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 Koh Lipe depart from Pak Bara. So Satun sees very few tourists passing through. You may see some people living in Malaysia on a visa run or having their yacht maintained at the wharf. And there’s a hand full of western men living here with their Thai wife.
Satun is part of the Islamic south of Thailand, that used to be part of the Kedah Sultanate, until that was divided up between Thailand and then British Malaysia. 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 Hay 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, the main stops are in front of the seven-11 shops.
Getting around town you can walk, take a tuk-tuk (that are mini-songthauws here) or a motorbike-taxi.
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. That’s a bit further from the city center. Still within walking distance are the Rose inn, on the north west side of town, 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 if 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.
Real Thai curry places (but they serve much more) are a.o. Bangrak in Sathiyuthihum rd (our favorite!), and the Thai restaurant at Satun Thani rd Soi 7, 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.
For lunch there are two ”jay” vegan buffet style places: one is at Sarid phoominart td 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.
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, the Corner Café, or… the southern seven-11.
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 see and do
• Mumbang Mosque in the city center, next to the clocktower. Sometimes you may be allowed to climb the minaret for stunning views.
• Satun national museum. Originally build in 1902 to accommodate the King on his first visit to the newly acquired south.
• Saturday night market in main street, mainly food and clothes, gets pleasantly busy.
• Khao Toj Yonh Kong park, a small foresty lime rock identical to the islands in the Andaman Sea, there’s a shrine at the foot of its southern side – beware of monkees
• Khao Toh Prayawang park, a big foresty lime rock identical to the islands in the Andaman Sea, there is a walkway all around – beware of the monkees
• 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 right in the middle of mangrove. 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. Or the T you go left, walk through a tiny hamlet. When the tarmac road goes right, you can go straight then left for a shortcut back to town.
• Fields walk. Start behind the big rock beyond the mosque. Go through the small fishermen 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 fishermen village with jetties and a big wharf
• Thale Ban NP, 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. *link*
• There are waterfalls, caves and a hot spring in the north of Satun province. Let us know if you visited any of those.