small island of Samui has only one place that is officially a town - Nathon
(all the other places, including Chaweng, are villages). Nathon has a pier
where the ferries from Surat Thani on the Thai mainland arrive and also
houses all the government agencies of Samui - the police office, the immigration
office (which is where you have to go if you want to extend your visa),
and the post office. Several banks and currency exchanges and lots
of shops and simple restaurants can also be found.
road opposite the ferry pier are a lot of small travel agencies that
offer diving tours, tours to Ko Phangan and Ko Tao, as well as tours to
the beautiful Anthong National Marine Park, an enchanting archipelago
of dreamy little islands about 30 kilometers west of of Ko Samui. If you
have the time this side trip is very much recommended, not just for divers
(it offers some of the most beautiful submarine scenery in Asia) but for
everybody who loves the blue sea and picturesque rocky islands with cozy
beaches and crystal-clear lagoons. There is a regular daily boat from Nathon
to the National Park that starts in the morning and returns in the late
afternoon and there are, as already mentioned, in addition lots of travel
agents who offer their own schedules tours.
After you have made your boat trip arrangements, if any, you can take a little walk in Nathon. This small town does not offer any terrific sights or elegant shops but it has in its own unspectacular, peaceful way a kind of sleepy charm. If you walk at the ferry pier to the right past the bus station and the lighthouse to the next side street and from there walk straight ahead you reach a (relatively) big road, named Taweeraj Pakdee. Stay on the same side of the road and walk left and you will find Nathon`s Wet Market. This is a typical East Asian market that offers fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood, as well as a large selection of Thai spices and cooking ingredients. The market is, as all Thai markets, best in the morning but it stays open until the afternoon. On Taweeraj Pakdee Road you will also find the Thai Farmer`s Bank and the Thai Military Bank (if you need to cash traveller checks) as well as some supermarkets and a lot of small shops with souvenir articles and clothes, some of them very nice. Local handicraft can be bought in Anthong Road, a narrow street that runs parallel to the sea between Taweeraj Pakdee and the harbour road. Besides the batik and souvenir shops a number of simple restaurants are also located here. If you have not come with your motor bike or a rental car and need transport back to your hotel, go back to the harbour road. The buses to Chaweng and the northern beaches leave from the stop north (i.e. left) of the ferry pier; the buses to Lamai go from the stop to the right of the lighthouse.
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