We scrambled the final steps to the shard-like top of Bokha Hill to get a better look at the southern border of Thailand. Below the small village of Wang Prachan sprawled along the ruler-straight road beelining into the limestone hills marking the Malaysian border.
As we stood there, a rainbow suddenly appeared in the distance, and I knew we had found a small corner of the Durian World that was very special.
About Wang Prachan Satun
Wang Prachan is a district in Thailand that borders the Malaysian province of Perlis. There is a small border crossing where both tourists and locals can hop the border, but we didn’t see any other tourists in town.
What had brought Wang Prachan to my attention were actually two things: organic farms and famous cempedaks.
Just a note: in the Thai language, Cempedak is called Champada. For whatever reason, English has adopted the Malaysian word Cempedak, so I’m going to be using that term for the fruit throughout this article. But when you go to Satun, you’ll need to call it Champada to be understood.
But when we arrived, we found the streets lined with durians as well. To be honest, if you arrive to Wan Prachan during the Satun durian season, you will not really need this guide.
But in case you’re anxiously planning your Satun Durian Trip from home, here’s a few places to can get excited about:
- Baan Suan Tondin Homestay
- Wang Prachan Organic Homestay and Cafe
- Khuan Don Organic Cempedak Farm
- Suan Pakwang Durian Farm
- How to climb Bokha Hill
- How to cross the Wang Prachan-Wang Kelian border with your own vehicle
Baan Suan Tondin Homestay
We started our morning with Durian Breakfast at Baan Suan Tondin Homestay, where we stayed the night.
The homestay is only 5km from the Thai-Malaysian border, so it’s a very convenient stopover.
The 3 or 4 chalets are scattered around a fruit garden backed by a trickling stream that is surprisingly noisy, so all night you are rocked to sleep by water and wind rustling the fruit trees overhead. Since there are many durian trees here, don’t be surprised if the relaxing ambience is suddenly shattered by the BANG of a falling durian!
During the season they sell the durians at the cafe – a perfect breakfast for 2 hungry durian lovers!
We purchased 2 durians, a white-fleshed Baan as well as their Kradumthong variety.
We were a little surprised at the price even for the Baan, which was charged at 80 baht per kilo compared with the 30-40 baht per kilo you could buy Baan at other durian stalls down the street, while the Kradumthong (which is a named variety and therefore more expensive) was 100 baht per kilo.
Since we were hungry and curious, we decided to have a relaxing little durian and coffee snack before heading out for the day.
The Baan was thick and sticky, like a very sweet play-dough, while the Kradumthong was smooth and buttery. Since it was freshly dropped, it hadn’t gone watery yet and was one of the best Kradumthong I’ve had.
We sat on the bar stools munching durian and watching a family splash in the small pools that had been dug into the stream. Even though it was only 8am, the sky was blue and the day was gearing up to be very hot. We needed to get a move on to avoid the heat of the mid-day.
Wang Prachan Organic Homestay and Cafe
After breakfast, we went directly to visit our friend Uncle Roi Sak at the Wang Prachan Organic Homestay and Cafe. This is a Thai Certified organic fruit farm with a small cafe at the front that is open in the evenings.
When we arrived, Uncle Roi Sak was drinking coffee with his neighbor, Mr. Sor-lae, who has a Thai Certified Organic cempedak farm next door.
Uncle Roi Sak told us he had started planting baby durian trees on his farm, but none were producing yet.
We hadn’t seen him since my last trip Satun Durian Trip, in 2017, before I’d even met Richard.
Since Richard had never been to the farm, we did a quick tour so he could admire the ancient cempedak trees and the many species of garden fruits that used to be popular in Thailand but are now hard to find.
Champuling ต้นจำปูลิง (Baccaurea polyneura)
Richard was excited to taste Champuling, which is surprisingly rare considering it’s beautiful orange color. I’ve only had it a few times, both in Thailand and Malaysia. In Malaysia, it’s called Jetik-Jetik, because you can easily flick open the thin rigid shell to expose three plump bright orange fruitlets within.
The old tree was dripping with long strands of these fruits high above our heads. Mr. Roi Sak used a stick to knock down a few fruits for us to try.
Like all fruits from the Baccaurea family, they have a fluffy, marshmallowy texture that is un-chewable and a sweet-sour flavor that I personally really like. We filled our pockets and kept walking.
