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Surin

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Asia : Southeast Asia : Thailand : Isaan : Surin
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For other places with the same name, see Surin (disambiguation).

Surin (สุรินทร์) is a town in Southern Isaan, Thailand.

Understand

Surin is the capital of Surin province. Its population is small, approximately 40,000, but bear in mind that the province itself is densely populated. It is about 450 kilometers east from Bangkok and 50 kilometers from the Cambodian border. A quiet town, its one claim to fame is its annual Elephant Roundup, which takes place in November (book a room in advance). Surin is well known, locally and international, for its elephants. The gigantic animal of Surin impresses everyone with loveliness, cleverness and creates a unique character of the province. Surin's people have a long relationship with elephants which has become an icon of the province. Plenty of Khmer Ruins, beautiful silk and famous jasmine rice also make Surin an interesting destination.

History

In historical aspect, Surin's story can be dated back thousands of year B.C. when Suay or Kuay ethnic group migrated along the Mekong River to settle around Dongrek Range. Kuay ethnic people, found in Thailand and Laos, is talented in catching and training elephants. Some 2,000 years ago, during the Khmer Era, the town of Surin was established. After the fall of Khmer Empire, the town was neglected until 1763, when Luang Surin Pakdi (Chiang Poom), headman of Muang Tee Village, led his people to settle at Ban Khu Prakai, which currently is the town of Surin. He was promoted as the first mayor later on.

Get in

By Car

From Bangkok, head north via highway 1 (Pahonyothin Road) and get into highway 2 (Mittraphap Road) at Saraburi. Use highway 24 (Chok Chai - Det Udom) via Amphoe Nang Rong, Prasat, then turn left into highway 214 to Surin. This route is 457 kilometres long. Or from Nakhon Ratchasima, motorist can use highway 226, en route Amphoe Chakkrarat , Huai Thalaeng, Lam Plai Mat, Buri Ram to Surin. This route is 434 kilometres

By Bus

  • Bangkok's northeastern Bus terminal (Mochit 2) on Kamphaeng Phet II Road has daily services to Surin. For more information, call 0-2936-2852-66 [1]. Transport Co, Surin Branch tel. 0-4451-1756. Kitchakan Ratchasima Tour Co, tel. 0-4451-2161, Nakhon Chai Air Co., tel. 0-4451-5151.
  • Minibuses (60 Baht) connect the town with Chong Chom, which hosts a border crossing with O'Smach in Cambodia.

By train

Trains regularly leave Bangkok's Hualamphong and Bang Sue stations for Surin. For more information, call 1690, 0-2220-4334, 0-2220-4444. Surin Railway Station tel. 0-4451-1295, 0-4451-5393 or visit [www.railway.co.th].

Get around

Surin is a small town, most journeys in the central area can be accomplished on foot. However, there are also sam-lors (rickshaws/'saam-law') and tuk-tuks. The larger hotels also have a car available for hire. Keep in mind that no one considers overcharging a foreigner to be a serious crime. A sam-lor ride around the central region of the town is 40 baht, a tuk-tuk maybe 50/60 baht for foreigners. If in doubt ask your hotel for advice. When 'getting off the bus' always be extra careful not to be taken for a ride while being taken for a ride.

See

Do

Surin is not the most picturesque spot on the Earth, but it does have a few, small attractions.

  • Surin National Museum - has exhibits relating to the geography, history and ethnic groups of Surin. The museum is located about four kilometres south of the city along road 214. There is nothing to see along the road, and given the speed of cars and the lack of a sidewalk, walking is not recommended. The pink songthaew from city will take you to the museum for 10 baht, or use a tuk-tuk/sam-lor.
  • Silk Village
  • Statue of the founder of Surin
  • Wats - Surin has several.
  • Elephant training village - at Tha Tum, about 60 km away.

Festivals

The Elephant Roundup is a three day long event where elephants roam the streets of Surin and perform in various activities: soccer, beauty contests, battle re-enactments, etc.

