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Nathon, Ko Samui - Stay a while!

Nathon, Ko Samui - Stay a while!

January 2020 · 4 min read · Surat Thani Province

For visitors arriving on Ko Samui by sea, which is most of them, they mainly arrive on the piers at Nathon before quickly jumping onto vans and taxis before being whisked away to their hotels all over the island.

Very few people actually stay here in this small provincial Thai town, that despite its small size is actually the administrative centre for the Surat Thai sub-district of Ko Samui. And this is a shame.

Nathon Town is a little run down and shabby but despite Ko Samui arguably being the most famous and popular holiday island in the world, retains a real feel of semi-rural Thailand that's missing from the tourist hotspots on the rest of the island. To be fair, in the last couple of years I have noticed a slight increase in the number of foreigners wandering around town and for the local traders and vendors, this is great news.

So why should people shun the bright lights of Cha Weng, Bhoput and Lamai?

Firstly and foremost are the incredibly photogenic sunsets due to Nathon's location being precisely on the west coast of the island.

If you look closely to the south-south-east of the moon, you will see Venus.

Now, this picture of the local fishing fleet brings me nicely to the best great reason to stop here for a couple of days, the sea-food. You will not get any fresher, and to illustrate this point, I will photographically show you the process of getting the sea-food to the plate!

The 'fleet' are mainly local fishermen and their long-tail boats and every night, they head out to the local waters to catch a diverse range of fish and crustaceans that reside in these waters.
The water is very shallow here so the catch is carried ashore and across the strip of beach that you see, over this road.....

......where if you so desire, you can grab yourself a fresh watermelon for dessert.........and it then ends up for sale on the family's stall at the side of the road, where the women work.......

......... whilst the men fix and prepare their nets for the next trip out to sea..............

If you don't fancy cooking and preparing it yourself, there is a wonderful evening street food market that springs up in front of the piers and ferry terminals every night, and its a place where mainly locals gather to eat and so has genuine local prices!

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It's just nice! Chilled, hassle-free, friendly and no pushy touts trying to sell you stuff! There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy your food, many with great views.......

The wife always has to get into at least one picture!

There is lots of space here for the regular shows and events that take place here and whilst this was close to new year, there are often singing and dancing competitions, fun runs and heaven knows whatever else going on!

It's just a great community space and as tourist or foreigner here, you feel very much at home and part of the local community.
If you wander down the small backstreets, there are still some fine examples of traditional Thai wooden architecture.....

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The other big reason to stay here for a couple of nights are the prices! Ko Samui being an island is slightly more expensive than the mainland and this equally applies to the locals as well as the visitors but here in Nathon, all the pricing is local pricing and you can stay in a cheap hotel, overlooking this bay for as little as about $12USD a night with hostels starting at half that.
The Samui Hotel in this picture is about $20 a night!

There are still the motorcycle hire places, a few massage parlours and other slightly 'touristy' stuff as well as a small Tesco, the ubiquitous 7/11s and a full range of banks and exchange booths but Nathon remains firmly a last bastion of 'real' Thailand on Samui.

If you ever step foot off a boat onto Ko Samui, don't jump straight into a van. Walk down the pier, find a guest house and stay a while! I promise you won't regret it!

(All photographs were taken by me on a simple Nokia 5.1 last week. In the interests of transparency, my views are completely biased as my wife and I have a home close by and her family are native to the area!)

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