Takob Pa ตะขบป่า Flacourtia indica
We also kept plucking a few Takhob Pa from the lower, shrub-like trees that dotted the property until our pockets were bursting with these firm, plum-like fruits.
As we chatted, we absent-mindedly rolled the fruits between our palms until they were soft, then popped them into our mouths and crunched down, bursting the taut skin and squirting the sweet, slightly mushy, plum-like flesh like the strangely pleasing sensation of a gusher candy.
It was just a snacking type of morning.
Wang Prachan Organic Homestay
Mr. Roi Sak was excited to show us his new homestay, which he had just finished building. The 2 private rooms adjoined by an outdoor patio still smelled of new wood and paint.
Inside, the rooms looked like they had never been used.
The paint was perfect, the floor spotless, the bathroom sparkling.
Mr. Roi Sak turned on the Air Conditioner for a moment to demonstrate its power, and we stood and enjoyed the cold stream of air on our sweaty faces.
Did I mention it was a hot morning?
With our tour complete, we went back to the cafe to meet up with Mr. Sor-lae, who had finished his coffee and was waiting for us.
Khuan Don Organic Cempedak Farm (ศพก. จำปาดะ ควนโดน จ.สตูล)
Mr. Sor-lae is famous in Satun. He’s actually the Wang Prachan village head, sort of like a mayor.
I first met Mr. Sor-Lae at the Satun Cempedak Festival in 2017, where he had just won first prize for his Satun Si Thong cempedak. He was the one who originally invited us to Wang Prachan, and I was excited to see how his projects had taken off during the 6 years I didn’t visit Satun.
His house is not only an organic farm, but also a community center and meeting hall where he educates locals about organic techniques.
In 2009, Mr. Sor-lae received an award of 90,000 baht from King Bhumipol for developing an agricultural system utilizing grass to improve the soil. He used the money to build the community center.
The farm is full of educational placards demonstrating different soil treatments, how to ferment enzymes out of pineapple and sugar cane, making your own fertilizer, and of course growing the many varieties of cempedak that has made Satun famous in Thailand.
On a large bill board, he had listed the 8 varieties of cempedak with photos that you can find in Wang Prachan. Here they are in English:
- Satun Si Thong
- Lam Thong
- Heng or Wang Thong
- Sai Nam Phueng
- Dok Duen
- Nam dok Mai
- Kuan Satun
- Thong Kaset
He and his wife Miriam didn’t happen to have any of their Satun Si Thong the day we were visiting, but they were kind enough to share another local favorite.
This one they just called Champada Phuen Baan, which meant it was a seedling variety of a superior type.
It was very good, with an intensely sweet, burnt sugar flavor mixed with bubble gum and roses.
I noticed the texture was slightly firmer and more fibrous than the cempedaks I’m used to in Penang, but the color was just as beautiful and it was just as sweet.
As of writing, this oneWhenever this one gets a name we’ll let you know!
Suan Pak Wang ปากวัง
Even after all our snacking at Wang Prachan Organic Cafe and at Khuan Don Cempedak Farm, by the late afternoon we were still hungry and ready for another round of Satun durian.
When we saw this fully stocked stall where the road turns sharply left, we stopped to scope out the situation.
Situation: Durian Baan galore, freshly tree-ripe, and several named varieties including Monthong, Chanee, and one I’d never heard of called Khunthong.
Satun Durian Baan ทุเรียนบ้าน
We chose this one based on smell. It was very freshly dropped, and was leaking an aroma somewhere between fresh grass and warm butterscotch.
When it was opened, we were surprised by the unusual orientation of the durian pieces. But it was as good as it’s aroma promised. Despite the smooth appearance of the durian flesh, the skin was fragile and our fingers sunk into a thick pillow of cream that had a strangely salty, caramel-flavor and was finger-licking good.
We actually ate several Durian Baan, but this one looked the most interesting.
Khun Thong ขุนทอง
I was also curious to try a variety I had never had before, the Khun Thong. This one had a peculiar square shape, and could sit up by itself. It looked somewhere between a Chanee and a Monthong from the outside. It was cut-harvested, not tree-ripe, but we thought we should give it a try anyway. New varietites are always worth it!
This one had definitely been cut too underripe. The meat was thick, and it was soft, but it was It was tasteless and watery. I think the color should be a brighter color as well, as this was very pale.
