- For other places with the same name, see Surin (disambiguation).
Surin is the capital of Surin Province. Its population is small, approximately 40,000, but the province itself is densely populated. It lies about 450 km east of Bangkok and 50 km from the Cambodian border.
Surin is a quiet, nondescript, town. Its claim to fame is its annual Elephant Roundup, which takes place in November (book a room in advance). Surin's people have had a long relationship with elephants and they have become the provincial icon, epitomizing as they do raw power coupled with intelligence and strong kinship values.
Plenty of Khmer ruins, beautiful silk fabrics, and highly-prized jasmine rice also make Surin a destination worth a visit.
Surin's story dates back thousands of year when the Suay or Kuay ethnic groups migrated along the Mekong River to settle around the Dongrek Range. Kuay ethnic people, found in Thailand and Laos, are talented in catching and training elephants. Some 2,000 years ago, during the Khmer Era, the town of Surin was established. After the fall of Khmer Empire, the town was neglected until 1763, when Luang Surin Pakdi (Chiang Poom), headman of Muang Tee Village, led his people to settle at Ban Khu Prakai, now the town of Surin. He subsequently became the first mayor of the settlement.
From Bangkok, Surin is just over a six hour drive. Head north via Hwy 1 (Pahonyothin Rd) and get onto Hwy 2 (Mittraphap Rd) at Saraburi. Use Hwy 24 (Chok Chai-Det Udom) via Nang Rong, Prasat, then turn left onto Hwy 214 to Surin. This route is 457 km long. Or at Korat, motorists can change to Hwy 226, via Chakkrarat , Huai Thalaeng, Lam Plai Mat, Buriram to Surin. This route is 434 km in length.
- Bangkok's northeastern Bus terminal (Mo Chit 2) on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd has daily services to Surin. For more information, call +66 2 9362852-66 Transport Co, Surin Branch tel. +66 44 511756. Kitchakan Ratchasima Tour Co, tel. +66 44 512161, Nakhon Chai Air Co., tel. +66 44 515151.
- Minibuses (60 baht) connect the town with Chong Chom, which hosts a border crossing with O'Smach in Cambodia.
Trains regularly leave Bangkok's Hualamphong and Bang Sue stations for Surin. For more information, call 1690, +66 2 2204334, +66 2 2204444. Surin Railway Station tel. +66 44 511295, +66 44 515393 or visit State Railway of Thailand.
Surin is a small, so most journeys in the central area can be made on foot. However, there are also samlors (rickshaws) and tuk-tuks. The larger hotels have cars available for hire. Keep in mind that no one considers overcharging a foreigner to be a serious crime. A samlor ride around the central region of the town is 40 baht, a tuk-tuk maybe 50-60 baht for foreigners. If in doubt ask your hotel for advice. When getting off the bus always be extra careful not to be taken for a ride while being taken for a ride.
- Elephant Training Village (at Tha Tum, about 60 km from Surin).
- Surin National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ สุรินทร์) (About 4 km S of the city on Rte 214. There is nothing to see along the road, and given the speed of cars and the lack of a sidewalk, walking is not recommended. The pink songthaew from city will take you to the museum for 10 baht, or use a tuk-tuk/samlor). The Surin National Museum was established in 1974. It was first housed in the Surin City Hall, but was later moved to the Surin Education Office. In 1992 the Thai Fine Arts Department proposed a dedicated museum building for the province. Construction of the museum began in 1995, and was completed in 2010. The museum is now in Ban Nongtao, Chaniang sub-district, Mueang district, on Hwy 214. The museum covers five topics: natural science, history-archaeology, local history, ethnology, and local heritage.
- City Pillar Shrine (ศาลหลักเมืองสุรินทร์). The Lak Mueang shrine is the sacred icon, the tutelary deity of the city and the province. Prior to 1968 the shrine did not house a pillar. This changed in 1968 when the Thai Fine Arts Department designed a new city shrine. A city pillar for this new shrine was made from a golden cassia log.
