What to See and Do in Surat Thani, Thailand
Surat Thani – Why you should visit and Things to Do
About Surat Thani
Visitors to Thailand are starting to shift away from the traditional tourist hotspots which have been the mainstay of the industry for generations, with the kingdom’s Southwestern isthmus is gaining in popularity. This area of the country has always been a destination of escape for indigenous Thais. But now foreign tourists are beginning to realize that, what is largely an unspoilt part of the country, has much to offer.
This is never more true than with Surat Thani. Named by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). The name means “City of Good People”, and is the provincial city of the province bearing its name. The city has a long coastline lapped by the warm waters of The Gulf of Thailand. It lies 651 km South of Bangkok and has a registered population of around 133,000, although this figure is swelled by unregistered migrant workers, mostly servicing the tourist industry.
Surat Thani is a very traditional Thai city. From its cargo port, it has become an important, busy transport hub, moving cargo, predominately rubber and coconuts, and people all across the world. The city is also used by tourists as a departure point to islands like Ko Samui, Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao.
Surat Thani, Getting There
From Bangkok there is a rail link Surat Thani via the Southern Line of the State Railway of Thailand. The journey takes around 8 to 9 hours and arrives at the Surat Thani station located in Phunphin. Driving to Surat Thani along the coastal roads takes around 8 hours. There are multiple daily bus and van departures from Bangkok. Prices vary from 470 Baht to 1,450, dependent on the class of travel chosen.
Surat Thani airport has 9 flights a day to Bangkok and an international connection to Kuala Lumpur. Flight time from Bangkok is 1 hour 15 minutes. This option of travel is becoming popular with Thai and foreign visitors to the city. This can be seen in the fact that there are now 5 airlines operating this route. There is also a ferry and fast boat links from the island of Samui.
What to do in Surat Thani?
Cheow Lan lake is manmade, and with good purpose. The lake was created with the construction of the Cheow Lan Dam, also known as the Rajjaprabha Dam. The lake is 185 square km of amazing beauty. The flooding of the area has left steep limestone islets capped with lush green flora, the photo opportunities are endless. Travelers can stay in stilted bamboo huts on the lake and enjoy the remote wilderness whilst traversing the waters with explorative curiosity.
Ko Raet gives a fascinating insight into traditional Thai life. Ko Raet is a small community that exists 500 meters off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a Thai-Hainanese fishermen’s Village which dates back around 200 years. There are 7 registered homestays for visitors that want to experience life in a traditional Thai community, an enlightening experience. It is also an ideal location to watch the moon rising over the Gulf of Thailand.
Taking a boat ride along the Tapir river is an absolute must. Excursions leave the Bandon Pier in Surat City, and you are soon transported into an evergreen landscape. Dotted with colourful tropical flowers, the palms and reeds almost swallow up the humble stilted house along the banks. Palms and groves bend and intertwine creating shaded tunnels through which to cruise.
Shoppers are sure to enjoy and find much to do in Surat Thani. There are numerous modern shopping malls, and everything you might expect from them, across the city. But the best local shopping experience is the Sunday and Night market. The market overflows with fresh produce, fruit and seafood predominant. You can also see the unique Phum Riang silk, this exquisite silk with its intricate designs is produced only in the village that carries its name.
It is a little known fact that Surat Thani provides the culinary gourmet with some of the world’s largest oysters. Taking a boat to the oyster farms makes for a fascinating day out. Learn about the life cycle of the oysters and how they are harvested and processed. Then of course, learn how to best enjoy the experience of eating these delicious delicacies.
Where to stay in Surat Thani
Surat Thani is in no way short of accommodation. Many travelers come to Surat Thani to stay and explore, some just for an overnight stay prior to traveling on to one of the islands. The vast diversity of travelers, from backpackers to the most discerning of visitors, will find what they are looking for in the city.
There is now a broad spectrum of available accommodation. From hostels, such as Boundary, journey and Baan Nokhook, starting at around 400 Baht a night to luxury hotels and resorts. Quality resorts can start at around 6-700 Baht per person, Sabye Dee and Baan Suan Rim Nam are good examples, rising to as much as 3,500 per person per night, 100 Islands Resort and Spa is a good example of a top end place to stay in Surat Thani.
Surat Thani is traditional and unspoilt, nature and traditions very much govern life in and around the city. Nature gives us much to marvel over, to be in awe of and to fall in love with. For anyone that is a friend of nature and a lover of tradition, or for those people that want to introduce themselves and get to know these qualities, then a visit to Surat Thani is a must.
What to See and Do
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