Surin is world-famous for the Elephant Roundup and for its many Khmer sanctuaries, wide variety of handicrafts, its silk, its rich cultures and its first ruler, Phraya Surin Phakdi Si Narong Wang, from whom the town got its name. Phra Surin, a member of the Suay tribe, became leader in 1760 when he was instrumental in recapturing an escaped royal white elephant, as legend goes.
The province is separated from neighboring Cambodia by the Banthat Mountains. During the 1970s, the period of Khmer Rouge terrorization, thousands of Cambodian refugees crossed into Surin and took up residence alongside already established Laotian refugees, Thais, and Suay tribespeople. Though many refugees have been repatriated, some opted to remain. Surin is 457 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of 8,124 square kilometres.
Wat Buraparam , the city's principal temple, houses the sacred Luang Phor Phra Chi, an ancient Buddha image highly revered by the townspeople and considered the most holiest item of the town.
The complex of the Sri Khorn Phum Sanctuary (Ban Rangaa Sanctuary) consist of five 13th century, Khmer-style brick prangs built on one platform, with the main prang being centrally located and the other prangs occupying each of the 4 corners. All 5 share the similar feature of having only one, single entrances facing east. The Ban Pluang Stone Sanctuary , though smaller in size, features beautifully intricate stone carvings, estimated to have been built during the12th-13th century, by King Chai Woramun I of the Khmer Empire.
The Suay tribespeople inhabit the Ban Ta Klang, or Elephant Village , the primary training site for the annual provincial show, for the Suays are skillful in capturing and training wild elephants. The Suays are believed to have migrated to Thailand from Central Asia in the early 9th century and were the first people to use elephants for construction work, particularly building Khmer temples.
The Kawao Sinrin Village is renowned for their local woven silk products and the production of silver and golden beads, the ‘look pakuam', used for decorative purposes. The neighboring villages of Ban Choke, Ban Sador, and Ban Chanrom also produce silver products, woven silk fabrics, and basketry.
The 625 rai of the Two-Leaves Pine Tree Preservation Area was a project initiated by the Thai-Danish governments to preserve these high-quality trees that grows in an elevated plateau. They are unique for they are the only two-leaved pine trees to grow in an arid plateau like this in Thailand.
Phraya Surin Phakdi Si Narong Changwang (Pum) Monument is dedicated to the first lord of the city. It is located at the southern entrance to the city in the area where the city's inner wall once stood. It was built in 1968.
Wat Burapharam is on Krung Si Nai Road near the provincial hall. It houses Luang Pho Phra Chi, a sacred Buddha image of the city. This old image was built during the Thon Buri period at the same time Surin was founded.
Huai Saneng is a reservoir popular with locals who seek relaxation. It is 5 kilometres from Amphoe Prasat.
Phanom Sawai Forest Park is 14 kilometres away on the way to Amphoe Prasat and 6 kilometres on a road on the right. The park comprises 3 peaks and a large Buddha image in the meditation posture. The view from the top is quite spectacular.
Ban Buthom Basketry Village is at Tambon Muang Thi on the Surin-Si Khoraphum Road at the 14-15-km. marker. When villagers are not harvesting, they make basketry from rattan to sell as household items and souvenirs.
Prasat Mueang Thi is 16 kilometres from Surin on the way to Si Khoraphum on Highway No. 226. Three, square brick pagodas were part of five on the same base.
Silverware and Silk Villages can be reached by taking the Surin-Chom Phra Road (Highway No. 214) to the 14-15-km markers, then 4 kilometres to the right. The villages of Ban Khawao Sinnarin, Ban Chok and Ban Sado are all nearby one another. The beautiful silverware and silk products made here are sold to shops and tourists.
In addition, Chan Rom village at the 9-km marker on the Surin-Sangkha Highway cultivates Indian mulberries for silkworms that are then used to produce ancient-style silk designs and colors. Basketry is also made here.
Ban Phlai Sanctuary is at Tambon Chua Phloeng, 10 kilometres from the district office. This Khmer religious site consists of 3 brick buildings on the same laterite base with a moat surrounding them. The buildings were built around the 11 th century.
Ban Prasat Sanctuary is at Tambon Phlai, 5 kilometres from the district office on the way to Surin. The only remaining structure is the laterite wall and ancient pool, which is to the east of the site.
Ban Phluang sanctuary is at the 32-km marker on the Surin-Prasat-Kap Choeng Road. It was built around the 11 th -12 th century. This small sanctuary has very detailed designs. The site is comprised of 4 pagodas on a rectangular laterite base. Each pagoda is square and made of sandstone with floral and human figure designs.
