Food Relief Efforts 1.5 Years In – Biweekly Update

With no end in sight from the devastating community impact, here at 5 Star Marine, we’re working around the clock to make sure more people than ever before receive a vital helping hand. Despite the challenges, we have managed to make August the largest month for Life Bag donations so far, with OVER 17,000 Life Bags given out in the last 15 days alone!

Here’s our update from the last 15 days so you know what we have been up to, and wow it has been busy:

  • Covid-19 cases are sadly still rising in Phuket
  • Therefore, we cannot enlist our wonderful volunteers to support this process
  • 5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay Thai have continued packing efforts throughout to ensure this donation program does not stop
  • In addition, we had help from the UWC Thailand teachers as well as various household/villa complex packers to help try to keep up with the need on and around Phuket
  • Every single day our team is out packing and delivering our Life Bags
  • We are proud to be helping those who really need it in community isolation and people in need in hotel isolation, as well as our usual community areas we assist

In the last 2 weeks, we have managed to pack and arrange deliveries to local communities and islands surrounding Phuket, including Kow Kaew, Koh Sirey, Rawai, Na Nai, Chalong, Bang Rong, Thalang, Naka Yai, Coconut Island, Irsunthoon, Nai Yang and Mai Khao plus numerous other locations.

We are doing our best to uplift the local spirits, with the biggest month so far for Life Bag donations, we are managing to help even more than before; despite the lack of ability to use volunteers, no Domestic travel, and a small trickle of Sandbox guests. We are currently in one of the worst situations we have been in with regard to food relief, but we are still going.

Our Life Bag donation effort has now reached 1.5 years. We know there are so many more to help, and it is devastating to see, but we have to keep going, and so we continue reaching out to those we know need it most. We look forward to updating you in 2 weeks’ time on our efforts. Stay safe.

Domestic Vs Sandbox Rules

With all the different rules and regulations depending on if you are a domestic guest or a Sandbox visitor, we thought that this needed breaking down; so here it is: 

CURRENT REGULATIONS

 DOMESTIC GUESTSSANDBOX TRAVELLERS
PierBoat Lagoon, Chalong PierChalong Pier
Destinations*Coral Island, Racha Islands, Mai Ton IslandCoral Island, Racha Islands, Mai Ton Island
VaccinationProof not requiredVaccination certificate required
MorChana AppNot requiredMorChana App on phone required
ID**Passport copy or Thai IDPassport copy or Thai ID
Rewards StampAvailable for Racha and Mai Ton tripsAvailable for Racha and Mai Ton trips

* As we are unable to leave the Phuket province (until 16th August) the day trips are currently restricted to Coral Island, Racha Islands, and Mai Ton Island.

** Identification as indicated in the table has required a minimum of 24 hours prior to the boat trip departure.

AFTER 16th AUGUST?

For domestic guests, the following areas are due to open up after 16th August:

Please note that you will need to be fully vaccinated with the exclusion of children and those under 12 years old do who do not need a negative Covid-19 test. Fully vaccinated adults must provide a negative antigen test also (rules as of 8th August 2021)

Remember to request your Rewards Passport, to get stamps for your day trip experiences – collect all 7 destinations and get a totally FREE day trip, no hidden extra charges!

Whether you are a domestic or sandbox customer we at 5 Star Marine are ready to welcome you safely onboard our TAT SHA Plus certified fleet.

 

NEWS UPDATE – Sandbox Customers Island Tours

PART 1: New Rules for Sandbox Customers  

Phuket recently announced some changes for Sandbox customers; what they can do and where they can go. A brand new update states that Sandbox customers can now go to some other islands after their 7th day of being in Phuket (they were previously only allowed to travel to a handful of different islands after day 14 here).

Sandbox customers can currently go to Koh Racha, Coral Island, and Mai Ton. From 1st August the Sandbox scheme will extend further to allow guests to travel to Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay which includes James Bond Island. Hong Krabi might also be added to this list, but this is not confirmed at this point.

PART 2: Why should Sandbox customers take a Private Tour?

We are not running ‘joining group tours’ for Sandbox customers. This is because we are simply trying to minimize the effect a potential positive Covid-19 test would do on our guests. For example, on a group tour if there was one positive case on the boat, then everyone else who went on the boat would need to quarantine too. So, the safest way to take a boat tour is with your friends or family you traveled herewith, (you probably came in on the same flight and are staying together also).

