Best known for its much-hyped annual elephant round-up, the provincial capital of SURIN, around 150km east of Khorat, is an otherwise typical northeastern town, a reasonably comfortable place to absorb the easy-going pace of Isaan life. There’s a handful of good, mid-range hotels in the centre and, as a bonus, there are some fantastic Khmer ruins nearby. Many pass through the city on their way to the village of Ban Tha Sawang, 7km away, where Thailand’s most exclusive silk is produced.
Surin’s elephant tie-in comes from the local Suay people, whose prowess with pachyderms is well known and can sometimes be seen first-hand in the nearby village of Ban Ta Klang. Thais, Lao and Khmers make up the remainder of the population of Surin province; the Khmers have lived and worked in the region for over a thousand years, and their architectural legacy is still in evidence at the ruined temples of Ta Muean and Ban Pluang. For the twenty-first-century traveller, there’s overland access between Thailand and Cambodia via Surin province’s Chong Chom checkpoint near Kap Choeng.