Several studies have been conducted on decomposition patterns and rates of surface remains; however, much less are known about this process for buried remains. Understanding the process of decomposition in buried remains is extremely important and aids in criminal investigations, especially when attempting to estimate the post mortem interval (PMI). The aim of this study was to compare the rates of decomposition between buried and surface remains. For this purpose, 25 pigs (Sus scrofa; 45–80 kg) were buried and excavated at different post mortem intervals (7, 14, 33, 92, and 183 days). The observed total body scores were then compared to those of surface remains decomposing at the same location. Stages of decomposition were scored according to separate categories for different anatomical regions based on standardised methods. Variation in the degree of decomposition was considerable especially with the buried 7-day interval pigs that displayed different degrees of discolouration in the lower abdomen and trunk. At 14 and 33 days, buried pigs displayed features commonly associated with the early stages of decomposition, but with less variation. A state of advanced decomposition was reached where little change was observed in the next ±90–183 days after interment. Although the patterns of decomposition for buried and surface remains were very similar, the rates differed considerably. Based on the observations made in this study, guidelines for the estimation of PMI are proposed. This pertains to buried remains found at a depth of approximately 0.75 m in the Central Highveld of South Africa.