Here is our overview with practical travel information on Suriname where we lived and cruised for more than a year, divided over various visits in 2011/2012 and 2015/2016.
If you have anything to add, feel free to do so in the comment section below. We appreciate it.
Index for the Suriname Travel Guide
1- Our Traveled Route
2- Shipping to South Korea
3- Our travel budget
And then we’ll break down the Travel Budget up into:
3-1 Documentation (Visa & Temporary Import Document) & Border Crossing
3-2 The Land Cruiser
3-3 Diesel & Gas Stations
3-4 Public Transport
3-6 Accommodation & Camping
3-7 Other Expenditures
1- Our Traveled Route
Suriname 1 (2011/2012):
We came from French Guiana and lived in Suriname for about a year. We regularly drove back and forth to French Guiana to renew our car papers (we had obtained a two-year, multiple-entry business visa but did have to renew the temporary import document for the car). During this year we rented a small place in Alkmaar, Commewijne. We spent lots of time in Paramaribo, the capital.
We also made trips to the interior (Pikin Slee), explored Moengo and surroundings as well as the villages along the Oost-West Verbinding (road to Nickerie). We loved Suriname’s car rallies, enabling us to explore a beautiful part of Suriname’s savanna. Left one year later via Guyana.
Suriname 2 (Dec 2015 – Feb 2016):
We came from Guyana and mostly spent our time in Groningen, remodeling our car, and in Paramaribo (hunting for parts and tools, and Hashing).
Total days traveled: 430
Read More: Hashing in Suriname
2- Shipping to South Korea
3- Our Travel Budget in Suriname
- Time spent in Suriname: 430 days (2011/2012 & 2015/2016).
- Average distance covered: 30 kms/day.
- Average expenditure: € 22.50 / day (2 persons)
Not included in expenditures: insurance, electronic equipment, medical expenses, remodeling of the Land Cruiser, shipping the Land Cruiser.
In Suriname you pay with Surinamese dollars, in writing SRD is used.
Feb 2016: There is an official rate you get at ATMs, but you’ll get more when you exchange euros at a cambio. At the time of writing there is quite an inflation, resulting in receiving SRD 4.40 for €1 (or US $1.09) on our arrival (Beginning of December), SRD 4.90 one week later, and now (Feb 4, it must be around 6.00 (Read: this info is most likely by the time you read this so check for yourself).
You’ll find cambios throughout Paramaribo. They have different exchange rates and it is worth checking them before picking the most favorable one. At some cambios you can only exchange cash money, while a few have the facility to withdraw euros and/or US dollars from your account as well. We did this once and paid 3% fee (I didn’t check if that could be cheaper or more expensive elsewhere).
Even with that fee, going through the motions of withdrawing euros and changing them on the spot resulted in more SRDs than if we had withdrawn SRDs directly from the ATM.
3-1 Documentation – Visa, TID, & Driver’s License
Visa (for Dutch/Europeans)
The first time we came to Suriname, coming from French Guiana in 2011, we obtained a two-year business visa in Cayenne because we wanted to live in Suriname for some time.
Nov 2015: For a Tourist Card you need to visit the Embassy of Suriname in Cayenne, French Guiana (find info here), or in Georgetown, Guyana (find the website here) to obtain a tourist card. We visited the latter.
We could choose between:
- A 2-month, multiple-entry visa for $45.
- A 90-day, single-entry visa for $25.
Make sure to check up on the prices, I recently learned the visas now cost 90 dollars or euros, if I’m correct.
The processing was done right away, but they may also ask to bring your passport + money in the morning and pick your passport up with tourist card in the afternoon.
While you get a 90-day Tourist Card, you still need to visit the Vreemdelingen Politie (Immigration) before your first month (as well as second) runs out to renew your stamp. This is done quickly.
Address Vreemdelingen Politie
GPS Waypoint: 5.81188 -55.206649
opening hours: Mon-Fri until 2 pm
Note when coming from Guyane: we were asked to show the tickets for the ferry crossing from Guyana. This confused us for a bit. Point is: lots of people cross illegally between Guyana and Suriname so they now want to check you came in legally. So keep your ticket (we didn’t have it but fortunately had the car papers to show we had taken the ferry). Maybe they nowadays also ask for a ticket when coming from French Guiana.
Carnet de Passage and TID
You don’ need a Carnet de Passage for Suriname; at the border you are issued with a one-month Temporary Import Document (TID) for your vehicle. Whether they will extend it depends on the circumstances. Officially they don’t unless you have a clear reason for staying longer, e.g. car trouble. We had no problem extending with another month. To do this, visit the Douane Recherche (gps waypoint: 5.808172 -55.167434).
In Suriname it’s mandatory to either carry an international driver’s license or to apply for a Rij Toestemmingsbewijs (a permit to drive in Suriname). We never were aware of this until we were fined and were asked for our driver’s license (we carry an international one). Here’s more info on how to get this permit.
