Star Cruises Superstar Libra Ship - Guide to Shore Excursion and Phuket
Update: StarCruises Superstar Libra is currently doing the Halong Bay Cruise
Update: This article was initially written as a guide if you intent to go on shore excursion in Phuket on the Super Star Libra Penang-Phuket-Krabi cruise. Super Star Libra now no longer ply this route and is now doing the Halong Bay-Danang-Hue cruise in Vietnam,
However, if this is the first time you go on sea cruise or visiting Phuket, you can still use this article as a guide.
Do You Have to do Shore Excursions on a Cruise?
Shore excursions are optional and are not inclusive in your cruise fare. You can either join the shore excursions organized by Star Cruises Superstar Libra or do it on your own.
If you choose to remain on the ship, there are many activities on board that will keep you occupied. Or you can take advantage of the discounts offered for massage, hair and beauty treatment. This is usually offered when the ship is in port.
Are Shore Excursions Worth It?
If you have not been to Phuket, then you should venture and explore this exotic place. Even if you have been there before, there are so many things to see and do that you didn't have enough time to do them when you last visited Phuket. So, give it another shot.
It will cost you a bit more to do shore excursions, but it will enhance your cruise vacation.
Should I Join Superstar Libra Shore Excursions or Do My Own Arrangements?
You have only nine hours to explore the many exciting things to see and do in Phuket. If you minus the travelling time, depending on where and what you do, you have effectively only six hours. Hence, you need to plan and organize your activities well.
If you intent to do it on your own, please do a thorough research of what are available and what you like to do. Plan the time taken for each activity and check the prices. You may save some money if you do it this way. Just make sure you get back on time.
If you join the excursion organized by Superstar Libra, it will cost you more, but you don't have to do the research. Just go and enjoy yourself. You are also guaranteed that the ship will not leave port without you and the rest of your tour groups.
Oh yes, you also enjoy priority disembarkation when you arrive at Phuket or Krabi port. The downside to these shore excursions are the endless stops for shopping at places that are expensive and for items that you don't intend to buy.
So whether you join Star Cruises shore excursion or do it on your own, depends on your preference and budget.
My advice is to join Superstar Libra organized tours if the activity ends late at night or the destination is far. It will at least guarantee your return to the ship. Otherwise, you can do it on your own or join the Phuket based tour operators.
Shore Excursions Offered by Star Cruises Superstar Libra
Superstar Libra shore and land excursions are varied to cover all areas of interest. But, there will always be a few stops here and there for shopping! It also has a minimum and maximum number of participants that are allowed to join any particular trip. If you have decided on the activity you want to do in Phuket and you will join Superstar Libra's organized tour, then I suggest you book early, as it is on a first-come-first-served basis.
On our sail date of September, 28th to October 1st, 2014, the followings were the packages offered for us to discover Phuket:
Shore Excursion Package
1. Shopping Spree in Phuket at RM109 per pax. Duration about 8.5 hours
Visit Wat Chalong temple, cashew nut factory, Wang Talang for souvenirs & precious stone, shop for dried food, T-shirt factory and Jungceylon shopping complex
2. Sightseeing & Shopping at RM79 per pax. Duration about 8.5 hours
Visit the southernmost tip of Phuket, cashew nut factory, souvenirs at Wang Talang, Premium outlet, T-shirt wholesale shop and lastly Jungceylon shopping complex
Shore Excursion Package
3. Round trip to Patong beach at RM56 per pax. Duration 8.5 hours
Stop at Wang Talang for souvenirs before being dropped off at Patong beach. Free & easy.
4. Thai massage and shopping at RM177 per pax. Duration 8.5 hours
Two hours of traditional Thai massage, then stress yourself again with shopping at cashew nut factory, Wang Talang for souvenirs and Jungceylon shopping mall.