PART 3: How is Sandbox helping the local Phuket Community?

For over 16 months Thailand has been economically devastated, and we have been running a food relief program during this time for an island that depends on tourists to survive. So, the Sandbox is the first step to reopening Phuket and inject some much-needed funds back into the economy. It also provides opportunities for the locals to start working and earning again as demand very slowly starts to return.

Of course, we recognize there are risks associated, but by international tourists coming here, booking hotels, eating at restaurants, taking day tours, taxis, etc. it all helps local people start working again. The good news is that money is being injected into our economy by the Sandbox program, and for this we are grateful.  With our 5 Star Marine boats out on tour, it is supporting our captains, boat crew, admin staff, transfer drivers, plus we are supporting other local businesses like Ann’s Kitchen who provide our guest lunches, the shops that supply our soft drinks, and fruit for each boat, etc. The ripple positive effect is beneficial to a number of people and gives Phuket confidence to keep going.

So, we want to say Thank You for supporting us, so we can keep supporting Phuket.

 

Can Sandbox Customers Go Island Hopping?

Here’s what you need to know about the island hopping, the check-in process, the do’s and the don’ts for your first 14 days as a Sandbox customer:

Where can you go in the first 14 days?

Within the first 14 days of arriving in Phuket, Sandbox customers are currently able to go to:

  • Racha
  • Coral Island
  • Mai Ton
  • A combination of these 3

Where do Sandbox customers depart from?

There are 3 sandbox customer departure points in Phuket, these are:

  • Ao Por
  • Chalong Pier
  • Rassada Pier

What paperwork is required?

Before the departure date, Sandbox customers need to provide:

  1. Passport copy
  2. Vaccination documentation

On the day of the tour please also bring your mobile phone with MorChana app installed.

What happens when you get to the pier?

  1. Check-in on your MorChana app on your mobile phone
  2. Your temperature will be checked
  3. 5 Star Marine team will help submit your documents and paperwork to the Marine Department

After these 3 steps, you are cleared to get onto the boat and can enjoy your day trip!

What happens when you return to pier?

  1. Once again, you will need to check in on your MorChana app on your mobile phone
  2. Your temperature will be checked
  3. You can then get on the bus to return to your hotel

So, as you can see there is plenty that Sandbox customers can enjoy, see and do for a day out at sea. Snorkel or relax on the sandy beaches at Coral Island, try your luck at spotting the friendly dolphins around Mai Ton, or go a little further to the white beaches and fantastic marine life at Racha.

5 Star Marine can help at each step of the way, they have tried and tested the process, are TAT SHA Plus certified, and will make sure you have a day to remember.

Contact us on 093 720 6221 to book your Sandbox-approved day trip.

You NEED to Know This: Can you go to Phi Phi?

“Can I go to Phi Phi?” Well, with some requirements to be aware of, 5 Star Marine have broken these down for you. We know the rules, we have been through the process so that we know exactly what to do and how to do it. . so here is the lowdown:

WHO is allowed to go to Phi Phi National Park areas:

  • Sandbox customers cannot go to Phi Phi during the first 14 days after they arrive in Phuket. From day 15, Sandbox customers can go to Phi Phi with 5 Star Marine.
  • Expats living in Phuket are allowed to visit Phi Phi if they are fully vaccinated.

What are the REQUIREMENTS to go to Phi Phi?

  • Anyone going to Phi Phi needs to pre-register with the National Park one day prior to going to get approval.
  • 5 Star Marine will take care of the approval process for you, they simply need a copy of your passport and vaccine certificate.
  • When arriving at Tonsai Bay, 5 Star Marine staff will manage the process with the National Park and will hand over the relevant paperwork where vaccination documents will also be checked.

What about CHILDREN coming into the Phi Phi National Park?

  • Children 12 – 18 years old will need to show a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours.
  • Under 12-year-old children are allowed into the National Park, as long as they are with a fully vaccinated parent.

How LONG does it take to get there?

  • It takes 45 minutes from our pier in Boat Lagoon to reach the Phi Phi Islands.

WHERE is open?

