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Surat Thani

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For other places with the same name, see Surat (disambiguation).

Surat Thani (สุราษฎร์ธานี) is a city at the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand.

Understand

Surat Thani city pillar shrine

Surat Thani (often just Surat in short) is the largest province of Southern Thailand. Surat Thani means City of Good People, the title given to the city by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). It is a gateway to the islands of Thailand's Gulf Coast: Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao are much-visited destinations, as well as Ang Thong National Marine Park.

Get in

By plane

Surat Thani Airport(URT) (IATA: URT | ICAO: VTSB) is about 20 km west of the city in Phunphin district. Thai Airways international ,Thai Air Asia, Nok Air operate daily flights to/from Don Mueang International Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok. Air Asia [1] has announced introduction of thrice weekly flights to/from Kuala Lumpur starting February 2012. And connect by bus or car rent (buy ticket and rent in the airport) to the main town. Phantip Travel and Phadcan Tour(Tel.077-205799) have bus service connecting all flights to airport from Surathani city. Phantip travel (Tel. 077-421-121) is located on Thanon Taladmai. Price one way is 100baht for foreigner.

By train

The Surat Thani train station, despite its name, is located in Phunphin district, about 12km west of the town center. Most comfortable are the overnight trains from Bangkok, which arrive in early morning. There are always many who try to catch the tourists and sell them trips to Surat or the islands directly - usually the most aggressive sellers are the most expensive. However, it's not a big problem to reach the city itself from the railway station. Municipal busses depart the train station for Surat Thani city every 30 minutes and cost 20 baht. Taxi drivers come in to the station to try and find passangers, but if you go outside and turn immediately to the left, there is a stand with taxis charing a fixed price of 140 baht to Surat Thani.

By bus

The Surat Thani new bus terminal is located a bit outside the city; however if you plan to go directly into the city, it is usually possible to ask for a stop before. The old bus terminal in the middle of city is now frequented only by some private buses, which are however much more risky than the government buses. There are many bus companies from Southern Bus Terminal Bangkok to Surat Thani Bus terminal. If you are coming from Phuket, it takes about 6 hours to reach Surat Thani. Connexions by bus, tuk-tuk, or Songthaew from the bus terminal to the main town are available.

As noted above, the "Bus Terminal" in the centre of town has mainly local buses there. A bus the Writer took from Khao Lak went to this point and not to any other bus terminal. It seems that buses to other places do go from here though. ie, Krabi. Beware a nasty scam though! There is a Tuk Tuk driver in a red/orange one (most are blue). To take us to the hotel he slurred "two hundred" into "twenty" remarkably well indeed! Admittedly the hotel was well out of town some 4Km, but this is still a ridiculous price. In the morning, since the hotel was in the middle of nowhere,he "only" charged B150 into town, BUT, to get us to the Krabi bus dropped us at a travel agent, Tanaporn Travel, directly opposite to where the Krabi bus was leaving. Address is 442/313 Talatmai Road, close to the old bus station. They charged more than twice the correct bus price and it appears that the taxi driver, and also the Bus Conductor (who gave a knowing smile and did not even inspect the ticket) are also in on the scam. Buy tickets on the buses only! Correct price is B140 each. (we paid B285!)This was the 10am bus to Krabi. (takes about three hours to get there)

If you are arriving at the train station, and your plans call for transit to Phuket, buses depart every few hours, until about 3:30pm. The ticket price is very reasonable by Western standards. Travel time is three to four hours. The bus departure area is about 100 meters away from the train station. For specific directions, just ask the representative at the railroad information desk.

By boat

You can take the ferry from any of the islands nearby, taking about an hour. There is food on board and movies as well.

From islands such as Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao a ferry ride takes between 7 and 9 hours depending on whether you take the fast or slow boat. The Slow boat from Ko Tao is overnight and features mattresses for sleeping. The skipper is especially friendly.

The ride will generally cost between 500 and 600 Baht depending on the season. Be wary of black market tickets as people will try to sell you tickets for over 2000baht promising food and dvd's included in the price.

Always go to a TAT approved travel agency.

Get around

When you get off, there are two ferry companies with departures every 30 minutes (Seatran Ferry and Raja Ferry). There is a bus ride included with the trip (note the strange system of paper tickets combined with circular stickers that you stick on your shirt). It is a 45 minute bus ride down backroads from the ferry terminal to Surat Thani. More than one ferry terminal serves Surat Thani.

Within Surat Thani:

  • Tuk-Tuks are small local pick-up trucks/public passenger pick-up vehicles (cost around 10-20 baht/per) around the town. Hail one on any major road with a wave or yell, negotiate a fare, and sit down on the bench in the back. In the event you wish to hire one personally, then you ought to negotiate the cost first.
  • Tricycles are the local vehicles can be found around the town. There is not enough room for 2 persons to sit down on the bench.

