UPDATE 10th JAN – Thailand CANCELS All Travel Restrictions” As of 10th January 2023, the travel restrictions that were put into place have fully been removed.
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Nestled in the Andaman Sea, Phuket, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Andaman,” is a tropical paradise that has captured the hearts of travelers from all corners of the world. This stunning island in Thailand is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, vibrant culture, and wide range of activities that cater to all types of tourists. In this blog post, we will take you on a virtual tour of Phuket, offering insights into its attractions, culture, and tips for an unforgettable vacation. Shaun Stenning said.
1. The Allure of Phuket’s Beaches
Phuket’s coastline is adorned with an array of mesmerizing beaches, each offering a unique experience. Patong Beach, the island’s most famous, is known for its bustling nightlife and water sports. If you seek tranquility, head to Kata or Karon Beach for a more relaxed atmosphere. Adventurous souls can explore hidden gems like Freedom Beach or Ao Sane Beach for snorkeling and diving adventures.
2. Island-Hopping Adventures
Phuket serves as a gateway to some of Thailand’s most picturesque islands. Take a day trip to Phi Phi Islands, known for their crystal-clear waters and stunning cliffs, or visit the Similan Islands, a diver’s paradise teeming with vibrant marine life. These excursions promise unforgettable memories and Instagram-worthy moments.
3. Cultural Experiences
Beyond its natural beauty, Phuket boasts a rich cultural heritage. Explore the Old Town in Phuket City, where colorful Sino-Portuguese architecture tells the story of the island’s history. Visit the Wat Chalong temple, a spiritual haven where you can learn about Buddhist practices and admire intricate architecture. The annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a must-see, showcasing vibrant processions and unique rituals.
4. Gastronomic Delights
Phuket’s cuisine is a delightful fusion of Thai and international flavors. Sample local dishes like Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, and Massaman Curry in street-side eateries or upscale restaurants. Don’t forget to indulge in fresh seafood at seafood shacks along the coast. The night markets, such as Phuket Weekend Market and Malin Plaza, offer a chance to savor authentic Thai street food.
5. Adventure and Outdoor Activities
Phuket offers a plethora of adrenaline-pumping activities for adventure enthusiasts. Go zip-lining through the lush rainforests of Hanuman World, explore the island’s interior on an ATV or go white-water rafting in Phang Nga Bay. The options are endless for those seeking an action-packed vacation.
6. Spa and Wellness Retreats
Shaun Stenning said, Phuket is a hub for wellness and relaxation. Numerous world-class spas and wellness centers offer traditional Thai massages, yoga retreats, and detox programs. Pamper yourself with a spa day overlooking the ocean or find inner peace through yoga and meditation sessions.
7. Sustainable Tourism
Phuket is increasingly committed to sustainable tourism practices. Support eco-friendly tours and accommodations that prioritize environmental conservation and community engagement. Responsible travelers can participate in beach clean-up activities or learn about sea turtle conservation efforts at the Phuket Marine Biological Center.
Entry To Thailand Requirements for January
The Thailand authorities have issued these new travel rules for COVID-19-related restrictions as of the 9th January 2023, amid rising international disease activity and the opening up of China for international travel.
The new entry rules for Thailand start today (9th January 2023) amid a lot of confusion. All we have is the NOTAM sent out by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to airlines around the world.
Here are the UPDATED Guidelines on the New Thailand Travel Restrictions starting January 9, 2023 – Please note that these are correct as of 10am Monday the 9th January and there may be changes over the next few days or weeks.
Source: Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand
Passengers who are unvaccinated
Unvaccinated tourists can fly to Thailand without being refused boarding due to a last-minute update to the latest Notice to Airmen (Notam). Point 5 above says:
Highlights of New Thailand Travel Restrictions starting January 9, 2023 at 1:00AM
Airline passengers the age of 18 year or older must provide the following:
We highly recommend that you check with your airline before you travel as these restrictions are changing daily.
The islands around Phuket are known for their crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, making them ideal for exploring and snorkelling. The region is home to a wide variety of coral reefs and other underwater habitats that support a diverse array of sea species, including colourful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even whale sharks.
The warm, shallow waters and good depth visibility around many islands that are conveniently accessible on a day trip with 5 Star Marine, making it easy to see the underwater world and explore the reefs up close. In addition, trained guides can provide vital information about the aquatic ecosystems and help ensure a safe, memorable and enjoyable experience on your private speedboat tour.
1. Phi Phi
There are many reasons to consider a day trip to Phi Phi Island, which is located in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. One of the main attractions of Phi Phi Island is its beautiful beaches and turquoise waters, which are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and exploring. The island is home to several stunning beaches, including Maya Bay, which was made famous by the movie “The Beach,” and Bamboo Island, which is known for its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters.
