Phuket Sandbox Update – 7 Day Sandbox, Bars Open, Island Hopping Easier Than Ever!

As Phuket transitions away from its wet season towards the dry (or high) season, the Thailand Government has made a major and positive update to the Phuket Sandbox program.

Instead of being a 14-day Sandbox Program or the 7+7 Day Sandbox Model, it is now just a simple and easy ‘7 Day Sandbox’.

Along with the reduction in the Sandbox days, the number of RT-PCR Covid-19 Tests required while staying has also come down.  As of now, with the new update, there are just 2 tests required; the first on the day of arrival and the second on day 6 of your stay.

The good news continues as island hopping by private speedboat is now easier than ever before with a wide-ranging 11 destinations now open. Plus, none of these stunning destinations require additional Covid-19 tests for Sandbox Travelers.

The return of the dry season, the reduced Sandbox days model, fewer Covid-19 tests and new island destinations are all pointing in the right direction for our Sandbox Guests.

For full details watch this short video update below:

Rules for Domestic Guest Speedboat Day Trips – October 2021

The weather is starting to turn, the seas are getting calmer and in addition, the islands around Phuket are still quiet.

So, this really is the best time to appreciate a VIP speedboat day out on the water with friends and family.

For clarity, 5 Star Marine have broken down the rules per destination for all our DOMESTIC / EXPAT guests; effective 1st October 2021.

Phuket Provincial Islands:

For the following islands, we simply need your Passport Copy, (on your phone is sufficient). That is it, no further requirements:

  1. Mai Ton
  2. Coral Island
  3. Racha Islands

Out of Phuket Province Islands:

For the following islands we simply need your Passport Copy and Vaccination Certificate:

  1. Phi Phi*
  2. Phang Nga Bay*
  3. Hong Krabi*
  4. Khai Islands*
  5. Koh Rok
  6. Koh Ha
  7. Similan Islands
  8. Surin Islands

* Covid-19 tests are NOT required for any of the above islands.

** If you are unvaccinated a simple Antigen Test in most cases is all that is needed to visit these locations.

Here is a great graphic that summarises this all:

sandbox rules updated

With the requirements hugely easing, please contact us to book your memorable day out on the water, or if you have any questions about the new rules.

Island Hopping Here We Go

We are thrilled to welcome a LOAD of new destinations to enjoy from 1st October; and yes, these are going to be open to both Sandbox and Domestic guests.

With the change in season, the seas become calmer so let’s take a look at the exciting new destinations which now become accessible; working our way out from our base pier in Boat Lagoon:

1. Khai Islands

Three popular and family-friendly islands offering shallow snorkeling only 15 minutes from the pier. These islands are close together and are especially good for beginner snorkellers as you can go straight off the beach and experience a plethora of tropical fish. Also, a great spot for a beach picnic.

2. Mai Ton & Coral Combination

5 Star Marine runs a respectful dolphin spotting program at Mai Ton Island which is around 30 minutes from Boat Lagoon, where you can also snorkel before making your way to Coral Island, with beautiful snorkeling, plus relax on the beach with great vibes on Banana Beach Club, which also offers activities, massages, lunch, etc.

3. Racha Islands

The two idyllic Racha Islands; Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi, provide some of the best snorkeling reefs in Thailand and quiet, tropical white powdery beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. With Manta Rays and Whale Sharks hopefully coming back again this October / November, don’t miss your chance to spot these magnificent creatures.

4. Phi Phi

Phi Phi is a particularly well know location in the Phuket region, and now with the change in season you can take advantage of some stunning location all to yourself – literally, you might just be the only boat out there! Enjoy Phi Phi Ley and Bamboo Island and chance spotting turtles and clownfish.

5. Krabi Islands and Hong Krabi

The turquoise waters of the Hong Krabi Lagoon are to die for, and why not get your adrenaline going with a climb up to the new 360-degree viewpoint on Hong Krabi? This 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. It might be a long climb but it is worth the reward. Enjoy the infamous Railay beach for a lunch stop and gorgeous scenery too.

6. Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga truly is one of natures’ spectacular works of art; where the vast karst rock scenery presents a visually stunning location. This location provides a different type of tour, it is not a snorkeling tour, but more about the seascapes, canoeing, caving, and exploring.

7. Koh Rok

The sea becomes like a lake in high season, making Koh Rok and Koh Ha idyllic destinations to make the most of when the season comes around. This area combines stunning water clarity with a diverse range of colorful marine life and corals and therefore offers some of the best snorkeling opportunities you can find. In season, you can also regularly see whale sharks between here and Koh Ha also.

8. Koh Ha

This offers some of the best snorkeling, stunning soft sandy beaches, and is less crowded than the better-known Similan Islands. A little further to travel compared to most of our other day trip locations; but well worth every minute for the guaranteed natural beauty and a great stop on the way to Koh Lipe.

9. Koh Lipe

This will open up in the next few weeks and boy are we raring to go! Koh Lipe is bursting with things to see and do; enjoy a romantic time at Sunrise or Sunset Beach, explore the coral reefs snorkeling at Red Coral, head to Monkey Beach or Stonehenge Rock. You might even get to spot the odd whale shark, Manta Ray, or turtle.

10. Similan & Surin Islands

Two phenomenal island-hopping destinations are situated off the West Coast of Phuket.  These areas are bursting with amazing marine life, rich coral, and sandy white beaches. Enjoy a memorable boat trip to the renowned Similan Islands; a stunning archipelago in the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand, which is made up of 9 islands. We can’t wait for it to open from October 15th to May 15th. Further away and only open 6 months per year, due to the monsoon season plus in an attempt to preserve the marine environment.

11. Phuket By The Sea Tour

This unique program leaves from Boat Lagoon and travels under the Sarasin bridge then you make your way down to the banana beach past Surin, Kamala, and Patong for example, where you can stop off at a beach club or two!

So there you have it – 11 amazing tours opening up from 1st or 15th October. There are a few rules and regulations for Sandbox and Domestic customers, but please contact us to find out more, and in most cases just need your passport and proof of vaccination.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore while you can!

New Island Destinations for Phuket Day Tours

From the 15th of October 2021, there will be additional day tour options available to both Domestic and Sandbox customers. This time of year brings with it a change from the Monsoon to the Dry Season; where you can enjoy calmer winds and sea conditions which unite for a perfect combination for a day out on the sea.

This time of year also welcomes the reopening of the Similan and Surin Islands, by the National Park departments.  Two phenomenal island-hopping destinations situated off the West Coast of Phuket.  These areas are bursting with amazing marine life, rich coral and sandy white beaches.  Similan and Surin islands are only available to visit 6 months of the year, so this is something we have been looking forward to.

This year 5 Star Marine has licensed its fleet of boats to enter the stunning areas in and around the Similan and Surin Island National Parks.

The great news is that this means that both Domestic customers and Sandbox guests can all enjoy the natural marine richness and crystal clear blue waters these locations have to offer.

In addition to these destinations opening, the islands of Koh Rok and Koh Ha will also be able to welcome guests.  These are another two fantastic snorkeling and Day Tour locations that are a “must-see” and feature on many bucket lists.

To find out all the details about these new openings as well as take a sneak peek at what these destinations have in store for you, check out the YouTube video below:

Here we go Again! – Phuket Sandbox Rules Update

Today we are thrilled to report good, positive news – now doesn’t that make a change to the negative news cycle?

The new Sandbox rules mean that from now on it is easier than it has ever been before for Sandbox guests to explore Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island, Phi Phi, Hong Krabi, and beyond.

In fact, we were just out at Phi Phi enjoying the stunning Pileh Lagoon. Now, if you have ever been or seen photos you will know that this gorgeous lagoon is normally crowded with well over 100 boats at one time; but for this day trip the 5 Star Marine speedboat was the ONLY one in the lagoon – yes you read that right. Can you imagine having this all to yourself? A priceless experience, never possible before, so now really is the best time to explore exotic locations with a luxury speedboat day tour.

