How to Spend 1 Day in Surat Thani
Many travelers make a pit stop in Surat Thani before catching the ferry to Koh Samui or Koh Phangan islands, and one day is just enough time to take in the highlights of this port town. From historic temples and natural wonders, to a romantic sunset cruise, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Surat Thani.
Morning: Lakeside views
Khao Sok National Park lies just over an hour from Surat Thani, making it possible to visit in a morning. To make the most of your time, opt for a half-day tour to Cheow Lan Dam, a man-made lake surrounded by lush jungle and looming cliffs.
Gaze out over the lake from the mountaintop Guilin Viewpoint, then set out on a longtail boat cruise to explore the lake and its mangrove forests. Keep a lookout for clouded leopards, monkeys, and tapir, as well as gigantic Rafflesia flowers. Finally, brave a walk on the Rope Bridge Heart Mountain, a 394-foot-long (120-meter-long) suspension bridge that affords sweeping views over the lake.
Afternoon: Temples and shrines
After lunch, discover the temples and shrines near Surat Thani. Getting around by public transit can eat up valuable time, so hire a taxi or join a tour.
The resplendent white and gold Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya dates back to the seventh century and houses a fascinating exhibition of ancient Buddhist relics. Nearby, Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram is a 20th-century monastery set in a tranquil 150-acre (61-hectare) forest, while the snow-white facade of the Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine is striking against a backdrop of the Tapi River.
Night: A sunset cruise
Set sail along the Gulf of Thailand coast on a traditional wooden junk boat, and watch the sunset from the water. Cruise around the offshore islands, admire views of the white-sand beaches and karst cliffs, and perhaps dive in to swim and snorkel. While onboard, tuck into a typical Thai dinner or local specialties such as fresh seafood.
Back in Surat Thani, spend the rest of the evening browsing the stalls at the night market. You’ll find a wide selection of handicrafts, such as silk goods from the nearby village of Phum Riang.