- Lower Isaan Art and Crafts Centre (ศูนย์ศิลปาชีพอีสานใต้) (On a bypass road, close to Tambon Nok Mueang Administration organization, SE of Surin City). The centre displays art and cultural exhibits of lower Isaan.
- The Monument of Phaya Surin Phakdi Si Narong Changwang (Pum) (อนุสาวรีย์พระยาสุรินทรภักดีศรีณรงค์จางวาง (ปุม)). This is a statue of Surin's traditional founder and first mayor, Phaya Surin. The black, brass statue is 2.2 metres high, and was dedicated in 1968. The statue is at the southern entrance to the city, at what is now a major traffic round-about, but was in the past the inner wall of the city. Pum stands on a high plinth, and is depicted holding a curve-bladed pike in right hand. This is a traditional device used to control an elephant. The pike reflects his legendary skill in controlling war elephants, and recognises the important of the role of elephants in both the history and economy of Surin.
- Wat Burapharam (วัดบูรพาราม). Ancient Buddhist temple built by Surin's first mayor Phaya Surin Phakdi Si Narong Changwang. The wat houses a Buddha image of Luang Pho Phra Chi, which was built at the same time as the temple.
These stretch from the border westwards to Buriram Province. There are few organised tours (tourism is not overly big in Isaan). You can always find an (expensive) rental car, with driver, at your hotel, or it is possible to visit the major temples by using the local public transport system (this is very cheap). Ask you hotel or guesthouse for instructions. (Most signs at the bus and train stations are in Thai, however, the staff are very helpful.)
- 1 Prasat Sikhoraphum. A set of temple ruins in a quiet surroundings.
- Prasat Ta Meuan. A complex of three structures built in the 12th–13th centuries around the time of the Cambodian king Jayavarman VII. The largest building is Prasat Ta Meuan Thom. It is surrounded by an outer wall, and contains a large central rectangular building on a north-south axis. To the south is Prasat Ta Meuan Toht, a smaller structure, with an outer wall. The last and smallest of three is Prasat Ta Meuan, a small building with no wall, approximately 15 m x 5 m. All of these buildings show signs of disrepair and looting. A return journey by taxi to the complex will cost you ~2,000 baht. There are occasional excursion buses, when there is sufficient interest. Check with your hotel or travel agent. There is no on-site English language assistance, nor much information about the complex. There may still be unexploded land mines from the days of the Khmer Rouge. Stay on the paths and do not wander into the surrounding jungle. Free.
- Ordination parade on elephant's back (งานประเพณีบวชนาคแห่ช้าง), Wat Chaeng Sawang, Ban Ta Klang, Amphoe Tha Tum. This tradition is held mostly on the 13th-15th day of the waxing moon in May (around mid-May). Khmer, Laotian, and Suay people are all Buddhist and families wish their sons to enter monkhood and study the dhamma before marriage. The ordination of large numbers of monks simultaneously on elephant back over long distances confer great merit on the families of the ordainees. As all participants dress decoratively with mat-mi silk, the tradition earns lots of merit which is passed down through generations. The parade comprises more than 50 elephants crossing the Mun River, with ordainees having shaved heads, all paying homage to Chao Pho Wang Thalu Shrine before starting the ordination.
- Surin Elephant Roundup and Surin Red Cross Fair (งานช้างและกาชาดสุรินทร์), Si Narong Stadium. Yearly, third weekend of November. A three day-long event where elephants roam the streets of Surin and perform in various activities: soccer, beauty contests, battle re-enactments, and the like.
- Surin Jasmine Rice and Silk Cloth Fair (งานวันข้าวหอมมะลิอินทรีย์และมหกรรมผ้าไหมสุรินทร์). Held every January, the Fair features contests of agricultural products, silk cloth, and presentations from governmental institutions.
