Satun Travel Guide
As one of the southernmost provinces in Thailand, most pass through Satun on their way to Malaysia, or to their first destination in the Land of Smiles. However, this underrated destination has many treasures for those who linger here – quiet museums, scenic waterfalls, and paradise islands all await you here.
Cultural and Natural Attractions
Upon arriving in Thailand via Satun, learn more about this Thai province by spending some time exploring the exhibits at Satun National Museum. Situated within a mansion constructed in the Sino-Portuguese style at the turn of the 20th century, this attraction is surprisingly detailed.
Not only will you find the personal effects of the founding governor of this province here, but you’ll also get to check out displays of weaponry from a bygone era, kites shaped like a buffalo’s head, and detailed information of the history of the local sea gypsy population.
Following this, make your way over to Wat Chanathipchaloem. While this building would not be out of place in any normal Thai town, this temple is significant in that it is an outpost of Buddhism in a region almost completely populated by adherents of Islam. Opened in 1882, it is a peaceful place to relax while you wait for your shuttle to the ferry (if you are headed to Malaysia or Koh Lipe) or your transport to points to the north.
The appeal of visiting Satun province lies mostly offshore – head to the ferry terminal south of Satun Town, and you can buy a ticket on a boat that will transport you to beautiful Koh Lipe. While development has really taken off here over the past few years, it is still an attractive place to spend a week in paradise if you are looking to have an array of tourist services at your beck and call.
With stunning blue-green water, outstanding snorkelling and diving just offshore, and a complete lack of cars (people get around by walking or biking), it is the perfect place to go if you want to travel to one of Thailand’s Andaman islands without having to go completely off the grid.
If you are looking to leave it all behind, then Koh Bulon Le will prove to be a better fit. This isle is the antithesis of Koh Lipe, as it is much less developed than its neighbour. This is on purpose, as residents expressed no desire to go down the route places like Koh Lipe and Koh Phi Phi have gone down.
As a result, things are much quieter here – while you’ll still have a selection of sleepy beach bars and restaurants to choose from, this is not the place to go if you want to dance to a throbbing, bassy beat all night long.
Want to go even further off the beaten track while exploring the outlying islands of Satun? Include Koh Adang in your plans. Hiding in plain sight (you can see it from Koh Lipe), this wild, undeveloped island is where you’ll want to do if you want to get back to basics.
There is accommodation here, but it is threadbare in nature – don’t expect a five-star experience here. On the other hand, you’ll get to stand on its fine beaches after dark, allowing you to witness its bio-luminescent waters and the stars of the Milky Way unimpeded by artificial light.
By day, find a private beach for you and your crew, climb its mountain in search of amazing viewpoints and an amazing waterfall, or snorkel/dive off its shores – while visiting on a day trip from Koh Lipe is possible, we advise staying here for at least one night, if possible.
Koh Adang is part of Tarutao National Marine Park, a protected area which guards some of Thailand’s most precious ecosystems. If you are an avid diver/snorkeler, or if you just love visiting isolated islands, be sure to book a trip to this park.
With 51 islands situated within its 1,490 square kilometres, you’ll find plenty of unspoiled beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and wildlife not just beneath the waves, but on land as well. When visiting its isles, keep your eyes open for animals like mouse deer, crab-eating macaques (a type of primate), and wild pigs.
There is more to see than just beaches and islands while travelling in Satun province – if you love spelunking, make time in your schedule for a visit to the Phu Pha Phet Caves. Only opened to the public starting in 2010, it has quickly gained in popularity, attracting increasing amounts of visitation from domestic and foreign tourists alike.
Thought to be the biggest cave in Thailand, its display of stalactites and stalagmites will wow those who see them – however, the climb to reach the cave entrance can be steep, so be sure to wear proper footwear before embarking on this trek.
Want to cool off on a hot day in Satun province, but nowhere near a beach? Pay the Wang Sai Thong Waterfall a visit. Composed of a series of eye-catching ledges, this water feature will impress those who are just expecting a humble place to chill out with the locals.
Laden with minerals, the waters have calcified the rocks they have passed over from generations, creating a spectacle you’ll want to capture with your camera before stripping down to go for a swim.