Planning a Trip
By Plane -- From Bangkok, there are three choices. Thai Airways (tel. 02356-1111; www.thaiair.com) has two daily flights (trip time: 70 min.). Thai Airways' office is at 3/27-28 Karunrat Rd. (tel. 07727-2610), just south of town. Budget airlines Air Asia (tel. 02515-9999; www.airasia.com) and One-Two-GO (tel. 02229-4100, call 1126 in Bangkok, or 1141 out of Bangkok; www.fly12go.com) also have daily flights from Bangkok. Air-conditioned vans connecting the airport and town cost up to 80B (US$2.30/£1.25) per person.
By Train -- Eleven trains leave daily from Bangkok's Hua Lampong station (tel. 1690; www.railway.co.th) to Surat Thani (trip time: 13 hr.). Second-class sleepers cost 848B (US$24/£13), and second-class seats run 578B (US$17/£9). Surat Thani station is some 12km (7 1/2 miles) from town.
If you are connecting with the ferry, avoid the aggressive touts and look for representatives from the boat companies Songserm or Panthip (tel. 07727-2230), who provide buses to meet trains. Otherwise you can grab a shared minivan to town for around 80B (US$2.30/£1.25).
By Bus -- VIP 24-seater buses leave daily from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (tel. 02434-5578; trip time: 10 hr.; 590B/US$17/£9.10). Note: These buses are safer than the cheaper private buses, where organized theft is endemic. Air-conditioned buses leave daily from Phuket's bus terminal off Phang Nga Road, opposite the Royal Phuket City Hotel (tel. 07621-1977; trip time: 4 hr.; 150B/US$4.30/£2.30). The Surat Thani Bus Terminal is on Kaset II Road, a block east of the main road.
By Minivan -- Privately operated air-conditioned minivans offer affordable and regular services from Surat Thani to/from Chumphon, Ranong, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Had Yai, Phuket, and beyond. The best way to arrange these trips is via your hotel's front desk. You can go door to door, usually for less than 200B (US$5.70/£3.10).
By Car -- Take Highway 4 south from Bangkok to Chumphon, and then Highway 41 directly south to Surat Thani (trip time: 12 hr.).
For information about Surat Thani, Koh Samui, and Koh Pha Ngan, contact the TAT office, 5 Talad Mai Rd., Surat Thani (tel. 07728-8818), near the Wang Tai Hotel.
Surat Thani is built up along the south shore of the Tapi River. Talad Mai (meaning new market) Road, 2 blocks south of the river, is the city's main street. The TAT office is on this same road but to the far west of town, en route to the bus and train stations. Ferry piers are on Ban Don, Na Meuang; out of town to the east is the Tha Thong pier. (Depending on your arrival hour, you can get transfers directly to the piers from the bus and train stations without going through town.)
Major banks, exchange kiosks, and a branch of the post office lie along Na Meuang Road close to Witeetad Road in the center of town. The Web Guesthouse (tel. 07727-5771) on Talad Mai Road is a friendly place for advice or help, Internet, phone access, and good value Thai and Western food. Situated near transportation services to the station and ferries, its dormitory rooms are pretty basic but bearable for an overnighter.