7 Awesome Things To Do in Suriname

7 Awesome Things To Do in Suriname

Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor South America & Antarctica, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 44 Comments

You probably haven’t heard of this country called SURINAME.

It is one of the 3 Guianas: Suriname (which is the Dutch Guiana) is cradled in between the (British) Guyana on its west side, and the French Guiana on its east border. The Guianas lie along the Caribbean-Atlantic coast and are situated north of Brazil in South America. While all these countries are delineated by their political borders, they all geographically share the Amazon Rainforest and its river systems. And being part of the largest rainforest and the river with the largest drainage area on Earth, all of them have natural reserves protecting wildlife and the environment. (Related Article: Guide on Finding Cheap Flights from Manila to South America)

Suriname

Source: World Atlas

At different points in its history, the British and the Dutch Empires contested for its rich soil and established plantation colonies, until it separated from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to become an independent state on November 25, 1975. With its colonial past, Suriname is a melting pot of culture and ethnic diversity. Sharing the land are Hindustan, Creole, Indonesian, Maroon, Amerindian, Lebanese, Chinese and Dutch people co-existing in peace and harmony.

Would you believe Filipinos too have been helping its economy since the 1970’s, building its roads and bridges, manning precious metals and oil reserves, providing health care, and have been steadily calling Suriname their second home. (You might wonder how I discovered this uncommon work destination and made it my home away from home, but I will write a separate article on this.) To see a synagogue next to a mosque, Christian churches next to Hindu temples, where the streets are alive with the colors of multiculturalism, makes this smallest country in South America one of the most interesting countries in the world.7 Awesome Things To Do in Suriname With this geographical-political picture in mind, you would definitely know what to expect when you find yourself in Suriname. But just because it is relatively unknown, it doesn’t mean there are no awesome things to do in this emerald country. So if you happen to put South America in your itinerary and include Suriname as your travel destination, let me entice you with these

7 Awesome Things To Do in Suriname

1. Be lost in the streets of Paramaribo’s Inner City

Find yourself immersed in the colonial history of Suriname. With only a map in your hand to guide your way, walk along the bank of Suriname River at the Waterkant, follow the rows of buildings with characteristic Dutch architecture fused with traditional local techniques and materials most of which are woods and bricks, towards Independence Square where the Presidential Palace and Ministry of Finance with its classical portico and clock tower are found. Nearby are Fort Zeelandia which defended the old city in the past, Palmentuin, a large garden lined by tall palm trees and the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul, the biggest wooden structure in the Western Hemisphere.

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

The Central Bank along the Waterkant is featured on the Suriname Dollar

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskathedraal, all made of wood

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

The Presidential Palace in Independence Square 

Why this is Awesome: The Inner City of Paramaribo is a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. Although entry to historic museums charges 15-20 SRD, it is all worth it, while the rest of the walkthrough tour is absolutely free, and done in your own leisurely pace. PRECAUTION: Always have with you water as long walks can get you dehydrated especially during the dry seasons (Aug-Nov and Feb-Apr).

2. Meet and greet the fauna and flora

Be introduced to the other local residents of this country aside from the humans of course. See dolphins majestically swim along the Atlantic coast, or stay wide awake at midnight to the early morning hours to witness how endangered sea turtles build their nests and lay eggs in the sands, or be awed by newly hatched baby sea turtles scurrying towards the open sea to continue with the circle of life. Momentarily slow down your pace as you keep up with the sloths in the dense Amazon Jungle. Look up the thick green foliage and witness the play of colorful feathers of the macaws in their natural habitat. If you are brave enough, see how fierce piranhas really are, or if you could maintain eye contact with the caymans. Two ways to see wildlife: (1) arrange for wildlife tours. Typical prices from 50-100 SRD per person, some tours are seasonal (2) or do volunteer works for conservation projects of the WORLD WILDLIFE FUND (WWF) in the Guianas.

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

The Do’s and Don’ts of Sea Turtle watching

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

Silently watching a sea turtle (illuminated by the red light) laying her eggs in the dark of night

Why this is Awesome: You will get to see wildlife roaming free in their natural habitat, and not in those cooped up zoos. Plus learning about wildlife and environment preservation is an awesome way to help Mother Earth. PRECAUTION: Maintain ample distance from wildlife so as not to disturb them, as well as for your safety.

