Once we got to know, that now it’s possible to get a visa on arrival (for Thailand) in Satun, we decided to try it out. And to travel from Malaysia to Thailand by ferry. We had spent in Malaysia almost a month and wanted to see something new, but Thailand was just a short ferry ride away.
Thailand’s New Year Festival – Songrkan – was just around the corner. And traveling to Thailand now we could meet with some fellow Latvian long term travelers as well. So why not go to Thailand for a short trip?
The journey from Langkawi island to Satun takes a little bit more than an hour, and costs around 10 euro (30 Malaysian Ringgits / 300 Thai Bahts).
Going through immigration took us another 30 minutes. And at the end almost resulted in a trouble, because to get our visa on arrival we were asked to pay more than stated on the site of Royal Thai Embassy. Difference wasn’t too big, we had enough cash and we didn’t want to argue with officials, so we just paid. But I’m pretty sure it was something illegal. Here I have written more about our experience, applying for visa on arrival in Thailand.
Satun – small town near the border of Malaysia and Thailand
We chose to enter Thailand through Satun because of one simply reason – it is possible to apply for visa on arrival there. And, yes, it’s really close to Malaysia, where we were at that time. So if you like us need a visa, when traveling to Thailand even for a short period of time, then now you will know, that Satun is one of Southernmost border crossing points of Thailand.
Satun town is almost 10 kilometers away from Satun port (Tammalang Port).
Satun Bus Terminal, from where you can get a bus to different parts of the Thailand, is shortly before the town, some 8 kilometres away from the port.
Right in front of the port, which is a really small building, you will see some songthaews standing. Songthaew is an adapted pick-up or truck. And it’s one of the most used passenger vehicles in Thailand.
You can pay more and get a taxi all for yourself. But we, like most of people traveling with that ferry, chose to take a songthaew. Ride with it, when you aren’t the only passenger, costs about 20 – 30 bahts per person. This time, after paying more than planned to get our visa, we had only 100 bahts left.
And so we were happy to have this cheaper alternative to get to the bus station, where we were planning to withdraw more money and find a bus going to Trang.
But, as it turned out later, once we already were there, there are no any ATM at Satun Bus Terminal. The same as there are no any ATM at Satun port.
Having just 20 bahts (about 50 cents) left we went on a not so planned walk to Satun. On a quest to find an ATM, accepting my MasterCard. If in Malaysia and India our cards have been accepted for most of the time at most of the places, here it took us some time to get a cash. Anyway 1 hour and 4 ATM’s later we got the money and were ready to continue our journey.
Before we even started to think, whether to walk back to bus station or search for some kind of public transportation, driver of songthaew invited us to drive with him. And so there we were, sitting at the back of his pick-up and driving to bus station, while eating our 7-Eleven sandwiches, our first meal in Thailand. Everything being sorted out.
Trang is just a little bit more than 100 kilometers away from Satun. I’m not sure why, because for most part of the ride we both were sleeping, but this relatively short minivan ride on a good quality roads took us almost 3 hours.
What I did notice, though, was that half of the time when we stopped somewhere it wasn’t because of passengers. But because our driver was loading in or loading out some bigger or smaller parcels, or bags, or boxes. Later we learned, that it’s normal – 100 kilometer journey on a public bus in Thailand is at least 2 and a half hour ride, 200 kilometers – more like 5 hour ride and so on.
Just a month earlier we didn’t know there is such a city Trang in Thailand. Now, thanks to recommendations of friends, we knew, that it’s a city worth to stop for a day or two. And we knew, that most of people, who come here, do it because of waterfalls (Sai Rung, Ton Te and others), caves (most popular – Le Khao Kop Cave) and nearby islands (Koh Kradan, Koh Muk).
On our first evening in Trang we went out to visit night markets and to eat there. Well, food is almost the most important part about night markets in Thailand. At least for us. Tens of different and tasty local street food are available, and almost nothing cost more than 50 bahts (about 1,3 euro). Paradise!
There is daily night market happening, from 5 PM to 9 PM, few blocks east from the Trang Clock Tower. And then there is another one on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings just by the Trang Train Station.
On our second day in Trang we rented a scooter and drove to waterfalls. Though, initially we planned to visit some cave in the afternoon as well, it didn’t work out, because waterfalls took a lot of time. Most of the waterfalls near Trang are located not far each from other. Just find on a the map where is a Sai Rung waterfall, which is some 30 kilometers from Trang, and you will find the rest – simply by going down the same road.
Lumplok Waterfall was our favorite one. With just a few people – if you walk through the forest and cross the river to reach the waterfall itself – and quite a big pool with cool and clean water it was all we needed on a hot day.
When you know, that there is waterfall at the end of almost every road going to the left (when you are driving FROM Trang), then it’s easy to find them. Otherwise, not all of them have a clearly visible road signs.
To get from Trang to Krabi we again took a minivan. They are running like every hour from Trang Bus Terminal. But to get to Trang Bus Terminal we used a public bus. Before actually seeing one, while waiting for a songthaew at the bus stop, we didn’t know that there are such buses. Ride on a comfortable bus cost us only 7 bahts, which is 3-4 times cheaper than by songthaew.
Our plan for Krabi was as following – to meet with Latvian travelers Harijs and Karina, to meet with Latvian family, who have currently moved to Thailand for a year, then to take a part in Thai New Year – Songrkan – celebration and to visit at least one of the Thailand’s paradise-like islands off the coast of Krabi.
We actually met with 7 Latvians in Krabi, and had a dinner together twice. Participating in the celebration of Songkran turned out to be one of the most fun things we have ever done. This now definitely is our favorite festival, and we are sure we will come back to experience it some another time. In total it’s about 1 kilometer from the parking, where most of people stop.
During Songkran festival whole cities across Thailand becomes a battlefield for water fights. Families are driving around the cities with their pickups. With huge barrels of water, often ice cold, loaded at the back And a group of children, usually with at least with few adults as well, armed with bowls, buckets and water guns are sitting next to the water barrel and looking for their next target.
Check out this video, made by Gap Year Latvians:
For me day of Songkran started unusually early. Because while Una decided to get a good sleep before long day ahead, I woke up at 5 AM and drove a scooter to Tiger Cave temple near Krabi to climb 1237 steps and watch a sunrise from the mountain top. Steps here are steep and it takes some to get to the top (about 20 minutes for me), but as it often is with a places like this, it’s worth it.
Try to go for a sunset if you can’t wake get up that early.
Ao Nang, one of the most popular beaches near Krabi, isn’t the best place for swimming. It’s fine. Area is beautiful, but there are much better beaches for swimming. But the view of the mountains surrounding Krabi, when you are driving back from Ao Nang to Krabi town, leaves you speechless. It’s worth to go to Ao Nang just because of it.
To get to some of the Thailand’s paradise like islands we booked an island hopping tour from our hotel. The tour was called “4 island tour”, and it was great! Full day tour with lunch on the beach, snorkeling and hotel transfer cost us 700 bahts each (about 20 €). Islands around Krabi are really beautiful. Water is perfect. But snorkeling was OK. It just wasn’t enough for us with these 2 40 minute sessions. And, yes, in most of situations there are A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE at the same time on the same islands. See the photo below!
If you have, take your snorkeling equipment, and you will have a chance to do snorkeling at all islands not just two of them.
On the next day we returned to Langkawi, Malaysia. Our short trip to Thailand was over.
In Trang we stayed at really nice budget hotel – Yamawa Guest House. But in Krabi our home for 4 days was another budget hotel – Diamond Home Resort, with a great pool. Make a booking through these Booking.com links, and we will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you!
If you have any questions about traveling in Thailand, contact us!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.