Satun is a small provincial capital in the far southwest corner of Thailand. It has a definite end-of-the-road feel to it. A dusty little town where nothing ever happens. On the surface.
8km further south is the port and jetty of Tammalang. It has ferries to Langkawi, Malaysia, but this is not the main gateway. Ferries to the very popular island of Koh Lipe depart from Pak Bara. So Satun sees very few tourists passing through. You may see some people who live in Malaysia on a visa run or having their yacht maintained at the wharf. And there’s a hand ful of Western men living here with their Thai wives.
Satun is part of the Malay-Islamic south of Thailand. It was an independent kingdom until it became part of the Kedah Sultanate, which in 1909 was divided up between Thailand and then British Malaysia, de facto establishing the international border of today. Satun has none of the troubles the other (southeastern) Thai provinces have. It is largely Muslim but with a strong Thai influence. People speak more Thai and Malay than English.
The ferry to Langkawi leaves from Tammalang, 8km south of town. The ferry to Koh Lipe leaves from Pak Bara, 60 km northeast of town. Pak Bara can be reached directly from Trang or Hat Yai, so most people bypass Satun city.
There are minivans from town to Hat Yai and Trang, and busses to Hat Yai, Trang, Krabi, Phuket and Bangkok.
Note that the bus to Phuket passes the airports of Trang and Krabi.
The nearest airports are in Hat Yai, Trang and Langkawi.
The nearest train station technically is Padang Basar, but Hat Yai and Trang are much easier to reach.
For visiting villages in Satun province, use the songthaews. Songthaews are pick-up trucks with two benches in the back, running fixed routes. The main stops are in front of the two 7-Eleven shops.
To get around town you can walk, take a tuk-tuk (which are mini-songthauws here) or a motorbike-taxi.
There are many ways to get from Malaysia to Satun. None of them is perfect. Via Langkawi or Padang Besar are probably your best options. If you arrive by private yaught or informal cargo boat and miss immigration in Tammallang, do go to immigration in Satun town.
The landmark hotel is the Sinkiat Thani in Buriwanich road, the main street that runs south from the clocktower. Cheaper options downtown are the Satun Thani and the Udom Suk hotel.
There is some resort-style accommodation as well, a bit further from the city center. Still within walking distance are the Rose inn, on the north west side of town, which has simple cabins around an open field.
Our favorite is The Gleam on the south east side of town, pretty bungalows in a beautiful garden, with a pool.
There loads of eateries around town. To name a few (all of these can make you something vegetarian, even if it isn’t on the menu):
Bang Fan and Negara are halal Thai/Malay restaurants near the mosque. Both do great rotis. Negara, Saridphoominart rd, is very popular and has an extensive menu.
Real Thai curry places (but they also serve many other types of dishes) are Bangrak in Sathiyuthihum rd (our favorite!), and the Thai restaurant at Satun Thani rd Soi 7. Both are semi-outdoor.
For a romantic dinner on the riverside, go to Dee Dee motel or 178 restaurant.
For Chinese go to Ko Ho Gruel, corner of Samunthaprasit and Satun Thani road.
The night market 100m north of the clocktower has a great pad thai place. Open every night.
For lunch there are two ”jay” vegan buffet style places: one is at Sarid phoominart rd opposite Phoominart pakdee alley, the other is at 47 Tirasathit alley.
Expats, beer and fusion food may be found at Ti Baan, On's and Bobby's Pizza. Bobby will make you a real fresh pizza, so that’s the place to go if you fancy one.
The Relax Corner has live music from 7:30pm every night. Good for dinner or just drinks and music.
Good iced coffee can be found in many of the stalls all over town. Lily's favorite is KanEang at the corner of Salukanukoon-soi-9 on the road to Tammalang.
For a real capuchino or americano in an a/c room or outdoors go to STTC Café (on the road to Thammalang), 178 Café (down by the river), KinSan (on the eastern bypass road) or RNK (opposite the governer's residency).
The Corner Café is 25 km north of town, in Khan Kalong. A good place to stop for lunch on the way from/to Hat Yay or the waterfalls in the north of Satun province
– if you have your own transport.
Mumbang mosque in the city center, next to the clocktower. If you are lucky you may be allowed to climb the minaret for stunning views.
Satun national museum. Originally built in 1902 to accommodate the King on his first visit to the south.
There are some beautiful murals in various places over town. Try and spot them all :)
Saturday night market in main street, mainly food and clothes, gets pleasantly busy.
Khao Toj Yonh Kong park, a small forested lime rock identical to the islands in the Andaman Sea. There is a shrine at the foot of its southern side – beware of monkeys.
Khao Toh Prayawang park, a big forested lime rock identical to the islands in the Andaman Sea. There is a walkway all around – beware of the monkeys.
Mangrove walk. Go south on route 406, Sulakanukoon. Find soi 15 on your left. Walk it till the end, cross the bypass road and enter a narrow somewhat winding path.
Very soon there’s a fork where you keep left.
Cross a bridge and then you walk on a narrow embankment right in the middle of a mangrove forest.
Watch the trees, the spooky roots and don’t miss the tiny crabs in the mud. When you reach the bigger river, pass along some fishing ponds keeping the river on your right.
You’ll reach a T junction. Either venture right between fields until you reach a bridge over the big river. Return or explore further on your own. Or turn left at the T and walk through a tiny hamlet. When the tarmac road goes right, you can go straight then left for a shortcut back to town.
Plantation walk. Here you can see rubber plantations that are still a major part of Satun economy. You also see how they are being replaced by oil palms, the new gold. Start behind the big rock beyond the mosque. Go through the small fishing community, go over the bridge, continue for about 1k until the bypass road. Turn left until you reach the south side of town.
Chebilang, a fishing village with jetties and a big wharf.
Thale Ban National Park, close to the Malaysian border. This is pristine jungle, but the facilities at the Visitor Center could be upgraded. There is a beautiful lake and a short jungle walk. Get a songthaew to junction 4184 and hitch a ride from there.
Read more about a darker side of this forest in this blog.
There are waterfalls, caves and a hot spring in the north of Satun province. Let us know if you visited any of those.
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*last update 2020*
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