3. Run for your life 

Keep a healthy outlook of things. Annually, to celebrate Independence Day, full and half marathons are organized, as well as monthly fun runs organized by different private companies. There are also duathlon (cycling with marathon) events. These races are well attended by international athletes (Guyanese are among the fastest runners) from the Caribbean and South American regions, but you don’t need to outrun them to win. You win by outrunning yourself. Registration for these races ranges from 20-100 SRD. This year, celebrating Suriname’s 40th year of independence, the 12th Srefidensi Marathon is special and will be held on Nov 21, 2015, Saturday. More information is found at surinamemarathon.org

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

At the starting line

Why this is Awesome. What better way to stay fit while on tour than by joining these races, while also making friends with international participants and spreading World Peace. PRECAUTION: Your mind and body should be conditioned to last and finish the race.

4. Join in the festivities celebrating unity in diversity

The Surinaamse people sure know how to celebrate their identity as different ethnic groups in one, unified nation. Wear white shirts and shower with brightly colored powders during the Hindu celebration of Holi Phagwa in March. There is Wandelmars (Four Day March) during Easter, which is considered as their version of Mardi Gras, where every ethnic group participates in their most colorful traditional costumes dancing through the streets as they march. There is Keti-koti every July commemorating the abolishment of slavery, setting the Maroon (Black people) finally free, Surifesta and Owru Yari (Old to New), the grandest celebration of all, during the last week of the last month of the year giving way to the coming New Year, when street parties are endless and when Pagara’s (their version of sinturon ni hudas, only it is a street block long) are lighted to get rid of the bad energies of the old year. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfXgOvGsWRs]

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

Holi Phagwa

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

Keti-koti

Why this is Awesome: You get to really be part of the celebration, from dancing to the lively beats of the local music, to wearing their traditional costumes. You will be joined by hundreds of foreign tourists who flew in just to experience these cultural events. PRECAUTION: The streets can really get crowded but nonetheless fun!

5. Party more! Surinamer/ Surinamese style!

While item #4 are scheduled cultural events, every day in Suriname can be enough reason to party! Clubs like Euphoria, Havana Lounge and Club Touche are always fully packed every night. These night spots offer promos like Ladies Night, themed events like Cuban Nights, foreign acts like DJs, bands, singers are invited to get you partying for more. Big hotels, too, have their nightly party events, so check for schedules in the hotel you will be staying in. And when somebody you really know invite you to party in a moving bus, as long as you are at ease with that person, hop in and party on while the bus tours around the streets of Paramaribo.

party bus! #party_animal #drive #mobile #party #partytime #partyhard   A video posted by Miguel Rogali (@survivormate) on Jul 10, 2015 at 3:33pm PDT

Why this is Awesome: With upbeat music, voyeuristic lightings and exotic-erotic, Surinaamse dance moves, you will be in for a new clubbing experience. Plus the Party Bus takes you under the night sky around the streets, where people walking, looking on and wishing they were riding and partying with you.

PRECAUTION: You may not be used to body contacts but this is how they party in Suriname.

6. Eat and be merry

Because of the ethnic diversity, and the surge of foreign expats and tourists, there is a smorgasbord of cuisine to choose from. Surinamese cuisine combines Indian, African, Javanese (Indonesian) Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and Amerindian cuisines. International cuisines are also found in here: Italian, Japanese, Korean, French, American, and even Filipino cuisine has finally found a spot in the menu, when the first Pinoy resto-bar, Flavours, was opened recently by entrepreneuring Pinoy Nurses. Flavours Restobar and Grill is located at Kwattaweg 325, Paramaribo

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

Surinamese Chicken

Why this is Awesome: Food replenishes and sustains you during your travel so be sure to eat well to keep you going. While international cuisines maybe more familiar to your taste buds, you also got to taste the traditional dishes born out of the blending of cultures.

PRECAUTION: Be sure to specify NOT to put pepper on your order, otherwise your mouth will be smoking hot because they put pepper automatically, it can really get VERY spicy!

7. Go Into the Woods

Be one with the Universe. Arrange for a tour in the binnenland (interior) of Suriname where the jungles are, stay in for a few days to live the rustic village ways. Be an adventurer and discover the raw beauty of nature. Go kayaking upstream, hike through the wooded trails, bathe in the sula (waterfalls) and marvel at the vastness of the rainforest and its biodiversity. Be friendly with the locals while being mindful of their culture, sample their delicacies prepared the traditional ways, and observe their inherent customs. For a 3-4 day tour staying in a village resort costs 700-1000 SRD per person.

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

A close encounter with a local resident, a scarlet macaw

7 Awesome Things to do in Suriname

Tapawatra Sula in Djoemoe the village where I work 

Why this is Awesome: Away from the fast-paced city living, you will get a natural high breathing in fresh, forest air. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve has been designated a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE for its unspoiled forests and biodiversity. And because there are no city lights blurring the night sky, the stars and constellations are easily identified, and if you are lucky, there may be meteor showers (Perseids on August, Orionids on October) during your stay, with enough wishes you can make.