Let’s Explore

Private VIP Speedboat Day Tours Days 1-7 (Sandbox Guests)

  • Koh Mai Ton for some dolphin spotting
  • Coral Island for snorkeling and relaxing at the beach club
  • Koh Racha for superb underwater marine life

Private VIP Speedboat Day Tours Days 8-20 (Sandbox Guests)

  • Phi Phi – stunning lagoons and beaches
  • Hong Krabi – the new 360 Degree Viewpoint
  • Phang Nga Bay / James Bond Island – canoeing through the caves, enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the infamous island
  • Khai Islands – snorkeling in shallow waters
  • Koh Mai Ton – dolphin spotting
  • Koh Racha – stunning marine life
  • Coral Island – beautiful beach resort
  • Koh Lon – sunset cruise

Requirements Just Got Easier

All you need to give us is:

  1. A copy of your passport
  2. Your Vaccine certificate

That’s it – no long, confusing list anymore! You just provide us with these 2 items plus approval to talk to your hotel and we take care of EVERYTHING else. We coordinate with the SHA manager at your hotel to get the paperwork required, so you only need to worry about where to explore next.

No More Tests

For Day Tours from days 8-20, the new rules mean that you DO NOT need to take another Covid-19 test which is great news and one less thing to think about.

SHA Approved

Of course, we are proudly TAT SHA Plus approved, but now are also SHA Plus Transportation Approved so the entire speedboat fleet is licensed and approved by the Government and Marine Department to go outside of the Phuket Province. For our Sandbox guests, this means that every single boat is safe, secure and Covid-19 approved. Plus, we test staff weekly as an added measure to make guests feel comfortable and safe.

Look What Is Around The Corner!

On October 15th we are more than a little excited to report that the Similan, Surin Islands, Koh Rok, and Koh Ha are all open and are ready for your to explore (Sandbox guests between day 8 -20). We have no doubt that it is going to be amazing to be out there at these paradise islands by yourselves – literally experience them like NEVER before.

Contact us to find out more or to book your Sandbox tour.

Phuket Sandbox Day Tours – TAT SHA Plus Approved

Since the initial opening of the Phuket Sandbox scheme, 5 Star Marine have been operating SHA Plus Approved Day Tours for customers who joined the 14 Day Program and 7+7 Program Sandbox initiative.

As we continue to provide Day Tours to the islands around Phuket, we have been busy making sure we are up to date on Phuket Sandbox Travelers Day Tour rules, as well as which destinations they are able to experience.

Today, we are pleased to launch the “Phuket Sandbox Info” section of our website which is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date news, information, and rules for travelers currently within the Phuket Sandbox. The aim is to answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding taking a Day Tour.

All you need to do is select whether you are visiting Phuket on the 7+7 Program or the 14 Day Program; from here click through to find out the most up-to-date news and information.  If you are already here in Phuket and would like to get out on tour and explore, then head straight to our SHA Plus Approved Day Tours and Transfers section.

As one of the first Private Boat Tour companies in Phuket to become SHA Plus approved, we take pride in understanding, translating, and providing the most up-to-date information there is related to the Phuket Sandbox, Day Tours, rules, and restrictions.

We are updating these pages on a daily basis, whenever rules change, we also make sure updates occur. Our YouTube Channel is a great source for the most up-to-date information on rules, destinations, and more!

If you prefer to talk to someone, feel free to contact us as we provide a FREE concierge service for guests traveling to Phuket.

What to Look for in a Sandbox Phuket Private Boat Charter?

Deciding where you want to explore on a Phuket Private Boat Charter, as well as who to book the tour with can lead to a confusing choice overload. To help determine what to look for we have considered the more important criteria, so you can focus on what matters when looking for a Sandbox Phuket Private Boat Charter.

Certified for Safety – TAT SHA Plus

Since 2020, 5 Star Marine have run Phuket Private Boat Charters under their TAT SHA approved status. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) awarded 5 Star Marine with this certification, as a tourism-related business on the island; and the TAT Safety and Health Administration Plus Certificate is proudly held by the company.

