Located in Southern Thailand, Surat Thani’s beauty lies primarily with its proximity to the Gulf Coast where breathtaking coastlines are waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by thousands of tourists visiting Thailand annually.
Its name which means “city of good people” suits it perfectly because of the local’s kindness and hospitality to whoever visits their place. This goodness also manifests in the place’s preservation of wildlife, together with the maintenance and improvement of their environmental resources. The name originated from the local’s devotion to religion, particularly to Buddhism, and their determination to live its tenets. With these admirable features, one can expect to have the best experience in Surat Thani.
Surat Thani offers a multifaceted surprise to their visitors. First among that facet is, of course, their undeniably golden coastlines located in famous islands like Ko Samui and Ko Phangan. Their wildlife is also teeming with activity and life as evidenced by the marine ecosystems of the Ang Thong National Marine Park and the entertaining residents of the Monkey Training Centre. The atmosphere of sincere reverence and indescribable beauty can be attributed to their historical and religious locations such as the Surat Thani Pillar Shrine and the Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya. Lastly, Surat Thani’s nightlife and society functions will not pale compared to other cities when it comes to fun: the Full Moon Party and their market open 24/7 are concrete examples.
There are different ways to arrive in Surat Thani – it’s actually a highly accessible location. Through air travel, you can book a ticket that will arrive at the Surat Thani International Airport, which is about 30 kilometres from the city by road. If you’re coming from Bangkok, you can take a train trip via the Southern Line of the State Railway of Thailand – you’ll arrive at the Surat Thani Railway Station which is 15 kilometres from the city proper. You can also go travel through the national highway if you rented a car or if you boarded a bus.
The city proper is one of the prospering economic hubs in Southern Thailand. This means that financial institutions have established themselves in the vicinity and access to local currency is easy. With ATMs at every business corner and banks spread around the district, you will have easy access to your funds and the local currency, Thai Baht. At the same time, both credit and debit cards are honoured and accepted in most establishments. Still, it would be practical to bring a sufficient amount of cash, better safe than sorry.
As Thailand is located near the equator, it’s weather is dominated by the tropical seasons: wet and dry. The dry season starts from February until April, after which comes the summer time. The succeeding months are best for beach adventures. However, the temperatures during these months can also be extremely high, so watch out for that. Actually, you can start visiting Surat Thani by December when temperatures are manageable and kind. It’s best to avoid visiting from September to November as these are considered the rainy season, with November as the month with the highest regularity of rain. It is also important to note that January, August, and July are Surat Thani’s busiest months when prices are high and expensive and there are lots of tourists. May, on the other hand, is the least expensive month and can actually be called the tranquil month since a very small amount of tourists come to visit.
First, in the list of transportation options are air conditioned vans that provide optimum comfort and service, which can take you from the airport to your hotel for around THB 100 (USD 3). Town travel is mainly done through pick-up minibuses, locally known as sŏrng·tăa·ou that will charge you around THB 10 to 30 (USD 0.30 to 0.91) per trip. Of course, taxis are always an option and a ride from the train station to the city proper can cost around THB 200 (USD 6) for a maximum of four passengers. While shared taxis can cost THB 100 (USD 3) per head. If you want to rent the taxi for future trips, you can negotiate the rates with the driver – for a reference of their rates do not leave the train station until checking their posted rates at the metal pedestrian bridge north of the station. Lastly, you can opt for the affordable alternative of this station-to-city trip: the orange buses without air-conditioning. These quirky buses ride out every 10 minutes from their terminal near the train station and will charge you THB 15 (USD 0.45) for a 25-minute trip.
In Surat Thani, you will never encounter a dish without a touch of chilli. Most of their dishes are also made primarily of seafood enhanced by the flavours of spice and their other favourite ingredients such as ginger, vegetables, and coconut milk. They also have a lot of vegetarian variants of well-loved meat dishes. So vegetarians won’t miss out with their cuisines’ goodness. Both international and local fast food branches have also penetrated Surat Thani’s food market; notable names include McDonald’s and KFC. So, if you miss the taste of home, you can go back to your comfort dishes. Don’t forget to visit their night market for some good street food treats – if you’re looking for unique and entertaining ones, try their octopus snacks. Lastly, do not leave Surat Thani without visiting their world-famous oyster farms and tasting one of the largest and flavourful oysters ever. And you might notice, that oyster is a popular ingredient for Surat Thani’s dishes, if you see one on a dish, don’t hesitate to buy one, you will not regret it.
With envy, you can say that Thailand is one of nature’s blessed countries, especially when it comes to marine surprises. Surat Thani is at the forefront of the country’s exceptional districts. Next time you book a ticket to Thailand, don’t just concentrate on Bangkok, explore other frontiers and if you choose Surat Thani, don’t be surprised that upon your vacation’s end, you may have conflicted feelings when it’s time to leave.