PRECAUTION: Although malaria has been successfully been control in Suriname, make sure to protect against insect bites by bringing repellants. Don’t swim into the deeper parts of the river where the piranhas are.

Traveling is a very rewarding endeavor. If you do find time to visit Suriname in your next itinerary, what better way to impress the locals than by learning some Dutch (their official language) phrases: goedemorgen, goedemiddag, goedenavond = good morning, good afternoon, good evening; dank u wel = thank you; graag gedaan = it’s my pleasure, as well as Sranan Tongo (the lingua franca) phrases: fa waka = how are you? bun danki = Fine, thank you abung = that’s good; goodbye. They love it if you can speak their language.

For more information about tourism in Suriname: www.surinametourism.sr

All prices are quoted in Suriname Dollars (SRD). 1 US$ = 3.27SRD; 1SRD = Php14.05

Monkey DividersAbout The Writer:

7 Awesome Things to do in SurinameMiguel Rogali is a community doctor working in the binnenland (interior) of Suriname, within the Amazon Jungle. When not travelling and during his off duties, he does artworks and writes prose and poetry.

Follow on Twitter: @survivormate

Follow on Instagram: survivormate

 

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Comments 44

  1. I had heard of Suriname but I knew nothing about it at all! I think I would visit for the food alone. I’m intrigued as to how you ended up here!

  2. Thank you for promoting my country. Many people have never heard of it, some just dont care because its not serving their interest like Europe, the USA, Canada or the UK. Hoping to be there for the owru yari after many years.

  3. Looks awesome and great fun! It a dream of mine to explore parts of South America and this article made me want to visit Suriname first!

    Angelo

  4. Nice article! From the comments it shows that there are still enough people out there with zero knowledge of this beautiful country that Surinam is! So keep on promoting!

    1. Thanks Pearliza. It is one of the aims of this article to make known Suriname to the World. I am glad you enjoyed reading

  5. Dear Miguel,

    I am very happy you are enjoying my country. As a resident of Suriname, I would like to thank you for promoting Suriname by way of this wonderful article.

    Keep exploring and enjoying 597! Soso lobi

    1. Beste Eric,

      There are still lots to discover about Suriname, so many things to do I haven’t done yet. I like to reach the summits of Tafelberg and Julianatop hopefully soon.

      Met vriendelijke groeten
      Miguel

    2. I’ve heard about it before and became interested to work there. Can anyone help me find a job there? Your help would be highly appreciated. Tnx

  6. I had no idea people didn’t know about Suriname. I mean, I do but that’s probably because I’m curious about all the countries around the world. Great post!

  7. This is beautifully written, I enjoyed reading all of this about my country.
    To everyone reading this, there is more to see if you really like adventures. Especially if you are into the forest and everything surrounding it.
    Enjoy your stay in Suriname!

    1. It’s not the usual tourist destination but it is awesome to nature lovers.
      Thank you Shilton for your country. I am a foreigner working within Suriname’s Amazon Jungle.

  8. Yawn. This is so boring, especially to those who actually know and have experienced Suriname. Do some real reading & research on the country.

    1. thank you Jen for your comment.
      Some may find Suriname differently, others boring, others interesting. but for those who has yet to see this awesome country they can see for themselves and discover its hidden gems.
      I am an expat living and working here for a little over a year now and it doesn’t look boring to me ^_^

  9. I have heard of it, but have to admit I knew nothing about it until I read this post. Very interesting place and the architecture is magnificent! I will bookmark this for future reference, you never know!

    1. Yes Elizabeth. Suriname awaits for you. The Inner City of Paramaribo is a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE for its Old World European Architecture blending with local materials.

  10. Oh, I did not know about this country. I have yet to visit South America but when I do, I’ll look at Suriname as an option. Such diversity and so much culture. It looks awesome. Is it expensive to travel there?

  11. Hey, I’m a certified renal nurse, though I’m not currently practicing. Is Suriname actively looking for nurses to hire? 🙂

    By the way, I’ve always wanted to visit South America but I’ve NEVER heard of Suriname. Amazing! Thanks for sharing your tips. 🙂

  12. A LITTLE TYPO IN THE 2ND PARAGRAPH:
    At different points in its history, the British and the Dutch Empires contested for its rich soil and established plantation colonies, until IT SEPARATED FROM the Kingdom of the Netherlands to become an independent state on November 25, 1975.
    -Miguel Rogali ^_^

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