As one of the first tourism services to gain TAT SHA Plus status in 2021, this recognized that 5 Star Marine is certified as adhering to all public health measures set up for Covid-19 safety, and as such allows guests to feel safe and secure onboard their fleet of private speedboats.

Responsible Employee Vaccinations

5 Star Marine has gone over and above with 100% of their employees (all crew, captains, and office staff) being fully vaccinated and up to date with boosters. Although TAT SHA Plus status only requires 70% of employees to have been fully vaccinated, the company took the extra steps and preventative measures as your safety on board is absolutely paramount.

Rules – Practice Makes Perfect

It is of uttermost importance that tour companies keep updated with the latest rules and regulations, so here at 5 Star Marine, we do the hard work to understand how new regulations affect you getting out on the water.

Management and crew go out to newly opened locations under the Sandbox rules to personally check the requirements for themselves. This means you can be 100% comfortable when you go out on your Phuket Private Boat Charter, knowing that 5 Star Marine’s knowledge of the rules have been tried and tested in advance.

Flexible Cancellation Policy

Payments for your Phuket Private Boat Charter can be made on the day, 5 Star Marine do not take deposits so there is no need to worry about refunds or lost money if the weather turns poor. Obviously, we cross our fingers and toes for smooth seas and bright skies, but in the event that the tour date is predicted to be poor weather, 5 Star Marine will re-schedule with you.

Luxury Inclusions

To make sure you have the best time on your Phuket Private Boat Charter, 5 Star Marine add in a few little extras for your comfort and convenience during the trip:

  • Masks and Snorkels
  • Fins (Adults)
  • Life Jackets
  • Insurance
  • Beach Mats
  • Tour Photos and Video
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Soft Drinks and Water
  • Picnic or Thai Sharing Lunch (available on request / extra cost)
  • Licensed Guide
  • Hand Sanitiser

Please feel free to contact us to help you get out and explore your Phuket Private Boat Charter; right now you can experience the stunning islands like never before, with so few tourists around. We look forward to welcoming more international travelers onboard for once-in-a-lifetime experiences with 5 Star Marine.

Breaking News – Phi Phi, Phang Nga and Khai Islands Day Trips

We have just received updated and encouraging new rules for Domestic and Sandbox guests which make day tours to locations such as Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay even easier.

Here at 5 Star Marine, we have already done the hard work to understand how this affects you getting out on the water, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that we are up to date with the latest requirements. Drum roll please, we have some BREAKING NEWS!

Breaking News (from 8th September):

So, let’s break this down and look at the main positive changes with the new regulations:

DOMESTIC CUSTOMERS

  • You can now take a day trip to Phi Phi, The Khai Islands, and Phang Nga Bay (previously you could only go to Coral Island, Racha, or Mai Ton) – please note all criteria below must be met
  • Now you only need 1x RTPCR or Antigen test from Phuket for a day trip to Phi Phi, Khai Islands, or Phang Nga Bay (previously 2x tests were required)
  • Domestic customers can depart from Boat Lagoon

Domestic Customers’ Requirements:

  1. Proof of vaccination
  2. RTPCR or Antigen Covid-19 test (within 72 hours of the tour)
  3. Register with us 6 hours before the tour
    • We will register you with the marine department and relevant national parks
  4. Passport copy

SANDBOX CUSTOMERS

  • If you are on the 7+7 Sandbox Program, you can now take a day trip to Phi Phi, The Khai Islands, and Phang Nga Bay from day 8 – please note all criteria below must be met

Sandbox Customers’ Requirements:

  1. Proof of vaccination
  2. RTPCR or Antigen Covid-19 test (within 72 hours of the tour)
    • This rule just got easier as you can use your day 6 or 6 test for the tour on day 8, for example
  3. Register with us 6 hours before the tour
    • We will register you with the marine department and relevant national parks
  4. Passport copy
  5. PLUS your MorChana app on your phone
  6. PLUS a transfer form from your hotel (issued after the 7th night of stay) for Phi Phi, Khai Islands, or Phang Nga Bay

Please feel free to contact us to help you get out and explore Phi Phi, the Khai Islands, and Phang Nga Bay now, whilst you can experience these areas like never before with so few tourists around.

