The first city you will see when travelling to Koh Samui by ferry is Nathon, which is not only the major Samui’s port town but also an administrative and business centre of the island. Usually, tourists pass through the town en route to other popular Samui locations and miss the opportunity to explore the city and its attractions.
Located on the western coast of Koh Samui, Nathon Pier is the first spot, which you will see, when hopping off the fast ferry service arriving from other islands. The large town, though, is not a popular tourist destination, and visitors pass through the area on the route to other famous locations.
Though, Nathon is also worth a visit. Take a closer look at the quaint Chinese shophouses lining main roads, stroll along the beachfront promenade, and have an authentic Thai or seafood dinner in one of the restaurants stretching along the beach.
Besides the fair number of dining and shopping opportunities, Nathon also provides the ample selection of the villa accommodations to suit all budgets. Offering some of the most awe-insuring views over to the Gulf of Thailand, Nathon villas will serve you the serenity along with the utmost facilities and impeccable services.
WHAT WE LOVE
Fabulous hilltop villas
The major Samui’s pier
Serene and quiet atmosphere
Endless shops, bazaars and hubs
Great beachfront restaurants
Situated towards the west of Samui Airport on the north-western coast of Koh Samui, Nathon is the main port town and departure point for island hopping.
FERRY AND BUS
There are plenty of companies that carry out transfers from Phuket to Samui. The trip consists of terrestrial and marine transfers and ranges from six to seven hours. Buses depart from the central bus station in Phuket and bring travellers to Koh Phangan pier where passengers make a transfer for the modern and fast catamaran, which brings visitors to Nathon Pier located on the north-western coast of Koh Samui. Usually, there are two daily transfers for Koh Samui, but the timing can range due to the travel operator.
Although it is possible to get to Nathon, Koh Samui over land or water, the best way is to fly:
It can take between 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach Nathon from Samui Airport depending on traffic. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa.
Alternatively, there is a taxi desk at the arrival level which arranges one-way fares at a fixed-price. If you opt not to use the taxi desk, there are numerous taxi drivers waiting outside the arrival terminal so you can negotiate the price with them. Even though there is a big sign “Meter-Taxi” on the roof of taxis, local drivers rarely use them, so it is recommended to discuss the price beforehand. You can opt one of the transfer options – a shared mini van with other travellers or a private taxi. A shared taxi is essentially cheaper but usually requires at least five passengers to depart.
There are several options, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers:
Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. Depending on which villa you are staying in, the cost for the private car and chauffeur can vary, so it’s recommended to contact our Ministry of Villas team to get the complete information about the private transfers.
There are hundreds of taxis waiting for passengers at the end of the pier, so would you travel by boat you do not need to worry about the transfer. It is recommended, though, to negotiate the price before getting into the car, as Samui taxi drivers rarely use meters.
SONGTHAEWS OR PICK-UP TAXIS
Songthaews or “two-benches” are simple pick-up tracks that follow their set routes and pick up or drop off passengers at any site along the route. The trip usually costs THB20, and anyone can simply jump into the truck or require the stop ringing a bell. Though the route is described in English, it can be tricky to puzzle out how to get to the destination point for the first-time traveller.
Motorbike rental shops are widespread in Nathon. If you venture to move around on a scooter, get prepared to the rather chaotic traffic. Travelling on two wheels around Nathon is a great way to explore the area and travel further afield at your own pace. But take into account that you must always have an international drivers license on your person, otherwise, the local police can issue you a ticket with a summons to appear in court. Also, always opt bikes with insurance, and, of course, make sure you wear a helmet.
Car travel in Nathon is another comfortable way to move around the town and explore other areas. However, due to the hilly landscape of the island, it is recommended, to select a 4×4 wheel drive car, otherwise, it can be challenging to get to your hilltop villa. Also, take in account, that the lower rental price implies the absence of insurance and a poor condition of the vehicle so opt the international brands, if possible, when renting a car, such as Hertz, Avis and Budget Car Rentals, which are more trustworthy than the local rental shops.
There are more than 5 Ministry Approved villas in Nathon. As Nathon is not as popular as other Samui beach retreats, villa prices tend to be lower than other parts of Koh Samui. Nathon villas range from USD $330 per night for four-bedroom villa resorts to over USD $1,300 per night for a five-bedroom luxury villa.
Most of our villas have dedicated staff including butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel and many other services you won’t find in a hotel. This is why we say “Spend just one night in a villa and you’ll never stay in a hotel again.”
You will be surprised at the number of the reasonably-priced dining venues dotting Nathon. You can expect to sample a genuine Thai cuisine here, prepared with lots of spices and flavours.
Lining the beachfront road or dotting the centre of the town, Nathon restaurants also serve a great range of international foods. Pizza, pasta, burgers, steaks, rolls and even gelato ice cream are all available in Nathon.
Fine-dining are usually located in or around hotel resorts, offering some of the most exquisite international cuisines or Thai fusion at the beautiful setting. Not in vain Nathon is fast gaining the reputation of the major culinary destination on Samui.
Nathon area is known for its breathtaking sunsets and some visitors especially travel to Nathon to witness the naturally beautiful surroundings of the town.
You can indulge in the sky awash with incredible colours while sipping a coconut or beer at one of the bars lining the beachfront road, or stroll along the wide pier, and people watch while boats moor there. Reasonably wide and abundant streets that criss-cross the town are packed full of quaint shops and old Chinese buildings reviving the imagines of the times bygone.
A laidback Nathon nightlife caters to travellers wanting to relish in tranquillity rather than the hustle and bustle but if you want the latter head to Chaweng or Lamai which are a 45-minute drive from the town.
Nathon is an ideal place to immerse into the shopping and enjoy the retail therapy. Numerous shops spread around the town, even not as abundant as in Chaweng, yet, offer excellent goods at the best bargains.
Favourite shopping destination among locals, Nathon shopping scene caters to tourists as well providing the quality natural silk, handicrafts, shoes, jewellery and clothes. You can expect to find in Nathon bargain-priced items, which are sold in commercialised Chaweng and Lamai at double cost.
Nathon Walking Street (an open market) is another way to take a closer look at the Thai culture and traditions and find some great handmade art piece or handicraft. Besides the wide selection of the local products, this open market offers to savour unparalleled Thai food cooked right in front of you.
Nathon beach is one of the most family-friendly shorelines due to the shallow and soft seabed. Even though the beach rest in Nathon is not as popular as in other north-eastern destinations, visitors will benefit of the empty white sandy coastlines.
Island hopping is another way to relax and explore the nearby paradisal islets belted with turquoise waters and offering fantastic diving and snorkelling. This is, actually, one of the reasons why travellers opt staying in Nathon close to the major pier from where numerous fast boats depart to the neighbouring islands.
If you are a nature lover, take one day trip to Best Mountain View. This amazing tour offers some of the most splendid sightseeing of the incredible Samui’s west coast, fabulous Gulf of Thailand, and Thailand mainland vistas.