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General Information

Surat Thani is southern Thailand's largest province, covers some 12,800 square kilometres, and has an extensive coastline lapped by Thai Gulf waters. The provincial capital is 685 kilometres south of Bangkok.

Surat Thani boasts some of Thailand's loveliest islands namely the Penang-sized Ko Samui, Thailand's third largest island, palm-fringed jewel of a sparkling archipelago that includes the stunning 250-square-kilometre Ang Thong Marine National Park.

Surat Thani once formed part, and may have been the centre, of the Mahayana Buddhist Srivijaya Empire which steeped in legend and mystery, dominated the Malay peninsula and much of Java some 1,500 years ago. Srivijaya was best described by the itinerant Chinese monk I Ching after a pilgrimage he made to India during the late 600s. Archaeological discoveries at Chaiya district indicate the former empire's splendour.

Distances From Amphoe Muang (Surat Thani Town) To Other Districts :

Ban Na Doem 50 km
Ban Na San 41 km
Ban Ta Khun 71 km
Chai Buri 112 km
Chaiya 68 km
Don Sak 61 km
Ko Pha-ngan 100 km
Ko Samui 84 km
Phra Saeng 68 km
Phunphin 12 km

Koh Samui

Ko Samui The 247-square-kilometre Samui island is Surat Thani's major tourist attraction. Located 258 nautical miles south of Bangkok, and some 84 kilometres east of the provincial capital, Ko Samui measures some 21 kilometres at its widest point, and 25 kilometres at its longest. A 51-kilometre ring and largely coastal road encircles the island, which has numerous lovely beaches and bays, and is almost literally an island of coconuts and forested hills.

Samui's best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts, the most popular being Hat Chaweng and Hat Lamai, where generally attractive accommodation can be found. Other beaches include Hat Choeng Mon, Hat Mae Nam in the north and Hat Na Thon, the island's major seafront settlement where shops, restaurants and tour agencies are concentrated.

At the southern end of Lamai Bay are phallic rock formations called Hin Ta Hin Yai. A path connects the three waterfalls, called Namtok Hin Lat, Namtok Lat Wanon, and Namtok Na Muang, from west to south. The waterfalls are best visited during rainy season. Elephant riding is an interesting activity at the Na Muang waterfall.

There are some Buddhist monuments and temples on the island: Phra Yai is a massive seated Buddha image at Fan isle; Phrathat Hin Ngu is a stupa containing the Buddha relics and Chedi Laem So, a golden stupa on the western coast; and Wat Khunaram houses the dead body of Luang Pho Daeng which does not decay.

Festivals

Rambutan Fair The annual August fair celebrates the delicious fruit, first planted in Surat Thani during 1926. Highlights include floats adorned with rambutans and other fruits, exhibitions of local products and ornamental plants, and demonstrations by specially trained monkeys who harvest coconuts.

Chak Phra Festival Surat Thani celebrates the official end of the annual 3-month Buddhist Rains Retreat (Ok Phansa) in mid-October with the Chak Phra Festival (literally 'the procession of hauling the Buddha image. The tradition stems from the belief that the Buddha ascended to Heaven during Phansa to preach to his mother. The festival marks the Buddha's return to Earth, and is an occasion for religious merit-making and general celebrations. Local people organise dazzling land and waterborne processions of revered Buddha images (to symbolise the Buddha's return to Earth) and boat races on the Tapi River where long boats, manned by up to 50 oarsmen, are ebulliently raced. Religious devotion, spectacle and merriment combine to make Surat Thani's Chak Phra Festival a memorable annual event.

Shopping

LOCAL PRODUCTS

Salted Eggs are the most famous product of Chaiya district.

Phumriang Silk are hand-woven products of a Muslim village. The weavers here create their own patterns which are embossed on the silk-Japanese silk sold in Bangkok by shuttle looms.

The sweet tasting oysters from Surat Thani are of the highest quality

Rambutan, widely known as Ngo Rong Rian, is a famous fruit grown in Ban Na San District

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