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Whether you're returning to Bangkok from Suratthani because it's time to head home or you've still got lots more Thai traveling to look forward to, booking bus tickets in advance is the best way not to get stuck down south.
Either way, Thailand's capital holds some of the country's most beautiful Buddhist temples, such as Wat Pho and Wat Arun, and palatial properties, including the 18th century Grand Palace. An overnight bus ride to Bangkok eases you into the experience and gives you time to rest in readiness to explore one of the world's most exciting cities.
The 641 kilometer (398 mile) bus ride from Suratthani to Bangkok usually takes 10 hours so you'll have plenty of time to flick through your photos of Koh Samui (the closest island to Suratthani) as you compare tan lines with fellow travelers.
As buses tend to leave the port city in the early evening you'll be traveling in the dark. This not only offers an efficient and comfortable mode of transport but also saves on a night's accommodation that you'd otherwise have to fork out for.
Buses are rated as Express, Tourist and VIP, but it's worth pointing out that seats only recline 60% so think comfy seat rather than laying flat out. All buses include air conditioning (and blankets), onboard bathrooms and the majority will feature a selection of snacks and drinks to purchase.
If you really want to be prepared, and if you've got time, it's well worth buying your own food and drinks for the journey at one of Suratthani's riverside markets. Also, be aware that this type of journey isn't going to be in silence so packing ear plugs, and a black out sleeper mask, can be a real lifesaver if you're hoping to catch up on some well-earned sleep.
It's going to be pretty dark outside apart from when you're whizzing past a roadside night market or entering the suburbs of the city. VIP buses will also stop for an extended meal break mid-way through the trip. Tourist and Express buses will make rest and toilet stops too. Mingling with bleary eyed travelers as you get off the bus and stretch your legs is part and parcel of the overland traveling experience. You'll either love it or endure it but you won't forget it.
As you get closer to Bangkok the sun will rise and you'll see small roadside villages starting to wake up with local Thais getting ready for work and kids waving to the bus on their way to school. Entering the outskirts of Bangkok you'll pass densely populated suburbs as a constant cacophony of traffic accompanies your approach to the glittering temples and tuk tuk-filled streets of Thailand's capital city. The complete contrast from the peaceful country scenes and exotic offshore islands close to Suratthani, can be bewildering but there's something about Bangkok that never fails to capture the imagination. So aim to stay awhile in Bangkok before heading off on your next adventure.
The fastest way to get from Suratthani to Bangkok is with Sri Suthep's Tourist Bus. The bus ride takes approximately 9 hours and costs from $21.
The cheapest way to get from Suratthani to Bangkok is with Choke Anan Tour's Express Bus which costs just $19 and takes approximately 10 hours in total.
The most popular way to get from Suratthani to Bangkok is with Choke Anan Tour’s VIP Bus. The journey takes approximately 10 hours and costs $26.
The most luxurious way to travel from Suratthani to Bangkok is by VIP sleeper bus which has a maximum passenger capacity of 32 people. Air conditioning (complimentary blankets included), seats that recline to 60% and onboard bathrooms make for a comfortable journey back to Bangkok. A selection of snacks and drinks are also available to buy onboard the bus and an extended stop for food (included in the price) offers a good chance to stretch your legs half way through the journey.
You'll find VIP buses are a slightly better standard than Express and Tourist equivalents but all overnight bus rides from Suratthani to Bangkok take around 10 hours. Express and Tourist buses also have onboard bathrooms, reclining seats and a small selection of food and drink to purchase. Express and Tourist buses are also air conditioned but won't come with a free blanket. A top tip is to dig out your coziest sweater to keep warm during the journey.
No matter which class of bus you're taking back to Bangkok, all depart from Suratthani Bus Terminal. Travelers are requested to arrive at least 30 minutes before leaving and to book tickets in advance so as to avoid a lengthy wait. Buses in high season, especially, and after Full Moon parties on Koh Pha Ngan island can get booked up very quickly.
There are around 10 bus departures leaving from Suratthani to Bangkok each day.