Surat Thani Province

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Surat Thani
สุราษฎร์ธานี
Province
The beach Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan
The beach Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan
Official seal of Surat Thani
Seal
Nickname(s): Surat
Map of Thailand highlighting Surat Thani Province
Map of Thailand highlighting Surat Thani Province
Country  Thailand
Capital Surat Thani
Government
 • Governor Cherdsak Chusri (since April 2012)
Area
 • Total 12,891.5 km2 (4,977.4 sq mi)
Area rank Ranked 6th
Population (2011)
 • Total 1,012,064
 • Rank Ranked 21st
 • Density 79/km2 (200/sq mi)
 • Density rank Ranked 65th
Time zone Thailand Standard Time (UTC+7)
ISO 3166 code TH-84

Surat Thani (often in short Surat, Thai: สุราษฎร์ธานี) former name Chaiya Province is the largest of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Surat Thani means City of Good People, the title given to the city by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).

History[edit]

The area of Surat Thani was already inhabited in prehistoric times by Semang and Malayan tribes. Founded in the 3rd century, until the 13th century the Srivijaya kingdom dominated the Malay Peninsula. The city Chaiya contains several ruins from Srivijaya times, and was probably a regional capital of the kingdom. Some Thai historians even claim that it was the capital of the kingdom itself for some time, but this is generally disputed. Wiang Sa was another main settlement of that time.

After the fall of the Srivijaya. it was divided into the cities (Mueang) Chaiya, Thatong (now Kanchanadit) and Khirirat Nikhom. While Chaiya was administrated directly from the capital, Thatong and Khirirat were controlled by the Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom. In 1899 they were merged into one province named Chaiya. In 1915 also the court of the Monthon Chumphon was moved to Bandon, which received its new name Surat Thani on July 29, 1915 during a visit of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). The monthon was renamed to Surat accordingly. In 1926 it was abolished and incorporated into monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat. In 1933 the monthon was dissolved, so the province became the first level administrative subdivision.

The provincial administration was first located in a building in Tha Kham (Amphoe Phunphin). Shortly before World War II, it was moved to the city of Surat Thani on the banks of the Tapi river, but when the Japanese invaded Thailand on December 8, 1941, the building caught fire in the battle for the city and was destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1954, but on March 19, 1982, this was destroyed by a bomb planted by communist rebels, killing 5 people. The third building was erected in the south of the city. The former site of the provincial hall is now the city pillar shrine (Lak Mueang).

Administrative divisions[edit]

Map of Surat Thani

The province is subdivided into 19 districts (Amphoe), which are further subdivided into 131 subdistricts (tambon) and 1028 villages (muban).

The province has one city (thesaban nakhon), 3 towns (thesaban mueang) and 24 subdistrict municipalities (thesaban tambon). The most important ones are the following 6 (complete list). There are also 109 tambon administrative authorities (TAO), responsible for the non-municipal areas.

Nr. City Thai Population Notes
1. Surat Thani เทศบาลนครสุราษฎร์ธานี 127,550 Capital of the province, Historic town, Tourism, Main bus station
2. Ko Samui เทศบาลเมืองเกาะสมุย 52,510 Tourism,
3. Tha Kham เทศบาลเมืองท่าข้าม 20,363 Main railway station, Airport.
4. Na San เทศบาลเมืองนาสาร 19,851
5. Talat Chaiya เทศบาลตำบลตลาดไชยา 12,955 Historic town.
6. Don Sak เทศบาลตำบลดอนสัก 11,357 Main port.
7. Ko Pha-ngan เทศบาลตำบลเกาะพะงัน 3,357 Tourism.

For the national elections, the province is subdivided into two constituencies, both eligible to elect three members of parliament.

Geography[edit]

Provincial hall of Surat Thani
City pillar shrine in Surat Thani
Ruins of the Wat Kaew in Chaiya, dating from Srivijavan times

Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Phang Nga and Ranong.

Geographically, the centre of the province is the coastal plain of the Tapi river, mostly grassland interspersed with rubber tree and coconut plantations. In the west are limestone the mountains of the Phuket range which are mostly covered with forest. The Khao Sok National Park is located in these mountains. To the east the hills of the Nakhon Si Thammarat (or Bantat) mountain range start to rise, protected in the Tai Rom Yen National Park. Many islands in the Gulf of Thailand belong to the district, including the tourist islands Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao, as well as the Ko Ang Thong marine national park. The main rivers of Surat Thani province are the Tapi River and the Phum Duang River, which join at the town Tha Kham shortly before they flow into Bandon Bay. The delta of these rivers, locally known as Nai Bang (ในบาง), is located directly north of the city of Surat Thani. It consists of several channels with small islands mostly covered by mangroves and orchards.

