Suriname Travel Guide
Welcome to our travel guide on Suriname, the smallest country in South America but a giant in terms of natural and cultural diversity. Tucked between Guyana, French Guiana, and Brazil, and facing the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Suriname is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and religions.
former Dutch colony, Suriname offers travelers a blend of Caribbean charm, Amerindian traditions, and Asian influences, set in a pristine, biodiverse environment. Whether it's exploring bustling markets in the capital city, Paramaribo, venturing into the Amazon rainforest, or lounging on unspoiled Atlantic beaches, Suriname promises a unique and unforgettable adventure.
Capital city: Paramaribo
Currency: Suriname Dollar (SRD) 1 USD = 38.43 SRD.
Electricity: Power voltage is 127/230 Volts. Power sockets type A, B, C, and F.
Languages: Dutch is the official language. Many other native languages are spoken, such as Sranan Tongo.
Fun fact: Despite its small size, Suriname is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, with 14 languages spoken in the country!
10 Handpicked Highlights of Suriname
Here is a list of amazing places to visit in Suriname:
The heartbeat of Suriname is its capital, Paramaribo, a vibrant, multicultural metropolis. Known for its distinctive fusion of Dutch colonial architecture and traditional local styles, the city’s historic Inner City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wander through Waterkant, a street lined with colorful wooden houses, or visit the ornate Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, the largest wooden building in the Western Hemisphere. The diverse cultures of Suriname shine through in Paramaribo’s cuisine – don’t miss tasting roti, pom, and baka bana at local markets.
Central Suriname Nature Reserve
As one of the largest protected areas of rainforest in the world, this nature reserve is an extraordinary destination. Its vast, untouched wilderness, marked by granite domes and stunning waterfalls, offers excellent opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting.
Here, you can encounter elusive jaguars, playful giant river otters, and numerous bird species, including the vibrant scarlet macaw. Experience the majesty of the Amazon, stargaze in unpolluted skies, and feel the raw power of the thundering Raleigh waterfalls.
Brownsberg Nature Park
Nestled in the green mountains, Brownsberg Nature Park is a hiker’s paradise. The Park’s biodiversity includes 1,500 plant species, 350 bird species, and over 80 types of mammals.
Its trails, overlooking the Brokopondo Reservoir, lead to cascading waterfalls hidden in the heart of the rainforest. Watch for colorful birds flitting through the canopy, and keep an eye out for monkeys chattering in the treetops.
Covering an area larger than Singapore, the Brokopondo Reservoir is a vast expanse of water and a vital habitat for fish species.
The lake’s surface is eerily punctuated by the drowned forest’s skeletal remains, creating a striking and slightly surreal landscape. Whether you’re casting a line to catch peacock bass, cruising its waters, or simply taking in the eerie beauty, the reservoir provides a unique experience.
Galibi Coppename Nature Reserve
Wildlife lovers should not miss the Galibi Coppename Nature Reserve. Its sandy beaches are some of the most important nesting sites for leatherback, green, hawksbill, and olive ridley sea turtles.
Join a guided night tour between February and August to watch these magnificent creatures emerge from the ocean to lay their eggs.
This historic site was once a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe. The ruins include the remains of the first synagogue in the Americas and several old Jewish cemeteries. Exploring Jodensavanne offers a unique perspective on the diverse historical and cultural influences that have shaped Suriname.
As Suriname’s second-largest city, Nieuw Nickerie offers a different side of the country. Here, you can stroll through banana and rice plantations, explore the lively Zeelandia market, or enjoy fresh seafood at one of the city’s many restaurants. The city is also the gateway to Bigi Pan Nature Reserve, a bird watcher’s paradise.
Bigi Pan Nature Reserve
This expansive wetland and mangrove forest is a haven for bird lovers. More than 120 bird species, including the striking Scarlet Ibis, make their home here. As you explore the waterways by boat, keep an eye out for caimans lurking beneath the surface, and capybaras grazing on the river banks.