See

Do

Buy

Eat

  • Night Market - Walk the block and pick up whatever treats catch your eye, or grab a table at one of the restaurants and watch the market scene as you dine. Freshly juiced fruits, corn on the cobb, squid-kebabs, fried chicken, saffron-rice, pad thai, sushi plus much, much more. Tri Anusonn Rd at Namuang Rd.

Drink

  • Lamoon is a pub situated on Amphur Road and is run by Kai, who recently returned to Surat after spending many years in Switzerland. He is fluent in both English and German and has created a beautiful beer garden which also has some indoor seating. The food isn't the best but the surroundings, the atmosphere and the clientele more than make up for that. Friday night parties with lucky numbers and drinking games are a regular occurrence as are (fortunately very short) acoustic performances by a local American teacher.

Sleep

Budget

  • Chayo Bar is on the riverfront, opposite Ban Don Pier where the night boats leave for the islands. Free accommodation in a limited number of rooms, but do not expect anything special: mattress-on-floor rooms, fans and shared bathrooms. Run by Chayo and Toto who will look after you well but do not suffer fools gladly. Also serves food. Notice: Chayo and Toto have since moved due the the rising rents near the pier. Their new shop is on Talad Mai Road near the entrance Talad Kaset 2 Bus Station.
  • Ban Don Hotel is a place for really cheap and clean rooms, but for 300 baht, don't expect anything fancy. Most rooms don't have air-con or hot water and the entrance is through a shady looking restaurant. But, if you're looking for a place just to stay a night while passing through, it's pretty good for the price. Located close to Ban Don Road and Na Mueang Road.
  • Phangan Guesthouse & Hotel 402/7 Taladmai Rd. 27 Muang Suratthani 077-205799. Clean and convenient, near the minibus station and between the two bus stations. Basic and friendly. Fan for 300 baht, AC room for 400 baht. The owner is really nice. Each room is named after a Surat Thani provincial city. Located near the corner of Taladmai and Taladmai Rd. 27
  • Tapee Hotel [2] is a mid-range priced hotel at 450-550 baht. The price differences range from fan to a/c and I think view, but I'm not sure. As a woman traveling alone I liked the bright entrance, manned desk and short distance to the market and bus stations. The rooms were older, very clean and the A/C worked quietly. There are two English-language channels on the TV (Al Jazeera and Star Movies), one Spanish and one Cantonese, in addition to local channels. and it had a hot water shower. Located on Chonkasem Road, it's about a 10 minute walk from the two bus stations and five from the waterfront and night market, which you should not miss. Turn left from the lobby, right at the next main road and follow your nose. The walk home later in the evening is interesting, as many of the 'short time' hotels have their ladies out, but the area is safe.
  • Myplace@surat Hotel - 247/5 Namuang Rd. Single room fan toilette outside start at 199 THB. Bathroom inside from 290 THB. Clean good-sized rooms, (20/02/2011) Free Wi-Fi. Not far from Tapee hotel, a couple of minutes walk from river and night market.
  • Thaireungruang Hotel, (a block or two from the old bus station in the middle of town). Business hotel. Relatively nice, quiet, clean and good-sized rooms. Some have TV and hot water (probably just the AC rooms). Wifi available via username and password for 100 Baht/24 hr. The hotel staff are very helpful and polite and speak enough English to answer your questions. This hotel also has a free shuttle service to the bar Chilling Out. Fan single from 280 baht, aircon double 450 baht.

Mid-range

  • 100 Islands Resort and Spa, [3] - 770 to 1200 baht a night. Clean, spacious rooms. Wide range of facilities and amenities including air conditioning, minifridge in the room, a pool, spa and restaurant on site. It's located slightly outside the city centre. If your taxi driver doesn't know where it is, they should know where Tesco-Lotus is, the hotel is near there.
  • Princess Park Hotel, 19/19 Leangmuang Road, 077405989-92, [4]. 650 - 900 baht.
  • Southern Star Hotel - 650 baht a night, many travel agents willing to show high class hotels and places to travel to.

Splurge

  • The Diamond Plaza hotel is the best hotel in town. It's on the outer edge as you enter from Phun Phin station. You can take any of the orange train station buses to get there.

Get out

Most travellers in Surat Thani are on their way to or from the islands:


Routes through Surat Thani
BangkokLang Suan  N noframe S  PhatthalungButterworth
BangkokLang Suan  N noframe S  Nakhon Si Thammarat
BangkokLang Suan  N noframe S  Trang




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