- Thai Elephant Day (งานวันช้างไทย). A light and sound show which describes the legends of Thai elephants. Held annually in the second week of November.
- Ascending Phanom Sawai Mountain Festival (งานประเพณีขึ้นเขาพนมสวาย). This annual festival is a parade of traditional art and culture to Phanom Sawai mountain, in order to pay respect to Phra Yai, the intimate Buddha’s footprint, Luang Phu Dun, and Wat Phanom Silaram. This festival is held in March.
- "Mai" Dried lotus seeds snack. A well-known Surin snack of made from lotus seeds. It has a soft sweet taste and is available everywhere. It has been listed as one of the Best 50 Gourmet Souvenirs from around the world by Condé Nast Traveller Magazine.
Surin has a fantastic night market. Be sure to try the Isaan sausage and Laos-style flattened chicken (gai yang), but be careful with the som tam (papaya salad). In addition to the night market Surin is liberally endowed with small restaurants, and the usual street vendors. Also the major hotels have reasonably priced menus.
Surin is not known for its many bars, but there are a few places offering drinks and nightlife. Most are located near the Thong Tarin Hotel. Adjacent to the hotel are two streets lined with small bars, restaurants, karaoke bars, and go-go bars. The larger hotels also have bars and restaurants. There are also several small restaurants managed or owned by expats scattered around town. The largest is the Farang Connection, followed by the Oasis, The Beach in Surin and N & N's German Restaurant, all near the bus station.
- New Hotel, 6-8 Thanasan Rd, ☎ . Check-out: noon. Fan room with bath. 300 baht.
- 1 One Fu Hotel, Near IQ Modern Trade and merely a few kilometers with many important places such as Robinson shopping mall and other attractions, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique, modern style hotel. 550+ baht.
- Petchaskem Hotel (500 m from the bus station). An older hotel.
- Pirom-Aree's Guest House, 55 326 Soi Arunee. Thung Poh Rd, ☎ . Check-out: noon. Fan rooms, outside bath 200 baht.
- Surin Majestic (Next to the bus station). The newest and best looking, but somewhat boring, hotel in Surin. Impeccably clean. Adjacent to the bus station, a big plus. Wi-Fi excellent on both the third floor and at the pool. 1,200+ baht with buffet breakfast.
- TK Mansions, 87 Krungsrinai, Muang District (Across the street from the Municipal Government Building), ☎ , . T.K. Mansions is on the street where the Night Market is every evening. The building is new and it is connected to the latest fiber optic internet service in Thailand, which guarantees a good quality internet connection. A long-term stay is also possible. Just ask the manager, Mrs. Sue, who speaks English very well. 500 baht.
- Thong Tarin Hotel (About 500 m from the bus station). Clean, tidy, and happening, with the attached Rose Queen bath house, where a dirty (male) traveler can get clean. The hotel's large beer garden is in front of the hotel. Swimming pool, snooker club. 1,100+ baht.
- Cambodia is accessible via the Chong Chom/O'Smach border crossing. The drive into Cambodia becomes very scenic as the road descends the Dangrek Mountains. At the border, between the two countries' immigration offices, are a couple of casino hotels. Visas are issued at this border, make sure you only pay USD20 for a Cambodian tourist visa. Touts will try to convince you to pay more. On the Cambodian side, O'Smach town, a collection of attap huts and unpaved streets, is less than 1 km down the hill from the immigration offices. It has at least three guesthouses for those arriving late and not able to make onward travel. It also has a market with cafes and a branch of Acleda Bank (no ATM).
Paramount Angkor Transport runs buses to Samraong and beyond from O'Smach town. Look for the attap hut with bus advertisements on the highway at the turning to the town. On the Thai side, minibuses run from Chong Chom to Surin (60 baht).
|Routes through Surin|
|Bangkok ← Buriram ←||W E||→ Si Saket → Ubon Ratchathani|