Jan 04 2013

Ko Samui’s capital, Nathon

Published by at 6:50 am under Ko Samui


Nathon on Ko Samui’s west coast is away from the main tourist drag catering more to locals than visitors. This means that prices are generally cheaper at both shops and restaurants, making it worth a daytrip for a bit of shopping and exploring if you can drag yourself away from the beach. And should you have an early morning ferry departure, nearby Lipa Noi is a good last night stay over.

A tranquil temple just outside the main city.

A tranquil temple just outside the main city.

Nathon’s main road is split in two, with the one travelling clockwise on the seafront offering interesting and active views of the main port and the ferries and boats coming and going. You’ll see fishermen along here unloading their longtail boats, and stalls along the road sell fish, squid and piles of bright blue crabs.

The other half of the road travelling anti-clockwise is set back one block from the sea, and is lined with shops and restaurants. This is where you want to walk and explore. Shopping is considerably cheaper than along the strips of Chaweng and Lamai, yet offers many of the same goods. Besides the copy clothing, you’ll find a few boutiques too with original printed tees and there’s the popular Samui Hot Club, a four-storey clothing and accessories store selling exceptionally cheap clothing. This shop’s only downfall is that they don’t allow you to try anything on for some reason.

The Green Onion is located opposite Samui Hot Club. Their menu is cheap and vast, and the air-con is most welcome after a couple of hours of shopping. They do fantastic vanilla milkshakes too.

green

Air-con and a vanilla shake. A cure for tired shopper’s feet.

Besides clothing, you’ll find a few interior shops along the strip selling small homeware items made out of bamboo, coconut and silk. There’s a great little shop selling retro framed pictures too. Nathon Bookshop is on the bend where the two one-way roads meet.

Nathon itself does not have much to offer in the way of accommodation, but Lipa Noi is only a few kilometres south of the main town. Heading out of Nathon travelling south, you’ll find Samui’s immigration office on the right at a set of traffic lights – good to know if you want to extend your stay in Thailand.

To the left, you’ll see the turnoff to Wat Hin Lad set in forested gardens and on the way to the Hin Lad Waterfall. This is a worthy diversion if you’ve the time. Massive trees with twisted exposed roots, old fruit trees, vines, orchids and flowering shrubs all add to the temple ground’s charm. Hear the waterfall and river in the background while walking on moss-covered paths that lead through the gardens. Signs indicating ‘shoe parking’ ask you to leave your shoes outside as you enter temples to ask a monk for a blessing or prayer. Entering the temple grounds past the elephant trekking station, walk over a bridge crossing the river and come to a pearl-coloured Buddha statue.

A bungalow by the sea, what more could you want.

A bungalow by the sea.

Otherwise, continue along without taking the turn off to the wat and take the marked right-turn to Lipa Noi beach, which is lined with a few resorts and high end villas. Nikki beach, popular with the trendy crowd, and known for their Sunday brunches, is shortly after the bend in the road and well signposted. Our favourite well-priced resort is Lipa Bay; here cute wooden bungalows are set in a garden, each with a covered terrace with patio furniture. Don’t pay extra for the seafront ones as the view is so similar to the ones set further back.

Samui’s car ferry port for the Raja Ferry is located in Lipa Noi, so you have easy access to both ferries from here.

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