Satun is a quiet southern province known primarily by travelers for its spectacular if infrequently visited islands, particularly Koh Lipe and Koh Tarutao.
Satun is located in the far south of Thailand, nearly 1000 kilometers from Bangkok. Most of the provincial inland is mountainous and the coastal region features more than 60 islands. As Satun borders Malaysia, a majority of Satun’s population is Muslim, many of whom are of Malaysian descent, adding a colorful character to the town, particularly in regards to food and clothing. Fortunately for the people of Satun and visitors to the area, Satun has been largely unaffected by the domestic unrest in the south and is a quiet and safe place to visit.
Satun town, the province’s capital, is a sleepy town that typically only sees travelers who are en route to either the offshore islands or Malaysia. However, mainland Satun does feature the Thale Ban National Park, which contains a number of waterfalls and a large lagoon surrounded by towering mountains.
From the port town at Pakbara, the top island destinations in Satun are Koh Tarutao and Koh Lipe, idyllic and generally undeveloped islands renowned for their spectacular natural beauty. Other islands include Koh Bulon Lae, Koh Adang and Koh Petra National Marine Park.
Satun is a small province in the south of Thailand that is located along the coast of the Andaman Sea. In addition to a border crossing with Malaysia Satun Province possesses picturesque islands, verdant forests, and a mountainous interior.
Satun, once part of an independent Sultanate, has had strong ties with Thailand since the Ayutthaya period and as mixed marriages between Thais and Malay Muslims has been common for centuries, many Satun people are Samsam, meaning a mixed person. While most inhabitants of Satun, including most Samsams, are Muslims, Satun has avoided the regional unrest occurring in other southern provinces.
Most visitors to Satun come to visit the province’s spectacular national parks, including Mu Koh Tarutao National Park and Mu Koh Phetra National Park.
Other than the islands off the coast of Satun, the province doesn’t get many tourists. Consequently, there are not a lot of travel options for getting to or around Satun. From Malaysia or the Thai mainland however, there are boats taking passengers in both directions, including to/from the islands of Satun, such as Koh Lipe and Koh Tarutao. Otherwise, Hat Yai is the nearest large city with a train station, international airport, and major bus depot.
Getting to and from Satun
- By Train:
There are no direct trains to Satun. Visitors can take a Bangkok-Hat Yai train, leaving the Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lumphong) to the Hat Yai train station, from which visitors can take a taxi, van, or public bus to Satun from Ratthakan Post Office. It is 97 kilometers from Hat Yai to Satun. For more information on trains, contact the State Railways of Thailand, tel: 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th
- By Car:
From Bangkok, drive south on Highway No. 4 past Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon then take Highway No. 41 to Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung. From Phatthalung, follow No.41 to Highway No. 4 and finally to Highway No. 406. The drive between Bangkok and Saturn covers 973 kilometers.
- By Bus:
The journey from Bangkok to Satun can be made on air-conditioned coaches originating from the Southern Bus Terminal. The coaches depart from Bangkok either in the morning or evening and cover the nearly 1000 kilometers in about 13 hours. For more information, call the Southern Bus Terminal at tel: 0 2435 1199-200 or the Satun Bus Station at tel: 0 7471 1446.
From Hat Yai, Satun can be reached by van, public bus and taxi. Taxis are available in Hat Yai at the Ratthakan Post Office; vans and public busses can be found beside Dr. Somphot’s Clinic near Hat Yai train station. The vans leave every hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Public busses leave from Hat Yai bus station every 2 hours from 6.30 a.m. to 4.35 p.m.
Busses depart from Satun's bus station, which is located a few kilometers south of Satun town. Busses to Bangkok take 15 hours and depart at in the morning and in the afternoon. Busses to Trang leave hourly from 05:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and arrive around two hours later. Air-con busses to Phuket depart morning, noon, and night. The trip takes about 8 hours stopping in La-Ngu, Trang, and Krabi along the way.
- By Air:
There are no direct flights to Satun. The trip by air can be made via Hat Yai airport, from which visitors can take a van, taxi, or bus to Satun, 97 kilometers away.
Boats to Kuala Perlis and Langkawi Island in Malaysia leave from the Tammalang pier 10km south of Satun, which is serviced by orange songtaews and motorcycle taxis.
The new pier building houses immigration services, a restaurant, convenience stores, currency exchange booths, and travel agencies.
Boats between Langkawi Island and Satun make three voyages a day in each direction. The fare is around 300 baht and the trip takes about one hour.
Long-tail boats to Kuala Perlis cost 120B/person. Morning is the best time to travel as there are many passengers at that time and boats only leave when they are full.
Getting Around Satun
Songtaews are the best form of local transportation, picking up and dropping off passengers around Satun town. For more freedom to explore it may be better to rent a car in Hat Yai and then drive to Satun. To get to the islands of Satun province there are boat services that run more frequently in the high season.
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