Surat Thani Province Holiday Planning Guide
The gateway to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Surat Thani Province remains largely unexplored by foreign tourists, despite its centuries-long history and abundance of natural attractions. International travelers who do venture here enjoy sightseeing in Surat Thani Province at their own pace, taking in the "real" Thailand--a section of the country that remains mostly unspoiled by commercial tourism. Add the area's national parks to your Surat Thani itinerary for a chance to trek through lush evergreen forests known for their wildlife, waterfalls, and hot springs. Though they offer plenty of modern amenities, the three main islands in the gulf are remote and wild enough for serious adventurers, featuring rugged slopes covered in virgin rainforests.
Places to Visit in Surat Thani Province
Destinations in Surat Thani ProvinceKoh Tao
: The smallest and most remote of the Gulf of Thailand's main islands, Koh Tao is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, abundance of dive sites, a lively clubbing scene, and a tangled jungle interior. Bophut
: A beach village, Bophut offers a laidback atmosphere and a distinctive Thai-Chinese character and look, with traditional shop houses converted into restaurants and hotels.Ko Pha Ngan
: Famous for its monthly full moon party, Ko Pha Ngan has plenty more to offer besides hedonistic partying, with numerous beaches, family-friendly resorts, and lush inland jungles.Maret
: A bustling area on Ko Samui, Maret encompasses a collection of towns and beaches, each with its own attractions, including beach bars, night markets, water sports centers, and cooking schools.Mae Nam
: A place to enjoy a relaxing Surat Thani Province itinerary, Mae Nam is best known for its long, palm-fringed beach, where you can snorkel, dive, and watch the sunset.
Popular Surat Thani Province Tourist AttractionsBig Buddha
: This Surat Thani Province attraction features an impressively large golden Buddha statue that has become a symbol of the island.Fisherman’s Village
: The traditional Chinese shop houses of Bophut's Fisherman's Village have retained their distinctive character, housing a number of galleries, boutique stores, and eateries. Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park
: The 42 islands and rich underwater environments of this marine park can be explored by any number of means, with speedboat rides, diving tours, and hiking trails providing a different perspective on the protected area.Hin Ta & Hin Yai Rocks
: A cheeky highlight of a Surat Thani Province vacation, these rocks resemble female and male genitalia--the impressive coastal location makes them a popular attraction for those looking for a different view of the island's shoreline.Chaweng Noi Beach
: Small and secluded, the beach offers an ideal setting for a relaxing dip in the ocean, an indulgent massage at one of the beachside parlors, and a restorative seafood meal with views across the water.Full Moon Party
: Long considered a rite of passage in the Asian backpacking scene, this all-night rave has become a more organized and mainstream take on the wild, hippie-era free-for-all old days.Lamai Beach
: One of the most popular resorts on the island, Lamai Beach has a wealth of seaside amenities and a pleasant, international atmosphere.Koh Nang Yuan
: A privately owned island popular with divers, Koh Nang Yuan has a diving school that runs beginner and intermediate lessons, a wealth of sites to explore offshore, and a hilly interior that offers extensive views of the island and neighboring Koh Tao. Ocean Sound Dive & Yoga
: This diving school and yoga center runs courses that overlap the two disciplines and offers a chance to observe and interact with sharks and rays in their natural environment.Khao Sok National Park
: Rich in wildlife, including elephants, macaques, gibbons, and bears, the national park remains one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
Planning a Surat Thani Province Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Surat Thani Province with Kids
Easily accessible by plane from the nation's capital, Ko Samui
is many visitors' first port of call on a Surat Thani Province trip.
Many choose to stay put on the island, which offers a wealth of family-friendly resorts and coastal areas as lively or as vibrant as you want them to be.
Neighboring Ko Pha Ngan
is known for its wilder side, but is a relaxing and inviting family destination when the moon isn't full.
Farther afield, Koh Tao
doesn't bring in as many families as its two larger sisters, but is great for any youngsters wanting to pick up diving and water sports skills in one of the richest and most scenic marine environments the country has to offer.
Things to Do in Surat Thani Province with Kids
When arriving for a holiday in Surat Thani Province, many families head straight to the nearest beach.
Whether it's busy and lively like Lamai Beach
, or a little quieter and less developed like Chaweng Noi Beach
, kids will find plenty to entertain them, from organized beach sports, to paddling in the clear waters.
Young eyes and minds will be particularly captivated by many of the province's religious sites, with places of worship such as Big Buddha
built in a style and on a scale that captures the imagination and gives a good introduction to the country and its people.
The natural scenery of the province is particularly enriching and impressive in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park
, where kids can enjoy snorkeling and swimming with marine animals surrounded by the many pretty islands.
If something a little more streamlined and instant is required, check out one of the province's many water parks, like the ever-popular Coco Splash Adventure
, where the kids can enjoy zipping down the slides while you take a rest in the Jacuzzi.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Surat Thani Province
Kids are warmly received throughout the country, and you'll find that as true during your Surat Thani Province trip as elsewhere in Thailand.
