Surat Thani is southern Thailand’s largest province, covering almost 13,000 sq. kms., including the region of the Gulf of Thailand that contains its most famous beach resorts, on the islands of Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao. This province lies 644 kms. south of Bangkok, and most visitors arriving by bus or train head on to the islands by ferry from here or the nearby Don Sak Pier. The provincial capital of Surat Thani rose to importance during the Srivijaya period (7th -13th centuries) because of its strategic position at the mouth of the Tapi and Phum Duang Rivers. These days its port is important for the trade in rubber and coconuts.