Surin is the capital of Surin Province. Its population is small, approximately 40,000, but the province itself is densely populated. It is about 450 km east of Bangkok and 50 km from the Cambodian border. A quiet town, its one claim to fame is its annual Elephant Roundup, which takes place in November (book a room in advance). Surin is well-known for its elephants. Surin’s people have a long relationship with elephants and they have become the provincial icon. Throw in plenty of Khmer ruins, beautiful silk, and aromatic jasmine rice and they all make Surin an interesting destination.
Surin is not the most picturesque spot on the earth, but it does have a few, small attractions.
- Surin National Museum – has exhibits relating to the geography, history and ethnic groups of Surin. The museum is located about four km south of the city along Rt 214. There is nothing to see along the road, and given the speed of cars and the lack of a sidewalk, walking is not recommended. The pink songthaew from the city will take you to the museum for 10 baht, or use a tuk-tuk/samlor. The National Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, 0900 – 1600.
- Silk Village
- Statue of the founder of Surin
- Wats (Temples) – Surin has several.
- Elephant training village – at Tha Tum, about 60 km away.
The Elephant Roundup is a three-day long event where elephants roam the streets of Surin and perform in various activities: soccer, beauty contests, battle reenactments, etc.
Khmer-era temples stretch from the border westwards to Buriram Province.
- Prasat Ta Meuan – a complex of three structures built in the 12th–13th centuries around the time of the Cambodian king Jayavarman VII. The largest building is Prasat Ta Meuan Thom. It is surrounded by an outer wall, and contains a large central, rectangular building on a north-south axis. To the south is Prasat Ta Meuan Toht, a smaller structure, with an outer wall. The last and smallest of three is Prasat Ta Meuan, a small building with no wall, approx 15m x 5m in size. All of these buildings show signs of disrepair and looting. A return journey by taxi to the complex will cost you 2000 baht (April 2007). There are occasional excursion buses, when there is sufficient interest. Check with your hotel or travel agent. There is no on-site English language assistance, nor much information about the complex. There may still be unexploded land mines from the days of the Khmer Rouge. Stay on the paths and do not wander into the surrounding jungle. Entry is free.
- Prasat Sikhoraphum – a set of temple ruins in a quiet surroundings, can be reached by bus or train (30 km, 1 hour plus)
- Prasat Hin Phluang – a collection of several minor ruins near the Cambodian border; private transport (watch out for landmines!)
- Prasat Phumpon – a small and jumbled collection of ruins (60 km)
Surin has a fantastic night market. Be sure to try the Isaan sausage and Lao-style flattened chicken (gai yang).
In addition to the night market, Surin is liberally endowed with small restaurants, and street vendors. Also the major hotels have reasonably priced menus.
Surin is not overly well endowed with watering holes but there are a few places where one’s palate, and appetite can be quenched.
Most places are located near the Thong Tarin Hotel. Adjacent to the hotel are two streets lined with small bars, small restaurants, karaoke bars, and go-go bars. The larger hotels also have bars and restaurants. There are also several restaurants managed or owned by expats scattered around town. The largest is the ‘Farang Connection’, followed by the ‘Oasis’ and N & N’s German restaurant, all near the bus station.