Surin (Southern Thailand)
Surin Beach still has a small village atmosphere, but this is gradually changing as more and more major housing developments and hotel projects get underway. Accommodation is not cheap and the best prices are around 500 baht in the low season.
The beach itself has clear water and beautiful white sand, and is lined with tall casuarina trees and small Thai-style restaurants. While one of the quieter beaches in Phuket, hawkers can still be a minor nuisance, although most are just content to walk about without actively getting in your face.
Just north of Surin is Pansea Bay (หาดพันทรี) Hat Phan-si, a scenic enclave dominated by two deluxe resorts: Amanpuri and the Chedi. Surin is sometimes called "millionaire's row" because of the high-end villas on hills overlooking the bay, and film stars or VIPs like to stay there, as they can get away from the crowds. There are just a few restaurants and shops nearby.
Surin Beach is about 20 min from Phuket Airport. An airport co-op taxi costs 450 baht, while a metered taxi may do the trip for as little as 300 baht. For return, the local taxi Mafia wants 600 baht.
Blue-and-white songthaews trundle past along the main road to Phuket Town and Kamala Beach, but there are no direct connections to Patong. Tuk-tuks lie in wait at the intersection in front of the beach and demand a non-negotiable 350 baht for the trip.
Surin can be easily covered on foot, and you can even walk to neighbouring Bang Tao Beach if feeling energetic. You can also rent motorbikes from stalls near the beach, with prices starting from 200 baht/day.
The only sight in Surin is the temple (wat) down by the beach.
The thing to do in Surin is to chill out at the beach, which is nicely separated from the hotels and the main road by a disused golf course turned into a park. The beach is lined from end to end with restaurants and cafes, which will happily rent you a sun lounger and umbrella for around 100 baht/day.
Surfing: Surfing here can be good, but all of Phuket is not consistent for surfing waves. Something to do in-between relaxing. There are surfboards and body boards to rent on the beach or from the Saltwater Dreaming Surf Shop back on the main road.
Snorkelling: You can snorkel here in the dry season from Oct-Apr, around the headland at the northern end and out to the headland at Pansea Beach.
There is a 7-Eleven in the village centre, as well as a few overpriced mini-marts on the beach and the hotel strip.
- Plaza Surin. Various boutiques in Surin Beach.
Along the beach road there is a large array of simple restaurants offering denatured, totally spiceless Thai food and simple international dishes for tourists, but the specialty is seafood. In the last few years there has been a new wave of redevelopment on the beach road resulting in some international standard restaurants. There are currently a few more restaurants under construction. Most restaurants have bathrooms and showers that guests can use after having been on the beach.
Cheap eating options in Surin are quite limited, but there's a decent noodle stall in front of the 7-11 (evenings only) and a few stalls at the parking lot next to the beach.
- Patcharin Seafood (extreme south end of beach). Don't be scared off by the decrepit appearance, this is the oldest eatery on the beach and still does a roaring business serving up tasty and cheap food. The Thai food is authentic and delicious, and the Western food is, well, generously portioned. Basic noodles start from 60 baht and a huge pot of tom yum kung goes for 150 baht.
- Nok Seafood (middle of the beach). Thai and Western food on a raised platform above the beach, with little luxuries like a tablecloth. Thai dishes here are a cut above the competition. 300 baht.
- Positano (next to Manathai). Kitschy Italian eatery run by a voluble Italian guy. The wood-fired pizza is good (from 220 baht), but the haphazard and overpriced pasta dishes are best avoided. Wine menu is limited to one red and white each. 500 baht.
- Catch Beach Club (north end of beach). Surin's only nightspot worthy of the name, with slick, billowing white sails, lit-up palm trees, roaring fires, several fully-stocked bars and a menu of expensive, pretentious fusion food. Also open during the day, but lounger rental goes for a ridiculous 1,500 baht if you're not a guest at the Twin Palms Resort. Cocktails around 300 baht.
- Kanita Residence, 149/14-15 Moo 4, Srisoonthon Rd, ☎ +66 76 527822-3. Air conditioned guestrooms, Internet, phone, mini-bar, coffee/tea maker, swimming pool and parking. 935+ baht.
- Surin Bay Inn, 106/11 Moo 3, Cherng Talay (next to Courtyard), ☎ +66 76 271601. 12-room basic hotel next to Courtyard that has seen better days, but might be worth considering if you just want a place to crash near the beach. 800-3,000 baht.
- Courtyard by Marriott Phuket at Surin Beach (Formerly the Surin Beach Resort), 106/27 Moo 3, Cherng Talay, ☎ +66 76 303300. Thoroughly reworked by Marriott in 2008 and now a very slick-looking modern resort. Three pools, one of them enormous (but shallow), with two water slides and hence plenty of kids. Two-story gym, pool bar, restaurant, breakfast buffet. 2,500+ baht.
- Bang Tao Tropical Residence, 110/111 Moo 3 Srisoontorn Rd, ☎ +66 76 318400. Room all have large plasma TVs, fully furnished kitchens, and a large en suite baths. Gym, spa, restaurant, and a swimming pool. 5,500+ baht.
- The Quarter Phuket, 92/5, Moo 3 Cherng Talay, ☎ +66 76 326035. Each suite includes air conditioned bedrooms with en suite baths and an indoor/outdoor dining and living area with a pantry or full kitchen. 4,700+ baht.
Surin beach can become quite dangerous in the monsoon season due to its steeply sloping beach, and many unwary swimmers have lost their lives here. This has not deterred the local surfers and when the waves are right you'll see many Thais on surfboards. The safer parts of the beach have been marked off with floats.