5. Visit Phuket landmarks and Shopping at RM194 per pax. Duration 8.5 hours
Visit the southernmost tip of Phuket, Wat Chalong buddhist temple, Big Buddha at Narkkerd Mountain, cashew nut factory, Wang Talang for souvenirs and finally, Jungceylon shopping mall
6. Sea cave canoe adventure at RM372 per pax. Duration 8 hours
Shop at Pornthip sea store for dry sauteed food before proceeding to Phang Nga Bay
7. Phuket Fantasea with dinner at RM374 per pax. Duration 8.5 hours
Shopping at Jungceylon shopping centre before proceeding to Phuket Fantasea for buffet dinner and Las Vegas-styled show
8. Siam Niramit show with dinner at RM374 per pax. Duration 9.5 hours
Visit Wat Chalong temple, cashew nut factory, Wang Talang for souvenirs, more shopping at premium outlet before finally see the spectacular Siam Niramit show
Shore Excursion Package
9. Simon cabaret show at RM164 per pax. Duration 8 hours
Visit Promthep Cape, the southernmost tip of Phuket, then Wat Chalong Buddhist temple, cashew nut factory, Wang Talang for souvenirs, Jungceylon shopping mall before the extravagant cabaret show where men are dressed as women
10. Adventure escapade at RM69 per pax. Duration 8.5 hours
Wang Talang for souvenirs before you are taken to Kinnaree Entertainment Complex for shooting range, elephant ride, Phuket monkey school, cobra show, paintball and Go-Kart. Package price does not include these activities. You have to pay extra for these & they give you only 2 hours at this complex before you are taken to cashew nut factory, Patong beach then back to ship.
11. Elephant Riding Adventure at RM164 per pax. Duration 9 hours
You are given only 30 minutes to enjoy the elephant ride, elephant show & monkey show before you are taken for shopping at cashew nut, souvenirs at Wang Talang, Jungceylon shopping mall and Wat Chalong temple
Shore Excursion Package
12. Zipline Skytrek Adventure at RM344 per pax. Duration 7 hours
First shopping at Pornthip sea store for sauteed food, T-shirt factory then only you get to enjoy flying hanuman, ziplines, abseiling, sky bridge etc. Finally you will be taken to Patong beach
13. Scenic Phang Nga Bay at RM224 per pax. Duration 7.5 hours
Take the 1.5 hours bus ride to Phang Bay province. Then take the boat to Phang Nga Bay and see James Bond Island etc. On the way back to ship, stop at T-shirt factory for shopping
14. Free and Easy on Your Own at RM615 per van with max 12 pax. Fee inclusive of van use & tour guide. All other expenses for visit are extra. Duration 7 hours
Plan your own itinerary with the van driver for shopping, sightseeing etc.
Explore Phuket on Your Own
You can save time and money by doing Phuket on your own or in the company of friends and relatives. Then you can skip the cashew nut factory, T-shirt factory etc. that are not in your wish list.
You can hire a cab at port or make prior arrangement online, before your cruise date. You can use Superstar Libra van hire cost as a guide i.e. it costs RM615 per van for maximum 12 pax. Hence, your round trip to explore Phuket inclusive of van hire and driver cum guide should not be more than RM51 per person. And, this is for 7-hours.
What to do and see in Phuket? Plenty. Beside the places to see and do as in Superstar Libra itinerary, here are ten unique suggestions for you to explore further:
1. Shop at Jim Thompson for Thai Silk
Jim Thompson Thai silk collection is probably the best known silk in the region. You can shop for Jim Thompson Thai silk at six different places in Phuket, but the boutique is in Phuket town. It is on the ground floor of Central Festival shopping mall, at 74-75 Wichitsongkran Road.
2. Buy Original Art or Reproduction Painting
You can shop for art all over Phuket, but with limited time on your side, Patong has several galleries for you to explore. Besides selling original art, there are also reproduction paintings by famous artists that are on sale at the galleries.
3. Get a Tattoo in Phuket
Why? Because if you are into tattoo, then you are in the right place. Tattooing is a serious business in Phuket. You can even have Thailand's religious tattoos, 'Sak Yant’ that is claimed to give you certain power.
There are over ten tattoo shops at Patong beach itself, so it is not hard for you to find one that you like. Price starts from 1,000 Baht, but on average an hour's work cost about 3,800 Baht.
4. Rent a Bike and Explore Phuket on Your Own
It is more fun to see and explore Phuket on a bike. It is even better if you do it with a group of friends. But there are always some element of risks and dangers when you opt for this experience. As a guide, take note of the followings:
- Rent your bike from a reputable firm. Rental varies depending on the models you choose. For Yamaha Fino, it will cost you about 200 Baht a day. However, this comes with no insurance and none of the rental company will give you one. In addition, there will be a 3000 Baht refundable deposit.
- Make sure you have your driving license with you. Since your passport is kept by Star Cruises, bring along a photostat copy and your Superstar Libra I/D.
- In Thailand, you drive on the left side of the road, but expect some bikers to break this rule. This happens when it comes to intersection, traffic light area or when they want to take shortcut. Watch out for lorries and cars as well, as they too will break traffic rules.