Other protected areas in the province are the Khlong Phanom and Kaeng Krung national park, Than Sadet-Ko Pha-Ngan marine national park, the non-hunting areas Khao Tha Phet and Nong Thung Thong and the wildlife sanctuaries Khlong Phraya, Khlong Saeng and Khlong Yan. The Hat Khanom - Mu Ko Thale Tai, which has a few small islands south of Ko Samui, is currently being created.

National park

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Surat Thani (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.1
(88)
32.6
(90.7)
34.2
(93.6)
35.0
(95)
34.0
(93.2)
33.4
(92.1)
32.9
(91.2)
32.7
(90.9)
32.4
(90.3)
31.6
(88.9)
30.3
(86.5)
29.9
(85.8)
32.51
(90.52)
Average low °C (°F) 21.1
(70)
21.1
(70)
21.9
(71.4)
23.4
(74.1)
23.8
(74.8)
23.7
(74.7)
23.3
(73.9)
23.4
(74.1)
23.2
(73.8)
23.1
(73.6)
22.9
(73.2)
22.0
(71.6)
22.74
(72.93)
Rainfall mm (inches) 36.8
(1.449)
12.3
(0.484)
24.0
(0.945)
73.4
(2.89)
178.0
(7.008)
125.0
(4.921)
148.8
(5.858)
139.6
(5.496)
188.4
(7.417)
236.4
(9.307)
329.9
(12.988)
129.4
(5.094)
1,622
(63.857)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 6 2 3 7 18 17 17 18 19 20 19 13 159
 % humidity 81 77 75 77 82 81 82 82 84 87 87 84 81.6
Source: Thai Meteorological Department (Normal 1981-2010), (Avg. rainy days 1961-1990)

Economy[edit]

In the 2008 census, the province had a GPP of 132,637.3 million Baht (4,019.31 million US$) and GPP per capita of 134,427 (4,073.54 US$)[citation needed] compared with a GPP of 122,398 million Baht (3,599.94 million US$) and GPP per capita of 125,651 (3,695.62 US$) in the 2007 census, with a GPP growth rate of 8.37% and per capita growth rate of 6.98%.

The main agricultural products of the province are coconut and rambutan. The coconuts are often picked from the tree by specially trained monkeys, mostly Pig-tailed Macaques (Macaca nemestrina). The monkey school of the late Somporn Saekhow is the most famous training centre. Rambutan trees were first planted in Surat Thani in 1926 by the Chinese Malay Mr. K. Vong in Ban Na San. An annual rambutan fair is held in early August and includes a parade of highly decorated floats on the Tapi river. Rubber tree plantations are also common in the province.

A notable local product is the hand-woven silk cloth from the coastal village Phum Riang in Chaiya district. Chaiya is also the most famous source of the red eggs, a local specialty. Ducks are fed with crabs and fish and the eggs are then preserved by salinating them in a soil-salt mixture. Oysters from farms at the coast of Kanchanaburi district are another local specialty.

Tourism is a major source of income of the four islands Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao and Ko Ang Thong

Transportation[edit]

Surat Thani railway station in Tha Kham, Phunphin district

Rail[edit]

The province is crossed by the southern railway, with Surat Thani Railway Station located at Phunphin, about 15 km from downtown. A branch line to the west ends at Kirirat Nikhom Railway Station. It was originally planned to run to the coast next to the island of Phuket, but construction ended in 1956. In total there are 32 railway stations in Surat Thani province.

Road[edit]

Parallel to the railway in north-south direction runs the Asian Highway 2 (Thailand Route 41). The major road in east-west direction is Route 401 connecting Takua Pa with Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Route 44 in southwestern direction from Kanchanadit to Krabi. Route 44 was built as part of the landbridge project connecting the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea. Unlike other highways there are no crossing intersections, the wide space between the two lanes is reserved for pipeline and railway.

Air[edit]

As of 2012, two international airports are located in the province - Surat Thani International Airport in Phunphin and Samui Airport on Ko Samui. The Surat Thani International Airport is served by three airlines: Thai Airways International Thai AirAsia One-Two-Go Airlines from Don Mueang International Airport The Samui Airport is served by Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways International from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Penang

No. Airport IATA ICAO Total
1. Surat Thani International Airport URT VTSB 816,413
2. Samui Airport USM VTSM 1,861,229

Water[edit]

The islands Ko Samui und Ko Phan Ngan are connected with the mainland by ferries, which mostly start at Don Sak, while the ferries to Ko Tao start at Surat Thani or Ko Samui.

