Thailand · 4062 hotels available
Surat Thani is the largest province in southern Thailand. It’s about 650km from Bangkok, and is known to be the province that contains the largest number of islands. It’s often a traveler’s hub due to its proximity and accessibility to the trio of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, each known for their own specific niche. The numerous islands along the coast of Surat Thani make it the perfect gateway town for tourists from all over the world.
The best time to visit Surat Thani and its associated islands is from November to January, when the weather is cool and dry. However, this also marks high season for this region, so prices will be higher and everything will be a bit more crowded. However, it’s by far the best time weatherwise to go, so it’s well worth it.
There are a number of festivals that occur in Surat Thani. The Rambutan Fair is held in August in front of Srisurat Ground and the Bank of Tapi River. Legend has it that the first rambutan tree was planted in Surat Thani in 1926, and now is one of the most popular fruits in the region.
Another opular festival is the Chak Phra Festival held in October. Locals celebrate the end of the annual 3 month Buddhist Rains. The tradition comes from the belief that the Buddha ascended to Heaven during Phansa to preach to his mother. Therefore, the festival signifies the Buddha’s return to Earth, and this is celebrated by organized boat races as well as traditional water games at the Tapi River.
The history of Surat Thani is quite fruitful. It’s believed by some archeologists that prehistoric tribes of the Saemang and original Malays lived in Surat Thani. In the 13th century, the city became a part of the glorious Srivijaya Empire which ruled over the Malay Peninsula as well as parts of Java. When the empire caved, it was divided into three main areas: Chaiya, Tha Thong and Khiri Rat, which were under the jurisdiction of Nakhon Si Thammarat under King Rama IV. These three areas were eventually combined under just the name Chaiya, which was later changed to Surat Thani.
Surat Thani translates to “city of the good people” and is today an important administrative, commercial and shopping hub for locals, and a travel hub for foreigners.
Surat Thani is best known for being the jump off point to three of its most famous islands.
Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand, after Phuket. It is arguably one of the best developed islands, and has a range of 5 star restaurants, hotels and activities. It even has an immigration office. There are a number of international schools on the island, and many businesses operate out of Koh Samui due to its higher level of infrastructure. A Central Mall has been recently built in Koh Samui, cementing its status as a bit of a city on an island.
Known as the island who hosts the Full Moon Party every month, Koh Phangan is slowly trying to change its image to be more family friendly, as well as a haven for digital nomads. A large number of dive schools operate out of Koh Phangan, as well as freediving schools. It’s also a center for yoga and wellness activities, many of them located on the beach! Koh Phangan is also home to a few other parties, much less crazy than the Full Moon Party, which is hosted weekly depending on the moon’s location.
Besides being known for the murders of 2014, Koh Tao is also known for and absolutely specializes in diving. Home to one of the most concentrated number of dive schools in the world, the temperature and high diversity of wildlife in Koh Tao, plus having such friendly locals and delicious food makes Koh Tao a dream destination to earn a diving certification. Besides diving, there are also hiking activities as well as a few rock climbing companies to check out!
A chic, posh hotel that doesn’t break the bank, Wangtai Hotel is located just steps away from some of the most beautiful temples in the world. Amenities include how close it is to the water, as well as breakfast, a fitness center, plenty of parking, a restaurant, outdoor pool, as well as a concierge that can help book tours. The beds are comfortable, the food is good, and you’ll want for nothing additional as you stay at the Wangtai Hotel.
Aptly named as a hometel, this location does not disappoint! The coffee here is excellent, and staff are always prepared to answer any and all questions you have. The amenities are quite new, and the common spaces can be enjoyed by many, as there is plenty of room to hang out and get to know others staying at the same hotel.
A modern hotel that’s close to tourist hotspots such as the Central Plaza Mall, this is the ultimate in convenience. There are two types of rooms here, both single studio style rooms or a Jr. Suite for larger parties who still wish to share a room. Facilities include room service, an elevator, fitness center, karaoke bar, a restaurant, meeting facilities, concierge, massage on site (during select hours), an outdoor pool, and 24 hour reception. A great place to call home base while you explore Surat Thani, or rest your tired feet after a long day of travel.
Boutique hotels with beautiful amenities combines with traditional Thai hospitality at this centrally located hotel in Surat Thani. A 5 or 10 minute walk to Central Plaza Mall, this hotel is literally in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the town of Surat Thani. Restaurants and bars are easy to come by, although there are so many amenities that you don’t even have to leave the hotel if you don’t want to. There’s a coffee shop, meeting facilities, a fitness center, 24 hour reception, a restaurant, laundry service, and a spa. Come enjoy all that the S Tara Grande Hotel has to offer!
