Last updated: May 27, 2020

 

Is Surat Thani worth visiting?

Surat Thani is a city located in southern Thailand, most commonly known as a jumping-off point to other attractions rather than for its own activities.

To answer the question of whether the city is worth visiting, it’s best to look at your own itinerary.

For travellers on a tight time frame, Surat Thani is probably best suited as just a transportation hub and entryway to the popular islands on the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Phanghan and Koh Tao) or the Andaman coast (Krabi, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi).

However, for those with a bit of time to spare it may be worth setting aside some time to get a glimpse of the ‘real’ Thailand that is slowly becoming buried by tourism.

That’s why Surat Thani’s location also makes it a great spot for day trips to explore the surrounding areas.

 

How to get around in Surat Thani

One of the main reasons why travellers come to Surat Thani is due to it’s transport links, so it’s no surprise that getting around is fairly easy.

Most people arrive at Surat Thani train station, located 14 kilometers from town. Here, you’ll find plenty of travel companies offering you transportation for your onward journey.

You’re nearly there if your destination is one of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Most travel companies offer a package deal with a bus taking you to a nearby port, either Donsak or Tapee River, followed by a boat journey to your chosen paradise.

Surat Thani to the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Phanghan and Koh Tao)

See here a quick overview of travel times to the Island in the Gulf of Thailand from Surat Thani:

    • Surat Thani – Koh Phangan (2h 30min)
    • Surat Thani – Koh Samui (3h)
    • Surat Thani – Koh Samui (4h)

Surat Thani to the Andaman coast (Krabi, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi)

For those looking to head west, hop on a bus and enjoy the blur of Thailand as you pass through unsullied countryside.

See here an indication of travel times to the destinations around the Andaman coast

    • Surat Thani – Krabi (2h 30min)
    • Surat Thani – Phuket (4h 30min)
    • Surat Thani – Koh Phi Phi (4h)

From Surat Thani railway station and airport to the city center

If you’re planning to stay the night, Surat Thani has taken the stress out of travelling with their orange buses. Costing just 20 baht, they will take you from the train station into town. For those with a big enough wallet, a taxi will set you back around 140 baht for the same journey.

If you’ve chosen air travel to get to Surat Thani, the cost to get from the airport to town is slightly higher. The bus ride takes around 40 minutes and will cost you 100 baht, whilst a taxi can cost somewhere in the region of 1500 baht!

Renting a bicycle or motorbike in Surat Thani

Once you’re in the city, Surat Thani is a relatively easy city to walk around or even more fun, hire a bicycle for 100 baht/day. If you prefer the bike to do all the work, then you can also hire a motorbike for around 300 baht/day.

Equally, there are plenty of tuk tuks, songthaews and taxis roaming the streets, waiting for their next customer.

 

Top 4 things to do in Surat Thani:

So you’re thinking about seeing what Surat Thani has to offer?

If that’s the case, we hope we’ve found some gems you wouldn’t expect it to offer, that not all travellers get to experience.

This gives these places an authentic and traditional vibe, untainted by tourists.

 

#1 Spend all day and night exploring markets

No matter how many markets you’ve already seen, and there’s A LOT in Thailand, there’s always time for one or two more!

Pra Cha Rat Floating Market

Bangkok’s floating markets might be vibrant and exhilarating but they are also bustling with tourists.

Pra Cha Rat is different! Unlike in Bangkok, this market isn’t for the tourists but a way for locals to make their living, giving it that authentic feel Bangkok’s sometimes lack.

Once you step through the ornate green and gold archway, your eyes will be met with local stalls selling cheap and delicious food served in bamboo and banana leaf bowls.

Cast your eyes to the riverbank to see it lined with boats filled with locals from the surrounding rural areas, who all come to sell their produce and products.

In addition, most of the boat vendors also offer trips up and down the river, offering insights into local life and the flourishing mangroves.

Surat Thani Night market

Rated highly for its spectacular food and cheap prices, Surat Thani Night Market allows you to immerse yourself in an experience central to community life in Thailand.

With the majority of vendors selling traditional Thai food, it’s the perfect chance to try something new. We recommend the Pad Thai noodles, salted duck eggs and refreshing, tropical fruit to cleanse your palette afterwards.

Here you’ll also find many locally-crafted goods that can be hard to find elsewhere. One of these is Phum Riang silk. The designs are intricately produced using techniques passed down through generations in a near-by Muslim village called Phum Riang.

 

#2 Take a day trip to Khao Sok National Park

We would recommend dedicating more than a day to appreciate all that Khao Sok National Park has to offer. However, if you just can’t find the time, you can make a day trip from Surat Thani.

