When visiting southern Thailand, most people first think about island hopping or relaxing on the beach with a beer. While we also like slow sun-kissed days, it would be a shame to overlook other parts of Surat Thani. If you want to slow down and explore the rest of the province, a healthy balance of good food, scenic views, and tranquil Buddhism awaits. So, join us in venturing away from the touristy parts of southern Thailand, and enjoy the charm of southern Thai hospitality.
Here are our favorite things to do around Surat Thani:
Pra Cha Rat Floating Market
Traditionally, Thai people used various rivers throughout Thailand for local commerce. As many farmers navigate the waterways every day, they bring what they want to sell and trade on their boats. The floating market is open throughout the day and is a great place to grab a quick lunch or sample Thai snacks and desserts. We also recommend taking a boat ride at night when the fireflies are out: it makes for a wonderful evening.
Surat Thani Night Market
Located on Si Tapee Alley between Chonkasem and Bandon Road, this lively market is near the riverbank. As the evening breeze carries aromas from various grills and food carts, the Night Market is the perfect place to walk around and enjoy local Thai street food. This popular walking street is also a great place to buy local souvenirs. While planning your trip, note that there are more vendors out on the weekends.
Khao Na Nai Luang Dharma Park (อุทยานธรรมเขานาในหลวง)
Overlooking palm and rubber plantations on limestone mountains, this temple started its construction in 1997 to commemorate the ancient-Srivijaya roots that laid the foundation for the Surat Thani region. As maritime trade and commerce in that era helped spread Buddhism throughout Asia, stupas were originally built to safeguard Buddhist remains and relics. The main arch and stupa glisten in the morning sun and is one of the best views in southern Thailand. During the cooler months, you can see the morning fog roll over the nearby farms. Visitors can hike to the various stupas nearby and finish with a rustic lunch at one of the local eateries in the area.
As one of the temples credited for reinventing modern Theravada Buddhism in Thailand, tourists looking to learn more about meditation should definitely pay a visit to this place. We recommend checking out the library: the gallery inside features various murals creatively explaining various Buddhist anecdotes. At the bookstore, visitors can read many of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu’s publications in a variety of languages. Across from the main temple, Suan Mokkh also holds 10-day meditation retreats for people, who want to re-center themselves and develop mindfulness with breathing.
Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine & Ko Lamphu Park
While taking in the sights around Surat Thani, you will probably notice a pristine white shrine in the middle of the city. The Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine pays homage to the ancestors that founded the city of Surat Thani. It’s a great place to take pictures or snap the perfect selfie. Ko Lamphu Park is also another refreshing place to take a morning stroll near the City Pillar Shrine. It is a small island with walkways and bike paths throughout the island.
Carve out some time before or after your island-hopping adventure, slow down, and discover what makes Surat Thani special.