Suratthani is definitely not a city which lures travellers with its beauty, yet you can hardly skip it if Koh Samui is on your travel list. A major transportation hub, Suratthani is linked with many southern cities of the Gulf Coast, including Hat Yai or Nakhon Si Thammarat, as well as with the most popular tourist centres on the Andaman Coast like Krabi, Trang or Phuket. Buses and trains ply the route between Suratthani and Bangkok, and high speed and slow ferries travel to the islands of the Gulf which are – to be sincere – the main reason for which travellers find themselves in this unglamorous but fair working Thai city.
How to get from Krabi to Suratthani
No railway line links Krabi to Suratthani – use bus or by taxi for your coast-to-coast travel.
From Suratthani to Krabi by bus
The 170 km between Krabi and Suratthani are easily covered by car in just a couple of hours, but note that there are no direct VIP buses between the two cities. All you are left with is standard AC buses which are generally ok, but may be terribly slow, detouring to smaller villagers on their way to Suratthani and picking up passengers at virtually every corner. Be ready to spend at least four hours on the move.
Buses of Phantip Travel connect Krabi with Suratthani Town and Suratthani train station located in Phun Phin, about 15 km southwest. Note that though it seems illogical, buses first call to Suratthani Town and only after that bring passengers to the train station on their way back to Krabi. That is why the trip to Phun Phin is half an hour longer – 4½ hours compared to four hours from Krabi to Suratthani. Buses leaving from Krabi at 8.30am, 10am, 11.30am and 1pm call both to the city and the train station; 7am, 3pm and 4.30pm departures terminate at Suratthani Town.
If you are heading to the islands of the Gulf from Suratthani, get off at the bus station by the Kaset 1 Market, where you can change to a Phantip Travel bus heading to Donsak Pier. Standard AC bus ticket costs THB250, and the travel time to the pier is two hours. Morning buses of Phantip Travel (7am, 8am and 9am; THB300) pick up travellers arriving from Bangkok at the train station, but if coming from Krabi, there is no sense in using those. Buses from Suratthani Town to Donsak pier depart every hour from 9.30am till 4.30pm and it is possible to buy a joint bus+ferry ticket with Phantip Travel – it will cost you about the same if bought separately.
From Donsak, Seatran and Raja ferries go to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
A taxi from Suratthani Town to Donsak pier with Phantip Charter costs THB2,100. Their Toyota Commuter accommodates up to nine people. Prices are all-inclusive (e.g. extra luggage, pickup) and travel time is 1½ hour.
Tip: There is a slow overnight ferry from Bandon pier in Suratthani Town proper to Koh Tao. It departs daily at 11pm.
From Suratthani to the islands of the Gulf
Suratthani is a convenient starting point for your onward travel to Koh Samui. You can get from Suratthani to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, too, but these two islands are best reached from Chumphon.
From Suratthani to Koh Samui
If you are based in Suratthani or arrive to the city by bus, by train or by air, the easiest way to get from Suratthani to Koh Samui is to buy a joint bus+ferry ticket. All operators can pick up passengers from Suratthani bus station, the train station or the airport and bring them to Donsak pier from where ferries to Koh Samui leave.
If your starting point is Suratthani Town or Suratthani train station, the whole journey should not last more than 3½ hours; less with Lomprayah which picks up passengers at the train station at 8.30am and at the airport at 10.50am and 1.30pm. Tickets cost from THB500 to THB600.
Seatran Discovery operates a smaller and slower boat and also offers combo tickets from Suratthani Airport to Koh Samui, but the whole journey takes longer (about five hours) and costs THB650. There are departures at 8.30am, 10.45am and 11.20am. Note that on Koh Samui Seatran Discovery moors at Bangrak Seatran Pier, in the north-eastern part of the island.
Phantip Travel operates three morning buses from Suratthani train station in Phun Phin at 7am, 8am and 9am and then hourly buses from Suratthani Town from their office in Talat Kaset 1 with departures from 9.30 till 4.30pm. Buses head to Donsak, where you have to board a ferry to Koh Samui. Phantip Travel uses large car ferries – Seatran or Raja from Donsak to Na Thon Pier on Koh Samui. Tickets cost THB300 and THB250 respectively.
From Suratthani to Koh Phangan
To get from Suratthani to Koh Phangan you have a choice of the same Lomprayah and Seatran Discovery departures as per Koh Samui. Tickets cost THB700 and the whole journey with Lomprayah lasts about 3½ hours, and from five to six hours with Seatran Discovery. On Koh Phangan, both companies moor at Thong Sala.
From Suratthani to Koh Tao
Koh Tao is located much closer to Chumphon than to Suratthani, and it is cheaper and faster to get to Koh Tao from Chumphon. Yet it is possible to travel to Koh Tao from Suratthani airport with Seatran Discovery (THB950, seven hours) or with Lomprayah from Suratthani train station (THB700, 5½ hours). But the only true reason to choose Suratthani as a starting point for your journey to Koh Tao is if you want to jump onto the overnight slow ferry which leaves daily from Bandon pier in Suratthani Town. Otherwise consider getting to Chumphon first.
Why make a stopover in Suratthani
If by some reason you want to make a stopover in Suratthani, you will be rewarded with an excellent street food with spicy southern flavour and a mishmash of narrow alleys in the old market quarter. Frankly speaking, there is not much to do and to see in the city itself, but it still possesses a charm of ‘real Thainess’, which TAT, Tourism Authority of Thailand, is actively promoting these days. If you have a couple of free days, explore the rarely visited interior part of the province including Khao Sok National Park.
Want to see an Amazon rain forest in Thailand? Welcome to Khao Sok!
Khao Sok National Park is definitely one of the wonders of Suratthani province. Khao Sok is arguably the wettest region of the country with annual rainfall reaching 3500 mm. Thanks to its unique geographic location and relative remoteness the park boasts incredible biodiversity, which easily surpasses the one of the famous Amazon rain forests. Khao Sok shelters over 5% of the world’s wildlife species and an abundance of plants, i.e. a beautiful Rafflesia.
There is plenty of activities on offer in Khao Sok including jungle trekking, elephant encounters, canoeing, cruising Cheow Larn Lake or bird watching. Well, even sitting on your guesthouse terrace and taking in amazing views is already greatly rewarding! The park offers package multiday tours, but you can as well come all by yourself and tailor-make your vacation in Khao Sok right on the spot.
It takes about two hours to get to Khao Sok National park from Suratthani or Suratthani Airport with chartered vans of Phantip Charter. They offer a 9-seat Toyota Commuter at THB3,150 any time of the day on your request. The price includes pickup from your hotel (or location specified). Recommended.