Culture[edit]

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

The two most important Buddhist monasteries of the province are located in Chaiya district. Phra Boromathat Chaiya is highlighted by the chedi in Srivijaya style, dating from the 7th century and carefully restored. Buddha relics are enshrined in the chedi and in the surrounding chapels are several Buddha statues in Srivijaya style.

The Chaiya National Museum adjoins the temple. Also nearby is Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram, a forest monastery founded by the famous monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.

Festivals[edit]

Celebrates the return of Buddha from heaven to earth and greeted by crowd.

Chak Phra take place every year immediately after the end of 3 month rain retreat about October. It is celebrated in many parts of southern Thailand and especially in Surat Thani. It is Chak Phra Festivals on land and on the Tapi River. In the evening prior to Chak Phra Day, billboards are erected showing Buddha's story around the city and celebration continues all day and all night. On land, the splendidly adorned floats are pulled across the town by the participants. At the same time, on water a float decorated with colourful Thai designs carries the Buddha image. Chak Phra Festivals conclude with an exciting boat race and traditional game.

Rambutan trees were first planted in Surat Thani at Ban Na San. This plantation was founded in 1926 by Mr. K. Vong, a Chinese Malay. The annual Rambutan Festival is held during the August harvest.[1]

Letting go of Loy Krathong rafts
  • Boon Sad Dean Sib Festival (Southern Traditional) It is held on the full moon of the 10th month in traditional calendar (about August). Many people will go to the temple and remember for the ancestor. Friend and relations will come back home and go to temple altogether. Traditional people can make sweetmeat for this festival.
  • Surat thani Songkran festival, Thai New Year (water festival) @Surat Thani is celebrated every year on 13 April at Bandon bay street and around the town and Ko Samui is celebrated on 13–15 April at chaweng beach lamai beach and around the island street.
  • Surat Thani Loy Krathong Festival on the Tapi River is held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November. During the night of the full moon, many people will release a raft like this on a river.
  • Bull Fighting (กีฬาชนวัว) This ancient popular sport on Ko Samui was once held on large undecorated terrain in coconut fields or farms. Now, permanent stadiums in various districts take turns hosting the monthly bull fighting.

Symbols[edit]

Pagoda in Srivijaya style in Chaiya, Thailand

The seal of the province shows the pagoda of Phra Boromathat Chaiya, which is believed to have been built 1200 years ago. The flag of the province also shows the pagoda in middle, placed on a vertically split flag with red color in top and yellow in bottom.

The provincial symbolic flower is the Bua Phut (Rafflesia kerrii), a parasitic plant with one of the biggest flowers of all plants. The provincial tree is the Ton Kiam (Cotylelobium melanoxylon).

The provincial slogan is เมืองร้อยเกาะ เงาะอร่อย หอยใหญ่ ไข่แดง แหล่งธรรมะ ชักพระประเพณี, which translates to City of 100 islands, delicious rambutan, big shells and red eggs, center of Buddhism. "Red eggs" are a local culinary speciality of pickled duck eggs, while the big shells refer to the plenty of seafood available. Center of Buddhism refers to the pagoda of Chaiya. Chak Phra Festivals

Tourism[edit]

Si Surat stupa

Mueng Surat Thani

  • TaladSanjoa (ตลาดศาลเจ้า) is the food walk street. The night market has some great food vendors and many fantastic food. Next to the Sahathai department store have fast food there is a Pizza Company outlet, a Swensens ice-cream, minimart, Super Market and coffee café. In the evening hours there are also some food stalls there, however the night market concentrates at a sidestreet next to Wat Sai.

Recommended Food in TaladSanjoa(ตลาดศาลเจ้า) and Surat Thani Pad Thai Chaiya(ผัดไทไชยา)Thai noodle in Surat Thani Style with Sea Food. Kanomjean (ขนมจีน) white noodle with cerry Thaifruit Thai Crips and Thai Dessert

  • Tricycles Tricycles have no motor. You can ride it and have a driver pedal.

Night Bandon pier(ท่าเรือกลางคืน)is Thai fruit walk street and food.

  • Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine (ศาสหลีกเมือง) (Srivijaya style) It is a beautiful Thai art style place and centre of the city.

