Photo: Make an offering before the boat ride.

Eat and meet

While you won't find much Western food, Pakbara does offer some tasty curry and rice shops, street food and a few traveller-oriented options.

On the way to/from the pier, a line of street vendors sell fresh fruit among other snacks and local products. Packaged in colourful cardboard boxes, Trang cake is great for munching on the boat, perhaps accompanied by a milky chaa yen (Thai iced tea), which Satun province is famous for. You'll also find coconut ice cream and plenty of meats on sticks sold here. If you happen to see a heavy-set woman selling som tam (green papaya salad) and gai yang (barbecued chicken) with sticky rice, do indulge. You'll know her by the smell of the grill and the large mortal and pestle that she pounds with authority.

Across the parking lot from the pier, a handful of small eateries and cafes are mixed into the travel offices. An offshoot of the same-named resort on Lipe, Sita Restaurant does decent coffee and Western food like pesto pasta, T-bone steak and fruit salad with yoghurt and muesli. Sita also sells boat tickets and provides free WiFi, making this a good one-stop spot. They also sell beer -- otherwise not too common in Pakbara.

A few doors down from Sita, Krua Thai is a classic Southern Thai khao gaeng (curry and rice) shop that operates out of a utilitarian shophouse. The gaeng som (sour orange curry with fish) is fiery and authentic, and a number of other curries and stir-fried vegetable dishes can be piled high atop a plate of rice for cheap. All of the food is displayed under glass so you get to have a look before choosing. You'll also find great chaa yen and Southern Thai Robusta coffee here. Directly across the street, Bang Worn is a larger khao gaeng shop with more options. These and most other Pakbara restaurants do not sell pork.

Heading further south along the main drag, just past the 7-eleven, look for a hole-in-the-wall nameless restaurant with a small English menu written on a red-and-white board. This was the cheapest and best Thai food we found in Pakbara. The noodle soup with seafood was well balanced with fresh lime, chillies, fried garlic and cilantro. They also offer a delicious panang beef curry.

If you prefer to browse a longer English menu, both Best House and Diamond Resort offer a wide range of Thai food in the 100-200 baht range. Both will water down the dishes for Westerners, but the atmospheres are conducive to playing a few games of cards while nibbling on spring rolls and satay. Between the two, Diamond has more seafood barbecue options and a better atmosphere on its seaside terrace.

And if seafood sounds good, you might go all the way south of town to dine at one of the several open-air restaurants that overlook Ao Noon. Some have little thatch huts where you can privately indulge on whole fishes, fresh crab and squid in the sea breeze. Prices are much cheaper than you'll find out on Lipe, so take advantage if you're travelling on a budget. Orange La-Ngu-bound songthaews will take you here for 10 baht and regularly pass by in the opposite direction.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Pakbara? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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