  • Phi Phi Don has re-opened, where you can explore a number of coves, snorkeling spots, and even hidden lagoons. The water right now is stunning and turquoise with abundant marine life after having some time to rest.
  • You are allowed to access most of Phi Phi Don – including Laem Tong Bay, Monkey Beach, and Tonsai Bay, and the village itself. However, please note that Tonsai village itself is quiet with little open at the moment.

It’s the perfect time to get out there and support the island and small community, and the fact that it is still quiet is an added bonus. With only a few small requirements needed prior to departure which the team at 5 Star Marine can help you with, what are you waiting for? Book your Phi Phi adventure now and experience it like never before!

 

We’re On a Roll

With the successful and highly anticipated reopening of Phuket via the Sandbox program on July 1st under our belt, which welcomed fully vaccinated international visitors with no need to quarantine; we have been busy making sure we were ready for our international bookings as well as our continued domestic support. 

From the get-go on July 1st, major airlines including Etihad, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways International started flying or scheduling to fly direct to Phuket from cities like London, Frankfurt, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Singapore.

We are super proud of our TAT SHA Plus status and having the opportunity to work with overseas bookings as Phuket kick starts its tourism once again after quite a hive of excitement and certainly a huge effort to welcome tourists back to the region.

But wait, that’s not all… there is more positive news; and don’t we all love a bit of uplifting reading right now?! 

So, currently, 5 Star Marine are offering day and multi-night trips (which are open to all travelers – Sandbox, Expat, or Domestic), staying in Phuket waters to some utterly stunning destinations such as Raya where you can experience soft white beaches, an abundance of animal life and fantastic snorkeling bays; or head out to Coral Island for an easy daytrip with snorkeling spots, a choice of great restaurants and the famous hornbill birds; alternatively how about Mai Ton to experience dolphins in their natural habitat, elegantly swimming alongside the speedboat and charming everyone onboard. 

If this wasn’t perfect enough, there’s more on offer as (drumroll please) Hong Krabi is scheduled to open on July 8th with Phi Phi following shortly after with a  scheduled opening date of July 10th, and 5 Star Marine will be able to re-start their day and overnight tours to the area. This is yet another positive and economically important step in the right direction for Thailand, and we literally cannot wait to enjoy the idyllic coral reefs, hidden coves, turquoise lagoons, 3600 viewpoints, secret caves and create more unforgettable experiences swimming and snorkeling in crystal clear tropical waters there.

You may have the positive mindset saying ‘Expect nothing, appreciate everything’ – but here at 5 Star Marine we are more likely to say ‘Expect everything, and enjoy it all on board with us’

Stamp and You Shall Receive

Here at 5 Star Marine, we love seeing how much our guests enjoy their travels onboard our private speedboats to Phi Phi, the Similan Islands, Hong Krabi, and beyond. For the past 16 months, our loyal residents have kept us busy exploring the islands around Phuket and Krabi, and now we feel that it is our turn to say ‘Thank you back. 

Say hello to the new and exclusive 5 Star Marine ‘Rewards Passport’ – the ultimate way for us to thank you; our loyal speedboat junkies. We have certainly missed international travel and passport stamps, so we are giving you the chance to feel the travel bug again. Dedicated to our loyal customers, each time you take a VIP speedboat trip with us to the islands in the Rewards Passport, you receive the relevant stamp. Simply collect all 7 destination stamps and you will receive your FREE day trip! No hidden extras, fuel costs, or charges; just a FREE day out with friends or family to create more memorable experiences with us.

For some inspiration on travel within 45 minutes of our pier at Boat Lagoon (and remaining in Phuket waters), you could consider a day trip to Coral Island returning via Mai Ton to try your luck spotting the friendly pod of dolphins. Perhaps a family-friendly day out to the Khai islands where you can enjoy shallow water snorkeling, relaxing on the beaches, and even a picnic lunch which can all be arranged by us.

Alternatively, if you are looking to get away for a night or two, why not enjoy the stunning snorkeling, wildlife, and beaches at Raya with a custom multi-day tour. In addition, from July 11th, 2021 you can explore the iconic and stunning Phi Phi islands again, as these open up to Phuket tourists.  

