French hydrographic / topographic map of Songkhla, during the reign of King Narai the Great, 1687.
Songkhla looking west from Khao Tangkuan, c. 1930.
Songkhla's Nakhon Nok Rd., c. 1932.
The name Songkhla is the Thai variant of "Singgora" (Jawi: سيڠڬورا); its original name means 'the city of lions' in Malay (not to be confused with Singapura). This refers to a lion-shaped mountain near the city of Songkhla. Archaeological excavations on the isthmus between Lake Songkhla and the sea reveal that in the 10th through the 14th century this was a major urbanized area, and a center of international maritime trade, in particular with Quanzhou in China. The long Sanskrit name of the state that existed there has been lost; its short Sanskrit name was Singhapura ('Lion City') (not to be confused with Singapura), a city state. The short vernacular name was Satingpra, coming from the Mon-Khmer sting/steng/stang (meaning 'river') and the Sanskrit pura ('city').:320-321
The ruins of the ancient port city of Satingpra are just few kilometres north of Songkhla. It was one of the most important trading centres of the Tambralinga Kingdom. Archaeological digs and investigations conducted toward the end of the 20th century testify the existence of a fortified citadel protected by a moat and a quadrangular surrounding wall made of brick. A sophisticated system of canals connected the sea to the Songkhla Lake permitting the circulations of ships. The excavations brought to light artifacts of great historical and artistic value.
On 8 December 1941 local time, hours before the 7 December (Hawaii time) attack on Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese army landed in Songkhla invading Thailand. It then moved south towards Perlis and Penang as part of the Malayan campaign which culminated in the capture of Singapore.
Since 2003, Songhkla has been affected by separatist insurgencies in neighboring Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala.
The municipality's mayor,
Peera Tantiserane, was murdered there in 2012.