Last Chance Tourism isn’t a new concept. The enthralling social and psychological notion has been around for several years, feeding tourists with a desire to visit or experience a place at risk of vanishing, (or altering due to climate change), while they still can. Now, I am not suggesting that Thailand is about to disappear, however, a huge shift is most certainly on its way, so this might well be your Last Chance Tourism window of opportunity.
With a strong push by the Thai government to reopen Phuket by this summer, and a relaxation in minimum mandatory quarantine days for vaccinated travelers starting imminently, it is inevitable that tourists will be coming back.
The month of April provides one of the last periods to see the islands around Phuket as they currently are – think Phi Phi, Koh Racha Yai, Similan Islands, Hong Krabi, Railay Beach, Phang Nga Bay, Koh Lanta, etc. The list goes on and on with numerous stunning day trip options and multiple day itineraries easily accessible with 5 Star Marine’s private VIP speedboats.
So, for those of us in or around Phuket right now, we do have a small opportune timeframe in which to enjoy these islands in all their natural beauty, minus the crowds before the tourists return. April bestows fantastic water clarify to us also, which makes for an even more memorable day out on the water especially if your private VIP trip fancies a spot of snorkeling. Towards the end of April / beginning of May, this will all start to change.
Which islands around Phuket are on your bucket list? Maybe there are some on your list that you have never been to. Or perhaps you have already been to one of the islands, however, it was so crowded with tourists that it just didn’t live up to your dreams. So, take the time and take the opportunity NOW while you still can, as this literally is your last possible chance to experience the islands around Phuket in peace and quiet, before the rainy season, rougher seas, and borders reopen.
Put simply, why not embrace last chance tourism and make the effort to see somewhere you’re unlikely to ever see again in its present state?
At 5 Star Marine, we are proud to say that you, our valued customers, always remain our top priority. This means that if you would like to cancel your April adventure on the sea with us, we will happily provide a refund of your deposit, no questions asked.
We understand that right now, with everything going on, you might want to postpone your plans until you feel safer traveling. We will honor all cancelations – not with credit notes, but with honest fast refunds.
Just get in contact with us via the booking channel that you used and provide us your bank details so we can swiftly process your refund.
We are dedicated to making your time on the sea a 5-star experience in every way, and look forward to welcoming you back in the future should you decide to cancel your current booking.
5 Star Marine wants to reassure everyone that our essential community work will continue; supporting the most vulnerable people with our life bag donation program we have been running for over 14 months to date. Our life bags are crucially needed to help those in need during this economic crisis; each one supports a family of 4 people for 5 days.
Please note that our volunteering packing life bag efforts at Sutai Muay Thai on Saturday mornings will pause for the time being. This decision was made (6th April 2021) as a proactive measure in the interests of all our volunteers’ safety. Please rest assured that life bags will still be packed and distributed, but only by 5 Star Marine staff in a controlled environment.
ANNOUNCEMENT – Thailand Pass Rules Update Frequently, The Information In The Below Post Is Now Out Of Date For Latest News Please Visit: https://5starmarinephuket.com/phuket-sandbox-rules-and-updates/
International Arrivals Requirements
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced a full list of the requirements for vaccinated international travelers to enter Phuket with reduced quarantine measures.
StageThe new requirements came into effect on April 1st, 2021, and are split into two stages:
- April 1st, 2021 until June 30th, 2021 – Relaxation in quarantine requirements (7 days)*
- July 1st, 2021 onwards – Quarantine requirements lifted
International tourists who want to enter Phuket from April 1st will be required to demonstrate proof that they have had 2x doses of a World Health Organisation (WHO) recognized vaccine (refer to Accepted Vaccine section), as well as having all essential documents noted below.
Essential Documents Required
- Valid vaccine certificate (an original paper or a print-out of an online vaccine certificate): A medical certificate with laboratory results indicating COVID-19 has not been detected. This should use the RT-PCR method and be issued less than 72 hours before departure.
- A Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate.
- Valid visa or re-entry permit.
- Health insurance policy to include a COVID-19 policy with a minimum coverage of US$100,000.
- Confirmation of Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel booking (Stage 1).
