For most travellers, the seaside town of Pakbara is nothing more than the place where you catch boats to Ko Lipe, Ko Tarutao and Ko Bulon Lae. Should you miss the ferries -- or if you just happen to have a penchant for hanging around port towns -- a smattering of accommodation and food options are scattered along the main road.
Situated at the mouth of the Pakbara River, next to the northern end of Highway 4052, Pakbara Pier is one of Thailand's busiest during high season thanks to the ballooning popularity of Ko Lipe. The spacious waiting area feels almost like a small airport terminal, and it can be chaotic when several boats arrive and depart each day around 11:30.
The town of Pakbara is a dusty strip of cement shophouses and footpaths with big holes in them (seriously, watch your step). Several travel offices and cafes are clustered across from the pier and will take care of your ferry or minibus tickets. Accommodation options are run down and this isn't the most welcoming place in Thailand. If you can avoid it, don't stick around for long.
The beach near Pakbara Pier mostly consists of stinky silt with spare boat parts lying around, but a more pleasant beach at Ao Noon, five km to the south, isn't a bad option if you're looking to kill some time. Several affordable seafood restaurants with sea views are found here, reachable by one of the La-Ngu-bound songthaews that depart every 20 minutes from near the pier.
Along with the many travel offices, the main road near the pier hosts several convenience stores, eateries, internet cafes, ATMs and a few shops where you can pick up a spare swimsuit or beach towel. The nearest hospital and police station are in La-Ngu, a larger town located 10 km inland and on the way to the provincial capital of Satun.
By David Luekens.