If you didn’t know, for the last 14 months our business has been helping our local community survive through one of the most economically trying times ever seen.
As a tourist island, Phuket was devastated by Covid leaving so many without work, businesses closed and the local community needed help.
Seeing this need we stepped up and financed the purchasing, packing, and delivery of life bags all over Phuket.
Here’s a quick look at what we did in May:
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International Travellers – What You Need to Know
Phuket will be the first destination in Thailand to reopen to overseas tourists, from July 2021. This comes after over 15 months of the island being closed off to tourists; and now the local businesses, restaurants, hotels, and shops are looking forward to welcoming travelers back. Thailand has a full Covid-19 plan to reopen the whole country, and this starts in July where fully vaccinated tourists can fly to Phuket without the requirement to quarantine.
Under the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ program, Phuket will be the first destination to lift quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign tourists, starting from 1 July 2021. Tourists will be required to spend the first seven days on the island, before being allowed to travel to other Thai destinations. (source TATNEWS.org)
Phase 1: Phuket
From the 1st July 2021, fully vaccinated travelers can visit Phuket without the need to quarantine on arrival.
The main requirements for overseas tourists are set out below*
- Proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required (full vaccination)
- Obtain a Certificate of Entry (CoE) before departure
- Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover
- Download the Thailand Plus tracking application before departure and upload the required information
- Must fly directly to Phuket International Airport*
- Present a negative PCR test result (issued a maximum of 72 hours before departure)
- Covid-19 test on arrival
- Stay in Phuket for a minimum of 7 days
*Please enquire at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your own country for up-to-date travel requirements and to ensure you are eligible for quarantine-free arrival into Phuket.
5 Star Marine Private Boat Tours
From July 1st, we are looking forward to welcoming back our international market VIP guests with a range of private boat trips. We are excited to give our staff the opportunity to work with international guests again and we also want to give you the chance to explore some exciting destinations whilst the islands are still blissfully quiet and beautiful.
From 1st July 2021 we are able to offer private tours to the following destinations:
Please contact us to book your bespoke VIP boat tour experience.
We are often asked if we are continuing with our donation work during 2021.
The answer is YES. Not only are we continuing with our donation work we have increased the amount we are donating and the frequency of our donations.
During April Phuket saw a resurgence of Covid with daily case numbers creating concern with our Provincial Government.
To curb case numbers the Government introduced restrictions that severely limited the already limited amount of business that we could conduct.
This created an increase in demand for life bags as people who were “surviving” left with no road to income.
In response to this, we increased the number of life bags we were packing and delivering.
You can see a short summary of the last 2 weeks of packing and delivery below:
During the last few weeks, our private boat tours have been put on hold to help keep Phuket safe. During this time, we have been able to concentrate on our charity efforts as well as finding safe and responsible ways to get our VIP guests back out on the water. Our piers, boats, and office have all been thoroughly cleaned by Government provincial teams, plus staff members have been PCR Covid-19 tested – and we are happy to report that all of our fantastic team are officially Covid-19 free.
Therefore, from 1st June 2021, we are looking forward to welcoming back our existing VIP guests as we will be re-opening with a range of limited private trips. Please note that all guests will be required to complete a short Declaration Form prior to being accepted on board, and also must comply with all Provincial announcements. These precautions and regulations will enable us to re-open our operations on a smaller scale to keep staff and guests safe.
Re-opening at this point is important to give our staff the opportunity to work again and keep motivated during these difficult times. We also want to give you the chance to explore some exciting destinations whilst the seas are still calm, and the islands are blissfully quiet and beautiful.
From 1st June 2021 we are able to offer private small group tours to the following destinations:
If you would like to book a trip to the aforementioned areas, please get in contact to book and fill in our Declaration Form.
Here at 5 Star Marine, we passed a huge milestone this April (2021) – of over 14 months of continuous efforts supporting vulnerable communities in need situated in and around the Phuket and Phang Nga areas.
Over 60-weeks of donations have produced an incredible amount of these Life Bags; more than 160,000 have been paid for, packed, and delivered to date. Each one containing staple items such as eggs, oil, noodles, sauces, and rice, among other essentials.
So, what do these numbers actually mean? Well, each Life Bag can feed a family of 4 for 5 days, which means that over the last 14 months we have already helped over 640,000 people, (and counting), get access to basic food supplies. Our teams put themselves out there in the local communities, going out at least twice per week to make these deliveries, so this number is rising every day.
Through this initiative, we are happy to report that we have already made a huge difference and been able to target some of the remote, hardest to reach, and most at-risk areas and islands utilizing our fleet of 5 Star Marine speedboats.
Even the current and previous waves of Covid-19 here did not halt our charity drives. After seeing first-hand how much devastation was caused to the local economy, our 5 Star Marine team now continues to work even harder to find solutions to continue these indispensable efforts.
We have worked long and hard to build trusted relationships with a network of local OrBorTors, and these connections have enabled us to get insights into the real needs of these communities. So, we are able to identify the highest priority villagers, and where to focus efforts several times a week. The necessity for these Life Bags is now, sadly, greater than ever.
Packing had previously been at Sutai Muay Thai on Saturday mornings by teams of volunteers and schools; in a Covid-19 safe and TAT SHA compliant way. However, as the number of active cases in Phuket has increased, the decision was made to keep everyone safe by reducing the number of packers and revert back to the original core group of 5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay staff (April 2021). With an ever-increasing need for Life Bags as the months go on, it means that our small-scale team will work around the clock to ensure no one is left out.
Our scaled-back team recently managed to finish 1,000 Life Bags in a long 6-hour packing window. To put this into perspective, this would normally have taken just 1 hour with the usual volunteer numbers. However, our team didn’t stop there and after finishing the mammoth packing task, they then went on delivering them without a break.
During the past few months, we have received increasingly frequent and anguished requests for help. Community visits have clearly highlighted that some villagers are desperate, they simply don’t know where to turn, and they are truly struggling.
However, in order to prepare for the road ahead, we at 5 Star Marine have increased our own funds available for donation; meaning we can help more people in need. We will continue to help the communities during this pandemic, and beyond too.
With an understanding that plastic usage during food donations is not ideal, we have teamed up with UWC Thailand to come up with solutions and ways to reduce this.
So, please rest assured that throughout this pandemic, we have and will continue with the buying, packing, and distribution of Life Bags to the communities who rely on us, and often have no other means of getting food.
Please follow @5StarMarinePhuket on FB to see our donation activities. Also, when packing efforts resume, (please note these are currently paused for the safety of volunteers and staff), then why not volunteer some of your time to help out – this really will make a difference.
Stay safe and be kind.
From the 5 Star Marine team.
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.
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.
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.
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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)