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:

Phuket Sandbox Update – 7 Day Sandbox, Bars Open, Island Hopping Easier Than Ever!

As Phuket transitions away from its wet season towards the dry (or high) season, the Thailand Government has made a major and positive update to the Phuket Sandbox program.

Instead of being a 14-day Sandbox Program or the 7+7 Day Sandbox Model, it is now just a simple and easy ‘7 Day Sandbox’.

Along with the reduction in the Sandbox days, the number of RT-PCR Covid-19 Tests required while staying has also come down.  As of now, with the new update, there are just 2 tests required; the first on the day of arrival and the second on day 6 of your stay.

The good news continues as island hopping by private speedboat is now easier than ever before with a wide-ranging 11 destinations now open. Plus, none of these stunning destinations require additional Covid-19 tests for Sandbox Travelers.

The return of the dry season, the reduced Sandbox days model, fewer Covid-19 tests and new island destinations are all pointing in the right direction for our Sandbox Guests.

For full details watch this short video update below:

Island Hopping Here We Go

We are thrilled to welcome a LOAD of new destinations to enjoy from 1st October; and yes, these are going to be open to both Sandbox and Domestic guests.

With the change in season, the seas become calmer so let’s take a look at the exciting new destinations which now become accessible; working our way out from our base pier in Boat Lagoon:

1. Khai Islands

Three popular and family-friendly islands offering shallow snorkeling only 15 minutes from the pier. These islands are close together and are especially good for beginner snorkellers as you can go straight off the beach and experience a plethora of tropical fish. Also, a great spot for a beach picnic.

2. Mai Ton & Coral Combination

5 Star Marine runs a respectful dolphin spotting program at Mai Ton Island which is around 30 minutes from Boat Lagoon, where you can also snorkel before making your way to Coral Island, with beautiful snorkeling, plus relax on the beach with great vibes on Banana Beach Club, which also offers activities, massages, lunch, etc.

3. Racha Islands

The two idyllic Racha Islands; Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi, provide some of the best snorkeling reefs in Thailand and quiet, tropical white powdery beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. With Manta Rays and Whale Sharks hopefully coming back again this October / November, don’t miss your chance to spot these magnificent creatures.

4. Phi Phi

Phi Phi is a particularly well know location in the Phuket region, and now with the change in season you can take advantage of some stunning location all to yourself – literally, you might just be the only boat out there! Enjoy Phi Phi Ley and Bamboo Island and chance spotting turtles and clownfish.

5. Krabi Islands and Hong Krabi

The turquoise waters of the Hong Krabi Lagoon are to die for, and why not get your adrenaline going with a climb up to the new 360-degree viewpoint on Hong Krabi? This 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. It might be a long climb but it is worth the reward. Enjoy the infamous Railay beach for a lunch stop and gorgeous scenery too.

6. Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga truly is one of natures’ spectacular works of art; where the vast karst rock scenery presents a visually stunning location. This location provides a different type of tour, it is not a snorkeling tour, but more about the seascapes, canoeing, caving, and exploring.

7. Koh Rok

The sea becomes like a lake in high season, making Koh Rok and Koh Ha idyllic destinations to make the most of when the season comes around. This area combines stunning water clarity with a diverse range of colorful marine life and corals and therefore offers some of the best snorkeling opportunities you can find. In season, you can also regularly see whale sharks between here and Koh Ha also.

8. Koh Ha

This offers some of the best snorkeling, stunning soft sandy beaches, and is less crowded than the better-known Similan Islands. A little further to travel compared to most of our other day trip locations; but well worth every minute for the guaranteed natural beauty and a great stop on the way to Koh Lipe.

9. Koh Lipe

This will open up in the next few weeks and boy are we raring to go! Koh Lipe is bursting with things to see and do; enjoy a romantic time at Sunrise or Sunset Beach, explore the coral reefs snorkeling at Red Coral, head to Monkey Beach or Stonehenge Rock. You might even get to spot the odd whale shark, Manta Ray, or turtle.

10. Similan & Surin Islands

Two phenomenal island-hopping destinations are situated off the West Coast of Phuket.  These areas are bursting with amazing marine life, rich coral, and sandy white beaches. Enjoy a memorable boat trip to the renowned Similan Islands; a stunning archipelago in the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand, which is made up of 9 islands. We can’t wait for it to open from October 15th to May 15th. Further away and only open 6 months per year, due to the monsoon season plus in an attempt to preserve the marine environment.

11. Phuket By The Sea Tour

This unique program leaves from Boat Lagoon and travels under the Sarasin bridge then you make your way down to the banana beach past Surin, Kamala, and Patong for example, where you can stop off at a beach club or two!

