360 Degrees, Yes Please

Ko Hong Krabi and the smaller Krabi province archipelagos are typically quieter than the more popular Phi Phi or Phang Nga Bay areas. However, the area provides you with everything you could want from a day out with your friends or family – snorkeling, discovering white sandy private beaches, hiking, or sightseeing – there is something to keep everyone happy. 

Ko Hong Krabi sits in-between the Koh Yao Islands and Krabi mainland and already had a great name for itself with its stunning lagoon. Entering through a narrow passageway you are greeted by the scenic and mesmerizing Ko Hong Lagoon. This striking turquoise body of shallow water is surrounded by high rock walls lined with lush mangroves giving a forgotten world feeling to it. Only accessible by small boat or longtail, some areas are so clear and shallow you can easily see your feet on the underwater sand.   

You could even get to enjoy the mystical sense of being in this bright turquoise lagoon all to yourselves as 5 Star Marine have the knowledge and expertise to miss the rush and give you the most private and memorable time here.  

After taking in the vibrant colors of Ko Hong Lagoon, let your adventurous side loose and make your way around to the most recent addition to the island; the breathtaking 360o Viewpoint. This impressive metal staircase structure was built in 2020, during Covid, and was designed to give panoramic 360o views of Krabi and the surrounding islands. It certainly delivers and is arguably one of the best seascape views of the Krabi island sets, Phang Nga Bay, and surrounding islands in the national park that you can get from anywhere. 

The climb is not for the fainthearted as you need to ascend the metal stairs (all 419 of them) and progress along wooden walkways for around 10 – 15 minutes in the heat before reaching the top viewing platform. Here, your efforts will be greatly rewarded with the most spectacular view. At around 109 meters above sea level, it is definitely a steep climb, but totally doable and worth the exertion to get to the top to see views of tropical islands and karst limestone mountains jutting out of the emerald waters. This experience is perfect for a group of friends or families with children; just remember to take shoes with you.

Once you have had your fill of these stunning panoramic seascapes, make your way back down to the shore and catch your breath before heading out to your pick of fantastic snorkeling and island locations nearby. With clear waters, secluded lagoons, and abundant marine life in the shallow and deep-water coral reefs; you could even get lucky enough to spot a reef shark on your adventure. 

With so much to see and do, the Krabi Islands are a perfect mix for sightseeing, adventure, snorkeling, and private white sandy beaches. 

360 View Hong Krabi

Photo credit – sunny_rung

Closure Notice

IMPORTANT NOTICE: As of today (Sunday 18th April) 5 Star Marine are pausing all tours for 14 days, in line with the brand-new Government requirement announcement. In summary, these new guidelines outline that:

1. Restricted Activities – underwater pursuits are prohibited, including snorkeling/diving;

2. Restricted Areas – Phuket is a ‘red zone’ which means our speedboats cannot access Phi Phi and Krabi areas, etc.

To make these newest requirements as seamless as possible for all our customers, please get in touch and we will honor all cancellations (no matter how far in advance) with honest, 100% refunds. Please rest assured we are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe, and the Government provincial team will be cleaning our pier, boats, and office, plus all staff members are receiving the PCR Covid-19 test.  

Throughout this challenging time, we will continue to maintain and support our staff and community donation programs – We understand that the community needs us now. . . more than ever. 

All Good Things Must Come to an End

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?

Complete Guide to Getting into Thailand – Updated April 2021

International Arrivals Requirements

Introduction

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.  

Stages

The new requirements came into effect on April 1st, 2021, and are split into two stages:

  1. April 1st, 2021 until June 30th, 2021 – Relaxation in quarantine requirements (7 days)*
  2. July 1st, 2021 onwards – Quarantine requirements lifted

Requirements

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).

Accepted Vaccines

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)

 

three-stage-roadmap-to-reopen-Thailand-info.thumb.jpeg.6390a1a8fbf843d9ba42773c92a7b50f

(Image credit Richard Barrow)

UWC Lends a Helping Hand to 5 Star Marine

5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay Thai continued to support vulnerable communities in and around Phuket and Phang Nga for over a year now, and to date, we have exceeded over 150,000 life bag donations, (each of the bags contains enough staple supplies to feed a family of 5 for around 4 days). 5 Star Marine’s speedboats enabled to access some of the most at-risk areas and allowed the charity efforts to go further afield. 

Given the complete scale of operations, they recently put out a petition, not for donations, but for more people to help packing of donation bags. So when UWC Thailand International School proposed that they could help as part of their community and Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA’s), this offer was gratefully received. More helping hands was exactly what 5 Star Marine was looking for!  

Packing and delivering over 2,000 life bags each and every week is an immense commitment and the 5 Star Marine team has committed a significant amount of time and effort already. Now thankfully, we have more willing volunteers, as students and teachers help out weekly both on and off-campus.

The school will be providing a 20+ strong team of students and teachers each Saturday to assist with the community packing at Sutai Muay Thai. These sorts of activities are a vital part of student life and learning; providing an opportunity to bring students, staff, and parents, (as well as the wider community), together.

In addition to the off-campus efforts, there will be a weekly group of students (up to around 50), who will aim to pack 1,000 life bags each week for this worthy initiative. In true UWC style, the school has launched a competition inviting all students to challenge the packing process and in particular to look at how to reduce plastic usage, re-use, or recycle elements of the current food packing practices. 

5 Star Marine team are grateful for the hands-on-deck needed, and the response from UWC has been a perfect fit to help with these donation efforts. They continue to take the safety of all school and other volunteers, beneficiaries, and staff as of paramount importance, with all donation activities being overseen by public health officers and local arbiters; adhering to screening, sanitizing, and queuing with social distancing guidelines.

