Cheap Flights To Surat Thani
All that most visitors to Thailand get to see of Surat Thani is the island of Koh Samui. However, this southern province, with its relaxed capital and lovely countryside, has so much more to enjoy.
Once a key hub in the mighty Srivijaya empire, Surat has a rich and eventful history. Though few traces remain of these glorious days, you can explore this heritage in the Chaiya National Museum and in the adjoining temple of Wat Phra Boromathat Chaiya, which has been lovingly restored in Srivijaya-style.
To get the big picture, head up to the hilltop Sri Surat Stupa to enjoy views of the town and surrounding network of waterways.
The centre of the city is market by the City Pillar Shrine. From here you can cross a bridge on the Tapi River to the island of Koh Lamphu, a lovely spot for walks and picnics. Further afield, national parks, waterfalls and monkey training centres await along with ancient jungle sanctuaries.
Surat Thani is also a great place to enjoy one of Thailand's many festivals. Staples such as Songkran are joined by some unique local fiestas, including one devoted to its most famous fruit.
Things To Do
Though modest, Surat Thani has enough attractions to fill many a day's stay. Start with a wander around town, take a boat along the surrounding canals and finally head out to the islands.
A stroll around town reveals picturesque Thai temples and Chinese joss houses with dragon roofs. The bustling Tapi riverfront is a scenic spot, and in the evening is the site of the Talad Sanjao night market -- a fine place for an atmospheric dinner.
Get a glimpse of traditional life by taking a boat to nearby Nai Bang. Travelling along its network of canals reveals vistas of traditional waterside life with stilted wood houses, looming coconut palms, fruit orchards and oyster farms.
Take a ferry journey across the popular Gulf islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, which is home to the famous Full Moon Party. Once a secluded fishing and coconut growing island, Samui draws legions of backpackers to its beach huts and upmarket tourists to its swank spas and resorts.
Calendar Of Events
Many vibrant, holy, sentient and -- well -- rather strange festivals take place each year in Surat Thani with each one featuring the Thai people's great sense of humour and fun in some way.
Songkran. April 13-15 witnesses the biggest and wettest festival in Thailand in the form of Songkran or Thai New Year. Along with much merit making in temples, it's a time when locals playfully douse each other with water. Songkran is especially riotous on the islands, where tourists join in the water fights with gusto.
Rambutan and Thai Fruit Festival. Held during the August harvest of the spiky-skinned fruit with succulent white flesh, the event features parades, carnival games, demon stations of monkeys harvesting coconuts and the inevitable Miss Rambutan beauty pageant.
Chak Phra Festival. Commemorating the return of he Buddha to earth, this dignified event takes place at the end of the three-month rains retreat for monks. Billboards depicting the Buddha's life are erected, ornate float processions wend their way around the city and the festival concludes in Thai fun style with boat races and games.