The closest airport is on Langkawi, serviced by daily flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia. You could also fly into Hat Yai, which is 95 kilometres to the northeast and serviced by several airlines. Nok Air sells an all-in “fly and ride” ticket to/from Satun, via Hat Yai, that includes the flight and a minibus transfer.
Satun’s sleepy bus station is located a few kilometres south of downtown off Route 406; after arriving we had to wait for 20 minutes until a motorbike taxi showed up.
All buses cut through downtown on the way to the bus station so most travellers hop out near the clock tower. Minibuses to Hat Yai, Trang and La-Ngu stop at an easy-to-find spot on Burivanich Road, between On’s and the clock tower, on their way out of town. Minibuses from Hat Yai also cruise down to Thammalung Pier.
Fares from the bus station include:
Bangkok: Three first-class buses depart at 07:00 and there are nine departures from 15:00 to 16:30 for 490 to 680 baht. A VIP bus departs at 15:30 for 780 baht. The trip takes 16 hours. Some Bangkok-bound buses make a stop in Phatthalung and others in Trang.
Hat Yai: Minibuses depart hourly from 07:00 to 17:00 for 100 baht and take two hours. Head to Hat Yai for a huge range of transfers, including to any of four Malaysia border crossings.
Phuket: Buses depart roughly every two hours from 07:00 to 14:00 and again at 20:00 for 380 baht, making stops in Trang for 137 baht, Krabi for 243 baht and Phang Nga for 310 baht.
Trang: Minibuses depart hourly from 07:00 to 17:00 for 105 baht and take three hours.
Pakbara (Pier for Ko Lipe, Ko Tarutao and Ko Bulon Lae): Can not be reached directly from Satun, but you can catch a minibus departing for La-Ngu every 20 minutes from 07:00 to 17:00 for 50 baht, and ask to be dropped for a transfer to a Pakbara-bound songthaew.
Ferries to Langkawi in Malaysia depart from Thammalung Pier at 09:30, 13:30 and 16:30 for 350 baht and take two hours. From Langkawi, they return to Satun at 09:00, 13:00 and 17:00, Malaysian time, which is an hour ahead of Thailand time.
On Langkawi you can catch year-round ferries to Kuala Perlis or high-season ferries to Ko Lipe.
To reach Thammalung Pier from downtown Satun, catch an orange songthaew for 30 baht per person in front of 7-eleven on Satuntanee Road, just north of the clock tower, or take a tuk tuk or motorbike taxi for around 100 baht.
As of early 2017, only Thais and Malaysians were allowed to take boats directly between Thammalung and Kuala Perlis.
If there are enough passengers, a minibus departs Satun at 09:00 for the little-used Wang Prajan / Wang Kelian border crossing, stopping for travellers to clear immigration before continuing on the Malaysia side to Kuala Perlis. Staff at On’s Living Room can call the driver to arrange a pick-up. An official at Satun bus station info desk told us that this minibus does not stop there.
Alternately, you could take a Hat Yai-bound minibus and get off in the town of Khuan Sator to catch a motorbike taxi 20 kilometres to the Wang Prajan crossing, where taxis should be available on the Malaysia side, we were told. You may be better off heading to Hat Yai and transferring to a minibus bound for the more popular crossings at Padang Besar and Dannok / Sadao.
Downtown Satun is easy enough to explore on foot. Songthaews run north to Tesco Lotus and south to Thammalung Pier along Satuntanee and Sulakanukoon roads.
Motorbike taxis and tuk tuks are also available in Satun, especially in front of the 7-eleven closest to Mambang Mosque on Satuntanee.
Motorbikes can be rented at On's Living Room for 250 baht per day, and bicycles for 100 baht.