Food Glorious Food

The last year has seen so many restaurants sadly close their doors around Thailand due to the lack of tourists. However, the last thing anyone wants to worry about when booking a private speedboat tour to a beautiful location around Phuket, is whether anywhere will be open to stopping for lunch or not. 

With this in mind, 5 Star Marine has ensured that all passengers continue to enjoy the best experience possible by launching a new, super convenient, and tempting day trip picnic menu. 

Lunch menu orders will be delivered to the 5 Star Marine pier in Boat Lagoon ready for your boat trip to Phang Nga Bay, Krabi, Phi Phi, and beyond. This means you will have more time to enjoy the lead-up to your trip and certainly be able to alleviate any concerns on where to get lunch on the day itself. 

This new offering means you can sit back and relax and know a delicious picnic lunch will be ready for you to enjoy, perhaps on a deserted beach, hidden lagoon, or even at a stunning viewpoint. The team will make sure you can sit back and enjoy your lunch in comfort.

The menu essentially features some firm favorites which are easy to eat on or off the board, and cater to vegetarians and meat eaters alike with a selection of set lunches on offer. There are 10 different sets to choose from, here are our top 3 choices to give you a glimpse of what there is on offer:

  1. Grilled vegetable and tofu ciabatta sandwich served with crisps
  2. Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich served with crisps
  3. Mixed peas, feta cheese, and pomegranate seed salad with dressing

Please remember to order from the menu at least 48 hours before your trip, by messaging Shaun on 0937206221

Phang Nga Bay Private Boat Tour

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 into 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 then by Private Speedboat. Let us take you on a journey into the mystical Phang Nga Bay.

Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai Transfers

Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai Transfers

Our team was lucky enough to recently visit and stay at Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai as they are offering Post Covid specials which are simply spectacular.  The Santhiya Resort has been one of our dream places to visit and stay as we often do return Private Boat Transfers to the resort as well as Private Boat Excursions from the resort.

We were not disappointed by Santhiya Resort.  The infinity pool looking out into Phang Nga Bay and over to Phuket has to be the highlight of the entire resort.  Relaxing in the pool, having a quiet drink, and watching the sunset in one of the most picturesque areas of Phuket cannot be missed.

Resort view

Also, all rooms at the resort have fantastic views out into Phang Nga Bay, and the rooms we stayed in all held spas on the balconies making for a nice touch.  The resort has some amazing woodwork making it all have a very authentic Thai feel.

The beach that affronts Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai is always quiet.  It’s not an extremely well-known tourist destination but it is fantastic for swimming and young children.  Lucus, our 7-year-old, had a great time playing on the beach, chasing crabs, and swimming in the calm seas.

Being a Private Boat company here in Phuket we are happy to offer the services of our boats and crew for anyone looking to get away from the mainland and have a break.  Santhiya is offering amazing deals right now.  Contact us to find out how we can offer you a Private Boat Transfer to Santhiya Resort or combine a day trip with a stopover at Santhiya Resort.

beach view
5 Star Marine view

What Are The Best Private Boat Tours For Young Children?

As a father of a 7-year-old boy, I understand what it’s like to take Children out on tour as a parent.  Lucus, my son, has been coming out on boats since he was 6 months old and I’ve found that as he gets older the kinds of tours that he can join the change.

Based on my personal experience with my son Lucus and the children we’ve had on board here is what we would recommend in terms of Private Boat Tours for young children.

 

Lucus On A Private Boat
Lucus On Board At 7 Years Old

Age 6 Months to 2 Years Old – Private Boat Tours

At this age, your child is most probably too young to really experience any of the tours so the tour selection should come down to something that you would like to see and is safe for your child as well.

Generally, this means you should consider a tour into Phang Nga Bay / James Bond Island as the water is calm, the speed of the Private Boat slower, and the chance of bumps during your ride considerably less.  Also, Phang Nga Bay tours can be done in as little as 3hrs if you wish to push through the tour between nap and feeding times.  In our experience, though you can have your child nap on our large outdoor cushions or in your pram/stroller.

A secondary location that also offers a similar level of safety and sea conditions would be Hong Krabi.  This location also offers the ability for you to snorkel whereas Phang Nga Bay does not.

 

Kids On A Private Boat Tour
Some Fun On Board Lucus 1

 

Age 2 Years Old – 6 Years Old – Private Boat Tours

At this age, your child needs to be kept engaged with multiple new things to see, explore, and do otherwise they may become agitated on tour.  For my son from 2-4 years old, he personally loved the Phang Nga Bay Private Tour, Khai Island Private Tour, Raya Island Private Tour, and Hong Krabi Tour.

As he got older, around 5-6 Years old his preference moved towards Phi Phi Island Private Tours as there was more to see and he was a confident swimmer.  Again it’s important for her to time stops frequently and use our outdoor cushions for nap time.

 

7 Years And Above – Private Boat Tours

Generally, any tour would be suitable for a child of 7 years and above.  Just check on sea conditions prior to departing as one negative experience with a child could ruin any future chances of going on a Private Tour.

 

Is It Possible To Request Beachside Or Hotel Pick Ups?

By default, any private boat tour booked with the 5 Star Marine team direct will include a transfer from your hotel across to our pier.  For those of you who are looking for something a little more VIP or Unique, we offer a Hotel and/or Beachside pick up.

For a small additional fee, we will move our boat from our pier up to your hotel or beachside and pick you up directly.  This saves on transfer time and provides a unique and often romantic experience for you and your fellow guests.

Recently we have completed hotel pick-ups from Trisara Resort, The Surin, Panwa, Surin Beach, and Bangtao Beach to name just a few.  If you are looking for ways to customize your tour and make it unique just ask us. 

Nothing is too much for us and with our team of experienced captains and guides, we can navigate most beaches and hotel pick-ups.  All you need to do is ask!