Surin Province, in the heart of Isan, isn't a very well-known tourist destination but is definitely worth a visit, especially during the annual Elephant Roundup in November.
What to Expect:
Surin, in the heart of Thailand's agricultural heart, is a mostly rural province with some small cities and towns. Most tourists who visit Surin are Thais from other parts of the country and the level of spoken English is low. Don't be put off by that fact, though, as there's a friendly, country vibe in Isan you won't find in more touristy parts of the country. Even without a common language you may find traveling in Surin easy and fun!
Where to Stay:
Surin has a handful of hotels and resorts in the center of the city and on the outskirts. Central hotels, mostly near the bus station, cater to backpackers and are as cheap as $10 per night. On the outskirts are some resorts that cater to Thai tourists. These tend to be nicer and will cost from $20 per night.
Getting to Surin:
By bus: There are daily buses from Bangkok (7 hours).
By train: There are ten trains a day from Bangkok to Surin. The journey takes about 7 hours and costs between $7 and $14 each way.
Getting Around Surin:
Though you can get around the center of Surin on foot, the best way to go longer distances is to take a samlor (pedal-powered rickshaw). Taxis are very limited so if you will need transport while visiting the province consider renting a car.
The Surin Elephant Roundup:
The Elephant Roundup
takes place every year in the city of Surin. The main event, a half-day show featuring dozens of elephants playing soccer, doing tricks and even reenacting historical events, takes place in Surin's sports stadium but there are also dozens of elephant trainers who come to the city with their elephants to offer rides and hang out.