Wherever you chose for your next booking, just remember to collect your Rewards Passport before you set off, and start collecting your loyalty stamps for Phi Phi, Khai Islands, Raya, James Bond, Hong Krabi, Mai Ton, and the Similan Islands. Once filled with traveling stamps, you can collect your well-deserved reward, a FREE 5 Star Marine day trip experience. 

Thank you once again to all our loyal customers, we are proud that you have put your trust in us and look forward to welcoming you back onboard

Explore more to get more; contact 5 Star Marine on 093 720 6221 to book.

The Need Continues, and So Will We

From July 1st, 2021 we welcomed a positive and critical step in the right direction; with the opening of the Phuket Sandbox. With hopes that this will help jump-start the return of international tourism and the economic benefits that come with this for an island such as Phuket.

We are all hopeful that this will be a welcome development for southern Thailand and eventually the rest of the country. However, we know that this is going to take some time, and while it ramps up slowly, we understand that the need for food and our vital life bag efforts continue to be hugely important to many communities.

So, we continue to get our volunteers together to organize our life bag packing efforts, each and every Saturday at 10 am at Sutai Muay Thai. But it doesn’t stop there, once the huge packing efforts are complete the 5 Star Marine teams carry on through to distribution by truck or boat to some of the most suffering communities in and around Phuket. 

No matter what, we do what we can to help and will continue to do so until such time that tourism returns to more normal levels. 

The Life of a Life Bag – Video by Chris Parker

5 Star Marine was thrilled to welcome Chris Parker, (from Retired Working For You), as he joined their usual weekly efforts to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes of each vital life bag.

Chris Parker got an inside glimpse of how things work right from the organized packing efforts by volunteers at Sutai Muay Thai, to the distribution to some of the most suffering communities in and around Phuket. He joined the distribution efforts by truck and then headed out on the sea to get to some of the harder-to-reach places which the 5 Star Marine have been able to serve using their speedboats for deliveries.

In his follow-up, hard-hitting video, you get to see where these life bags go, and how vitally important they have become for the worst-hit communities around us here. 

In Chris’ own words: What 5 Star Marine in Phuket, Thailand have done during the past 14 months is nothing short of unbelievable. This video will tell the story about how, when the pandemic struck, one man decided to begin helping those in need on his home island and as the need grew, so did the effort. Today, One Phuket has handed out more than 210,000 ‘Life Bags’ with daily essentials for a local family who have no income. On Phuket, where tourism is basically everything, this has provided a lifeline and gotten many through this challenging year. 

The news in Bangkok and Thailand has been mostly bad this past year, but the Phuket Sandbox is reopening travel and bringing hope to the locals who are looking to get back on their feet. So book a ticket and be a hero!”

5 Star Marine is so grateful to Chris for filming this emotional and honest video and for helping to raise awareness by sharing this story on his YouTube platform also; all much appreciated. 

5 Star Marine – TAT SHA Plus Approved

5 Star Marine pride themselves on continuously striving to remain an industry leader in all areas; and they were in fact one of the first private boat companies in Phuket to be awarded the TAT SHA Certification in 2020, followed by the TAT SHA Plus Certification in 2021.

As the Phuket Sandbox officially reopened to international guests on July 1st, 2021, this means that international travelers can be assured of their safety with 5 Star Marine’s speedboat tours. The Tourism Authority of Thailand awarded 5 Star Marine with this certification, as a tourism-related business on the island; and the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration Plus Certificate is now proudly held by the company. 

The TAT SHA Plus symbol shows customers that the business has been certified as adhering to all public health measures set up for Covid-19 safety. Although it only requires 70% of employees to have been fully vaccinated as part of the “Phuket Must Win” vaccination rollout – 5 Star Marine have gone over and above with 100% of employees having been fully vaccinated.   

This private speedboat tour company has taken extensive measures to ensure that its speedboats, staff, crew, policies, and procedures are industry-leading. Not only have they been accredited by the Thai Government by proving they competently following ‘Covid-19 Safe Guidelines and Principles’, but they have also gone the extra mile so that you can rest assured of all aspects of health and safety during this unprecedented time.

5 Star Marine is proud to be one of the first TAT SHA Plus certified tourism services and looks forward to welcoming more domestic and international travelers onboard for once-in-a-lifetime experiences on their private speedboats in 2021.