Si Surat Stupa(พระธาตุศรีสุราษฎร์) Pra tad sri surat appoint on Khao Tha Phet(เขาท่าเพชร)(thapech hills) is a hill near the town of Surat Thani. The hill has an altitude of about 210 m (689 ft) above sea level and offers a good view over the town Surat Thani. On top of the hill is the Si Surat stupa (also known by its common name Phra That Khao Tha Phet), which was built in Srivijavan style in 1957. The stupa contains a Buddha relic donated by India. Next to the stupa is a Sweet Shorea tree (Shorea roxburghii) planted by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. 6 kilometres south of the provincial capital along Highway 4009 (Surat Thani - Na San) and 1.5 kilometres along the access road, this centre is located on a hill called Khao Tha Phet and covers an area of 4.65 square kilometres. The designated trail allows visitors to see some rarely seen trees and to take a close look at the levels of soil, sandstone, and dry evergreen forest. The hilltop, some 200 metres above sea level, offers commanding panoramic views of Surat Thani town and the Tapi River. Phrathat Si Surat, a candle-shaped stupa on the hill, was built in 1957 and contains Lord Buddha’s relics donated by the Indian government.

Nai Bang Area (ในบาง) Nai Bang is an alluvial plain around the mouth of the Tapi River which is crisscrossed with networks of canals. The canals are lined with mangrove forest alternating with traditional southern-styled houses, behind which are coconut farms and orchards. The people here still maintain a simple way of life and make their living on indigenous natural resources, despite the bustling economy in the Ban Don (town) market just opposite the river. Access to Nai Bang is by the bridge across the Tapi River or by long-tail boat from Ban Don. The boat can carry 6–8 people and charges 250 baht per hour. Visitors may contact the travel agents in Surat Thani which sell a one-day package tour to the Nai Bang area. If you can see the light iseect, can do trip on the night.[clarification needed]

Tapee River Dinner Have romantic dinner on the boat in Tapi River to see Tapi River views, entrance of Tapi River to the sea or see the view beside the river in restaurant.

Ko Lamphu (เกาะลำพู) is a small car-free island in the river Tapi. It is connected by bridge to the city at the city pillar shrine. Ko Lamphu is a popular place for picnic as well as for sports. A nice view is the riverfront, built as a promenade.

There are several Buddhist as well as Chinese temples within the city, however none really notable. To the north is the Roman Catholic St. Raphael Cathedral, actually a small wooden church.

Ko Samui

Ko Pha-ngan with the beautifil beaches of Chalok lam Bay, Ban Khai, Haad Son, Haad Yao, Bootle Beach and Haad Rin - The full Moon party location.

Chaiya

Phanom and Ban Ta Khun

Sights[edit]

Huts in Khao Sok NP.
Flower and bud in Khao Sok National Park

Nai Bang Area (ในบาง) Nai Bang is an alluvial plain around the mouth of the Tapi River which is crisscrossed with networks of canals. The canals are lined with mangrove forest alternating with traditional southern-styled houses, behind which are coconut farms and orchards.

Khao Tha Phet Nature and Wildlife Study Centre (สถานีพัฒนาและส่งเสริมอนุรักษ์สัตว์ป่าเขาท่าเพชร) This centre is located on a hill called Khao Tha Phet. The hilltop offers commanding panoramic views of Surat Thani town and the Tapi River. Phrathat Si Surat, a candle-like stupa on the hill, contains Lord Buddha's relics donated by the Indian government.

Monkey Schools (สถานที่ฝึกลิง) In the southern provinces, monkeys work for humans in the harvesting of coconuts. Expert climbers, they show quick skills that are a boon to farmers.

Oyster Farm (ฟาร์มหอยนางรม) Surat Thani people take so much pride in their big and delicious oysters that they have become a part of the province's motto. Most oysters are raised around the mouth of Kradae and Than Thong canals.

Ban Khlong Sai Monkey Training Centre (ศูนย์ฝึกลิงบ้านคลองทราย) Located in front of Wat Ampharam, Mu 3, Tambon Khlong Sai, Amphoe Tha Chang, the centre trains monkeys to pick up coconuts.

Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram (วัดสวนโมกขพลาราม) Suan Mokkh's founder, the late Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, was highly respected both locally and internationally. His 'back to basics' form of Buddhism, mirroring that led by the Buddha's earliest disciples more than 2,500 years ago, attracted many Buddhist monks and lay meditators from many countries.

Phra Borommathat Chaiya (พระบรมธาตุไชยา) Constructed along Mahayana Buddhist's beliefs of the 7th Century, the great chedi is reputedly the best preserved Srivijaya artwork in Thailand. The stone chedi has 3 receding tiers, each of which are decorated with small stupas. The Buddha's relics are enshrined inside the chedi.

