Satun is one of Thailand’s top off-the-beaten-track provinces, making it the perfect antidote for travellers who’ve grown tired of the country’s more touristic destinations. And it’s precisely this lack of attention that makes Satun so appealing, as it’s friendly inhabitants and authentic culture can attest.

    Considering the district’s distinct lack of foreign visitors, you might be surprised to learn there are quite a few exciting attractions to explore in Satun. From a bustling island paradise to the capital city’s sacred landmarks, here are the top things to see and do in the Thai province of Satun.

    What are the best things to do in Satun?

    1

    Koh Lipe

    Satun’s premier tropical island resort

    • Adventure

    Koh Lipe is an obligatory stop on any Satun itinerary. After all, this tiny island paradise is the province’s primary tourist drawcard and serves as the hub for the stunning Tarutao Archipelago. Once a sleepy backpackers’ hangout, Koh Lipe has seen considerable investment in recent years and now boasts a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe.

    The action revolves around Walking Street, which is home to the island’s biggest selection of restaurants and hotels. A leisurely stroll will lead you to one of 3 beautiful beaches, each with colourful coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. Travel agents around town will happily help you organise an island-hopping excursion to explore the aquatic sites beyond.

    Location: Satun 91000, Thailand

    Map
    2

    Tarutao National Marine Park

    Scenic tropical islands and fascinating marine life

    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Tarutao National Marine Park is a textbook example of why the southern islands are Thailand's major drawcard. The marine life-rich zone was the first oceanic area in the country to receive ‘protected’ status, and upon exploring the stunning region in detail, it's not hard to see why.

    Towering limestone cliffs protrude abruptly from crystal-clear waters, while sugar-white sand defines each idyllic beach. Then you’ve got the coral-clad underwater world to explore, which teems with exotic marine life. Some islands are entirely uninhabited for a Robinson Crusoe-style adventure, while others boast beachfront bungalows for you to kick back in comfort.

    Location: Ko Tarutao, Satun 91000, Thailand

    Phone: +66 74 783 597

    Map
    3

    Pha Chado Viewpoint

    The best vantage point in the area

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The Pha Chado Viewpoint (or the Chado Cliff trail) is the best spot to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous Tarutao National Marine Park. After all, pirates once used the viewpoint to keep a lookout for cargo-carrying merchant ships. Naturally, you’ll be able to capture an envy-inducing Instagram pic here as well.

    Located on a clifftop on the picturesque Koh Adang Island, the lookout requires a usually sweaty 40-minute uphill hike to reach. It’ll be well worth the effort, though, as views from the top span as far as Koh Adang and Koh Lipe. On the way back down, stop by the Namtok Chon Salat Waterfall and take a quick dip to cool off.

    Location: Ko Adang, Satun 91000, Thailand

    Map
    4

    Thale Ban National Park

    An inland nature reserve with lakes and hiking trails

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Thale Ban National Park is your go-to reserve if you want to see Satun’s inland splendour. The 196-sq-km park lies right on the Thai-Malaysia border, making it an easy option for travellers venturing between the 2 countries. Pine trees and mangroves comprise most of the dense tropical rainforest, lending a home to dozens of species of mammals and reptiles plus hundreds of types of birds.

    Local legend says the beautiful Bueang Thale Ban freshwater lake was created during an earthquake here several hundred years ago. It’s an idyllic spot to fish and there are several nearby hiking trails to explore.

    Location: Wang Prachan, Khuan Don, Satun 91160, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)74 750 758

    Map

    photo by KOSIN SUKHUM (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    Phu Pha Pet Cave

    One of the world’s biggest caves

    • Adventure

    Phu Pha Pet is Satun’s most popular cave that has quite a few options on offer. The name means ‘Diamond Cliff’ in English, which refers to the dangling stalactites that sparkle in the afternoon sun. This high-ceiling cave system is the largest in Thailand and the 4th biggest in the world, boasting over 20 ‘rooms’ to explore.

    Another option for subterranean adventurers is the Satta Khuha Cave, complete with a sizable contingent of bats and a tranquil underground stream. Or, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, make your way to Chorakhe Cave on a dugout canoe by paddling through a thick mangrove forest.

