Reservations 877·97·CRAFT  (877·972·7238)

Nathon (Koh Samui), Thailand

The island of Koh Samui is one of the largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand.  It was settled more than 100 years ago by Chinese coconut farmers (from Hainan) and Malay fishermen. Today, coconuts and tourism are the major sources of revenue. Nathon, where the ship anchors, is a bustling town with waterfront restaurants and shops.  


The main tourist sites involve either beaches or Buddhist temples (wats)–or both. The most well-known Buddha is Phra Yai (Big Buddha), which stands 12-meters high. To reach the Buddha involves climbing some 80 steps upward along a dragon-shaped staircase. Another golden Buddha is found at Wat Sila Ngu, which some consider one of the country's most beautiful examples of temple art and design. The Kunarem Temple has on display the mummified remains of a well-known local monk Loung Pordang, who died some 20 years ago. Wat Plai Laem houses Kwan Yin, an 18-armed Buddha. (Please note modest attire is required to visit temples. No shorts are permitted, and shoes must be removed before entering; bare feet are prohibited so wear or bring socks.)


The best beach on the island is said to be Chaweng Beach, which is also near a 3-level open-air shopping mall. To learn more about Thai culture and history, tourists may visit a coconut or rubber plantation and the Samui Thai elephant sanctuary, which houses elephants that have retired from Thailand's logging industry. Tours are available to Hin Lad waterfall south of Nathon, as well as others. Time permitting, the Ang Thong Maritime National Park, some 28 km from Nathon, is worth a visit. The park consists of some 40 islands rising from the sea, some with steep cliff hundreds of meters high. Its fame comes from its use as the setting in the book The Beach that later became a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Enjoy coconut-based Thai curries scented with Thai lemon grass and basil or tasty seafood seasoned with garlic and ginger–just some of the culinary delights that await. Souvenirs include baskets, carvings from coconut shells, and Thai silk.