Surin's heritage is linked to
elephants, silk and the ruins of a Khmer empire. Suay, a tribe
of elephant catchers, were domiciled in the forested mountains
of this province bordering on Cambodia. Their skills at taming
and training elephants is demonstrated annually at the Elephant
Round-up which takes place during the third week of November.
Silk weaving is a traditional skill of the province while
several Khmer monuments provide the historical attractions.
The Bantad Mountains from Surin's southern border with Cambodia.
Surin is 45 km from Bangkok and 420 km by train. The province
cabers 8,124 square kilometers and has a population of 431,5000
Chiang Khan on the Laos border.
Surin Attractions: Ban Ta Klang, in
Tha Tum district, 58 km from Surin, off Highway 214, is known
as the Elephant Village. Elephant that perform in the annual
round-up are resident here, living with their mahouts. Most
of the villagers are from the Suay tribe, who have their own
dialect and customs. They have been associated with elephants
for centuries, training them to perform rather than work in
the forests as was the case with elephants in northern Thailand.
The stars of Surin's Elephant Round-up learn their routines
here. A museum and elephant educational centre at the village
documents the history of elephants, the traditional round-up
and their training. An elephant show is held every Saturday
from 0930 to 1100. Admission is Bt100 per person.
Phraya Surin Phakdi Si Narong Chang Wang, a monument
to Surin's first ruler, stands in the southern part of town.
Constructed in 1984, the 2.2 metre-high bronze statue shows
Phraya Surin in full battle dress, carrying a mahout's hook
in his right hand and a pair of swords tucked into his belt.
It reminds visitors of Surin's strategic role as a source
of elephants trained for war.
Prasat Muang Thi was built by Phraya Surin at the site
of the original town, 16 km from present day Surin. The site
originally had five prangs of which only three remain.
Ban Khao Sinarin, once famous for its hand-woven cloth,
is now noted for its silver ornaments. The village is about
20 km from Surin on Highway 214. Artisans in nearby Ban Chok
also specialise in silver products.
Ban Buthum, a centre of basket weaving, is located
12 km from Surin on Highway 2080. About 70 households in the
village produce rattan baskets.
Prasat Sikhoraphum consists of five prangs, the principal
one reaching a height of 32 metres. The Khmer ruins are noted
for their carvings of Hindu deities on the lintel and doorways
of the main prang. The site is 34 km northeast of Surin Huai
Saneng reservoir, 9 km from town, has been turned into a recreation
are with accommodation.
Phanom Swai Park, 22 km from Surin, features two Buddha
images and a replica of a Buddha footprint and occupy prominent
positions on a small hill.
Prasat Hin Ban Pluang, a Khmer sanctary, is 30 km south
of Surin. The sandstone structure is noted for its beautifully
Prasat Phumipone is the oldest Khmer prang in Surin.
The brick tower, resting on a square literate foundation,
dates from the 7th centruy, the earliest period of Khmer art
found in the Northeast. It is located 10 km from Sangkha district.
Round-up introduced in 1960, is one of Thailand's best-known
festivals, attraction 40,000 tourists during the third weekend
of November. Approximately 200 elephants descend on the town
to take part in races, soccer games, colorful processions
and other circus-style tricks. The town's hotels are full
and the streets take on a carnival atmosphere in contrast
to its quite disposition for the remainder of the year.