We will be on the look out for this variety again!
Satun Si Thong Cempedak สีทองสตูล
Since the Khunthong was a dud, the seller replaced it with a named variety of Cempedak from Satun – the Satun Si Thong.
I was curious to taste this variety after visiting Mr. Sor-lae, as it was one of the varieties he had listed on his board.
The Satun Si Thong Cempedak was beautiful, with bulbous pale orange pods that were shockingly big, meaty and filing. The texture was unusually firm, with a foamy bite and a distinctly sweet, floral aroma like chamomile.
It was very different from the majority of the named cempedak varieties we find in Malaysia, which are usually quite a bit softer and more juicy than this. If I had to guess, I would assume that the Satun Si Thong is a true cempedak, while the majority of the varieties from Malaysia are actually Cempedak-Jackfruit hybrids.
Maybe because it was a bit more firm and had such a big flesh-to-seed ratio, the Satun Si Thong filled up all the corners of my appetite and I found myself too stuffed to experiment with any other durians or cempedaks.
It was time to walk it off.
How to Climb Bokha Hill Viewpoint
With the afternoon waning and our tummies full of delicious Satun durian, the sun had finally reached an angle that we didn’t feel roasted on contact.
We decided to venture up the nearby Bokha Hill to get a view and maybe a little bit of a breeze. A little hike in nature sounded nice.
The trail to Bokha Hill is very well marked, but keep in mind: this is not a hike.
After a few meters through the tunnel of vines at the base of the hill, we came to the first set of wooden ladders placed against the rock face. The first ladders were in good repair, and although the distance between each rung were uneven, they felt solid. A fun, adventurous litle climb.
Higher up, the rock face got more scraggly and the ladders started to decay. Missing rungs, broken rungs, and ugly nails from fallen boards made the trail feel treacherous.
It took us only 10 minutes to climb to the top where we were rewarded with a safe platform and an amazing 360 degree view, but I would not bring my mother up here until the ladders were repaired and the rusty nails removed.
How to cross the Wang Prachan-Wang Kelian Border (Thailand-Malaysia) with your own vehicle
Wang Prachan is a convenient location for a durian-filled hop across the border. The village is only 6km from the border, and Baan Suan Tondin is only 5km from the border.
That said, it’s best to bring your own vehicle to get around Wang Prachan.
If you are entering Thailand with a Malaysian vehicle, the process is fairly straight forward. Just make sure to stop at the small booth on the left hand side of the road that says THAILAND INSURANCE before you go through immigration.
If you are driving a Thai car headed to Malaysia, the process is somewhat less straight forward.
Step 1: Don’t forget to make sure you have the piece of paper that is a translated copy of your Blue Book (from Thai Script to Roman script). This can be obtained at any Thai Department of Land & Transportation Office, including the one in Satun City around 40 minutes from the border. It costs only 20 baht to get the translation.
From the speed in which they processed our translation, I think we are not the only ones turned back from the Wang Prachan border to get this document.
Step 2: Next, you will need to get a translation of your Thai license plate and purchase Malaysian car insurance. Unlike when you are driving north from Malaysia to Thailand, there is no obvious signboard announcing where to buy insurance. You’ll need to find this little hole-in-the-wall shop at the far end of the immigration commercial strip on the right hand side of the road when you are facing immigration.
Step 3. Once you have your Thai license plate and insurance, you can proceed to Thai immigration. Thailand immigration will issue a Temporary Export Permit for your vehicle. The standard duration of this permit is 30 days, but you can request 90 or 180 days if your Malaysian visa is also 90 or 180 days or longer.
Step 4. Once you’ve reached the Malaysian Immigration and stamped into Malaysia, don’t forget to stop at the JPJ office (Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan, or Roads and Transportations Department). You are so screwed if you miss this step.
Here you need to get a small certificate called an International Certificate Permit, which gives you permission to drive your foreign vehicle in Malaysia and will protect you at the 3-4 police checks you will encounter as you head south from the Wang Prachan Border to your next durian adventure in Malaysia.
Thailand Durian Hunting Map
Navigate the Satun Durian scene with our free Thailand Durian Hunting Map!
You can explore Satun and other parts of Thailand using this map. Each pin has a direct link to a blog post for more information just like this!
If you have any experiences or advice to contribute, or you just appreciated this article, don’t forget to leave a comment! Happy Durian Hunting 🙂