Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Thailand : Southern Thailand : Central Gulf Coast : Surat Thani
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.
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  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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Most travellers in Surat Thani are on their way to or from the islands: