Suriname Travel: A tropical paradise

An exotic mix of cultures, with various outside influences from the country’s colonial past. Pristine jungle, roaring rivers, stunning mountains and countless options to get off the beaten track. Suriname is one of the most exceptional destinations in South America. Whether you like culture, nature, being active or relaxing, you can do it all during your Suriname travel adventure!

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What better way to explore a new place than with a trip that positively impacts both traveller and local? We’ve put together the ultimate Suriname travel itinerary focusing on small-scale, local and responsible travel.

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Suriname highlights

Suriname highlights

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Irresistible Suriname

Irresistible Suriname

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Suriname family

Suriname family

14 days from €1060 per person

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A Suriname travel experience

Start your Suriname travel experience in tropical Paramaribo

Start your Suriname trip in the capital Paramaribo. This tropical city has plenty of historical attractions. For example, visit Fort Zeelandia, a former Dutch fort that was founded by settlers in the seventeenth century. Then walk along the Waterkant, one of the most important streets of Paramaribo. The street houses several historic buildings, such as the Hoekhuis, the Waag, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Basilicas and the Lutheran church. There’s no shortage of colonial architecture here. 

Jungle adventures during your Suriname trip

When you think of Suriname, think jungles. The country is one big green jungle where you can experience wonderful adventures. For example, in the Brownsberg Nature Reserve you will find untouched forests with plenty of unique flora and fauna. From the mountain you get a beautiful view over the Brokopondo Reservoir and can hike your way to the waterfalls. Looking for even more adventure? Then camp at the Palulu campsite in the heart of the jungle. Here you sleep in a tent in the middle of nature and can swim in the creek’s fresh water.

Spot animals in Suriname

Don’t forget to add a trip to Kabalebo Nature Resort during your Suriname travel adventure. The resort is only accessible by plane and once you arrive, there’s a whole selection of activities to choose from in the reserve. You can climb to the top of Misty Mountain, go fishing or get in a kayak. You can also spot all kinds of animals, such as various monkeys and birds. Do you want to witness sea turtles laying their eggs? Then visit between February and August and head to the mouth of the Suriname or Marowijne River.

A mix of cultures

Suriname is a melting pot of different cultures. That makes a Suriname travel experience so interesting. In Suriname there are, among others, people of Indian, Hindustani, Creole, European and Javanese descent. In the colonial Paramaribo, a synagogue and a mosque stand side-by-side without any problems and everyone respects each other’s values and beliefs. This makes for a very relaxed during your trip to Suriname. One very distinct culture is that of the Maroons, descendants of runaway slaves. You can meet them in the vicinity of Atjoni.

Suriname’s colonial history

Suriname has a deep colonial history still very visible today. If you travel through Suriname, you will discover what makes up this history and find many remnants of its colonized past. Travel with a local guide who can tell you everything about the old plantations, colonial architecture and former Dutch forts. You can cycle to old plantations, such as Mariënbosch and the coffee plantation Peperpot. Don’t forget to also visit Fort Nieuw Amsterdam, an old Dutch defense building.

Visit Suriname with kids for a beautiful family trip

Suriname is also a great destination for travelling with kids! Our local Suriname travel specialist Lizet has extensive experience in organizing family trips in Suriname and is happy to help arrange your dream trip for your family. Suriname is a great country to travel through for the whole family. The country is safe, the food is tasty and the travel pace is relaxed: you can easily combine organized day tours and moments of rest. The accommodations are comfortable and small-scale, and often come equipped with a swimming pool. A wonderful destination for a family adventure!

Your own Suriname trip

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Know Before you Go

General Information and Insider Tips
Visa

Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do need a visa for travel to Suriname. For US, UK and Canadian nationals, a simpler Tourist Card can be obtained through your nearest consulate, or upon arrival at the airport. If from Australia or New Zealand, a tourist visa must be applied for through your nearest Suriname embassy.

The Tourist Card is valid for 30 days (single entry), but can be extended to 90 days through the Immigration Department. Traditional tourist visas are valid for 60 days with multiple entries. For other countries, check visa requirements here.

Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to arrival in Suriname.

If you are travelling from or through the United States, and are not a US national or resident, you will need to obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), ideally at least 72 hours prior to departure.  ESTA has replaced the paper form that used to be filled in prior to landing in the US. The authorization costs $ 14 USD and needs to be paid by credit card. Canadian nationals are exempt and do not need an ESTA.

It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.