The TAT also confirmed that as of Mar 31 the following vaccines were accepted:
- ARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (CoronaVac) by Sinovac (2 doses needed)
- AZD1222 by AstraZeneca/Oxford (2 doses needed)
- AZD1222 by SK BIOSCIENCE – AstraZeneca/Oxford (2 doses needed)
- BNT162b2/CORMIRNATY – Tozinameran (INN) by Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses needed)
- Covishield (ChAdOx1_nCoV19) by the Serum Institute of India (2 doses needed)
- Ad26.COV2.S by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (1 dose needed)
- mRNA-1273 by Moderna (2 doses needed)
Travelers are recommended to enquire at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in their home country for up-to-date and full details.
Arriving at Phuket International Airport
Upon arrival, tourists will go through COVID-19 screening, including PCR tests. They will also be required to download a specified track and trace application to ensure that they only visit the designated areas.
* Quarantine will be reduced to 7 days for international arrivals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine, approved, and registered with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or approved by the WHO, no less than 14 days before the traveling date. However, they must be from countries with no mutated strain of SAR-CoV-2 virus as announced and constantly updated by the MoPH, the TAT note. (Source: The Phuket News)
Stage 2 – July 1st, 2021
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn stated that “Phuket will be the pilot destination that will lift quarantine requirements from 1 July onwards while other destinations will still require a seven-day quarantine. Starting from the fourth quarter of this year, quarantine is expected to be lifted entirely in all areas.”
Exceptions to Reduced Quarantine Measures
Vaccinated international arrivals who are unable to present a valid vaccine certificate to the International Port Health Control at the port of arrival, will be subjected to no less than a 10-day quarantine, the TAT confirmed.
The quarantine period will be reduced from 14 days (15 nights) to 10 days (11 nights) for international arrivals from countries with no mutated strain of SAR-CoV-2 virus who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have not completed the full vaccination, it added.
The current 14-day quarantine period remains in place for people arriving from the 11 countries with SAR-CoV-2 virus mutations and variants as announced by the MoPH (as of Mar 31); namely, Botswana; Cameroon; Congo; Ghana; Kenya; Mozambique; Rwanda; South Africa; Tanzania; Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
RT-PCR Test Schedule
During quarantine in Thailand, foreigners are required to undergo an RT-PCR test on Days 5-6 for those under a 7-day quarantine. For a 10-day quarantine, two tests are required on Days 3-5 and Days 9-10. For a 14-day quarantine, three tests are required on the day of arrival, Days 6-7, and Days 12-13. (Source: The Phuket News)
(Image credit Richard Barrow)
With virtually no tourists around, why not take some time now to visit one of the (normally) busiest islands in Ao Phang Nga National Park – the one and only James Bond Island.
With a custom Phang Nga Bay tour, 5 Star Marine will guide you around hidden coves and lagoons, as well as stopping off at the iconic island which became a major attraction after featuring in the 1974 Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun.
Phang Nga truly is one of natures’ spectacular works of art; where the vast karst rock scenery presents a visually stunning location. In fact, with the sheer number of unique formations, you could explore here for days.
On your private day trip, you could stop by Panak Island to float along gently inside one of the hidden caves surrounded by mangroves, before enjoying a peaceful golden bay all to yourself. Move onto Ko Kudu Yai to take in the exquisite beauty of the clear turquoise water in this stunning lagoon.
At lunchtime make a stop at the small island community of Koh Panyee; where huts, houses, and restaurants are built on stilts over the water. Don’t miss the opportunity to see their unique floating football pitch either! Then get your Bond Instagram to pose ready as you make your way to James Bond Island, (Khao Phing Kan); An internationally renowned tourist destination since appearing as the hideout for Bond’s antagonist, Scaramanga.
Boats are not allowed too close, as this is a protected marine area, but you can view the famous sight from Koh Ping Ghan; an island with an immensely tall leaning rock and some small caves to explore. With the tourists gone you can see the island properly minus the crowds. Take your time to stroll around, in peace and quiet for the first time in around 40 years.
After getting your fill of this notorious island, you can continue on to enjoy some sea canoeing or more cave exploring before making your way back to base. Perhaps you might make a final sunset stop at Koh Pear, a small strip of an island that looks and feels like you are walking on water – a perfect end to the day.
5 Star Marine’s Phang Nga Bay tour creates an unforgettable time at this world-renowned destination.
Thailand’s local wildlife has been given a much-needed chance to recover since the disappearance of tourists flooding in. Islands and national parks have seen sea and wildlife populations start to return, making right now a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out and explore.
