Introduction

The name literally means "city of the good people" and is the former seat of the Sivichaya Empire. It is the largest and most important province of the South, located 644 kms. from Bangkok. It occupies an area of 12,891.5 square kilometers bordering on Chumphon and the Gulf of Thailand to the north,  Nakhon Si Thammarat and Krabi to the south, Phangnga and Ranong to the west and the Gulf of Thailand and Nakhon Si Thammarat to the east.
 

Surat Thani once formed part, and may have been the center of the Mahayana Buddhist, Srivijaya Empire which, steeped in legend and mystery, dominated the Malay peninsula and much of Java some 1,500 years ago. Srivijaya was best described by the itinerant Chinese monk I Ching after a pilgrimage he made to India during the late 600s. Archaeological discoveries at Chaiya indicate the former empire's splendor.

Geographic
characteristics of Surat Thani are high plateau and mountains covered with valuable wood forest to the west and low basins in the central and eastern seashore area. There are a tremendous number of islands along the coast and two major rivers: the Tapi River and Phum Duang River. It is administratively divided into 18 Amphoes and 1 King Amphoe i.e., Amphoe Muang, Ban Na San, Ban Ta Khun, Chaiya, Don Sak, Kanchanadit, Khian Sa, Khiri Ratthanikhom, Koh Phangna, Koh Samui, Phanom, Phrasaeng, Phunphin, Tha Chana, Tha Chang, Wiang Sa, Ban Na Doem, Chai Buri and King
Amphoe Wiphawadi.

Festivals & Events

Rambutan Fair
This annual fair is held in August. The first rambutan tree was planted in Surat Thani in 1926, and this fair celebrates the delicious fruit, which now grows widely in the area. Highlights include exhibitions of local products and ornamental plants, floats adorned with rambutan and other fruits, and demonstrations of trained monkeys who harvest coconuts.

Chak Phra Festival
This festival is held in October every year. Surat Thani celebrates the official end of the annual 3-month Buddhist Rains retreat (Phansa) with the Chak Phra Festival (literally the procession of hauling the Buddha image'). The tradition stems from the belief that the Buddha ascended to Heaven during Phansa to preach to his mother. The festival marks the Buddha's return to Earth, and is an occasion for religious merit-making and general celebrations. Local people organize dazzling land and waterborne processions of revered Buddha images (to symbolize the Buddha's return to Earth) and boat races on the Tapi River where long boats, each manned by up to 50 oarsmen, are ebulliently raced. Religious devotion, spectacle and merriment combine to make Surat Thani's Chak Phra Festival a memorable annual event.

Information provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand

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