Nathon is the island's administrative centre, main port and sea gateway located on the north-west coast, where car and passenger ferries sail between the Thai Mainland province of Suratthani an hour and a half away. It is also the jumping off point for the islands of Koh Tao which is known for some of the best scuba diving in the Gulf of Siam, and Koh Phangan better known as Full Moon Island for its monthly beach parties.
A monthly migration of party-going backpackers and tourists has produced a profusion of sarong shops, clothing boutiques, bakeries, second hand bookshops, travel agents and internet cafes which have sprung up along the waterfront and main thoroughfare making it a lively spot for browsing. Major supermarkets such as Tesco Lotus also provide international shopping for the adjoining districts of Lipa Noi and Laem Noi.
Of special interest for visitors are the charming rows of old Chinese shop houses along the middle street which bear witness to the town's exotic history as a strategic trading port and which now sell an eclectic range of unusual goods. Dining at any of the waterfront seafood restaurants one can experience a taste of truly authentic and spicy, local cuisine, while the weekly 'walking street market' has become something of an attraction for the town with its myriad vendors selling local and international delicacies and goods.
Set in the lush green hills behind Nathon, many beautiful villas and condominiums enjoy some of the most beautiful views of the outlying islands and Thai Mainland in the distance, and some of the most spectacular sunsets.