Satun is Thailand's southernmost province at the Andaman Sea, bordering Malaysia's provinces Perlis and Kedah (Langkawi). Satun's south is separated from Malaysia by a steep, impassable mountain chain, part of the Tenasserim mountains.
Coined by still large mangrove forests, Satun's coasts are home to a great number of species who are adapted to this habitat. One of them is the monitor lizard. Image and composition by Asienreisender, 2009, 2015
To the north it's bordering Trang Province; between the two province capitals are soft, green hills. Agriculture is everywhere, rubber and palm oil plantations are absolutely dominant. The whole native forest is cut down completely, except at the steep mountain slopes and at parts of the coast, where still mangrove forests exist.
The main road connects Satun with Thailand's southern traffic turntable Hat Yai. It's amazing how many construction activities are going on along this 100 kilometers long road. Remote and isolated Satun is getting developed in a high speed. The huge supermarked chains as 'Bic C' and 'Tesco Lotus' are around the capital already. A 'Macro' is under construction.
The two connections to Hat Yai and Trang are the only land connections from Satun to the 'outer world' - except the sea conncetions. There is a frequent ferry to and from Langkawi/Malaysia from Tammalang pier, some eight kilometers out of Satun town.
At Tammalang Pier, where the ferries to Langkawi and Ko Lipe depart and arrive. Image by Asienreisender, 2012
Surprising to see that Satun is (almost) not represented in en.wikipedia.org (only a stumb article of two sentences) and in the German wikipedia it's also only a small article and poor, incomplete information about the place.
As already mentioned, plantation economy is overwhelming. In the whole of Satun province the plains are already completely occupied by agriculture as palm oil plantations and rubber plantations. Nature could only retreat anymore into the steep slopes of the southern mountains. They are a refuge for some birds and plants, but the majority of the animals and plants who lived formerly in the jungles and rainforests didn't survive. The huge majority of the forests are destroyed since years already. I see almost no rice paddies anymore in the south of Thailand - it's all replaced by the notorious plantation monocultures. Rubber and palm oil are competing with food, and food prices are strongly on the rise in Southeast Asia.
The coastline is covered with huge mangrove forests, comparable to Ranong's coastlines. But also here business cuts it's way into the nature: more and more shrimp farms get built in a great number.
The trade with Malaysia makes a good part of the regions income. It's an open secret that a great share of the trade is smuggling, but it's still trade, isn't it? The difference is only, that there is no tax paid; instead there might flow some money into the pockets of the coastguards, now and then. Also a kind of tax, but negotiable.
A painting of Satun Town with it's features in the national museum. Image by Asienreisender, 2012
Satun Town / Province Capital
Satun town is as well the capital of the province which is named after it. It always was a really quiet and remote place where no tourists go, except a few on the way to some islands as Langkawi and others. It's a really sleepy, more Malayan than Thai town, which gives an impression of the area how it was decades ago. But also Satun town is in change; new shops in a modern fashion open up.
Satun gives one a certain feeling of Malaya; the population is by a great deal Muslim (by the way a quite friendly, relaxed Muslim population, like in the 'old times') and the smells in the streets smell often like in Malay towns, not as in a Thai place. Even the smell of Indonesian clove cigarettes is sometimes around here. In the town's center is a big main mosque, built in a modern, 1970s looking style. It's coming with the unavoidable, extremely loud din five times a day/night.
Satun River is passing the town's edges. Though it's still some kilometers to the sea shore, at high tide the river's level is rising considerably, partially salt water is coming in. River live is interesting to watch, because the river is for the neighbourhoods, like in the old times, the water supply and waste water drain as well as the source for the peoples diet.
At the Banks of Satun River
The banks of Satun River at the edge of the town. Image by Asienreisender, 2012
Since the place is inhabited by a Muslim majority, there are few dogs around; therefore are many cats living in Satun.
Accommodation in Satun
Satultani Hotel might have been a good hotel - 40 years ago. Image by Asienreisender, 2012
Accommodation is poor in Satun. In the budged range there are two very old, run-down hotels. One of them is Satultani Hotel, overpriced and with a bit unfriendly and blunt staff. The other one is cheaper and seems the better choice. Another few guesthouses and hotels are more expensive and also clearly overpriced for Thailand. A bit out of the town, but still in walking distance is 'farmkhai', a small, green place in a small forest run by a Swiss/Thai management who offer a good, quiet alternative. Typing 'farmkhai' into a search engine, you will find the contact informations.
Activities in and around Satun
Satun's pretty nice, little national museum. It must have been thoroughly renovated recently, because it's in a really good shape. Image by Asienreisender, 2012
Since the town itself offers little to do, the best activitiy to spend some days in Satun is to hire a motorbike and to explore the green surroundings. In Satun there is a small museum house (called 'national museum'), the former residence house of king Chulalongkorn (Rama V) when he visited Satun. Inside it looks pretty good, it is equipped with 19th century furniture and crockery, old weapons, showrooms displaying native villages and surroundings, recordings in Thai and English language. Alltogether in a much better shape than Rattanarangsan Palace in Ranong.