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:
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!
“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!
During this Covid 19 Season, the 5 Star Marine team has been well supported by the local and domestic markets booking private boats and excursions. Combine this with our Donation program that has seen over 100,000 meals donated by the team we thought it was time to move to a location more central to the areas that we operate from.
During November our team started the cleaning, set up, and operations of a new office for our Private Boat Charters at Phuket Boat Lagoon. Considering the location of Phuket Boat Lagoon, we thought it was strategic as it allowed easy and quick access to our office from all over Phuket.
Whether you are coming from Rawai, Patong, Laguna, or beyond Phuket Boat Lagoon is a centralized location. So when you board for your next tour with 5 Star Marine you will be checked in and prepared for your tour at our newly opened office for our Private Boat Charters.
A huge shoutout to our Administrative and Operations team for setting up the office and making it comfortable for our clients and staff. We welcome you to come to the office at any time for a chat.
During this difficult time of the COVID, 19 Pandemic as many as 70% of tourism businesses have not been able to re-open here in Phuket. Whether that is from a lack of customers, financial problems, or staffing problems it doesn’t matter, what matters is that this means a lot of people are without work.
As a responsible company that is invested in the local community, as you can see from our regular donations, we also choose to support local businesses by spending at local restaurants, booking local staycations, and supporting businesses that have been supporting local people.
This is something we promote heavily on our social media as we strongly believe that the only path for tourism here in Phuket is through Domestic Tourism until at least the end of 2021. While the government has started to let in long-stay tourism the number of tourist arrivals is just not enough to sustain the local economy.
So we encourage you, if you can, to spend local, stay local and support local businesses. Also, pay special attention to those local businesses that are investing in keeping the community going.
Businesses like ours here at 5 Star Marine that are offering significantly discounted COVID Rate trips, businesses like ours that are making regular community donations, and businesses like ours that are taking the time to promote and help other local businesses.
Stay Local, Support Local and You’ll Discover Places You Never Knew Existed!
I often see people asking whether they should book tours before arriving in Phuket or on arrival at Phuket at the street vendors. Whenever someone posts something like this the local community has different thoughts, ideas, and advice for the person writing the post.
After 11 years here booking tours myself, being part of a tour company, and also running a private boat marine business my advice is a little conflicted. If you plan to do a group tour, then generally you will find it best to book once you arrive in Phuket as you can compare prices at different agents.
The only exception to that is if you wish to book one of the premium tour providers like Phuket Sail Tours or Simba Tours. These companies generally book out well ahead of time and as such it’s best to at least reserve a spot prior to arriving.
So if you plan to book a group tour that sits in the “general” category and not in the small group or VIP tour category then I would strongly recommend to you that you should research before you arrive and then book on the ground.
We Recommend Booking Private Boats In Advance
But if you are booking with a popular tour provider in the VIP or Small Group category then I would suggest that you reserve. Then when it comes to Private Boats you should also reserve the boat if you wish to go with a reputable private boat provider.
For example here at 5 Star Marine, we pre-sell more than 75% of our month weeks or months in advance as we are a popular and reputable provider. If you land in and try to secure a private boat you may not get the date you want, the price you want, or even the boat you want.
If you’d like more advice feel free to contact us.