Whether you are a Domestic or Sandbox customer we are ready to welcome you safely onboard our TAT SHA Plus certified fleet.

 

Sandbox Seascapes & James Bond Island

Sandbox Day Tour

Enjoy a day sightseeing, caving, and even experiencing a picnic lunch minus the hordes of tourists around the fantastic seascapes of Phang Nga Bay and the world-famous James Bond Island – this is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience James Bond Island in peace and quiet.

Here at 5 Star Marine, we have a tried and tested Sandbox day tour to get you out enjoying the islands surrounding Phuket. In fact, we were once again the 1st company in Phuket to take sandbox guests out to surrounding islands; this time it was Phang Nga Bay

So if you are in Phuket and part of the Sandbox program, contact us to make this iconic day trip possible.

The Experience

  • Depart from our main pier at Boat Lagoon and head to Koh Yao Noi (which is part of Phang Nga Bay) to take a quick but necessary covid test (along with our crew also)
  • Head onto Koh Panak for some sightseeing and stunning stalagmites
  • Get your adrenalin fix canoeing and cave exploring at Koh Hong Phang Nga
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch at the renowned James Bond Island
  • Make a stop at the famous floating village of Koh Panyee floating village
  • Make a quick stop to pick up the test results
  • Then finally enjoy swimming at Naka Noi before the stunning sunset views captured whilst returning to the pier at Boat Lagoon

Requirements

We are on hand to help you through each step of the process, but as an overview we simply need:

  1. ID card or passport per passenger (required the day before the tour)
  2. Vaccination record copy per passenger (required the day before the tour)
  3. We require this information to register you with the national park and local gov in Phang Nga Bay
  4. The MorChana application should be on your phone to check in and out
  5. 1 x Antigen Covid-19 Test per passenger (our fully vaccinated crew will take this test also)

How Many Nights?

  • You can enjoy this fantastic day tour from day 15 onwards of the Sandbox Program
  • You will need to provide proof that you have completed 14 nights in Phuket to qualify
  • It is not possible to go pre-day 15; however, there are different day tours to Coral Island, Racha Islands, or Mai Ton you can still enjoy

Please Contact Us for our free concierge service to help with all requirements.     

 

5 Star Marine Wins 2021 Tripadvisor

Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Award

We feel extremely privileged to receive this achievement from Tripadvisor, which celebrates companies that consistently deliver the very best experiences possible to its customers, therefore earning top guest reviews. This award puts 5 Star Marine in the top 10% of businesses on Tripadvisor and celebrates them as the ‘best of the best for ‘things to do’ on the platform.

Shaun Stenning, CEO of 5 Star Marine commented: “We are not just honored, but also humbled to have managed to stand out despite the current climate and adversities, and are delighted that we have continuously delighted our travelers. We sincerely thank all our wonderful guests for their continued support throughout the last year, and of course our crew and staff for their dedication, hard work, and community efforts.”

As challenging as the past year has been, 5 Star Marine have kept their service levels consistently high to ensure all of their welcomed speedboat guests received a truly 5-star experience. It is an honor to receive the highest ratings and guest reviews on Tripadvisor, and 5 Star Marine appreciates the recognition for all their staff and crew members who have made this possible and exceeded guest expectations time and time again.

“Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 Travellers’ Choice Awards,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “I know the past year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses. What has impressed me is how businesses adapted to these challenges, implementing new cleanliness measures, adding social distancing guidelines, and utilizing technology to prioritize guest safety. The Travellers’ Choice Awards highlight the places that are consistently excellent – delivering quality experiences time and time again even while navigating changing customer expectations and new ways of working. Based on a full year of reviews from customers, this award speaks to the great service and experience you provided guests in the midst of a pandemic.”

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for our Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best award, we appreciate the support from the best experts possible: You, our real guests who have experienced a private speedboat day or overnight tour with us.