The southernmost province of Thailand on the Andaman Sea, Satun is located 973 kilometers from Bangkok bordering Perlis and Kedah in Malaysia. With its unique location, this southern province is an attractive destination for tourists, adventurers, and businesspeople, as well as nature lovers.
It is famous for pristine nature spreading over jungles, mountains, and beaches, and is suitable for development into an eco-tourism center, with great potential for an increase in cross-border trade with Malaysia, as well.
The province has set its vision as “a leading eco-tourism city in ASEAN, an agricultural standard city, and a happy city.” The name “Satun” comes from the Malay word satoye, meaning “santol,” a kind of fruit known in Thai as kraton, grown everywhere in Satun. Santol is round and green, and when ripe, and it turns yellow. The skin of the fruit is covered with soft velvet-like fuzz, and the meat is white, thick, soft, and sweet, with a slightly astringent taste. The town of Satun was later named “Negeri Setoi Mumbang Segara,” also in the Malay language, meaning the “Ocean God,” which has become the symbol of this province.
According to statistics compiled in 2012, Satun has a population of 305,879; 74 percent of the local residents are Muslim and 25.8 Buddhist, living happily in harmony. There are 224 mosques, 37 Buddhist temples, and three Christian churches. Most local people are engaged in rubber, oil palm, rice, and fruit farming, followed by retail and wholesale trade of agricultural products.
The per capita income in 2011 was 114,657 baht, ranking ninth of all 14 southern provinces and 27th of all provinces in Thailand. Border trade between Satun and Malaysia in 2012 came to 245.16 million baht, 69.99 million baht of which involved exports and 175.17 million baht involved imports.
In terms of tourism, Satun welcomed 694,697 Thai and foreign tourists, and it earned 2.6 billion baht from tourism in 2011. There are currently 67 hotels and resorts in this province to accommodate visitors.
One of Satun’s major tourist attractions is the Satun National Museum, which was developed from an old mansion built by a former governor in the 19th century. It is in the European architectural form with a Thai-style roof. This old mansion was originally built as a temporary residence of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), during his visit to the South.
However, the King did not stay there and the mansion was later turned into the residence of the Satun governor. During the Second World War, the mansion was used as a Japanese military camp, and before being developed into the national museum, this mansion served as a town hall, a municipal school, and an internal security operations command office.
The province boasts three national parks: Tarutao National Park, Phetra National Park, and Thale Ban National Park. Tarutao National Park is one of the most picturesque tourist attractions in the province and it is located only a few kilometers from the Malaysian isle of Langkawi. It is recognized as one of the ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves. During World War II, Tarutao used to serve as a place of detention for long-term detainees and political prisoners and as an occupational training center for convicts. It was declared Thailand’s eighth national park in 1974. This marine national park also includes a settlement of “sea gypsies,” island inhabitants from long ago who still lead their traditional way of life.
Another interesting attraction in Satun is Tham Lot Pu Yu, a cave bordering Perlis State of Malaysia. This cave is surrounded by beautiful scenery, comparable to the natural beauty of Switzerland. On the two sides of Tham Lot Pu Yu are high mountains, which are very scenic, like those in Guilin, China. The cave is accessible by boat, passing between the mountains, and small boats can enter the cave and come out on the other side of the mountain, where visitors will appreciate the landscape of the so-called “Giant Chameleon Mountain” and lush mangrove forests. Standing there is the “Blue Kayang Cave,” a splendor that has few rivals in the world. Numerous fish species have developed naturally in the area, maintaining the ecological system.
There is also a fishing village where visitors can buy seafood at low prices and observe the traditional way of life of the sea gypsies.
Satun Governor Nuachai Jiraapirak on 25 April 2013 joined hands with tourism business operators and members of the Satun Chamber of Commerce in introducing a scenic sandbar emerging from the waters as a new tourism site in this province. The amazing emerging sandbar, locally referred to as thale waek, literally meaning divided sea, is located in the Andaman Sea, off Tanyong Po community in Mueang district.
Major construction projects that have attracted investments in this province include the Pak Bara deep-sea port, a road linking Satun with Perlis in Malaysia, the Satun commercial airport, Satun city development, and eco-tourism development.
However, the province still needs further logistics development and the processing of more agricultural products to contribute to its local economy.