    Location: Palm Phatthana, Manang, Satun 91130, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm, Saturday from 8.30 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 8.30 am to 4:30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)74 605 466

    Map
    6

    Pak Barra

    An authentic and seldom-explored town

    • Adventure

    Pak Barra Pier is the jumping-off point for the Tarutao Archipelago, so you’ll likely pass through this peaceful little fishing village at some point during your visit. But rather than heading directly onwards to the islands, why not take a day or 2 to explore this quaint off-the-beaten-track region?

    Pak Barra sits in the middle of a scenic estuary and boasts a long stretch of pristine sand to rival the best beaches on the Tarutao islands. A short ferry trip to the north takes you to Bo Chet Luk, otherwise known as Seven-Well Island, a quaint farming community with its own picture-perfect Ka Sing Beach. Both areas attract a local crowd and remain delightfully authentic.

    Location: Pak Nam, La-ngu, Satun 91110, Thailand

    Map

    photo by mohigan (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Wang Sai Thong Waterfalls

    Gushing limestone cascades in a thick tropical jungle

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Although the Wang Sai Thong Waterfall requires a long drive and an uphill hike to reach, it’s worth the effort for off-the-beaten-track travellers looking to explore Satun’s inland attractions. And to make life easier, these cascading falls lie near the Phu Pha Pet Cave so you can cross both off in a single trip.

    Despite the multi-tiered waterfall being fed from nearby karst limestone mountains, it’s water is remarkably clear. After you finish admiring the display, there are several forested walking trails to hike. Either visit the falls on a guided tour or rent a scooter for the day in Pak Barra.

    Location: Nam Phut, La-ngu, Satun 91110, Thailand

    Open:

    Phone: +66 (0)61 226 4337

    Map
    8

    Prasat Hin Phan Yod sinkhole

    A strange geological oddity to explore on a fun kayaking trip

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The Prasat Hin Pun Yod sinkhole is a series of limestone spires just off the Satun mainland that makes for a superb kayaking trip. This natural attraction is the result of millions of years of erosion and looks like a jagged rocky castle protruding out of an emerald sea.

    Excursions involve a scenic 15-minute boat trip from Bo Chet Luk Pier before you slide into a kayak to navigate the otherworldly terrain. Be sure to paddle under the natural stone bridge known as the Half-Heart Cave. You can organise a tour from the community centre on Bo Chet Luk island.

    Location: Pak Nam, La-ngu, Satun 91110, Thailand

    Phone: +66 (0)74 720 285

    Map
    9

    Wat Chana Thip Chaloem Temple

    Satun’s original and most prominent Buddhist temple

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Wat Chana Thip Chaloem is the oldest and most important Buddhist temple in Satun and is something of a novelty in this predominately Islamic Thai province. The structure, which was erected back in 1882, has been serving the region’s small Buddhist community for over a hundred years.

    The first thing you’ll notice is the temple is different from other Thai wats. Wat Chana Thip Chaloem has 2 stories instead of one: the first a preaching hall made of brick and the second a monks’ quarters made of wood. A convenient location in the heart if Satun town makes this an easy spot to visit. 

    Location: Phiman, Satun 91000, Thailand

    Phone: +66 (0)90 412 9266

    Map
    10

    Masjid Mambang Mosque

    The province’s most prominent mosque

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Masjid Mambang Mosque, also known as Satun Central Mosque, is the province’s most important and interesting Islamic monument. The building was erected in 1979 to replace an older wooden mosque that had decayed in the humid tropical heat. As is typical of the era, the mosque was constructed in a modern Islamic architectural style.

    Note the triple-tier roofs that cascade towards the sky and come complete with ornate decorations of glass, marble, and glazed tiles. Another highlight is the big golden dome up top, which serves as a local landmark. The mosque is still in active use and non-muslims are permitted to enter provided they dress appropriately.

    Location: 147 Satun Thani Rd, Phiman, Satun 91000, Thailand

    Map
    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Maps