So there you have it – 11 amazing tours opening up from 1st or 15th October. There are a few rules and regulations for Sandbox and Domestic customers, but please contact us to find out more, and in most cases just need your passport and proof of vaccination.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore while you can!

Breaking News – Phi Phi, Phang Nga and Khai Islands Day Trips

We have just received updated and encouraging new rules for Domestic and Sandbox guests which make day tours to locations such as Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay even easier.

Here at 5 Star Marine, we have already done the hard work to understand how this affects you getting out on the water, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that we are up to date with the latest requirements. Drum roll please, we have some BREAKING NEWS!

Breaking News (from 8th September):

So, let’s break this down and look at the main positive changes with the new regulations:

DOMESTIC CUSTOMERS

  • You can now take a day trip to Phi Phi, The Khai Islands, and Phang Nga Bay (previously you could only go to Coral Island, Racha, or Mai Ton) – please note all criteria below must be met
  • Now you only need 1x RTPCR or Antigen test from Phuket for a day trip to Phi Phi, Khai Islands, or Phang Nga Bay (previously 2x tests were required)
  • Domestic customers can depart from Boat Lagoon

Domestic Customers’ Requirements:

  1. Proof of vaccination
  2. RTPCR or Antigen Covid-19 test (within 72 hours of the tour)
  3. Register with us 6 hours before the tour
    • We will register you with the marine department and relevant national parks
  4. Passport copy

SANDBOX CUSTOMERS

  • If you are on the 7+7 Sandbox Program, you can now take a day trip to Phi Phi, The Khai Islands, and Phang Nga Bay from day 8 – please note all criteria below must be met

Sandbox Customers’ Requirements:

  1. Proof of vaccination
  2. RTPCR or Antigen Covid-19 test (within 72 hours of the tour)
    • This rule just got easier as you can use your day 6 or 6 test for the tour on day 8, for example
  3. Register with us 6 hours before the tour
    • We will register you with the marine department and relevant national parks
  4. Passport copy
  5. PLUS your MorChana app on your phone
  6. PLUS a transfer form from your hotel (issued after the 7th night of stay) for Phi Phi, Khai Islands, or Phang Nga Bay

Please feel free to contact us to help you get out and explore Phi Phi, the Khai Islands, and Phang Nga Bay now, whilst you can experience these areas like never before with so few tourists around.

Whether you are a Domestic or Sandbox customer we 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.

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’

Paradise in Phi Phi

Phi Phi is infamous in the Phuket region, with one of its iconic islands featuring in the 2000 movie, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

A Phi Phi private tour with 5 Star Marine offers crystal clear tropical waters with stunning coral reefs to produce fantastic snorkeling, abound with marine life. Plus, the spectacular and well-known Maya Bay is a must-stop spot for some snaps. Move onto a quiet picnic spot on the white sand of Monkey Beach, and experience the stunning Pileh Lagoon for a truly memorable day out. Pileh Lagoon is the perfect spot to cool down and take a dip in the turquoise waters whilst admiring the cove-like canyon which literally cuts into Phi Phi Leh.

Star Marine ensures that you discover the area in the best possible conditions, with the least number of tourists, and also get to discover hidden coves and caves that you will not experience on group tours.

Your day in the paradise that we refer to as Phi Phi could look something like this:

  • Photos at Maya Bay
  • Swimming at Pileh Lagoon
  • Stopping at Monkey Beach
  • Picnic lunch at Loh Lana Bay Beach
  • Snorkelling at Nui Beach

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

Can You Still Go Island Hopping During Low (Wet) Season In Phuket

Anyone who has been in Phuket the last few days will have noticed that the season is starting to change. For the locals here, that is amazing news considering that our water supplies on the island were starting to run bare.

For Tourists, though this can be concerning. If you had grand plans to visit Phi Phi Island, Raya Island, or James Bond Island you may be wondering if that’s even possible right now.

The answer to the question is simple, YES you can still go island hopping but you need to be careful to select the right day, the right company, and the right tour itinerary.

For example, during High Season when we run our private boat tours most of the time we suggest a later leave and spending sunset on a private beach. This is because typically in High Season we have the very low wind in the afternoon, making it great conditions for being on the sea.

During Low Season though, we recommend a sunrise tour or a tour leave time around 7 am or 8 am because during Low Season we expect a high wind in the afternoon which makes traveling back from the islands a little bumpy and less fun.

This is just one example of how things can change in the Low Season. The reality is that most companies in Phuket will go every day of both High and Low Season as they want to make income.

Here at 5 Star Marine Phuket, we care about making your Private Boat Charter a wonderful experience so we will only recommend going out on tour when the weather is right for your selected tour program.

If you’d like to know what we recommend for you, please get in contact with us!