For anyone arriving by boat as a passenger, Nathon is also the island’s main port (car ferries dock at Lipa Noi, a few kilometres south) and jumping off point for the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and mainland Surat Thani.
To service the backpacker trade, a small cottage industry of sarong shops, bakeries, second hand bookshops, travel agents and internet cafes have sprung up along the waterfront.
One of Koh Samui beaches Nathon is also the only place on Samui to find ‘head’ shops selling opium pipes, bongs, king size rissoles and all other manner of dope paraphernalia.
Given the Thais increasingly hardline attitude towards drugs, it’s wise to exercise caution with the use of any purchases.
The town’s main tourist attraction for day trippers is its old wooden Chinese shophouses that line the middle road, selling an esoteric range of goods, including a lot of gold.
Souvenirs bought here will also be considerably cheaper than elsewhere on the island.
Food wise, any of the waterfront seafood restaurants are recommended for a taste of truly authentic and very spicy, local cuisine.
Hotel accommodation is cheap and plentiful, but as few tourists have any need to stay the night, it’s primarily aimed at the local market.
Samui Hot Club has row after row of colourful sarongs, T-shirts, beachwear and more, all billowing under extra-strong ceiling and floor fans.
It also has strict purchasing rules: Customers are not allowed to try items on and once purchased the shop will not refund or exchange them.
It all sounds very strict and non compromising but there are still bargains to be had here in the form of abstract and patterned sarongs that can double as wall hangings, children’s wear and ladies’ beachwear.
Amoung Koh Samui Beaches Nathon town is Samui’s administrative centre and where the locals head to do some serious shopping at low prices.
The two main roads in Nathon are filled with shops and stalls selling silk goods, shoes and excellent copies.
Although Chaweng has more choice, you can still find most things in Nathon.
There are several excellent souvenir shops in Nathon as well for something quirky to take back home!
Sources: kohsamui.com, Hotels.com,