How to get there
Surat Thani can be most conveniently reached by car from Bangkok by taking Highway No. 4 to Chumphon Province via Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provinces and then taking Highway No. 41 and Highway No. 401 directly to Surat Thani City.
Air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal to Surat Thani Province everyday. Call the southern Bus Terminal tel: 0 2434 5557-8 or visit www.transport.co.th
Trains leave Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station 10 times daily from 12 p.m. until 10.50 p.m. The trip takes approximately 12-13 hours. Ask for the train from Bangkok to Phun Phin, the closest station to Surat Thani. For further details, please call 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th.
Surat Thani Railway Station is 12 kilometers from town. A bus service between the station and the town is available.
Thai Airways International has 2 daily flights connecting Bangkok with Surat Thani. The flight time is approximately 70 minutes. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 or get your on-line e-ticket at www.thaiairways.com
Seatran (077 275060, 136 Na Meuang Road) operates a bus/boat combination to Ko Samui. The fee is 150 bahts.
Phantip Travel (077 272230, 293/6-8 Talat Mai Road) offers tickets to Ko Tao (500 bahts), Ko Pha-Nhan (250 bahts), and Ko Samui (140 bahts). The operator is Raja Ferry (07 314523, 077 371151 or 077 371206) who offers bus/boat combinations to the islands.
Getting around the city
Apart from the local orange bus (9 bahts / trip / person),songthaews are another option to get around the city. It costs 10 bahts / trip / person. Samlors will cost approximately 20-30 bahts. The orange bus departs from the Phu Phin train station to the city every 10 minutes from 6.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m. The same ride by taxi will cost approximately 100 bahts.
Air-conditioned vans connecting the airport and town costs 70-80 bahts / person / trip. Tickets can be purchased at travel agencies or THAI office (077 272610).
Chak Phra Festival
Surat Thani celebrates the official end of the annual 3-month Buddhist Rains Retreat (Ok Phansa) in mid-October with the Chak Phra Festival (literally 'the procession of hauling the Buddha image). The tradition stems from the belief that the Buddha ascended to Heaven during Phansa to preach to his mother. The festival marks the Buddha's return to Earth, and is an occasion for religious merit-making and general celebrations. Local people organise dazzling land and waterborne processions of revered Buddha images (to symbolise the Buddha's return to Earth) and boat races on the Tapi River where long boats, manned by up to 50 oarsmen, are ebulliently raced. Religious devotion, spectacle and merriment combine to make Surat Thani's Chak Phra Festival a memorable annual event.
The annual August fair celebrates the delicious fruit, first planted in Surat Thani during 1926. Highlights include floats adorned with rambutans and other fruits, exhibitions of local products and ornamental plants, and demonstrations by specially trained monkeys who harvest coconuts.