Vaccinations

There are no particular requirements for Suriname, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, and Zika is currently a risk in Suriname. Check the latest information about Zika warnings. Yellow fever is also a risk in Suriname, so seek the advice of a medical professional about yellow fever vaccinations, and whether or not it is suggested for your trip. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.

Tap water is safe to drink in Paramaribo, but not elsewhere. If using your refillable Dopper bottle, we recommend combining with a Steripen.

Insider Tip: If traveling between Suriname and another country that is at risk for yellow fever, you may be required to show proof of vaccination upon entry. Check the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of countries that require yellow fever vaccines.

Safety

The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Suriname. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.

Electricity

127V/60Hz

Most sockets use the European-style two-pronged (Types C & F). 220 voltage sockets may also be found. Electricity outside the city can be limited, so bring a flashlight/torch.

Flights

At Better Places Travel, you book your own international flights. Your travel expert will gladly advise you on the best option. Read here for more information and tips.

When to go

With its location near the equator, Suriname’s climate is tropical with two rainy seasons: December-January and April-August. Temperatures and humidity are consistently high throughout the year, though ocean and river breezes can provide some relief.

February-March and August-November are the best times to visit as weather will be drier.

Insider Tip: The mamio, a patchwork quilt, is often used as an unofficial symbol of Suriname’s varied population groups. 

Language

The national language is Dutch (official)/Sranan Tongo

English is spoken in Paramaribo to varying degrees, less so outside the city. Sranan Tongo (also called Sranan or Surinamese) is an English-based Creole language that is spoken by many, particularly the younger population.

Hello                     Hallo

Goodbye            Dag (dakh)

Please                  Alstublieft (ahl-stu-bleeft)

Thank you          Dank je (dank ya)

Yes                        Ja (ya)

No                         Nee (nay)

Insider Tip: Fa waka (meaning “How’s it going?”) is a common phrase in Sranan. You’re more likely to hear people greet one another in Sranan rather than Dutch.

Culture

Suriname, along with Guyana and French Guiana, is part of the Guianas territory in northeastern South America. As a former Dutch colony, you won’t find much Spanish spoken here. Its culture is a diverse blend of Asian, African and European influences, which is reflected in the local cuisine and architecture. Javanese, Indian, Creole and Chinese food (or combinations thereof) are all prevalent. Religion here is also varied. While Christianity accounts for about half of the population, Islam and Hinduism all also strongly represented. Even with many different cultures and religions, the Surinamese live together quite peacefully.

Surinamese are friendly and polite. Children respect their elders, using formal speech and remaining quiet when adults are talking. Political discussions, however, are best avoided.

Insider Tip: In rural areas, some trees are considered holy. Ask permission before taking photos.

Money

The local currency is Surinamese Dollar (SRD)

Money can be exchanged at most banks, and ATMs are available in the cities. Republic Bank and RBTT have better track records for accepting international cards. US dollars are the most easily exchangeable, so it is advisable to carry some with you.

Credit card usage is pretty much restricted to hotels, so always have cash on-hand.

Tipping

In general, tipping is not part of the culture in Suriname

  • Restaurants- Some restaurants may include a service charge of 10-15%, but if nothing is added, no tip is expected. If you’d like, you can round up the change.
  • Cabs- No tipping, but you can round up the change if you want.
  • Hotels- No tipping

Insider Tip: All roads lead to Paramaribo, which means if you’re traveling to multiple locations, chances are you’ll be going back through the city get there. As a result, may travelers base themselves in Paramaribo and take short trips to outlying areas.

Packing

Casual clothes and comfortable shoes are appropriate everywhere. While Paramaribo has a few nice restaurants and nightclubs, it isn’t especially cosmopolitan. Due to the high humidity, loose, lightweight cotton and wicking fabrics are best. Swimsuits are appropriate for swimming only—don’t walk around uncovered. Pants and long sleeves are best for the interior to protect against the sun and mosquitos. Remember yellow fever is a threat in some areas (in addition to other mosquito-borne illnesses), so use insect repellant liberally.

Must-pack items:

  • Trail shoes or running shoes (also appropriate for Paramaribo)
  • Sport sandals for jungle/river areas
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimsuit
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Umbrella
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Daypack
  • Dry bags if taking electronics into the jungle
  • Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid (including anti-diarrheal and stomach meds)
  • Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
  • All prescriptions
  • Flashlight/torch for possible power outages
  • Tissues in case toilet paper is unavailable

Insider Tip: Consider a solar USB charger for jungle day trips to keep your electronic charged.

Be sure to check out our Sustainability Checklist for more tips on how to respect the environment and local culture while travelling.

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