Wat Wiang, Wat Kaeo and Wat Long (วัดเวียง วัดแก้ว และวัดหลง) These 3 temples are supposedly contemporaries of Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya. The seated Buddha statue protected by naga, made in 1183, and a sand stone, Chaiya-styled, Buddha statue were found at Wat Wiang. Wat Kaeo and Wat Long have Chaiya-styled brick chedi on indented square bases.

Phumriang Village (หมู่บ้านพุมเรียง) This Muslim fishing village is famed for its hand-woven silk cloth in red, yellow and black. Buddhist Thais in the village weave hats from leaves.

Namtok Vibhavadi (น้ำตกวิภาวดี) The petite waterfall enjoys bucolic surroundings and attracts a lot of local people during weekends.

Wat Khao Suwan Pradit (วัดเขาสุวรรณประดิษฐ์) This temple was founded by Luang Pho Choi, one of southern Thailand's most revered Buddhist ecclesiastics. The hilltop 45-metre pagoda contains Buddha relics and commands striking coastal views of Ban Don district.

Rock Fish Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ปลาหิน) This museum was established in 1992 by Mr. Kitti Sin-udom, an old fisherman who spent more than 10 years in stone carving work. More than 1,000 lifelike sculptures of marine fish found in the gulf of Thailand are on display.

Khao Sok National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติเขาสก) As part of the largest moist evergreen forest in Southern Thailand, the park is rich with diverse flora including certain families of lotus, white palm, and fern. Khao Sok is also one of the best bird-watching spots in Thailand. Attractions in the park include:

Ratchaprapha (Rajjaprabha) Dam - The complete of this dam in 1988 gave birth to a huge inland lake of about 168 square kilometres, which is adorned with hundreds of islands and islets

Tham Nam Thalu – Much preparation is needed to visit this cave, as the trail is rather physically demanding.

Tang Nam – Streams chiseled across 2 ridges to create this striking gorge. Many people came to pay respect to this place, around which the venerable Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's ashes were traditionally showered.

Namtok Than Sawan – This scenic waterfall is 3 kilometres from Tang Nam.

Namtok Sip Et Chan – This 11-leveled waterfall originates from Bang Len canal. The first level is largest and most picturesque.

San Yang Roi Trail – This 2-kilometre trail begins at the park headquarters and runs along the mountain shoulder past streams, waterfalls and moist evergreen forest. A trail to a rarely seen plant called Bua Phut at Bang Luk Chang Mountain.

Khlong Phanom National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติคลองพนม) comprises high limestone mountains connected with Khao Sok National Park. Attractions in the park include Kiriwong and Chong Yung waterfalls and several caves full of stalactites and stalagmites.

Kaeng Krung National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติแก่งกรุง) Its mountainous area is covered by fertile moist evergreen forests, where some rare and endangered species such as tree-ferns can be found. Attractions in the park include hot springs, Bang Hoi Waterfall and Khlong Pa Waterfall.

Tai Rom Yen National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติใต้ร่มเย็น) The 425 - square kilometre - forest areas in Kanchanadit, Ban Na San and Wiang Sa were designated National Park in 1991. The diluting mountains of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Range are mostly covered with moist evergreen forest and exotic and rare flora and fauna. Attractions in the park include:

Namtok Tat Fa – The perennial 13-leveled waterfall is highest in Surat Thani. The 4th level is most attractive with its 80 metres high cliff.

Tham Khamin or Tham Men – Exotic stalagmites and stalactites can be admired in this cave. The walkway is well lit and fit with stairs when needed, to ensure maximum safety.

San Yen – The eastern range, about 40 kilometres long and 1,000-1,300 metres high is fertile with rare flora, fauna and wildlife.

Namtok Mueang Thuat – The 7-leveled waterfall has a large basin.

Local Products[edit]

Rambutan

Salted Eggs: Ducks in Chaiya eat mollusk, crab and fish on the farm, which make their egg yolks particularly red. Eggs are covered with soil mixed with salty water and husk.

Oysters: Surat Thani's oysters are well known for their size, cleanliness, taste, and smell.

Rambutan: Rambutan here is probably the best in Thailand, thanks to its sweet taste, crisp meat, big size, small seeds, and thin peel.

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Agar, Charles; Eveland, Jennifer (2005). Frommer's Southeast Asia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7645-7829-8. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 9°8′0″N 99°19′54″E / 9.13333°N 99.33167°E / 9.13333; 99.33167