Gateway to the Satun islands

The seaside town of Pakbara is known mainly for a large pier servicing speedboats and ferries to Ko Lipe, Ko Tarutao and Ko Bulon Lae. Should you miss the boat, or you simply have a penchant for hanging around port towns, a smattering of rooms and eateries dot the main drag.

More on Pakbara

Set at the mouth of the Pakbara River beside the northern end of Route 4052, Pakbara Pier is one of Thailand’s busiest during high season thanks to the ballooning popularity of Ko Lipe. It gets chaotic when several boats arrive and depart every day during high season from November to April. Don’t forget to unpack your patience before venturing into the pier.

Choose your own island adventure in Pakbara. : David Luekens.
Choose your own island adventure in Pakbara. Photo: David Luekens

Beyond the pier, Pakbara hosts a dusty strip of cement shophouses, an unkempt coastline, and very little else. Several travel offices stand ready to sell ferry or minibus tickets near the pier, and this is also where you’ll find the main visitor centres for Mu Ko Phetra and Mu Ko Tarutao national marine parks. The few guesthouses are rundown and this isn’t the most welcoming place in Thailand; don’t stick around if you can help it.

The beach near Pakbara Pier mostly consists of stinky silt and spare boat parts, but a more pleasant beach at Ao Noon, five kilometres to the south, is worth keeping in mind if you’re looking to kill some time. From here you can see Ko Khao Yai, a forested island near shore that’s part of Mu Ko Phetra National Park and does allow camping. Day tours by speedboat to Ko Lipe and other islands in the Adang archipelago can be arranged in Pakbara, though most foreign travellers prefer to stay on Lipe.

Fishing and tourism are Pakbara's main industries. : David Luekens.
Fishing and tourism are Pakbara's main industries. Photo: David Luekens

At time of writing, many of Pakbara’s residents are doing battle with the Thai government over plans to build a deep-sea shipping port in the area. If built, the port would damage the marine life and undermine the preservationist goals set by the marine parks. It would also drastically change the face of Pakbara, a predominantly Muslim town relying on fishing ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)

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