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.
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.
The 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.
5 Star Marine together with Sutai Muay Thai continues to collectively pool their resources to assist vulnerable communities in and around Phuket and Phang Nga and has done so for over a year now. To date they have donated in excess of 150,000 life bags; each one containing enough staple supplies to feed a family of 5 for around 4 days.
The fleet of 5 Star Marine speedboats has been critical to this effort, enabling access to some of the most at-risk areas. This has allowed their charity efforts to go further afield, reaching vulnerable communities in smaller villages and islands as well as across Phuket itself.
Last month (February 2021) saw the launch of One Phuket; born from a small group of local residents, charities, and businesses coming together to collaborate on how to help those most in need during this unprecedented economic crisis. 5 Star Marine are proud to fully support One Phuket’s operational efforts and are working collectively on several elements of this crucial charity drive.
One Phuket is now turning its attention to finding long-term, durable solutions to help get the people of Phuket through this pandemic, and beyond. They have come together to see how best they should combine with existing initiatives taking place, for the greater good of the most vulnerable communities. Some of their efforts will focus on opportunities that result in job creations, and hopefully a more sustainable future for our beautiful island.
5 Star Marine has ramped up their own philanthropy work by taking on all of the ordering, packing, and deliveries of life bags for One Phuket. With over a year of experience in this area, they are also fully supporting One Phuket by sharing guidance and best practices in the areas of operations and government regulations among others.
5 Star Marine also will support One Phuket on an ongoing basis, providing donations and funding necessary to reach life bag goals when required.
5 Star Marine has built trusted relationships with a network of local OrBorTors via previous outreach campaigns. These connections have enabled them to get immediate information from behind the scenes on the real needs of these communities and work on this intelligence. This sort of information is critical and will be shared with One Phuket to help their charity efforts where they are needed most.
Although 5 Star Marine does not take donations, One Phuket does and is asking for monthly or one-off donations however big or small; every little help.
Please join their Facebook group to find out more and see how you can get involved.
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, reuse, 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.