Ta Muan sanctuary is 12 kilometres from Ban Ta Miang on Highway No. 214 on the Thai-Cambodian border. Prasat Ta Muan Tot has a square base made of sandstone, similar to those at Ban Phluang. Prasat Ta Muan Thom is 200 metres from Ta Muan Tot sanctuary. Situated near a stream, it consists of 3 pagodas with floral and idol designs. There are also 2 laterite buildings and a pool beyond them.
Si Khoraphum sanctuary in Tambon Ra-ngaeng is at the 34-35-km marker on Highway No. 226. It consists of 5 pagodas on the same base, each being about 30 metres high. Designs adorn the door columns and lintels. The site was built around the 12 th century.
Ban Chang Pi sanctuary, a Khmer structure built of laterite, is 12 kilometres from the district office.
Pine Conservation Area at Tambon Chok Nua is 35 kilometres from Surin town on the Surin-Sangkha Road. The forest here has plenty of pine trees on level land. This is unusual because these pines normally grow on high ground and in a cooler climate.
Tapiang Tia Sanctuary is at Tambon Chok Nua on Highway No. 2077. The brick structure has 5 tops and is of Laotian architecture.
Phumipon sanctuary is at Tambon Dom, 10 kilometres from the district office on the Sangkha-Buachet Road. This is one of the oldest Khmer sanctuaries in the Northeast and was built around the 7 th - 8 th century.
Yai Ngao sanctuary is a Khmer sanctuary beside Highway No. 24, 4 kilometres from the district office.
Chom Phra sanctuary is another Khmer sanctuary beside Highway No. 214, 26 kilometres from Surin town.
Elephant village at Ban Ta Klang on Highway No. 214 (Chom Phra-Ta Tum) can be reached by going to the 36-km marker and left for 22 kilometres. The locals here are called the Suai people. They are skilled in capturing, training and raising elephants. An elephant museum here displays a complete elephant skeleton, its organs, tools used to capture elephants, elephant-raising techniques, and the history and development of Surin elephants.
Surin Elephant Roundup is held in the middle weekend of November. Visitors from around the world flock to see this grand event. Shows include capturing elephants, a tug-of-war between elephant and men, an elephant soccer match, elephant dances, a parade, elephants at war, and cultural performances.
Hotels and accommodation
- Amarin : 235 Thetsabon 1 Road Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1328] : 130-180 baht
- Erawan : 370 Krung Si Nai Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1328] : 80-150 baht
- Krung Si : 185 Krung Si Nai Road, In front of Clock Tower Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1037 Fax: 0 4451 3137] : 120-280 baht
- Leela-Crab Guest House : 189/3 Patthamanon Road, Near Tha Tum Hospital Amphoe Tha Tum [0 4459 1418 Fax: 0 4459 1418]
- Memorial : 646 Lak Muang Road Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1288] : 240-480 baht
- New Hotel : 6-8 Thanasan Road, Near Surin Railway Station Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1341, 0 4451 1322] : 180-750 baht
- Nid Diao Hotel : 279-281 Thanasan Road Amphoe Muang [0 4451 2009, 0 4451 2099 Fax: 0 4451 4329] : 180-500 baht
- Nimit Thong : 84 Damrongrak Road (North of Railway Station) Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1186] : 50-100 baht Petchkasem Hotel : 104 Jitbumrung Road, Amphoe Muang [(66 44) 511-274]
- Phetkasem : 104 Chit Bamrung Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1274, 0 4451 1740 Fax: 0 4451 4041] : 800-3,500 baht
- Phirom Guest House : 242 Krung Si Nai Road, Near Thetsaban 3 School Amphoe Muang [0 4451 5140] : 60-100 baht
- Thong Tharin : 60 Sirirat Amphoe Muang [0 4451 4281-8 Fax: 0 4451 1580] : 1,000-6,000 baht
- Ubon : 156 Thanasan Road Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1133] : 60-100 baht
- Local Cuisine
- Lao Ja : 579 Tesabal 2 Rd., Tel: 0-4451-2354
- Nga Chang : Kotchasan Rd., Tel: 0-4451-3179
- Pa Tee : 40-42 Tesabal 1 Rd., Tel: 0-4451-1682, 0-4451-1588
- Phetkasem Cafe : Jit Bumrung Rd. (in front of Phetkasem Hotel)
- Surindra : Memorial Hotel, 646 Lak Muang Rd., Tel: 0-4451-1288
- Wang Phet : Phetkasem Hotel, 104 Jit Bumrung Rd., Tel: 0-4451-1274
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, then use Highway No.226 to Surin via Buri Ram, a total distance of 457 kilometres.
* By bus
Buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Surin every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information
* By train
Regular trains depart from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Surin every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.