Surat Thani (City of the Good People) is the largest of the southern provinces, located on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. You will sense a different atmosphere in Surat Thani than many of the other cities, as the populace are used to seeing foreigners and won’t really bother trying to sell you something. Most travelers are just passing through on their way to or from the islands as there are no real attractions within the city. There are, however, several first-rate restaurants and bars but unless you are planning on staying a few days you will miss them. There are several Buddhist as well as Chinese temples and to the north is the Roman Catholic St. Raphael Cathedral, in reality a small wooden church.
A fashionable place for a picnic, as well as for sports, is Ko Lamphu, a small island on the river Tapi, connected by a bridge at the city pillar shrine. There is a nice promenade on the river front and in the evenings some food stalls there.
60 km north of Surat Thani is a small town called Chaiya, which gives a good representation of what small town life used to be like in Southern Thailand. It is one of the oldest towns in Thailand - dating to the 8th and 10th centuries during the Srivijaya Empire.
At the Rajjaprabha Dam there is a beautiful view point which looks out onto the reservoir and the circle of limestone mountains surrounding it. Accommodation can be booked in a raft house out on the reservoir or in hotels near the view point.
The numerous islands along the coast make Surat Thani the perfect gateway to the islands of Thailand's eastern coast: Ko Samui is a backpacker’s delight moving up-market, Koh Tao perfect for scuba diving, Ko Pha Ngan infamous for its Full Moon Parties and also the natural beauty of the Khao Sok National Park. There is also the stunning Ang Thong Marine National Park, with its astonishingly beautiful beaches spectacular scenery and colorful coral reefs. The best time to enjoy one of these islands to the fullest is from April to November.