The development of the tourist industry in the area assists in making families feel welcome, with family-friendly restaurants all around, tours designed with kids in mind, and a good range of amenities in the main urban areas.
Thailand has a strong culture of modesty, and you should bear that in mind when heading to the beach with your kids. Most Thai kids swim fully clothed, but foreign children will get away with wearing their normal swimwear.
Nudity, even when kids are changing, is generally frowned upon by locals. If you're traveling with a baby, remember that breastfeeding is not usually done in public places.
Use insect repellent and sunscreen, and remember to only drink bottled water.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Surat Thani Province
Cuisine of Surat Thani Province
Surat Thani Province staples are on the spicier side of Thai cuisine. Favorites include "massaman" curry (made with various meats, potatoes, coconut milk, and spices), "khoeii jii" (a shrimp, coconut, and garlic paste, served in half a coconut shell), and "khanom jeen" (fermented rice noodles, usually served with a fish curry).
You'll notice during your Surat Thani Province vacation that two ingredients are particularly abundant and well loved locally--coconuts and seafood.
Head up to Mae Nam
for some especially tasty barbecued fish, served right on the beach.
A stroll around Bophut
will reveal plenty of fresh fruit stalls, where you can sample green coconuts, rambutans, and durian.
Many of the main tourist areas have roadside stalls selling some of the freshest and tastiest food in the region, and night markets are a particularly fun place to feast, whether you're looking for deep fried snacks, Thai classics, or local delicacies like stir fried octopus, tamarind-flavored shrimp, and a host of curries.
Vegetarians should note that fish sauce is used for seasoning in most Thai dishes cooked in the traditional way. Some exclusively vegetarian restaurants exist in the more tourist-friendly towns, but outside of these, you'll find purely vegetarian meals tougher to come by largely thanks to the ubiquitous nature of the fish sauce.
Shopping in Surat Thani Province
Many visitors use part of their Surat Thani Province vacation to visit tailors on Ko Samui
. Custom designed to high standards, new garments are made in line with your tastes and specifications there--most tailors also do adjustments and provide off-the-rack options that mimic classic styles.Ko Pha Ngan
is well known for its hippie heritage, and while the island has been increasingly commercialized in recent years, you'll still find plenty of little stalls filled with authentic knickknacks and jewelry.
Incense is a particularly popular item to pick up as reminder of the island's scent, while a growing scene of small art galleries offers the opportunity to pick up some original artworks and quality reproductions.
While the islands certainly steal the attention and act as the commercial centers of the province, towns on the mainland can offer a more authentic look at contemporary Thai culture. Try the night market in Surat Thani
for coconut ice cream, fried insects, Thai bowls and cutlery, and some traditional clothing.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Surat Thani Province
Interesting Facts About Surat Thani Province
* Surat Thani, also the name of the province's capital, literally translates as the "City of Good People"
* Surat Thani is the largest of the country's southern provinces
* The area acted as the provincial capital of the Srivijaya Empire during the 10th century
Holidays & Festivals in Surat Thani Province
Many people enjoy Full Moon Party
during their Surat Thani Province trip, arranging travel dates to coincide with the event, whether they're on a year-long backpacking adventure or a quick getaway.
The event takes place each month when the moon is full, with partiers from all over the world hitting the beachfront clubs and packed beaches of Ko Pha Ngan
. It's a memorable experience and has become a key part of many travelers' itineraries.
Chak Phra Festival (Pulling the Buddha) is observed at the beginning of the 11th lunar month (usually in October), marking the end of the monsoon season.
Celebrated across the south of the country, the festival is most fervently observed in Surat Thani
, the state capital. Decorated floats carrying Buddha statues are pulled down the city's main river, as processions head down the streets and offerings are made to local monks who have just observed the three months of lent.
Useful Surat Thani Province Travel Tips
Climate of Surat Thani Province
The wettest months are October and November, with heavy rains and storms regularly disrupting travel.
Temperatures are fairly consistent throughout the year, with humidity a constant factor as well. Some differences between monthly temperatures do exist, with average highs at the height of the tourist season in January hovering around 31 C (88 F) in Surat Thani and 29 C (84 F) on Ko Samui. May is somewhat hotter, with average highs rising to 34 C (93 F).
Transportation in Surat Thani Province
On the mainland, trains offer a good means of transportation between the main urban areas, allowing for quick, comfortable, and affordable travel and excellent views of the countryside.
Major roads provide an option for those looking to rent their own transportation and enjoy more independence and the ability to explore those "off-the-map" locations.
Many visitors arriving in the country for their Surat Thani Province holiday will start off at one of the two airports, located in Surat Thani and on Ko Samui.
To reach the islands from the mainland, it's easy to take a ferry, with a number of different services available, most leaving from Don Sak