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Let’s get this straight. Surat Thani city is not popular for its things to do but rather as the gateway to the popular Thai island of Koh Samui.
After getting to Surat Thani from Koh Samui, we were captivated by the city’s authenticity, which is somehow lacking in the south of Thailand. So we extended our stay to 2 days and here we share what we were up to during our trip to Surat city.
Surat Thani City – A Transport Hub
Different boat companies operate daily ferries from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. From Koh Samui, ferries continue to the next island of Koh Phangan and then to Koh Tao.
Surat Thani airport has direct flights from Surat Thani to Bangkok. (Check airlines operating from Surat Thani international airport and destinations here).
Train travel is another option for getting from Surat Thani to Bangkok.
>>Check the location of Lomprayah ferry pier (used exclusively by Lomprayah ferry company), Donsak ferry pier (used by the other ferry companies) and Surat Thani Airport on the map further down this post.
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Surat Thani City – Off the Beaten Path
Surat Thani city does not get a lot of tourists and those that visit only use it to get to and from the nearby and more popular islands on Thailand’s east coast.
On Facebook communities, we’ve seen complaints by those that have visited that there’s not much to do and that Chumphon, a province close to Surat, is a nicer mainland city.
Taking into consideration these reviews we decided to stay only for 1 night having arrived from the islands late afternoon. The plan was to go to the immigration office in Surat Thani early morning, extend our temporary stay and leave after.
Come next day we experienced the authentic Thai vibe and were drawn to further explore this place. On top of that food at the Surat Thani night market was amazingly good so we decided to extend our stay and we certainly don’t regret having done that.
Surat Thani Things To Do
Surat Thani attractions include Tai Rom Yen National Park (which was our highlight) and the vibrant night market.
Walking around the city’s streets can be considered an interesting activity in itself. Here we came across a number of temples and shrines with the most predominant Surat Thani attraction being the City Pillar Shrine.
Tai Rom Yen National Park
Tai Rom Yen is one of Surat Thani national parks and covers a large forestry area.
Possible activities here include trekking through nature trails, enjoying the beautiful scenery of multi tier waterfalls, dipping in refreshing natural pools and exploring a huge cave full of bats.
The park is home to numerous wildlife such as elephants, tapirs, boars and mountain goats. Check our full guide to Tai Rom Yen National Park.
City Pillar Shrine
The City Pillar Shrine is a must see if in Surat Thani city centre.
The shrine is located across a bridge close to Ta Pi river. At night the shrine is lit up with different colors making it perfect for some nice photos.
Other attractions close by are the night market which is 15 minutes by walk and Ko Lamphu Park.
Surat Thani Night Market
The night market is one of the biggest we have seen so far with a ton of appealing authentic Thai food options. Here we had the best chicken noodle soup from a stall parked at the crossroad. The night market extends over to the nearby grounds surrounding Wat Sai with live music and a historical wooden house.
>>Check the location of Tai Rom Yen National Park, City Pillar Shrine and the Surat Thani Night Market on the map included further down in this post.
Surat Thani Immigration Office
For those that require extending their stay (‘visa’) in Thailand, Surat Thani immigration office is their best option. Check this post for a guide to getting a temporary stay extension.
>>Check location of the Surat Thani Immigration Office on the Surat Thani map further down this post.
Surat Thani Things To Do over 2 Days
On day 1 visit the Surat Thani Immigration Office in the morning and after lunch head to the City Pillar Shrine and explore the surrounding area including the Ko Lamphu Park and Ta Pi river.
Day 2 get out of the town’s centre and head to Tai Rom Yen for a full day at the park.
Surat Thani Map
The Surat Thani map includes attractions in and around the city and an accommodation and restaurant option.
>>Included in the Surat Thani map:
- Surat Thani hotel option – The Room Apartment
- Restaurant option – Sweet Kitchen
- Grey mark – Surat Thani Airport
- Green mark – Surat Thani ferry piers to Koh Samui
- Red mark – Tai Rom Yen National Park
Surat Thani to Koh Samui Ferry
The Surat Thani Koh Samui ferry dock at different piers according to the ferry company.
Lomprayah pier is closer to Surat Thani city centre while the other pier which is used by the other ferry companies is far out and usually involves a bus and mini van transfer to get to Surat Thani city.
This post provides all the information you need to get from mainland Thailand to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
This link provides an overview of the different ferry companies and schedules for trips between Surat Thani and the Gulf Islands (and vice versa). It’s a good overview although you should always double check the ferry company website for the latest trip details.
Bus from Surat Thani to Phuket
We traveled from Surat Thani to Phuket by a local bus at a cost of 195 Baht ($6.48) per person.
The Surat Thani to Phuket bus ride took almost 8 hours as it left Surat Thani at 11:30 am and arrived after 6:00 pm.
On the way the bus makes a number of stops each time picking and dropping off passengers.
The bus made a stop of some time at Khao Sok National Park and dropped off passengers at Khao Lak.
The bus had air condition although it was not strong and fans.
Surat Thani Phuket Bus Station
Locating the bus that goes to Phuket at the Surat Thani bus station isn’t easy.
2 bus stations located opposite each other serve different purposes. The bus to Phuket is stationed at the bus station in Talad Mai Soi 33 (refer to the brown marker on the map – ‘Bus to Phuket’).
We went to the bus station twice (once after lunch and the other early morning) to check for tickets and get a schedule.
In the afternoon, we did not see any bus going to Phuket and those that tried to help us were either tour agencies trying to sell us a package or an inflated bus ticket or those that seemed genuine did not speak English.
It was easier to locate the bus and its driver when we visited the bus station early morning.
At the bus station there were a lot of Phantip mini vans that go to Phuket but reviews for this company are not good.
Surat Thani to your Next Destination
Whether going to Phuket or from Surat Thani to Krabi, 12go Asia provides a list of transport options other than by local bus.
Click here for more information.
Getting around in Surat Thani
We rented a bike from X Motorbike Rentals as their bikes are in excellent condition, do not hold one’s passport but take a reasonable deposit and provide safe helmets. Their website provide also information for other things to do in Surat Thani.
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