With three days in Surat Thani, you have time to discover the natural wonders of Khao Sok National Park, take an island-hopping cruise, and experience local life in this quiet port town. Here’s how to do it.
Day 1: Eat, pray, swim
With most travelers only passing through en route to the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, Surat Thani remains a typically Thai town and is a good place to escape the crowds. Start by visiting the town’s temples, including Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine, the white and gold Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya, and the Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram monastery.
Spend the afternoon at Khanom Beach, far less crowded than nearby islands. Cool off with a swim in the ocean, relax with a cocktail, or watch the local fishermen. If you tire of the beach, check out Khao Wang Thong Cave and Samet Chun Waterfall.
Return to Surat Thani in the evening to wander the atmospheric night market. Browse the stalls for handicrafts (such as silk goods from nearby Phum Riang), and feast on street food.
Day 2: Explore Khao Sok National Park
Set aside a full day for Khao Sok National Park. Most tours begin with a longboat cruise or kayaking excursion around Cheow Lan Dam, a man-made lake framed by towering karst cliffs and flooded mangrove forests. Then for the most impressive views, head up to the mountaintop Guilin Viewpoint—or brave a walk on the Rope Bridge Heart Mountain, a 394-foot-long (120-meter-long) suspension bridge.
Afterward, hike the ancient rain forest, looking out for elusive flora and fauna. Clouded leopards, monkeys, elephants, and tapir are all possible sightings, as are Thailand’s gigantic Rafflesia flowers. Or, see gibbons and hornbills at the Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary.
Day 3: Set sail
Surat Thani is the gateway to some of Thailand’s most popular islands, and you can visit several of these on a day cruise. Close to shore and fringed with coral reefs and white sand, Koh Tan and Koh Madsum are ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Alternatively, choose a full-day island-hopping tour, setting out by speedboat to explore Angthong Marine Park. The sprawling archipelago contains around 45 islands blanketed with lush forests and dotted with dramatic cliffs, lagoons, and sea caves. Tours usually include lunch onboard, as well as multiple stops to swim and snorkel in the crystalline waters.