the boundary of Yala and Narathiwat.
Namtok Chaloem Phra Kiat Ro Kao (น้ำตกเฉลิมพระเกียรติ ร.9): Located in Tambon Ai Yoe Weng, the waterfall is more than 30 metres (98 ft) high and is surrounded by lush forest.
ASEAN Java Songbird Contest (งานมหกรรมแข่งขันนกเขาชวาเสียงอาเซียน): Yala is one of the southern provinces that favor Java Songbirds. It is widely believed that Java Songbirds are good-luck charms that bring good luck to their owners, especially if the birds possess certain characteristics. The Yala Municipality Authority and Java Songbird Owner Association annually stage the ASEAN Java Songbird Contest on the first weekend of March. The first contest, held in B.E. 2529, was popular and led to an annual event held on the grounds of Suan Khwan Mueang.
The City Pillar Ceremony (งานสมโภชเจ้าพ่อหลักเมืองยะลา): The ceremony is held annually in May on the grounds of the Yala Municipality Office, in which the model City Pillar is paraded. The ceremony features stalls displaying goods for sale and exhibition, as well as government products, and folk entertainment, such as Manora Dance, Nung Talung, and Hulu Li Ke.
Yala Product and Cultural Revival Festival (งานเทศกาลฟื้นฟูประเพณีและของดีเมืองยะลา): The festival is held annually on the first weekend of August on the grounds of the Yala Municipality Office. Folk cultures from the various groups in the border provinces of the south, mainly Chinese-Thai Buddhists and Thai Muslim, perform at the festival. The festival also hosts contests for Chi La Dance, Best Dressed Banong, Si Bu-nga Siri (a special kind of potpourri), Rong-ngeng Dance and Annacit Singing (in both Malay and Thai languages). Various schools in the area also present folk performances, while an exhibition of Yala’s best produce is also displayed.