What is Living in Thailand REALLY Like?

Surat Thani

Surat Thani (Town) in Surat Thani Province, Thailand

What is it like to live in Surat Thani? I lived there for a year.

I’ll try to give you some idea of what people do there. This is a Thai town really… there are very few places to get western food. There are a couple western bars but in general though I never visited even one, I didn’t hear good things about them.

At first look and maybe after a few days of trying to find something to do in Surat Thani you might be coming up empty. As I said, it’s a Thai town despite the hordes of foreign visitors coming through on their way to other places. That was part of the allure for me and why I chose to go live there to teach for a year. Surat Thani town is CLOSE TO EVERYTHING cool.

Within 3 hour drive (motorbike – I hate buses) are:

  • Ko Samui, Ko Pha-Ngan (full moon party), Ko Tao
  • Krabi (Phi Phi, Railay beach, Rock climbing,  Wat Tum Sua, Huay Toh waterfall, Caves 1 2 3 4, Crystal Lagoon)
  • Ko Lanta (though I don’t enjoy it much, others apparently do)
  • Patong Beach, Phuket
  • Khao Sok National Park (Jungle)
  • Phang-Nga
  • Suan Mokkh temple where Buddhadassa Bhikku lived (forest wat) Suan Mokkh photos >
  • Nakhon Sri Thammawat (some nice temples to see)

If you live in Surat Thani or even if you’re visiting there is quite a lot to do… in Surat Thani province and just south of Surat Thani town is a National Park called Tai Rom Yen. It has many very nice waterfalls and caves that are great to explore.

Dod Fa waterfall (very nice, well worth the trip – however you get there). Hiking waterfalls in Surat Thani >. Kamin cave is a large cave that will take you back almost a kilometer into it. There are many bats and bat-eating snakes to see. It has electricity running through it – but the switches are impossible to find. Best to hire the children guides that hang around to make 50 – 100 baht for guiding you through safely. (Photos below)

In Surat town itself there isn’t all that much to do. If I was bored I’d head down to Milano’s pizza right on the river and get a large pie. The pizzas are cooked in a brick oven type thing and it’s the best pizza in Surat Thani, hands down. It’s actually great pizza for anywhere in Thailand. The owner is from Italy and he lives most of the year on Ko Tao north of Ko Pha-ngan where he has another pizza shop! The shop on Ko Tao has even more people eating there than the one in Surat Thani! He’s a talkative guy I met him a couple times when he was visiting his shop in Surat town.

There is a large sports complex up by the military base way up Donnok Road (away from the river) that you can go run at, play basketball, tennis, soccer, tagraw, shoot bb guns at a special range, badminton, or run around the track which I think is about 800 meters around. At night time there are a couple hundred people there getting some exercise in. Everyone leaves by 8 or 8:30 pm so don’t stick around by yourself after that.

There is another place for fitness that is just awesome, it’s an island in the middle of the river. If you take Donnok Road the other way you’ll meet up with a bridge that goes across to this island. Make a left after you go over the river and another left where you see all the cars parked and walk up over a bridge to the park. It’s a larger loop and great for running, walking, pushing a stroller. There are also all kinds of sports being played here.

Western food?

There is Milanos Italian on the river. It’s all Thai employees – but the owner told them how to make pizza and it’s GOOD.

Swensons and Pizza company are on the road that runs parallel with the river and not far from Milanos (walking distance). There is a Big C on the perimeter road as well as a Tesco Lotus – but they are located at the opposite sides of town and there’s about 7 km between them. Tesco has everything including movie theaters – all Thai language movies, sorry… but they have Swenson, Black Canyon Coffee, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dairy Queen, MK’s… hmm. Can’t remember what else. As usual Tesco bakes french bread and sells it in long, uncut loafs in paper bags outside their bakery.


There is a FREE WIFI broadband coffee place located on the main road leading into Surat Thani town from Tesco and the same road that leads to Phun-pin train station. I’m having trouble recalling names of roads today, I’ll update this hopefully as soon as I can get to a map!

Dod Fa waterfall in Tai Rom Yen National Park, Surat Thani province, Thailand.

Dod Fa Waterfall Level 8

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2 thoughts on “Surat Thani

  • April 6, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Hello, great article! I have an offer to teach in Kanchanadit and I have a feeling that I will be stuck there. Do you know what the housing situation is like?

  • February 4, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Hi! Great article. I have an offer to teach in Surat Thani in the city. I’m just nervous there won’t be much to do at night or in the town. Did you enjoy your experience?


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