The amenities at Rhienchai Place will have you wanting for nothing extra. There’s a restaurant, plenty of parking, a business center, bar, multiple breakfast options, welcome drinks, a garage, 24 hour reception, a terrace to enjoy the sunset on, as well as an international staff that likely speaks your language, and even airport transfer if needed. Come enjoy a few nights of rest and relaxation in an unpretentious but gorgeous hotel.
There’s an airport in Surat Thani which has daily flights connecting in domestic and a few international locations in SE Asia. This is the quickest way to reach Surat Thani from Bangkok. If you plan ahead of time, tickets are often quite cheap.
The train in Thailand is a unique way to get around. It takes quite some time, as trains are both incredibly slow and often delayed, but it is beautiful and can be quite comfortable as well. There is a night train that departs around 20:00 daily, and arrives back in Bangkok at around 08:00. The journey is about 12 hours no matter what class train you are in. Train tickets go on sale 60 days prior to the date of departure. First and occasionally second class trains will sell out, but third class almost never does. Third class and some second class seats do not have air conditioning.
There are also a few buses that leave from Khao Sarn Road daily. There are also buses that leave from Sai Tai Mai, also known as the Southern Bus Terminal. Depending on what company you use, the bus will leave at different times. Make sure to check online as schedules change often due to demand and season. Some of the buses can be quite comfortable, as there’s plenty of legroom and some trips even include a free meal.
Mueang Surat Thani
Ko Pha Ngan
Khiri Rat Nikhom
Ban Ta Khun
Ban Na San
Ban Na Doem
A wonderful place for a day trip or as part of an extension trip to Khao Sok. This dam was created in 1982 and is famous for its stunning views and limestone cliffs. The dam was formed by flooding a valley of dense rainforest. The nature that reside in the flooded forest still thrives today, and include numerous monkeys, elephants, water buffalos, bears, and the world’s largest flower species, the Rafflesia. The lake is known for its sports fishing. There are even floating bungalows for those who wish to enjoy this paradise for more than just a day trip.
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset, daily
Entrance fee: none
Ang Thong is one of the most famous parks in Surat Thani province, and with good reason. With endless activities to indulge in naturewise, there are also boat trips and diving adventures to be had. You can go snorkeling, kayaking, stay overnight, hiking, viewpoint hunting, caving, and there’s even some rock climbing. However, the catch is that there’s only electricity from 6-10pm every night, although there is free WiFi near the restaurant. The national park is only accessible by boat, so you’ll have to either get a speedboat if you’re a group, or join a boat tour.
Opening hours: 24/7, daily
Entrance fee: 300 THB for foreign adults, 150 THB for foreign children
Surat Thani is a popular place to take a cooking class. There are quite a few companies available that provide this service. Most of them start off with a trip to the market, or an explanation of what ingredients are usually used in Thai cooking. Then you’ll make a variety of dishes under the supervision of a teacher. You’ll likely make a curry, a noodle dish, as well as a dessert, with other courses sprinkled in depending on if you take a half day or full day class. Most companies will also include transportation to and from your resort.
Opening hours: depends on the company, most start around 09:00 and finish at either lunch time (half day) or around 5pm (full day)
Entrance fee: classes start at 800 THB
Since Surat Thani is a transit point, it’s likely that you’re traveling through here and have spent some time cramped in an airplane, train, or bus. A local Thai massage is a great way to both experience the culture of Thai massage, as well as relax and work out some sore muscles. Most places don’t need an appointment, and are cash only. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a two hour Thai massage! You can ask the masseurs to adjust the pressure if you like it strong or not.
Opening hours: most massage parlors open from 10:00 to 22:00, daily.
Entrance fee: an hour of Thai massage typically costs 200-300THB.
Every evening starting around 17:00, the locals flock to the market for both dinner and a social gathering. There are endless types of street food to choose from, as well as clothing, trinkets, handmade artifacts, and electronics. On the weekends, there may be dance and cultural performances as well. Another way to experience a more local side of life.
Opening hours: 17:00 until 22:00, daily
Entrance fee: none, but remember to bring plenty of cash for the market!
Scams - there are quite a few scams here in Surat Thani since it’s such a touristy town. One of the more common ones is tuk tuks trying to take you to your destination, when in fact your destination is just a 5 minute walk away. When you exit the train station and want to get to the ferry, tuk tuks will tell you that the bus station is an hour away, and try to charge you 300-800 THB to get to the bus station. If you just keep refusing and saying you’ll walk to the bus station, you’ll realize that it’s just a few minutes away.