Just 2 hours away, there are local buses and shared minivans that will get you there for 100-200 baht one way. The journey gives you a perfect opportunity to catch up on some sleep or just admire the views.

The national park is believed to be 160 million years old, making it the oldest evergreen forest in the world!

And that’s not the only amazing thing about Khao Sok National Park. You can’t help but be wowed by the limestone mountains sprouting above the green carpet of swaying tree canopies, or the diverse wildlife that’s thriving all around you.

You may even be lucky enough to spot an elephant or tiger skulking amongst the trees whilst trekking through the jungle. Or you can give your legs a rest and float down the rivers in a canoe or kayak.

Cheow Lan Lake and Dam

Hidden within Khao Sok National Park is the enchanting Cheow Lan Lake and Dam. It’s easy to believe that Cheow Lan is one of Mother Nature’s greatest creations. In fact, this 185 square kilometer lake is actually man-made, but this in no way takes away from its beauty.

The hydroelectric dam was built to provide electricity for Surat Thani and other areas in southern Thailand as well as for flood control.

Whilst being heavily protected by the Thai government, you will be able to witness Thai anglers in their element before they retire to their floating raft houses.

Take this all in whilst gliding effortlessly across the tranquil water in a long boat whilst shoals of silver fish dart and dance under the water.

 

#3 Take a temple tour around Surat Thani

Guarded by several proud elephant statues sits the Surat Thani Pillar Shrine.

A place of respect and tranquility, it is said to house the city’s ancestor’s spirits and is visited daily by locals praying and paying their respects.

Take the time to admire this stunning white shrine which has been kept in pristine condition and the intricate details.

Next up, Chaiya. In this tiny fishing village surrounded by rubber tree groves, you’ll find Wat Phra Borommathat. Inspired by the eye-catching Javanese style, it stands as the most elaborate example of Srivijaya influence remaining in Thailand today.

Enjoy the peacefulness of this site without the hordes of other tourists at most other temples.

 

#4 Grab a beer at Night Boat Pier

Ban Don pier is the place to be on a Friday and Saturday night in Surat Thani.

The rustic vibe is taken to the extreme with the set up consisting of plastic chairs and make-shift tables.

I know, we’re not really selling the whole set-up, but it creates a super laid-back hangout spot for locals and travellers alike.

It’s a great place to grab a cheap beer and some street food whilst conversing with the new friends you’ve just made.

 

How To Get To Surat Thani?

Leaving fromDurationPrices fromSee details
Bangkok1hr 15mins-11.5hrs510 THB-1,050 THB ($17-$34.50)Bangkok to Surat Thani
Krabi2.5hrs-5hrs270 THB-3,050 THB ($9-$100)Krabi to Surat Thani
Phuket4hrs-5hrs250 THB-5,700 THB ($8.20-$187)Phuket to Surat Thani
Surat Thani Airport1hr30 THB-350 THB ($1-$11.50)Surat Thani Airport to Surat Thani City Center
Surat Thani Railway Station30mins-50mins20 THB-140 THB ($0.70-$4.60)Surat Thani Railway Station to Surat Thani City Center
  Hotel

My favourite places to stay in Surat Thani


Garden Homestay

Looking for that true Thai culture and welcoming feeling? Garden Homestay is definitely the best choice for you! The hosts are known to be extremely friendly and enjoy spending time with guests, showing them around town and taking them to the sights.  A wonderful Asian style breakfast is included each morning of your stay and the homestay is centrally located. 

  • Extremely friendly and welcoming hosts
  • Breakfast included
  • Very comfortable beds
  • Garden area

Private rooms start at $20 per night

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Blu Monkey Hub and Hotel Suratthani 

Set centrally in Surat Thani, the Blu Monkey Hub and Hotel Suratthani is within walking distance of the night market.  The hotel features an onsite restaurant, air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, and private bathrooms. A buffet breakfast is available every morning and the staff is happy to provide guests with directions and information about the area. This hotel is known for its extremely comfortable beds. 

  • Very comfortable beds
  • Onsite restaurant
  • Walking distance to the night market
  • Breakfast included

Private rooms start at $23 per night 

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Bangsrai Cottage

Enjoy the stunning river views from the terrace at this centrally located cottage in Surat Thani.  The outdoor swimming pool is the perfect place to cool down after exploring the area and the cottage gardens. There is also a shared lounge, free wifi and free bike rentals for guests to enjoy. Delicious continental breakfast is included with your stay.

  • Breakfast included
  • Swimming pool
  • River views
  • Centrally located

Private bungalows start at $49 per night

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