The gateway to the island of the Gulf and the Deep South, Suratthani has good transport connections with Bangkok and many southern cities of the country. There are buses heading to the capital throughout the day and there are both day and night trains connecting Suratthani with Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok.
From Suratthani to Bangkok by bus
Buses to Bangkok leave from the ‘new’ bus terminal in Suratthani which lies some 7km south of town on the way to Phun Phin. To get to the terminal, catch any of the fan cooled orange buses going from the city to the train station in Phun Phin.
The route is served with a number of operators, including Sri Suthep Tour, Thai Sriram and Bangkok Busline. The bus journey to Bangkok takes about 10 hours. Sri Suthep Tour and Bangkok Busline operate evening buses to Bangkok at 7.15pm and 7.30pm, both of them reaching their destination at around 5am. Sri Suthep Tour has an Express bus at THB517, and Bangkok Busline offers a VIP36 at THB603. Both companies provide very similar service – including some snacks and water on board and a kind of entertainment program – and make pit stops at large gas stations en route where a choice of forecourt operators and clean toilets are found, but Bangkok Busline generally gets better reviews from passengers. In Bangkok, these companies bring passengers to the Southern bus Terminal, called Sai Tai Mai. Sai Thai Mai is located in Thonburi on the western banks of Chao Phraya. Numerous BMTA buses connect it with other parts of the capital, but it is not an easy task to figure out which one you need and not convenient if you travel with luggage. Consider taking a taxi instead to get to the city.
From Suratthani to Bangkok by train
Trains from Suratthani to Bangkok leave from Phun Phin Train Station located 15 km from Suratthani. Buses from Suratthani’s Talat Kaset 1 bus station heading to the train station leave every 10 minutes. From Phun Phin it takes trains from 9 to 12 hours to reach Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok. The majority of the trains leave Phun Phin in the afternoon and in the evening arriving early in the morning which is very convenient. The best choices are train #86 at 6.37pm (arrives 6.30am) and #84 at 9.05pm reaching Hua Lamphong at 8.35am. Both of them offer 2nd and 1st class AC sleepers (at apprx. THB970 and THB1600).
Note that #42 departing at 8.35pm arriving to Bangkok at 5.55am which otherwise looks very attractive, has 3rd class AC seats only and is not recommended for a long journey. Note that aircons tend to be freezing during the trip.
Two afternoon departures, #174 at 4.40pm (arrives at 5.10am) and #168 at 5.35pm (5.35am) are also a good choice with second class AC and fan sleepers. The latter is 12go’s favourite choice from the point of view of price vs quality ratio. Tickets to 2nd class fan sleepers cost about THB700. #168 has 2nd class fan seats only which go cheaper (about THB560), but most probably a 12-hour journey in this cart is not what you really dream about.
There is also a morning train #40 which is the fastest one and brings you to the capital just in 9 hours departing at 9.40am and arriving at 7.45pm, but it offers only 2nd class AC carts. They sell at THB800 and in general this train is a good alternative to a night journey.
Though the majority of the trains take longer to bring you to Bangkok from Suratthani compared to buses, the journey itself is considerably much more confortable.
Tip: As a rule, lower berths are wider that the upper ones, so opt for the former if you can. During the high season the best options sell out quickly so book as much in advance as possible.
Why make a stopover in Suratthani?
Suratthani makes a good base for exploring the nearby areas which are rarely visited by tourist and can give you a taste of real Thailand. Visit Ban Phum Riang fishing village where Muslim women weave wonderful red, yellow and black silk cloths or make a romantic evening cruise along Tapi River, partly overgrown with mangrove forests. There is a monkey training centre 13km from Suratthani in Kanchanadit district; and if you have enough time and arrange your own transport you can go exploring the interior of the vast province. Suratthani is a true gem as far as the street food is concerned; its cuisine showcasing a great variety of Southern dishes and traditional Muslim curries.
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.