Maroon communities, established by escaped African slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries, provide a unique cultural experience.
Take a river trip to visit these remote villages, where you can witness traditional dance and music performances, learn about Maroon customs, and purchase beautifully crafted local art and handicrafts.
Peperpot Nature Park
Once a coffee and cocoa plantation, Peperpot is now a wildlife hotspot. Wander along its trails to spot capuchin monkeys, two-toed sloths, and a myriad of bird species, including toucans and parrots. Explore the plantation’s old factory buildings and workers’ houses for a glimpse into Suriname’s colonial past.
Suriname's Geography & Landscapes
Suriname is a fascinating country characterized by diverse landscapes. It’s the smallest country in South America and located on the continent’s northeast coast. The major geographic regions include:
Coastal Plains: A narrow, swampy lowland strip runs along the Atlantic coast. This area includes the capital, Paramaribo, and the majority of the country’s population.
Savannah Belt: This sandy plateau with savannah vegetation stretches across central Suriname. It’s punctuated with small hills and is home to several nature reserves.
Tropical Rainforest: Covering a significant portion of Suriname, this is part of the Amazon Rainforest, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.
Southern Hills: The southern part of the country is characterized by hilly terrain, leading to the highlands on the Brazilian border.
Best Time To Go To Suriname
The climate of Suriname is tropical, with a warm, humid environment throughout the year. It has two distinct seasons, which are:
Rainy Seasons (April-July & November-January): These periods see increased rainfall, particularly in the interior. Some roads may become impassable, and certain areas can be challenging to visit. However, this is the best time for birdwatching, and the landscapes are lush and green.
Dry Seasons (February-April & August-November): These are the most popular times to visit Suriname due to less rain and lower humidity. It’s an excellent time for outdoor activities, including hiking and wildlife spotting. Be aware that it can still rain, but usually in short, intense bursts.
Regardless of the season, Suriname offers something special to its visitors all year round. It’s always a good idea to check the forecast and plan accordingly to make the most of your visit.
Traveling in Suriname
- Always carry a copy of your passport and other essential documents.
- Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching can occur in busy areas. Keep your valuables secure and maintain awareness of your surroundings.
- Avoid walking alone in isolated areas or after dark.
- Use only licensed taxis for transport. Avoid shared taxis and minibuses unless necessary.
- Beware of unofficial money changers who might offer attractive rates but can scam you.
- Insect-borne diseases like malaria and Zika virus can be a risk, especially in rural and forested areas. Use insect repellent and consider taking antimalarial medication.
- Tap water isn’t safe to drink. Always drink bottled water.
- The sun can be intense. Stay hydrated, wear a hat, and use sunscreen.
- If venturing into the rainforest, do so with a reliable guide. The terrain can be challenging, and getting lost is a real danger.
- In case of emergency, dial 115 for police, 113 for fire, or 116 for an ambulance.
Getting to & Around Suriname
The main gateway to Suriname is Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, located about 45 km south of Paramaribo. Several airlines, including Surinam Airways, Caribbean Airlines, and KLM, offer flights from destinations in the Americas and Europe.
Within the country, traveling around can be an adventure. Buses and minibuses are the main forms of public transportation in and around Paramaribo. For longer journeys, you might consider hiring a car or taking a domestic flight.
The primary domestic airlines are Gum Air and Blue Wing Airlines, serving destinations such as Zorg en Hoop and Moengo. For travel to remote areas, boats are often the best option.
Suriname offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxurious resorts. In Paramaribo, you’ll find hotels to suit all budgets, along with bed and breakfasts and apartment rentals.
For those wishing to experience the country’s incredible biodiversity, eco-lodges and jungle resorts provide a unique opportunity to stay in the heart of nature.
Prices vary depending on the level of comfort and location. A budget room can cost as little as $20 per night, while luxury accommodation can cost upwards of $150 per night.
Most accommodations offer modern amenities, but it’s always a good idea to check before booking, especially in more remote areas.