This guide will provide you a good overview of the culture and best places you should visit in Suriname. I created this guide by my own experience.
Suriname is a country located in South America, right in the middle of the countries Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil. In the north of the country, Suriname is located at the Atlantic Ocean. The north of Suriname also is the most lively part of the country. Here you can find the capital Paramaribo and most of the inhabitants and tourists. Suriname consists for 80% of jungle. It also has a rich amount of flora and fauna. The currency is Surinam Dollars.
Suriname has a tropical rainforest climate and the temperatures are always around the 30 degrees Celsius. The country knows four seasons:
- Short rainy season (this includes the months December until the end of January)
- Short dry season (this includes the months February until the end of April)
- Big rainy season (this includes the months May until the half of August)
- Big dry season (this includes the end of August until the end of November)
The best time to travel to Suriname, is in the months February, March, September and October. These are the months when Suriname does not has a lot of rainfall. I went in the month April and I did have a few days with big rainfall.
Populations, languages and religions
Because of the fact that Suriname is a former Dutch colony, the main language is Dutch. Besides Dutch, the languages Surinam, English and Javanese are also spoken in Suriname. There are many cultures in Suriname. The original population are the Indians, but nowadays there is only just a little group left in the inland of the country. Furthermore, the population consists of Creoles, Chinese, Javanese and Hindustani. When there are so many cultures, there are also a lot of different religions. Most of the inhabitants are Christian, but there are also inhabitants who are Islamic or Hindu.
Suriname consists of ten districts:
Most tourist attractions are located in the districts Paramaribo and Commewijne. In the image you can find a map of Suriname with the classification of the districts.
Since there live many different populations with their own cultures in Suriname, the kitchen of Suriname is very extensive. In the past, every population took their own ‘dishes’ with them. Therefore, the Surinam kitchen is a combination of a big amount of international kitchens. The different cultures have used each other’s dishes and ingredients, whereby new, Surinam dishes were developed. Examples of Surinam dishes are roti, nasi goreng, snesi foroe and moksimeti. The Surinam kitchen is well-known for its dishes with chicken and hot spices like Madame Jeanette.
The cultural visits of Suriname are found in the capital Paramaribo. The places are all at walking distance.
– The presidential palace & the independence square: here you can find the ministries of Suriname and the white palace, which is the former residence of the government and nowadays it has a ceremonial function on behalf of the head of state.
– Central market: An indoor market where you can find all kinds of local food.
– The palm garden: A beautiful park in the centre of Paramaribo where you can find high palm trees everywhere and where you can have a relaxing day with friends and family.
– The waterside: The boulevard that goes along the Surinam river and which is the meeting point for every local. It is a very lively place during day and night.
– The ‘Domineestraat’: This is thé shopping street of Paramaribo.
– The ‘Sint Petrus- and Paulus’ cathedral: A beautiful cathedral which is made out of wood.
– The mosque and the synagogue: Not only are these buildings very beautiful, but the most unique thing about these two buildings, is the fact that they are located next to each other. Something that is very rare in the world.
– Frederiksdorp: An old coffee plantation which is now used for tourism. Frederiksdorp is located in the district Commewijne.
– Peperpot: Also an old coffee plantation located in the district Commewijne and spread over a large area.
– Jodensavanne: In the district Para, you can find the former residence of Sephardic Jews in Suriname. The area is part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 1999.
– Fort Zeelandia: This is the part of Suriname wherefrom Paramaribo began to exist. Furthermore, you can find here the well-known ‘I love SU’ sign.
– Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam: This is a former Dutch fort and is located at the Surinam River.
Adventurous visits and activities
– Canopy tour in Berg and Dal: Berg and Dal is a place located in the middle of the jungle, in the district Brokopondo, and therefore, it is a perfect place for a Canopy tour. Very high, over the Surinam River, with a perfect view. Just wow, a great experience.
– Brownsberg: This is a nature reserve with a lot of hiking possibilities. During the hiking, you come across all kinds of flora and fauna, waterfalls and perfect views over the Brokopondo lake.
– Brokopondo lake (Ston Island): The Brokopondo lake is a perfect lake to make some boat trips on and to make some beautiful pictures of. Next to the Brokopondo lake, you can find Ston Island, which is a peninsula right. Here you can stay during your time close to the Brokopondo lake.
– The Raleighfalls: you can find the waterfalls in the inland of Suriname. Unfortunately, I have not been here during my roundtrip, but from hearing I can say that it is worth the visit. There is beautiful nature, waterfalls and hiking possibilities.
Sightseeing with animals
– Matapica: This is a nature reserve that is well-known for its sea turtles. By night and at the right time in the year, you can spot the sea turtles on the beach laying their eggs. Very impressive! Matapica is located in the district Commewijne.
– Galibi: This is also a nature reserve that is well-known for its sea turtles. Actually, you can do the same thing here as at Matapica. During my roundtrip I have not been here, but I have heard a lot of nice stories about this place. Galibi is located in the district Marowijne.
My recommended bars and restaurants
In the capital of Suriname, Paramaribo, you can find most of the bars and restaurants. Therefore, I only have some recommendations of places in Paramaribo.
– De Waag: A restaurant located at the waterside of Paramaribo, in an old, historical building.
– ‘t Vat: A very lively place during day and night with a cosy atmosphere.
– Roopram: They say this is the best eatery in Paramaribo where you can get the best Surinam Roti.
– Zus & Zo: You can find this restaurant close to the Palm Garden. A cosy place with lots of local and nice dishes.
My recommended places to stay
– Guesthouse Albergo Alberga in Paramaribo: This guesthouse was my stay in Paramaribo. It is a very cheap, small and cosy guesthouse with a good service and a great location (close to the city centre and the waterside!).
– Overbridge River Resort in Para: This resort is located directly net to the Surinam River and features palm trees and more, what makes it a real paradise.
– Danpaati River Lodge in Sipaliwini: A place close to the locals with ultimate relaxation and definitely the most hospitable people. To come to this place, you have to go a while by boat. You cannot reach the place by bus or car.
Would you like to receive more information about all the different kind of visits, my recommended bars/restaurants and my recommended places to stay? I have extensively talked about these subjects in my other articles about Suriname, namely ‘A roundtrip through Suriname: Paramaribo’ and ‘A roundtrip through Suriname: the inland’ (click to go to the articles directly).