Suriname borders French Guiana, Guyana, and Brazil. With the latter it has no border crossing (as this is all Amazon Rainforest). The borders with French Guiana and Guyana each consists of a river and you’ll need to take a ferry to cross it with your vehicle (there are small passenger boats plying the rivers as well).
Border Crossing French Guiana – Suriname: Maroni River (Marowijne Rivier), crossing from Saint Laurent de Maroni to Albina. We regularly used it in 2011/2012. It plies several times a day and, if I remember correctly, until 5 pm. At the time it cost €37 one way (2 persons + vehicle). You buy the ticket on the ferry.
Border Crossing Guyana – Suriname: Corentyne River. The ferry crosses twice a day (around 9 am and 1 pm). We paid US$40 for the vehicle and US$25 pp, one way (Nov 2015). On both sides you buy the ticket on shore.
3-2 The Land Cruiser
In 2011/2012 we got some regular maintenance done in Paramaribo. The recommended guy for mechanics:
Harold de Miranda, of Suriname Motors
gps waypoint: 5.836101 -55.192544
In 2015/2016 we mostly worked on remodeling the woodwork on the Land Cruiser’s interior by ourselves (this is not part of the above-mentioned budget).
3-3 Diesel & Roads / Road Maps & Guidebooks
In Suriname they drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Diesel & Gas stations
- There are enough gas stations along the asphalted roads.
- Dec 2015: diesel costs around SRD 4 per liter (US $1).
Asphalt along the coastline all the way from French Guiana to Guyana, as well as an about 3-hour stretch from Paramaribo to Atjoni (southbound), from where you can only continue into the interior by taking a boat (or go by plane from Paramaribo).
You’ll find unpaved roads around Moengo, as well as when going west and you take the (more or less) parallel road along the coast but deeper in the interior.
Off-roading opportunities abound, especially in the beautiful savanna. A good way to experience this is to join one of Suriname’s rallies with the SARK (find it here), the most famous being the 3-or-4-day Savanna Rally in November.
Read More: A Car Rally in Suriname
Road Maps & Guidebooks
Our favorite Reiseknow Maps didn’t have a map on Suriname, so we used some local ones, which were just fine (there are so few roads here).
Suriname wasn’t on the list of Lonely Planet for a separate guidebook; Suriname is only mentioned on a few pages in their South America on a Shoestring.
So we searched for a local version – easy, because our language is Dutch too (it’s Suriname’s national language). We loved Buitenkansjes Suriname.
I don’t think one this existed when we arrived here, but it’s one I’d look into now: The Amazone Bradt Travel Guide (I really liked the Guyana Bradt Guide), and Bradt Guide finally did publish one solely on Suriname.
3-4 Public Transport – Ferry Crossings
Two ferry crossings: coming from / going to French Guiana and Guyana. See above, under border crossings.
05- Tickets Sightseeing
What we enjoyed most during our year in Suriname was running/walking with the HASH, driving car rallies with SARK, the art scene with a number of expositions throughout the year in Paramaribo and Moengo. Or read more about all this in this blog post.
An experience you won’t find anywhere else is Suriname’s Owru Yari – New Year’s Eve.
You could visit a children’s home (here’s the one where we rented our place, Sukh Dhaam).
There are a number of sites in Paramaribo, the waterfront/downtown area is a UNESCO site, by the way. Check out the Cathedral, and Fort Zeelandia.
Apart from churches you’ll come across Hindu temples as well as mosques, and in Paramaribo is a synagogue as well (beautiful building, check it out).
We loved day trips to Bigi Pan, watching lots of birds, and we did two trips to the interior, to Pikin Slee. There are also a number of boat trips that you can organize downtown (Zus & Zo Guesthouse is a good place to organize or get info on all this). We found the dolphin watching tour horrible, but others love it. We preferred boat trips going to old plantations, like a trip to the Warappa Kreek.
Oh well, lots to see and do in Suriname. In and around Paramaribo you can do many things independently, but for the interior you’ll need boats and/or other forms of organization. Note that you can perfectly travel into the interior by yourself. Drive to Atjoni, park your car at the police station and take a boat upriver. You’ll find many villages with guesthouses along the way. Bring a hammock, or book a room. Have fun!
Like I said, we rented a place in Suriname and that was our base to mostly work and do some exploring. We hardly camped and have no waypoints to share. If you prefer staying at paid accommodations, find them here.
3-7 Other Expenditures
Everything mentioned above minus what we totally spent is what we call daily expenditures. This is mostly groceries and going out for lunch/dinner.
Check Zus & Zo Guesthouse, or you’ll find WIFI in/around bars/hotels/restaurants in the neighborhood of Torarica Hotel.
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