The Sea Life Safari offers a chance to relax and enjoy the abundance of marine animals over 2 days and 1 night, where the 5 Star Marine team uses their experience and expertise to take you to little-known coves, bays, and secret spots to glimpse the fantastic wildlife on offer.
The two idyllic Racha Islands, (Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi), provide the ideal destination to enjoy nature; with some of the best snorkeling reefs in Thailand, tropical white powdery beaches, and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Koh Racha Yai has situated a mere 45-minute speedboat ride away. However, to experience the plethora of marine life on offer, you need to venture a little further to its smaller twin, Koh Racha Noi – An uninhabited rocky island, with plenty of fantastic snorkeling bays.
During this 2-day trip, you can take your time to relax on stunning deserted beaches, snorkel at both islands and dine at local restaurants in beautiful bays. When you want to explore the local wildlife, 5 Star Marine knows all the best spots.
You might get lucky enough to encounter a pod of inquisitive dolphins playing near your boat, or even see some Green or Hawksbill turtles who are fundamental to our marine ecosystems. Look up to the skies to catch sight of the unusual Hornbills, which are characterized by their long, downcurved bill with a bright yellow casque (or horn) on top.
Get the opportunity to glimpse some smooth-coated sea otters, which have even been known to try to get aboard! How about dragon spotting? OK, not exactly, but Thailand’s Monitor Lizards can grow up to a staggering 2 meters long.
Last, but certainly not least; the stunning coral reefs around these twin islands are just teeming with aquatic life, and make for excellent snorkeling. There are opportunities to see giant starfish, pufferfish, or sea turtles, and reef fish like Parrotfish, snapper, and angelfish can be found in the shallow waters just steps from the beach where you have your pick of snorkeling spots.
Although sightings of these creatures cannot be guaranteed, one thing is for sure; when tourists do return, spotting some of these animals will again become a rarer opportunity.
2 day / 1 night Sea Life Safari itinerary with FREE round trip private minibus transfers available now.
Due to strong support by our local ex-pat community, 5 Star Marine is proud to announce the arrival of Lucus 5. Adding to our existing fleet of 3 VIP Custom Private Speedboats, Lucus 5 is a 39 feet speedboat complete with back decking, Bluetooth sound, 2 X 250 HP Yamaha Engines, VIP Matting, and full fixtures and fittings.
This boat is perfect for cruising to the Island Destinations surrounding Phuket like Phi Phi, Raya, Phang Nga, and beyond. It is comfortable in all sea conditions and can reach over 42 Knots.
If you are looking for a safe, reliable, and cost-effective Private Boat in Phuket then you can’t look past Lucus 5.
I am often asked when I join our customers on tour what is my favorite destination to visit on a Private Boat Tour. The answer to the question is difficult and my answer will change dependent on the season. But one part of my answer will always stay the same and that is that Phang Nga Bay is the most visually stunning above-the-water area to explore.
Why Is Phang Nga Bay So Stunning?
With 47 Islands in the Bay (I think there is more, but at 47 who’s counting?) just entering Phang Nga Bay is a stunning and moving experience. As you cruise into the bay and see the length of the bay, the number of islands, the stalactites, and formations you will be stunned.
I often say to our customers that entering Phang Nga Bay is like stepping into a Jurassic Park movie. The setting is very similar and the feeling of the bay is amazing. As you look around Phang Nga Bay and marvel at how the island formations were made, how some of the stalactites have grown you really start to appreciate it’s a true wonder.
Is James Bond Island In Phang Nga Bay?
While Phang Nga Bay is better known to tourists as the area where James Bond Island is located, to me as a Private Boat Charter Company I truly believe that James Bond Island is just one of many stunning islands and formations in Phang Nga Bay.
I feel the overwhelming joy that James Bond was filmed in Phang Nga Bay as it gives a marketing attraction and motivation to enter the Bay. But the reality is that once you are in the Bay James Bond Island becomes irrelevant as you marvel at the true wonder and beauty of Phang Nga Bay.
There is no better way to explore Phang Nga Bay, the Mangroves, the Hongs, and the Hidden Caves than by Private Speedboat. Let us take you on a journey into the mystical Phang Nga Bay.
