- Encounters with locals
There isn't much to say about Surat Thani, except that it's the port of departure for the superb islands of Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui. I went there during my trip to Thailand precisely for the purpose of traveling to the island of Ko Pha Ngan out in the Gulf of Thailand.
Basically, and with the exception of catching the boat, a train or a bus (Surat Thani is also a major road transport hub), there really is nothing to do in this port city. It is therefore essential to find out about departure times beforehand so that you don't have to spend any more time than necessary there. As for sleeping over in the city, there really isn't a large choice of accommodation anyway.
To summarize, you should only visit Surat Thani as a stopover en route to somewhere else and you should try to ensure you spend as little time as possible there.