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. 

Important Update on Cancellations – April 2021

Customers

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. 

Community

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.

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)

How do you like my island, Mr Bond?

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 Supports One Phuket

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.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/onephuket

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.

In Safe Hands, with 5 Star Marine

5 Star Marine pride themselves on continuously striving to remain an industry leader in all areas, and when it comes to Covid-19 safety this is certainly no exception. They were, in fact, one of the first private boat companies in Phuket to be awarded the TAT SHA Certification in 2020.

So, what exactly is this accreditation, and why is it important to pick a tourism experience with these credentials? The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), in collaboration with the public and private sector partners, introduced an “Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration: SHA” certification, aimed at elevating confidence in Thailand as a destination among international and domestic tourists.

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 passed the inspection with flying colors, presenting their comprehensive ‘Covid-19 Response Plan’ to TAT officials, which highlighted amongst other areas tourist safety and security protocols in particular.

Sanitization kits were fully examined, plus all staff and crew were put through additional training to ensure the utmost safety for all passengers. They have demonstrated without a doubt that they can follow the strict Covid-19 control guidelines set out by the Department of Disease Control and Ministry of Public Health in Thailand. Furthermore, they have developed plans and operational procedures which focus not only on the crew and tourist safety but also promote safe interactions between local communities on the day or overnight trips. 

In addition to this, their staff is accredited with, (a US-based Certification) which educates them on how to deal with Airborne Pathogens such as Covid-19. An additional US-based certification has also been obtained; a ‘Covid Safety Certification’ which focuses on how to most effectively sanitize equipment to be Covid-19 safe. Something which is of paramount importance and guidelines is followed each and every day.

5 Star Marine is proud to be one of the first TAT SHA 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. 

Overnight Sea Life Safari

Thailand’s local wildlife has been given a much-needed chance to recover since the disappearance of tourists flooding in. Islands and national parks have seen sea and wildlife populations start to return, making right now a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out and explore. 

The Sea Life Safari offers a chance to relax and enjoy the abundance of marine animals over 2 days and 1 night, where the 5 Star Marine team use their experience and expertise to take you to little known coves, bays and secret spots to glimpse the fantastic wildlife on offer.  

The two idyllic Racha Islands, (Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi), provide the ideal destination to enjoy nature; with some of the best snorkelling reefs in Thailand, tropical white powdery beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Koh Racha Yai has situated a mere 45-minute speedboat ride away. However, to experience the plethora of marine life on offer, you need to venture a little further to its smaller twin, Koh Racha Noi – An uninhabited rocky island, with plenty of fantastic snorkelling bays. 

During this 2-day trip, you can take your time to relax on stunning deserted beaches, snorkel at both islands and dine at local restaurants in beautiful bays. When you want to explore the local wildlife, 5 Star Marine knows all the best spots. 

You might get lucky enough to encounter a pod of inquisitive dolphins playing near your boat, or even see some Green or Hawksbill turtles who are fundamental to our marine ecosystems.  Look up to the skies to catch sight of the unusual Hornbills, which are characterised by their long, down­curved bill with a bright yellow casque (or horn) on top. 

Get the opportunity to glimpse some smooth-coated sea otters, which have even been known to try to get aboard! How about dragon spotting? OK, not exactly, but Thailand’s Monitor Lizards can grow up to a staggering 2 metres long. 

Last, but certainly not least; the stunning coral reefs around these twin islands are just teeming with aquatic life, and make for excellent snorkelling.  There are opportunities to see giant starfish, pufferfish or sea turtles and reef fish like Parrotfish, snapper and angelfish can be found in the shallow waters just steps from the beach where you have your pick of snorkelling spots. 

Although sightings of these creatures cannot be guaranteed, one thing is for sure; when tourists do return, spotting some of these animals will again become a rarer opportunity. 

2 day / 1 night Sea Life Safari itinerary with FREE round trip private minibus transfers available now.

Covid 19 Donation Update February 2021

As we move towards the end of February I felt it was important to give a quick update to our customers, friends, family, and supporters on our efforts to provide food relief to local Phuket residents. 

We are now past the 12-month mark of the devastating effects of tourism here in Phuket.  We are seeing more and more businesses closing, people giving up and desperation coming forth. 

Thailand was hit with a resurgence of Covid during the December / January period which saw Phuket shut down Domestic Travel.  This “Second Wave” was devastating to morale as well as the financial resources of those surviving. 

During the past month and a bit we have received more and more requests for help, and the requests have become more desperate. 

As we visit communities they share with us that they have been without work for 12 months, they don’t know where to turn, and they are just struggling. 

The good news is that we have increased our funds available for donation meaning we can reach more people, help more people and provide more support. 

In addition to that, to make things more fluid and to take some pressure from Sutai Muay Thai Team and 5 Star Marine Team we have recruited volunteers. 

As you can see in the video below our packing days are getting lots of people turning out to help. 

This would never have been possible without the help of UWC Thailand, its teachers, students, and volunteers.  In addition to UWC Thailand, we have also had great ex-pat help. 

To help manage our volunteer efforts to of our wonderful friends and customers Stepped into the position of Volunteer Managers. 

Huge shoutout to Pete and Nina for taking on that responsibility and allowing us to help more people more efficiently. 

So as the year continues, we expect to continue to be providing food relief support to our local Phuket communities. 

Stay Safe
Shaun