Surat Thani

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

Understand

Surat Thani city pillar shrine

Surat Thani (often just "Surat") 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 (IATA: URT) is about 20km west of the city in Phun Phin district. Thai Airways International,Thai Air Asia, and Nok Air all operate daily flights to/from Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) and Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) Bangkok. Also there's a new direct flight from Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia. Connect by bus or rental car (buy ticket and rent in the airport) to town. Phantip Travel has bus service connecting all flights to Surat Thani. Phantip Travel (Tel. +66 77 272230, +66 77 282331) is on Taladmai Rd. Price one-way is 100 baht.

If you're headed to Ko Samui, Seatran Ferry offers a bus/ferry service from the airport to Nathon Pier on Ko Samui for 400 baht (Nov 2015). Travel time is three hours. Buses leave the airport six times per day.

By train

The Surat Thani train station, despite its name, is in Phun Phin, about 12 km west of the town centre. 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 buses depart the train station for Surat Thani every 30 minutes and cost 20 baht, though the service seems to stop around 17:00. After that, the only option is a taxi, the drivers of which will come in to the station to try and find passengers. If you go outside and turn immediately to the left, there is a taxi stand with taxis charging a fixed price of 140 baht to Surat Thani. The price is clearly indicated on a printed canvas sign attached high up.

By bus

The new bus terminal is a bit outside the city centre. If you are coming from Phuket, the bus will not stop at this terminal, but will continue to the old (crappy) central bus station. (First stop will be the train station in Phun Pin). If you want to be dropped off at the new station, ask to be let off at the Baw Kaw Saw (government bus station). If you have to backtrack via tuk-tuk, it may cost you as much as 200 baht (the same as the fare from Phuket). On the subject of the new bus station, from a visitor's perspective, it is one of the worst in Thailand. All signs are in Thai, facilities are minimal, no Wi-Fi, or good coffee, nor even the usual restaurants.

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. Connections by bus, tuk-tuk, or songthaew from the bus terminal to town are available. Thais will pay about 20-40 baht, you may be asked to pay 10x that.

When arriving in Surat Thani by long distance bus (even government buses) such as one from Bangkok, Hat Yai, or Phuket, it is more likely than not that at some point in the city outskirts the bus will stop and some people will board the bus. They will ask the foreigners where they are going, and if they are going to the islands rather than the city, these people will strongly insist (in English) that the tourists should get off the bus here, to get transportation to their destination. They may be aggressive and rude. They may even try to unload your luggage from the bus to make you follow them.

If you agree to this scam, you will be taken a few kilometres away by songthaew (which will be promised to be "free") to a travel agency in the city centre, where you are likely to be asked a ridiculous price (e.g., 450-500 baht to Ko Samui) to go to your destination. If you refuse, they will try to charge you 2-3 times the regular price (60 baht/person for a trip with 5-10 fellow passengers) for a supposedly free songthaew trip from the bus. If going from Ko Samui or Ko Pha Ngan, the same may happen. If so, they will either try to sell you Khao San Road bus ticket (widely known for theft on board) or, if you happen to have a train ticket, to offer you a triple-priced taxi - as they'll smartly make you leave the bus in the middle of nowhere, your choices and arguments for bargaining will be limited. This is the most annoying part of travelling to/from Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan via Surat Thani, and the best you can do is to ignore their requests, not leave the bus in a remote places, use the official bus only, and generally follow the Thai people travelling on the same bus from the start (especially if some are going to the same destination as you).

As noted above, the "Bus Terminal" in the centre of town has mainly local buses there. At least some buses from Khao Lak go to this point and not to any other bus terminal. It seems that buses to other places, e.g., Krabi, do go from here though.

If you are arriving at the train station, and your plans call for transit to Phuket, buses depart every few hours, until about 15:30. The ticket price is very reasonable by Western standards. Travel time is three to four hours. The bus departure area is about 100 m away from the train station. For specific directions, just ask the representative at the railway 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 500-600 baht depending on the season. Be wary of black market tickets as people will try to sell you tickets for over 2,000 baht, promising food and DVDs 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.

Tuk-tuks cost around 10-20 baht/per person) around the town. Hail one on any major road with a wave or yell, negotiate a fare, and sit on the bench in the back.

See

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

Routes through Surat Thani

Bangkok Lang Suan  N  S  Phatthalung Butterworth
Bangkok Lang Suan  N  S  Nakhon Si Thammarat
Bangkok Lang Suan  N  S  Trang


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.