The name literally means "city of the good people" and is the former seat of the Sivichaya Empire. It is the largest and most important province of the South, located 644 kms. from Bangkok. It occupies an area of 12,891 square kilometers bordering on Chumphon and the Gulf of Thailand to the north, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Krabi to the south, Phangnga and Ranong to the west and the Gulf of Thailand and Nakhon Si Thammarat to the east. Geographic characteristics of Surat Thani are high plateaus and mountains covered with valuable wood forest to the west and low basins in the central and eastern seashore area.
There are a tremendous number of islands along the coast and two major rivers: the Tapi River and Phum Duang River. It is administratively divided into 18 Amphoes and 1 King Amphoe i.e., Amphoe Muang, Ban Na San, Ban Ta Khun, Chaiya, Don Sak, Kanchanadit,Khian Sa, Khiri Ratthanikhom, Ko Phangan, Ko Samui, Phanom, Phrasaeng, Phunphin, Tha Chana, Tha Chang, Wiang Sa, Ban Na Doem, Chai Buri and King Amphoe Wiphawadi.
Pak Nam Tapi is some 5 kms. from Ban Don municipality. The area is particularly rich in quality seafood restaurants.
Phra Boromathat Chaiya located in Wat Phra Boromathat Chaiya, Amphoe Chaiya, houses Lord Buddha relics. The structure is believed to have been constructed during the Sivichaya period over 1,200 years ago.
Suan Mokkha Phalaram, otherwise known as Wat Than Nam Lai (Monastery of Flowing Water), is a monastic community. It is located in a beautiful and peaceful natural park where Buddhists go for meditation practice. There are several teaching pavilions in which many paintings and poems illustrate moral teachings known in Thai as "Entertainment Houses for the Soul"
Khao Sok National Park is located Km. 109 from Surat town on Highway No. 401. A verdant forest-covered, hilly national park, with an area of some 161,000 acres. Many Kinds of rare wildlife are still found there. With an atmosphere of peacefulness and restfulness, one can trek along the trails made for the adventurer.
Ko Samui is Surat Thani's major tourist attraction. The island has numerous lovely beaches and bays. It is almost literally an island of coconuts and forested hills. It is fast becoming a resort of international stature. Samui's best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts. The most popular being Chaweng and Lamai where, generally, the most attractive accommodations are found.
Besides beaches, other island attractions include Hin Lat Waterfall, Na Muang Waterfall, Hin Ta,Hin Yai (the phallic rock formations at the southern end of Lamai Bay), Big Buddha (a massive seated Buddha image of Fan isle), Na Thon (the island's major seafront settlement where shops, restaurants, tour agencies and hotels are located) Samui's Butterfly Park and Samui's Monkey center.
Big Buddha, Koh Samui. Courtesy : http://www.kohsamui-villa.com
Mu Ko Angthong National Park is comprised of some 40 islands northwest of Ko Samui and covers some 250 square kilometers. Major park islands, with largely towering, verdant rock masses encircled by clear seas, include Mae Ko (which has a beautiful beach and an emerald saltwater lake called Thale Nai), Wua Talap ( site of park headquarters where accommodation is available for visitors wishing to prolong their stays) Sam Sao (with an exciting coral reef and huge rock arch) and Phai-Luak.
Ko Phangan, 60 minutes directly north of Ko Samui has Than Sade Waterfall, Phaeng Waterfall Forest Park and an extensive coral reef. Accommodation is available here, as well.
Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan, 2 small rocky islands are administratively under Amphoe Ko Phangan and located northwest of Ko Phangan. Unspoiled and undisturbed by tourists, the islands earn their reputations for underwater resources, unique beautiful bays and peaceful coves. A coral garden under the crystal sea which gives a promising outlook for the sea sport activities. Accommodations in the form of huts and bungalows are provided on these two islands. To reach Ko Tao, economically, go by boat that leave from Surat Thani and Ko Phangan. Boats are also available for Ko Tao from Tha Yang Pier, Chumphon. And to reach Ko Nang Yuan, boats are available from Ko Tao.
Tai Rom Yen National Park covers an area of 133,125 rai of Khlong Nam Thao Forest Reserve in Amphoe Ban Na San and Amphoe Wiang Sa. A mountain with in the park known as Khao Chong Chang once used to be the base of the Communist Party of Thailand. There are several scenic spots, such as, Dat Fa Waterfall, Muang Thua Waterfall in Amphoe Ban Na San and Than Thip Waterfall in Amphoe Wiang Sa. Visitors wishing to stay overnight here are requested to bring along their own camping accessories.
Rambutan Fair is held each year in August.
The first rambutan tree was plated in Surat Thani in 1926. This fair celebrates the delicious fruit, which now grows widely in the area. Highlights include exhibitions of local products and ornamental plants, floats adorned with rambutan and other fruits, and demonstrations by trained monkeys, who harvest coconuts.
Chakphra and Thot Phapa Festival is held in October every year. Chak Phra means "to pull a sacred Buddha image". This activity occurring on the same day as the Thot Phapa Ceremony, a form of merit-making when Buddhists offer saffron robes to monks and donates money to temples, at the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat. Thot Phapa occurs at dawn, before Chak Phra, the ceremony when Buddha images on elaborately decorated carriages are pulled in processions. There are also traditionally famous of evening entertainments.