- Always wear the safety helmet
- Get from the bike rental company telephone numbers to call if you are in trouble
- Lastly, don't drink and drive.
5. Or Instead, Rent a Bicycle to Explore Phuket
If you don't intend to travel far, then cycling may be a cheaper and better option. There are several bicycle rental companies, but you will find most of them in Patong area.
Make sure you check and test the bike and read the rental terms before you sign the agreement.
Phuket is not a flat island and there are several steep roads that you have to travel. There is also no dedicated lane for cyclist and tourist places are very built-up. So, casual cycling may not be easy and can be challenging.
6. Enjoy Seafood and Thai Cuisine
Phuket is famous for its fresh sea harvest and when you are in Phuket, you must try their seafood. For a better ambience, check out the floating restaurants or restaurants by the pier or at seaside location.
Besides seafood, Thailand has other great dishes for you to try. After all, trying local dishes should be part of your travel experience.
Phuket has a large selection of eating places from the expensive hotel outlets to simple roadside stalls. Find one that suits your budget and choice of food. It is a big change from the foods that you get onboard the ship.
7. Explore Phuket's Other Beaches
There are over 40 beaches on Phuket Island and the most well-known are Patong, Kata and Karon. If you want to explore the not so crowded and tourist-filled beaches, then check out the following beaches that are not that far away from Patong:
- Pon Beach (also known as Nai Yair Beach): This small bay with white sand is almost quiet and lonely. The beach is beautiful, but not recommended for swimming because of its rocky seabed. It is more suitable for snorkeling. Located north of Patong, access to this beach is difficult. There is no directional signage and you have to cross a private property to gain access to Pon Beach.
- Paradise Beach: Located south of Patong, this beautiful beach is also not suitable for swimming due to its rocky seabed. But it is excellent for snorkeling.
- Laemka Beach: This is in the southern part of Phuket and like the earlier beaches; there is no directional signage to the beach. You can swim at this beach and there are resort hotel and villas nearby.
8. Visit Old Phuket Town
The old part of Phuket town is along Thalang road and is filled with Sino Portuguese architecture. Many of these buildings were recently restored and application for inclusion into UNESCO heritage site list has yet to be approved. You will enjoy this visit if you like heritage buildings and old architecture. On Sunday, Thalang road is closed for its weekly night market. Unfortunately, Superstar Libra is in Phuket only on Monday, so you can't visit this famous night market.
9. Take Your Kids to the Theme Parks
Even if you don't have kids with you on this cruise, you can always enjoy the day at Splash Jungle Phuket Water Park and Phuket Wake Park (previously known as Phuket Cable Ski)
Splash Jungle is near Mai Khao Beach, just north of Phuket Airport. Entrance fee is pricy at 1,495 and 750 Baht for adults and kids respectively. It is part of West Sands Resort, a 48-acre premium residential development.
Phuket Wake Park is the place for you to try wakeboarding, waterskiing and kneeboarding on its 400m long artificial lake. Entrance fee is 1000 Baht for two-hour session and 1500 Baht if you take the whole day package. It is not far from Patong Beach and is along the road to Kathu Waterfall.
10. Do Bungee Jump in Phuket
There are three places to pump up your adrenaline with bungee jump, in Phuket:
- Jungle Bungee: This is at Wichitsongkram in Katu and you jump from a 53m crane towards a pond. It is open daily from 9am until 6pm and will cost you from 2,100 to 3,000 Baht. You have a choice of Bungee Jump, Tandem Bungee, Catapult Bungee, Backwards Bungee or Water Touch Bungee.
- Tarzan's Catapult Bungee: This is at Patong Beach on Soi Sunset, not far from Expat Hotel. It uses elastic cord, not for jumping, but to catapult you up in the air.
- World Bungee Jump: Located at Sainamyen Road, Patong Beach, it is open daily from 9:30 am until 6:30 pm. This 60m bungee jump will cost you 1,650 Baht and is inclusive of T-shirt and bungee jump certificate.
Enjoy Exhilarating Phuket
Phuket is not perfect, but it has enjoyed several tourism awards including the best island escape in Asia.
It has many unique things to offer and is even dubbed the sex-change capital of Thailand!
So there is no reason why you should skip Phuket for the shore excursion.
The difficult part is to choose which itinerary to follow with the limited time you have in Phuket. I cannot help decide for you, but the above guides and suggestions should be able to help you in your decision making process.
Have fun and enjoy exhilarating Phuket.
© 2014 Mazlan
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