While planning for our cruise trip around South East Asia earlier this year, we had to decide on what day trip to take during our stop in Phuket, Thailand. With a wide array of options to choose from spanning from visiting an Elephant Sanctuary, snorkeling in Phi Phi Islands, boating in Pha Nga Bay, and so on. And after much research, we decided to do Pha Nga Bay, as I read that it provides different sceneries, though sometimes likened to Halong Bay in Vietnam or Palawan in the Philippines. Before this trip, the last time I was in Thailand was in 2011 in Bangkok, so I was excited to go back to the country – and better yet, to visit a new place!
The tour led by Sea Tours, the local affiliate of Royal Caribbean, begins with a bus ride from Phuket to Pha Nga for about an hour and a half with a stop in the Buddhist temple of Wat Suwan Khuha. Once you get to Phang Nga, you’ll be treated to a delicious Thai buffet, right before getting into the boat as you cruise through Phang Nga Bay. On the way back to Phuket, you’ll have one last stop at a Cashew Nut Factory, where you can buy other local snacks & souvenirs to take home.
- Price (per person) – from US$91.00
- Duration – 9 to 11 hours excluding cruise ship transfers
- Group Size – large; we were about 30 to 40 people on the tour
- Included in the Price – lunch, transportation, tour guide & the boat ride
Things to Bring:
- Sea Pass Card and Photo ID
- Sun Screen / Protection
Phang Nga Bay with Sea Tours Itinerary
Starting the day on the cruise ship – the Voyager of the Seas, we were brought to the shore of Phuket via smaller boats, as the ship was tendered and not docked. It was our second time to experience this kind of set-up; the first being in the Bahamas, which you can read about here: CocoCay: Royal Caribbean’s Island in the Bahamas | Full-Day Beach Bed Excursion. As we got to the dock, we had a few minutes to spare to take a few photos of Patong Beach, which is the first thing you’ll see upon arriving. We then headed to the bus stop, which is about an easy 10-minute walk from the beach; this was entirely led by our Sea Tours guide though, so we didn’t have to worry about getting lost. We did have to worry about crossing the street, making sure we wouldn’t get hit by any of the vehicles traversing throughout the town center. It’s still Asia after all! Wat Suwan Khuha
From Patong Beach, we drove to our first stop: Wat Suwan Khuha, the Buddhist temple housing a shrine within a cave. Some tours do this stop after Phang Nga, but for our batch, we did this stop first, which was better, in my opinion. Inside, you’ll see a reclining Buddha statue, the famous shrine inside a cavern, and a few wild monkeys!
Thai Buffet Lunch
Right by where the boats headed towards Pha Nga Bay depart from, there are a few hotels, and one of them is where we had lunch. This is one of the very few times I forgot the name of the hotel, unfortunately; but they had a Thai buffet spread prepared for lunch. From seafood to meat, vegetables, soup, fried rice, and noodles – we were absolutely stuffed by the delicious lunch that was included in the tour package. Better yet – the view we had from the outdoor patio where we dined was stunning, as we had lunch overlooking the mangrove forest and hills.
Phang Nga Bay Cruise
Thus began our cruise through Phang Nga Bay after lunch, as we ventured through spectacular limestone sceneries. The trip was absolutely outstanding, and was definitely at par with how I felt when we cruised through Halong Bay in Vietnam and Palawan back home. Though it can be likened, it must be experienced regardless if you had already seen Halong Bay or Palawan.One of the highlights of the boat cruise, although there were many, is Khao Ping Kan – otherwise known as the James Bond Island, which was the setting for the one the franchise’s films, namely: The Man with the Golden Gun.Before heading back to the dock, we had one last stop during this unforgettable Phang Nga Bay cruise, and that was Ko Panyi Water Village, which is a village whose houses and structures are interconnected with boardwalks.Though most of the area is comprised of houses, there is a commercial area as well, where there are restaurants and some retail shops you could buy a few souvenirs from, like we did. Ending the tour, we had one last stop in the Cashew Nut Factory / Souvenir Shop, where I pretty much went crazy with the local finds. You can buy local snacks, souvenirs, as well as therapeutic balms that Thailand is well-known for. Spending less than half an hour therein, we headed back to the Patong Beach area. Though the trip back was longer, as we caught up with traffic, it was a great way to end the day relaxing in the bus after seeing the beauty that is Phang Nga Bay.As we arrived into Phuket when the sun had already set, it was time to head back to the ship; but surely, I wouldn’t have spent our day in Phuket any other way. So if you’re going on a cruise through South East Asia and you don’t know which excursion to choose, then you definitely won’t go wrong with Phang Nga Bay; or if you’re simply going to Phuket for a few days, then don’t forget to do a trip out to see the wonders of Phang Nga Bay.