For anyone arriving by boat as a passenger, Nathon is the island’s main port (car ferries also dock at Lipa Noi, a few kilometers 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.
Samui’s administrative and business centre doesn’t offer a great deal to the short stay tourist. ATM’s and postal facilities are now available in most other places on the island, but Nathon is the place to go for full banking services and the main Post Office, which also has a telecoms centre for overseas calls.
Accommodation is cheap and plentiful, but as few tourists have any need to stay the night, it’s primarily aimed at the local market.