Khmer era temples

These stretch from the border westwards to Buriram Province. There are few organised tours (tourism is not overly big in Isaan). You can always find an (expensive) rental car, with driver, at your hotel, or it is possible to visit the major temples by using the local public transport system (this is very cheap). Ask you hotel or guest house for instructions. (Most signs at the bus and train station are in Thai, however, the staff are very helpful.)

  • Prasat Ta Meuan - a complex of three structures built in the 12th–13th centuries around the time of the Cambodian king Jayavarman VII. The largest building is Prasat Ta Meuan Thom. It is surrounded by an outer wall, and contains a large central, rectangular building on a north-south axis. To the south is Prasat Ta Meuan Toht, a smaller structure, with an outer wall. The last and smallest of three is Prasat Ta Meuan, a small building with no wall, approx 15m x 5m in size. All of these buildings show signs of disrepair and looting. A return journey by taxi to the complex will cost you 2000 baht (April 2007). There are occasional excursion buses, when there is sufficient interest. Check with your hotel or travel agent. There is no on-site English language assistance, nor much information about the complex. There may still be unexploded land mines from the days of the Khmer Rouge. Stay on the paths and do not wander into the surrounding jungle. Entry is free.
  • Prasat Sikhoraphum - a set of temple ruins in a quiet surroundings, can be reached by bus or train (30km, 1 hour plus)
  • Prasat Hin Phluang - a collection of several minor ruins near the Cambodian border; private transport (watch out for landmines!)
  • Prasat Phumpon - a small and jumbled collection of ruins (60km)

Buy

There is nothing truly distinctive to be found in Surin, however some prices are lower than in Bangkok.

Eat

Surin has a fantastic night market. Be sure to try the Isaan sausage and Laos-style flattened chicken (gai yang), but be careful with the som-tam (papaya salad)!

In addition to the night market Surin is liberally endowed with small restaurants, and the usual street vendors. Also the major hotels have reasonably priced menus.

Drink

Surin is not overly well endowed with watering holes but there are a few places where one's palate, and appetite can be quenched.

Most places are located near the Thong Tarin Hotel. Adjacent to the TT are two streets lined with small bars, small restaurants, small karaoke bars, and small go-go bars. The larger hotels also have bars and restaurants. There are also several small restaurants managed or owned by ex-pats scattered around town. The largest is the 'Farang Connection', followed by the 'Oasis' and N & N's German restaurant, all near the bus station.

Sleep

There are three main 'good' hotels in Surin:

  • Petchaskem Hotel (500m from the bus station) is an older hotel.
  • Surin Majestic (next to the bus station) is the new and best looking hotel in Surin.
  • Thong Tarin Hotel (about 500 m from the bus station) is clean and tidy, and with an attached 'Rose Bath House', where a tired male can find female companionship.

In addition to these hotels there is a range of accommodation around the town, and just outside.

Always ask for a discount (700-800 baht/night) in the non-elephant roundup season!

Get out

  • Buriram
  • Cambodiais accessible at the Chong Chom/O'Smach border crossing. The drive into Cambodia becomes very scenic as the road descends the Dangrek Mountains. At the border, between the two countries' immigration offices, are a couple of casino hotels. Visas are issued at this border, make sure you only pay $20 for a Cambodian tourist visa - touts will try to convince you to pay more. On the Cambodian side, O'Smach town, a collection of attap huts and dirt streets, is less than 1 km down the hill from the immigration offices. It hosts at least three (bricks and mortar) guesthouses for anyone arriving late and not being able to make onward transport. It also has a market with cafes and a branch of Acleda Bank (no ATM). Paramount Angkor Transport runs buses to Samraong and beyond from O'Smach town, look for the attap hut with bus advertisements on the highway at the turning to the town. On the Thai side, minibuses run from Chong Chom to Surin (60 Baht).
  • Si Saket


Routes through Surin
BangkokBuriram  W noframe E  Si SaketUbon Ratchathani




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