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.
- 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
We are on hand to help you through each step of the process, but as an overview we simply need:
- ID card or passport per passenger (required the day before the tour)
- Vaccination record copy per passenger (required the day before the tour)
- We require this information to register you with the national park and local gov in Phang Nga Bay
- The MorChana application should be on your phone to check in and out
- 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.
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.
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.
The past 2 weeks have been a blur of activity trying to keep up with donation efforts, despite the tighter Covid-19 restrictions here in Phuket. These have unfortunately forced us to pause our mass packing efforts. However, even without our dedicated and fantastic volunteers being able to help out, we still need to pack, deliver and support the local communities.
It has been a challenging period where we have unfortunately also seen a combination of rising infections on the island, local villagers being sent into isolation, and workers camps being ordered to quarantine on site.
Right now, the need to get basic food and home supplies to those in need via our Life Bag program is greater than ever. So, our 5 Star Marine team combined forces with Sutai Muay Thai (just as we did at the start of the Life Bag journey over 17 months ago), and are still packing, still delivering, and still reaching out to the community.
As a result of our teams working together, over 11,000 life bags were delivered in the last 16 days – So we wanted to give a huge shout out to our teams for their amazing and continued efforts to help Phuket.
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:
|DOMESTIC GUESTS||SANDBOX TRAVELLERS|
|Pier||Boat Lagoon, Chalong Pier||Chalong Pier|
|Destinations*||Coral Island, Racha Islands, Mai Ton Island||Coral Island, Racha Islands, Mai Ton Island|
|Vaccination||Proof not required||Vaccination certificate required|
|MorChana App||Not required||MorChana App on phone required|
|ID**||Passport copy or Thai ID||Passport copy or Thai ID|
|Rewards Stamp||Available for Racha and Mai Ton trips||Available for Racha and Mai Ton trips|
** 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!
There have been a number of brand-new Provincial rule changes, so make sure you are up to date with the latest information. Let’s take a look at what has changed:
WHAT WAS THE 7+7 MODEL?
There was previously a planned 7+7 model; this was essentially where Sandbox tourists would have needed to stay in Phuket for 7 nights before being able to explore other provinces, like Phang Nga Bay, Krabi, and Phi Phi, etc.
THE 14 DAY MODEL
However, this 7+7 model has been delayed until at least 16th August 2021. So as of now, the latest Provincial rules state that Sandbox tourists must stay in Phuket for the 1st 14 days.
CAN I GO ON A BOAT DAY TRIP?
Yes, absolutely, you can still go island-hopping and experience day boat trips and make the most of your time on holiday if you are here on the Sandbox scheme. During your 1st 14 days, you can head out to stunning locations such as Koh Racha Yai, Koh Racha Noi, Coral Island, and Mai Ton.
One of our most popular island-hopping day trips at the moment is the combination Dolphin Spotting and Snorkelling Experience. Spend time at the beautiful beaches on Coral Island, with restaurants, snorkeling spots, canoes, and plenty of Instagram-worthy setups; then head to Mai Ton for the afternoon for some dolphin spotting.
NO GO ZONES
Unfortunately, Phi Phi and Phang Nga are currently no-go zones. This is a brand-new update and is scheduled to be in place from 3rd August until 16th August. So, put simply, you cannot leave the Phuket Province (but can still enjoy day trips to Racha Islands, Coral Island, and Mai Ton as mentioned above as they are Phuket Provincial Islands).
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?
Yes, we do have some rain during the monsoon season, however, it’s not all day, every day. We are still getting many great weather days to go out on our boat tours, and take wind conditions and our radar readings into consideration when planning the destinations. We are more than happy to help advise when is best to get out and explore.
As an island that relies so heavily on tourism, we wanted to thank you for choosing to come here on holiday, and extend a very warm welcome to Phuket. This restarting of tourism is critical for everyone here on the island. As a company, we have been supporting our community who need it most; so many people have had no income and no way to survive this period. We support through our Life Bag packing and distribution efforts, (with essential food and hygiene products).
We understand that Phuket is not exactly how it used to be; there are more rules and regulations, not everything is open, but you coming here as an international tourist is supporting the island and this is exactly what we need right now to rebuild our domestic economy – so, THANK YOU!
So, let’s start with the good news; Phuket Sandbox successfully opened, and tourists are coming into Phuket – this helps start to fill the enormous gap that the island has faced as one of the most travel-dependent economies in the world.
However, let’s look at what else is going on here right now – Covid-19 cases are sadly rising and domestic travel has more or less stopped. Yes, international travelers are coming, but the numbers are so low that it cannot even bridge the gap in domestic arrivals. The bottom line is that we need more international tourists and domestic travel in order to increase tourism revenue that is so desperately needed.
So what can we do in the meantime? Well, here at 5 Star Marine we continue to pack life bags for people who need food and household staples and have no other means of getting these items. In the last 2 weeks, over 9,312 life bags were packed by our usual volunteers plus some Sandbox guests and were then delivered to the most vulnerable communities using our trucks and speedboats.
Deliveries were made to local communities and islands surrounding Phuket, including Kow Kaew, Koh Sirey, Rawai, Chalong, Bang Rong, Thasak, Koh Yao Noi, Naka Yai, Coconut Island, Phuket Town, Rassada, Mai Khao plus numerous other locations.
The life bag donation effort is continuing and despite the fact that it is approaching a year and a half, we have to keep going as the need is greater than ever before. There are so many we cannot help, and it is devastating to see, but we have to keep going, we keep reaching out to those we know need it most, we keep packing life bags and we keep supporting wherever we can.
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.
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:
- 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:
- Passport copy
- 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?
- Check-in on your MorChana app on your mobile phone
- Your temperature will be checked
- 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?
- Once again, you will need to check in on your MorChana app on your mobile phone
- Your temperature will be checked
- 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.
“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!