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Where to stay between Surat Thani and Bangkok?

We are coming to Thailand next August, 2 adults, 2 teenagers. We are nervous of hiring a car and definitely not scooters, but love trains!

The plan so far:

- Bangkok, Ayuttha, Koh Phangan/Tao,

And then we have about a week before we need to be back in Bangkok

Any suggestions as to where we might soend a few days as a base for trips (either organised as long as not too expensiv, or ones we can do with taxis or buses), somewhere between Surat Thani and Bangkok, that we can reach by train?

We would like to see some of the following: temples in caves, national park, floating market, any pleasant non touristy Thai town.

Many thanks