Satun cover

Lily's Travel Guide - Satun, Thailand

Satun

Satun mangrove walk 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.

Transport

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.

The nearest airports are in Hat Yai and Langkawi. The nearest train station technically is Padang Basar, but Hat Yai is 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.

Border crossings

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.

  • From Penang you can take the fast ferry to Langkawi, and continue later the same day on the fast ferry to Tammalang. Songthaews meet the ferry to get into town. The ferries are very reliable.
  • From Kuala Perlis there is no longer a boat service to Tammalang. Though a ride on a small cargo vessel has been reported...
    You can take a ferry to Langkawi and onwards.
  • From Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth and many other towns in western Malaysia you can take a train to Padang Besar, the border. The Malaysian train is fast and comfortable, departs every one to two hours, and most services are cheap.
    Twice a day a Thai shuttle train from Hat Yai meets the Malaysian service, and you can cross the border "inside" the train station.
    At other times you can cross over a footbridge to the Malaysian road immigration checkpoint. Then walk 1km to the Thai checkpoint. Opposite immigration is a bus stop with a very infrequent service to Hat Yai. Alternatively walk another km into town to find a minivan to Hat Yai.
  • From Kuala Lumpur or Butterworth you can take a bus to Hat Yai. Some hotels in Penang can arrange a minivan to Hat Yai.
  • From Hat Yai there are busses and minivans to Satun. The bus is infrequent and slower, the minivan is frequent and takes 2 hours.
  • There is a small border crossing at Wang Kelian / Wang Prachan, on road R15 / 4184, but neither side has public transport. On the Thai side the road goes through the Tale Ban National Park, a beautiful and winding stretch.
  • Another crossing is at at Bukit Kayu Hitam / Sadao on highway 1 / 4. Again, no public transport, the nearest bus stop is in Changlun in Malaysia, 8 km away.
  • From Kuala Lumpur fly to Langkawi, take a taxi to the jetty and then a fast ferry to Tammalang (see above)
  • From Kuala Lumpur fly to Hat Yai, take a songthaew into town. At the clocktower or the bus station take a bus or minivan to Satun.

Accommodation

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.

The Gleam 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.

Restaurants

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):

Fahat and Negara are halal Thai/Malay restaurants near the mosque. Fahat, right next to the clocktower, is somewhat more upmarket and doubles as a café. Negara, Saridphoominart rd, is very popular and has an extensive menu and a great roti corner.

Curry 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.

For Chinese go to Ko Ho Gruel, corner of Samunthaprasit and Satun Thani road.

Vegan lunch 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 Chill Chill is what comes closest to a bar, some nights it has live music from 9pm. Satun Thani rd, opposite soi 7.

Good iced coffee can be found in many of the stalls all over town. For a real capuchino or americano go to Fahat, Keith’s, the Corner Café, or… the southern seven-11.

Corner cafe 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.

Things to do and see

Satun mosque 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.

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 forest 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.

Fields and rubber walk. Here you can see some of the rubber plantations that are still a major part of Satun economy. 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 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.

Map

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*last update 2018*

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