Like a lot of other people, we feel a special affinity for elephants so it was natural that we would want to visit what many consider the epicenter of elephant activity in Thailand; the small city of Surin. Surin city is the capital of Surin province and is located in northeast region of Thailand known as Isaan; not far from the border with Cambodia.
Anyone that has spent any time on this website knows that along with our interest in elephants that hand woven textiles is another passion we feed in Southeast Asia and as it turns out, some of the most important weaving villages including Ban Tha Sawang in Thailand are located very close to Surin. In fact, on a previous tour of the Isaan provinces that was largely devoted to visiting weaving villages, we toured villages within about 15 miles of Surin city.
It is possible to fly, take the train or take a bus from Bangkok to Surin. We timed our trip to be able to attend the annual Surin Elephant Round-up, which typically falls over a weekend in mid-November. We also planned on touring some of the nearby weaving villages and ancient ruins while we were there and due to the Elephant Roundup had some concerns about the availability of local transportation once we got there so we decided to hire a minivan for the 5 ½ hour drive and to keep it with us for the entire visit. And we enjoyed the added advantage of our driver and his friend serve as defacto guide and food consultants for trip.
There aren’t a lot of hotel options in Surin but while we were there we stayed at the Maneerote Hotel Surin. It is what I would consider a business hotel; clean, reasonably comfortable and with decent service. Breakfast was OK…not great but certainly acceptable especially considering the very reasonable room cost, which didn’t seem inflated for the festival week-end. While we had our own transportation, the hotel offered a shuttle service to the various activities associated with the Elephant Roundup and also purchased our performance show tickets for us.
If you are thinking of staying there, you should be aware that we booked the room through Expedia and unless they’ve changed it since then, the listing there incorrectly indicates that the twin room includes only 1 bed. When we tried to confirm that detail with Expedia, they attempted to call the hotel several times (from their offices in the Philippines) but were unable to find anyone at the hotel who could speak a common language. Fortunately, we have friends in Thailand who were able to confirm the twin room did have 2 beds as expected.
Click on the following links for additional information about the food and restaurants we enjoyed on this trip and events associated with the 2016 Surin Elephant Roundup.