Samui Wining & Dining
LOOK A LITTLE CLOSER
Nathon has some charms - you’ve just got to know where to look.

LOOK A LITTLE CLOSER

When people talk about visiting Samui, Nathon doesn’t usually feature on their ‘must visit’ list, but the island’s administrative centre does offer a few worthwhile sights.

          

Nathon lies on the west coast of the island and is best known for being the island’s main port, the key arrival and departure point on the island, apart from the airport. Most people arriving from Suratthani on the mainland will arrive here by ferry, but you can also depart to neighbouring islands, such as Koh Pha-Ngan and Koh Tao from here. Nathon pier is able to accommodate hundreds of people that hop on and off various ferries throughout the day. Car ferries, passenger ferries and even ocean-going tour and transfer boats. Nathon is also home to the main bus terminal offering both VIP and economy class coaches, and you can buy ferry and bus combination tickets to make travelling easier.

          

Nathon town itself has some interesting spots. The beachfront road has countless Thai restaurants, bakeries, pizzerias, sarong and bathing suit shops, along with internet cafes and coffee shops which are perfect to sit down, relax, and enjoy a drink. The waterfront restaurants are a must for authentic Thai cuisine but watch out, the dishes might be spicier than you’re expecting! There is no shortage of taxis in the form of metered, motorbike or public transport, but remember to haggle for a lower price and don’t forget to smile while you’re doing it.

          

Nathon’s main road, which runs parallel to the beachfront road, is lined with little restaurants, cafes, and many old wooden Chinese shophouses, selling a unique range of goods. Make sure you buy your souvenirs here as this is by far the cheapest place on the island to buy them! The numerous clothing shops boast prices that will have you reaching for your wallet in seconds. The fresh market, further south along the main street, offers you the opportunity to indulge in a large variety of fruit and vegetables typical to southern Thailand, as well as seeing lots of fresh seafood. A few big banks in the main street are available to exchange your holiday money into Thai Baht, as well as a big post office for posting your souvenirs home.

LOOK A LITTLE CLOSER

The beach itself in Nathon has fine white sand and this makes it ideal for exploring. It is also shallow enough to walk about 100 metres offshore. In the evenings, the beachfront is one of the best places to watch the sun setting over the sea. On the corner of where the beachfront road starts, there is a wonderful little restaurant aptly named ‘Sunset Restaurant’ and here you have front row seats to watch nature do her thing, so sit back with an ice cold beer or cocktail, and enjoy. If you’re after a taste from home, Max Murphy’s Irish pub is across the road from the police station and offers modern pub grub and some well-known beers including Guinness and Kilkenny.

          

A few kilometres south of the Nathon town centre at the traffic lights intersection, there is a turning heading inland to Hin Lad waterfall and temple, a wonderful shady oasis and welcome break from beaches and sun. There is a small Thai restaurant with delicious food (and sometimes live music), as well as a few little stands selling ice cold coconuts and other nibbles. The temple is situated amongst the lush vegetation, but the waterfall itself is roughly a three kilometre walk from the car park. About 50 metres further, you will find the upper pool where you can jump in (carefully!) and cool off after your walk.

          

At that same intersection, but this time turning towards the sea, you will find Koh Samui’s immigration office. If you do need to visit for any reason, remember to dress appropriately - as is required for all Thai government offices. There’s usually a few hours wait, so head across the road to the little coffee shop and enjoy some nice hearty European food and excellent coffees.

LOOK A LITTLE CLOSER

Most evenings, an area of the Nathon seafront transforms into a street market. Here you can eat almost anything from the rows and rows of street food stands. You’ll find mainly locals here so if you’d prefer to avoid the tourist areas, this is the place to be. Grab yourself a plastic stool, enjoy your prawns on a stick or noodle soup, and wash it down with a beer while enjoying the atmosphere. Some great people-watching can be done on nights like this.

          

Another institution is the ‘About Art and Craft’ shop, owned by Khun June, who also owns the Art Cafe in Bophut. Both have a reputation for serving good quality, healthy, organic and often vegetarian food, using recipes from all over the world. The cafe in Nathon also sells a selection of kitchenware which has been carefully hand painted, making each item unique. There are also watercolours and carvings, and a range of jewellery.

          

So as you can see, even though it is ‘only’ the administrative capital of the island, Nathon does actually have some nice things to offer, and if you’re looking for a day’s shopping away from the crowds, this is the place to be.

          

 Colleen Setchell


 


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