Taste freshly cooked rice at local markets, take a boat to a remote Thai island or go on wildlife-watching expeditions in this southern province.
Often shortened to just “Surat,” Surat Thani is the largest of the southern provinces of Thailand and is a gateway to the Gulf of Thailand. Stay on the mainland to get a feel for local Thai life, or head off to the surrounding islands for natural beauty and late-night parties.
The capital of the Surat Thani region is the city of the same name. Instead of using Surat Thani as a stopover on your way to the islands, plan to spend some time here exploring the Thai culture. Walk along Tapi River until you come to the Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine, a bold white shrine with ornate archways and golden elephants.
The two main island regions, Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan, feature stunning sunsets and postcard-perfect beaches. Attend a monthly Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan, where thousands of people dance to electronic music on Haad Rin Nok Beach. South of Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui has excellent diving conditions and lots of space to lay out on sandy beaches such as Bo Phut Beach.
One of the top natural attractions of Surat Thani is the Khao Sok National Park. Go hiking through the forest and watch for native birds, snakes and fish as you go. Enlist the help of a tour guide for the best chance of spotting the elephants that also roam the park. Consider staying in a waterside bungalow in the park for easy access to kayaking along the coastline.
The easiest way to get to Surat Thani is via Bangkok. Hop on a daily bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal, get on an overnight train from Bangkok to Phun Phin or take a domestic flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani, which takes about 70 minutes. From there, take a boat to Ko Pha Ngan or Ko Samui.
Whether you’ve come to Surat Thani to live life as a local or relax on a beautiful island paradise, this Thai province has plenty to keep you entertained.