With the annual monsoon season drawing to a close the Khai Islands were in need of a good clean to prepare them for the return of tourism. During the clean up we were able to collect 156 Kilograms of rubbish and take a large portion of it off for recycling.
See the full details in our video update below:
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:
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:
Out of Phuket Province Islands:
For the following islands we simply need your Passport Copy and Vaccination Certificate:
* 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:
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.
Today we are thrilled to report good, positive news – now doesn’t that make a change to the negative news cycle?
In fact, we were just out at Phi Phi enjoying the stunning Pileh Lagoon. Now, if you have ever been or seen photos you will know that this gorgeous lagoon is normally crowded with well over 100 boats at one time; but for this day trip the 5 Star Marine speedboat was the ONLY one in the lagoon – yes you read that right. Can you imagine having this all to yourself? A priceless experience, never possible before, so now really is the best time to explore exotic locations with a luxury speedboat day tour.
Private VIP Speedboat Day Tours Days 1-7 (Sandbox Guests)
- Koh Mai Ton for some dolphin spotting
- Coral Island for snorkeling and relaxing at the beach club
- Koh Racha for superb underwater marine life
Private VIP Speedboat Day Tours Days 8-20 (Sandbox Guests)
- Phi Phi – stunning lagoons and beaches
- Hong Krabi – the new 360 Degree Viewpoint
- Phang Nga Bay / James Bond Island – canoeing through the caves, enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the infamous island
- Khai Islands – snorkeling in shallow waters
- Koh Mai Ton – dolphin spotting
- Koh Racha – stunning marine life
- Coral Island – beautiful beach resort
- Koh Lon – sunset cruise
Requirements Just Got Easier
All you need to give us is:
- A copy of your passport
- Your Vaccine certificate
That’s it – no long, confusing list anymore! You just provide us with these 2 items plus approval to talk to your hotel and we take care of EVERYTHING else. We coordinate with the SHA manager at your hotel to get the paperwork required, so you only need to worry about where to explore next.
No More Tests
For Day Tours from days 8-20, the new rules mean that you DO NOT need to take another Covid-19 test which is great news and one less thing to think about.
Of course, we are proudly TAT SHA Plus approved, but now are also SHA Plus Transportation Approved so the entire speedboat fleet is licensed and approved by the Government and Marine Department to go outside of the Phuket Province. For our Sandbox guests, this means that every single boat is safe, secure and Covid-19 approved. Plus, we test staff weekly as an added measure to make guests feel comfortable and safe.
Look What Is Around The Corner!
On October 15th we are more than a little excited to report that the Similan, Surin Islands, Koh Rok, and Koh Ha are all open and are ready for your to explore (Sandbox guests between day 8 -20). We have no doubt that it is going to be amazing to be out there at these paradise islands by yourselves – literally experience them like NEVER before.
Contact us to find out more or to book your Sandbox tour.
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.
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.
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.
“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!