Phuket Sandbox Update – No Quarantine? No More Sandbox? Phuket Is OPEN.

BREAKING NEWS – Thailand Prime Minister Announces No Quarantine For Travellers From Some Countries.

As Phuket and Thailand in general move to a “Live With Covid” model and look to restart tourism the National Government are making positive announcements to support the reopening of Thailand.

In a recent televised announcement, the Prime Minister suggested that from November 1st that travelers from some low-risk countries will be able to enter Thailand without any quarantine or sandbox needed.

Now the full rules and process for entry have not yet been decided but for a look at what we expect to happen please watch our latest update video 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.

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.

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.

New Offices, Same 5 Star Service

We are excited to announce that we have been keeping ourselves busy in the last few days by taking a giant (out of water) leap and moving into our brand-new office space. This has been a natural progression for us, as we continue to expand our business to meet new domestic and international market demands. 

Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation, we are not able to do our grand opening just yet and invite you all to see our new space; however, with our tours now resuming, and international bookings coming in, plus our valued customers coming into our offices it is important you all know where we are now located. 

Don’t worry, we are still based in Boat Lagoon, Phuket; and to make things easy we have remained on the same side of the pier, just a little further down (about 150 meters) in our new two-story glass office. 

We are just settling into our new space, and as we all know things take a little time to get just right, but we hope to welcome you for the grand opening as soon as we are able to.

Please follow the Google Maps link below to meet us for your tour, or feel free to drop by if you fancy saying hello and seeing the team!

https://g.page/5StarMarinePhuket?share

Limited VIP Trips Re-Starting on 1st June 2021

During the last few weeks, our private boat tours have been put on hold to help keep Phuket safe. During this time, we have been able to concentrate on our charity efforts as well as finding safe and responsible ways to get our VIP guests back out on the water. Our piers, boats, and office have all been thoroughly cleaned by Government provincial teams, plus staff members have been PCR Covid-19 tested – and we are happy to report that all of our fantastic team are officially Covid-19 free.

Therefore, from 1st June 2021, we are looking forward to welcoming back our existing VIP guests as we will be re-opening with a range of limited private trips. Please note that all guests will be required to complete a short Declaration Form prior to being accepted on board, and also must comply with all Provincial announcements. These precautions and regulations will enable us to re-open our operations on a smaller scale to keep staff and guests safe.

Re-opening at this point is important to give our staff the opportunity to work again and keep motivated during these difficult times. We also want to give you the chance to explore some exciting destinations whilst the seas are still calm, and the islands are blissfully quiet and beautiful.

From 1st June 2021 we are able to offer private small group tours to the following destinations:

If you would like to book a trip to the aforementioned areas, please get in contact to book and fill in our Declaration Form.

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 island

Photo credit – sunny_rung

All Good Things Must Come to an End

 

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?