Surin Travel Guide
Introduction to Surin
Located in the Issan region of Thailand, Surin is a city and province best known for ‘elephant conservation’. Despite this, we have elected not to cover this aspect of this region’s identity in this guide.
Home to a park which claims to be saving elephants from begging in the cities, they are still made to give out ride to tourists and are shackled together, according to reports from travellers. For this reason, we don’t recommend visiting this attraction.
When in Surin, check out its temples and museums, many of which bear reminders of this area’s Khmer past, and its other interesting attractions, as they cut more to the ore of what this place is all about.
Cultural Attractions in Surin
Soon after arriving in town, spend time exploring the hallways of Surin National Museum. Here, you’ll learn everything you could possibly want about this Thai province in Issan, from geography to history to culture.
There are exhibits covering the history of rice farming in Surin, the time when this part of Thailand was under the thumb of the Khmers, the various ethnic groups which have inhabited the region over the centuries, and ones that show off handicrafts and explain the process of elephant husbandry.
Fans of Thai Buddhist temples will want to make sure to check out Wat Burapharam while they are in Surin. Built in the late 19th century, this place is best known for having been home to a famous forest monastery monk, Ajahn Dune Atulo.
Being visited by the Thai King and Queen in the 1970s only solidified his legacy – within a personal shrine, you’ll find a wax likeness of him, with his ashes and personal belongings. To this day, the wat continues to be known as a centre where mediation is practised – do not disturb anyone in the process of quieting their mind.
If you have time, go ahead and check out Wat Salaloy as well. A Buddhist temple which patterns itself after the Khmer style of building, this wat differentiates itself from its Thai cousins by the Khmer prang found at the top of this structure.
While there may not appear to be much special about this temple, this also means this place is quiet and peaceful when other spots elsewhere in Surin are busy. This will allow you to better appreciate of what makes a Buddhist temple special – stop by for a half hour, and slow down for a bit while you discover the small things that most people never notice.
Like other provinces in Issan, Surin has a ruined Khmer temple complex of its own. During your time in this province, make time in your schedule to check out Prasat Mueang Thi. While not as impressive as the ruins found in Burinam Province, their lesser known status means you get to enjoy them without having to tangle with the busloads of tourists present at the aforementioned sites.
Just be ready to present and leave ID with the Thai military patrol protecting the grounds – you’ll get it back when you leave.
Other Attractions in Surin
Surin is known throughout Thailand for its silk. Accordingly, it makes sense to drop by the Ban Tha Sawang Silk Weaving Village while you are in this Thai province. Over the years, this settlement has produced this soft fabric for the royal court, including for the present Queen of Thailand.
There is more to do here than just watch artisans spin silk thread into cloth – you’ll also get to see them dye them into numerous dazzling colours, and after, you’ll get a chance to buy the finished product at prices well below what you would pay in Bangkok.
Back in the city of Surin, make sure you take ten minutes to visit and take a picture of the City Pillar Shrine. Crafted in the late 1960s, this exquisitely carved pillar pays tribute to this city’s Cambodian heritage with its design.
During your time here, you may see city residents praying and making merit here – respect their presence when taking pictures. When in doubt, ask for permission before pressing the camera shutter.
If the concrete of the city centre of Surin starts to get to you, escape it by making your way out to Phanom Sawai Forest Park. Protecting three peaks which rise up to 210 metres above the surrounding landscape, it is a great place to go for a hike with the family, or by yourself.
Climb Yot Khao Ying, and you’ll find a sizable white Buddha image at the top surrounded by lush forests. Yot Khao Chai features a tranquil temple with a pond, while Yot Khao Kok hosts a pavilion visited by pilgrims who come to see what is purported to be a footprint of the Buddha. Situated 22 kilometres north of Surin, it is a perfect place to visit on a day trip from the city.
Looking to hang out with locals on the weekend? Follow them to Huai Saneng Lake. A reservoir created by an irrigation dam, it is lined by thatch-roofed chalets where you can sit with friends drinking and dining all day long. While the scenery is simple, it’s amazing how a pond, home-cooked Thai food, beer, and great company can turn a boring day into an eventful one.