After a pretty rough 2020, we were hoping that 2021 would see a more stable and predictable Domestic Tourism market and the return in a small way of an international tourism market. The reality is that the start of 2021 has seen a lot of uncertainty combined with a resurgence in Covid 19 cases here in Thailand.
To date, Phuket has been lucky enough to not have reported many cases from the recent outbreak but with the amount of inter-provincial travel that occurred over the New Year period, it’s a matter of time before more cases are reported.
What Is 5 Star Marine Doing In Response To The Covid Resurgence?
At this time the Provincial Government of Phuket has not restricted our business or Private Boat Tour companies from operating. We have been ordered to increase the amount of Covid Screening we are doing at our pier.
So in response to the Covid Resurgence, we have implemented as follows:
1. Travel Advice – We have advised customers of ours that have booked multi-day tours outside of the Phuket Province about the possible effect that Covid will have on our ability to complete these tours. We have offered our customers the ability to cancel and refund their tours. We do not offer credits or deferred dates, we prefer to provide full refunds and wait for the government response to Covid to stabilize.
2.One Day Tours – We are operating all of our single-day tours to Phi Phi, Raya, Phang Nga Bay, Hong island, and beyond as normal. For these tours, you will be screened at the pier per our normal TAT SHA accreditation with hand sanitizer and medical masks available on all our boats.
3.Staff Screening – We are screening all of our staff per our TAT SHA regulations and response plan. To date, our staff has not returned any failed screenings but we continue to monitor the situation.
4.Boat Cleaning – We deep clean our boats daily, sanitize all our equipment, and use recommended and regulated procedures to do this in addition to our Company Response Plan which has been in play since March 2020.
Do You Have Availability?
For certain we have bookings and availability on all our boats. Due to orders issued by the BMA and advice provided to inter-provincial travelers a lot of our pre-bookings have now canceled and crews of all our boats are available to complete tours upon request.
Will You Continue Your Donation Program?
We have recommitted with our volunteer team to continue our Life Bag donation program in 2021 with the first day of packing starting on January 4th, 2021.
With travel looking like it will still be restricted in the upcoming Christmas break some of us are looking at what we can do to keep our kids entertained and maybe explore something that we have not seen before.
The good news is that in the December / January period we are past the Wet Season and into our Dry Season which means flat seas, clear water, sunny skies, and the opening of all of the national parks around the Phuket area.
As an owner of a Phuket Private Boat Charter company, my recommendations are a little biased but they are based on firsthand experience.
Multi-Day Island Hopping Trip
Over the last past few weeks, we have done trips like this. Where we pack onto the boat and head off exploring. Booking accommodation last minute, jumping from island to island, and just living a free life on the sea.
The first trip we did was a 3 Day 2 Night trip that took us to Phi Phi, Krabi, Yao Yai, and beyond. We had some adventurous customers on board so we went snorkeling, swimming, lagoon hopping, and even went and snorkeled with some reef sharks.
The second trip we did was a 3 Day 2 Night trip that took us to Koh Haa, Koh Rok, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lanta. A truly stunning trip with some of the most amazing snorkeling that you have ever seen. If you really want to find the untouched paradises this is the trip for you and it’s suitable for people of all ages.
Koh Haa / Koh Rok / Koh Lipe
Out past, Phi Phi is these 3 paradise islands. Koh Haa is a beautiful spot for snorkeling where you have a high chance of seeing turtles and other amazing marine life. The coral reefs are alive with color and marine life. Do yourself a favor and while the international borders are restricted take a break out to Koh Haa.
Koh Rok is just 35 minutes past Koh Haa and again has the most amazing reef. You will see heaps of Clown Fish and other amazing varieties. What we love about Koh Rok is the colorful reef as well as the clear water.
Koh Lipe is a bit of a ride from Phuket, so take a few days to stay over while out there and explore things like 8 Mile Rock and the Black Beach. See Whale Sharks and more at locations like this. Truly an idealistic paradise.
Similan Islands / Surin Islands
With the change of season islands like Similan Island and Surin Island open up as possible destinations and are great places for relaxation, snorkeling, and exploration. Similan is a set of islands and Surin is just a beautiful untouched paradise.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started on what you could be doing this Christmas holiday. If you would like some custom recommendations just contact us and let us know what you’d like to experience and we will tailor something for you.x