A small selection of good spots for snorkelling in Phi Phi Island, include:
• Maya Bay: This is a popular spot for snorkelling, as the bay is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and is home to colourful tropical fish and sea turtles. Please note that you cannot snorkel directly from Maya Bay beach but can just beyond the bay from the boat.
• Loh Samah Bay: This bay is known for its crystal-clear waters and colourful coral reefs, which are home to a wide variety of marine life.
• Bamboo Island: This small island is located a short boat ride from Phi Phi Island and is known for its stunning soft sand beaches and clear waters. It is a great spot for snorkelling where you might get the chance to see tropical fish and sea turtles, as well as an idyllic lunch picnic spot.
2. Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are well-known for their striking crystal clear seas and varied marine life, making them an excellent snorkelling destination. The islands are part of the Mu Ko Similan National Park, which is home to a diverse array of coral reefs and other underwater ecosystems. With these reefs you will encounter a wide variety of marine life, including colourful tropical fish, sea turtles, and potentially whale sharks.
With a variety of dive sites and snorkelling areas to select from, the Similan Islands are particularly renowned worldwide. Elephant Head Rock, famed for its massive underwater rock formations and colourful coral reefs, and Shark Island, which is home to a variety of sharks and other marine life, are two prime examples.
Overall, the Similan Islands are a fantastic snorkelling location, with pristine seas, rich sea life, memorable scenery, and a broad range of snorkelling spots to explore.
3. Koh Rok / Koh Ha
These islands are for you if you are searching for somewhere a little more exotic and are perhaps as breath-taking as the Similan Islands. These tiny islands are in the Mu Ko Lanta National Park, immediately south of Koh Lanta.
These two islands provide some of the greatest snorkelling options available due to their exceptional water clarity, rich marine life, and colourful reefs, which make for a very unique experience. In season, whale sharks are also frequently observed swimming between these islands.
Visiting Koh Rok and Koh Ha makes for a perfect multi night experience, and will provide some of the greatest snorkelling, beautiful soft sand beaches, and less crowds than the more popular Similan Islands. Compared to most other day trip destinations from Phuket, this one is a little further out, but the assured natural beauty makes the journey worthwhile.
4. Raya / Racha Islands
Raya or Racha Islands are renowned for their pristine seas and rich underwater sea life, making them a popular snorkelling destination. The islands are situated in the Andaman Sea and are home to a multitude of coral reefs and other underwater ecosystems that are teeming with marine life, such as vibrant tropical fish and sea turtles.
Around Racha Island, there are several excellent snorkelling locations, including Siam Bay, which is located on the south side of the island and is renowned for its magnificent coral reefs and aquatic species including colourful tropical fish and sea turtles.
Patok Beach is located on the north side of the island and has a beach which is known for its clear waters and divers’ underwater life, teeming with tropical fish and other marine life. In addition to snorkelling, these islands are home to noteworthy diving locations, have 5 star hotels and restaurants to select from for a tropical lunch.
5. Coral Island
Coral Island, commonly known locally as Koh He or alternatively Koh Hae, is located close to Phuket so lends itself to being conveniently located and extremely family friendly.
This Island is renowned for its crystal blue seas and abundant marine life, making it another popular snorkelling destination to add to your list. It is situated south of Phuket and is home to a multitude of coral reefs and other underwater ecosystems.
There are a number of excellent snorkelling locations around Coral Island, including the coral reefs that encircle the island and the shallow seas along the beaches. In addition, the island is home to various snorkelling and diving locations, including Koh Hae Yai, which is renowned for its vibrant reefs.
Coral Island also lends itself to being a family friendly day trip; not only is it located near to Phuket, but because a trip to Banana Beach Club on the island serves a good selection of dishes, has clean facilities plus offers massages, canoes and plenty of Instagram-worthy set ups.
We look forward to welcoming you for a trip of a lifetime, snorkelling amongst the rich coral and marine life we are lucky enough to have around the islands surrounding Phuket.
The latest Phuket News for December 2022 is brought to you by 5 Star Marine Phuket.
Join Shaun owner of 5 Star Marine Phuket, and 5 Star Marine Phuket YouTube host Jay Leshark as they discuss the latest Phuket News and update you on the current Phuket weather, Phuket roads, travel, and which islands are open and ready for you to book a tour.
Phuket has two main weather seasons, and if you are looking for the time of year when you get the least amount of rain in Phuket and the most amount of sun then high season is between November and April. Now that doesn’t mean that during these months that the sun is shining every single day, and you have to remember that Phuket is in the tropics and so we get tropical weather, which can mean the odd rain shower here and there.
One thing we also have to explain to people when they come to Phuket is that just because it’s raining in one location in Phuket, that doesn’t mean that it’s raining over the whole of Phuket. In fact; you can be driving down the road and one side is 100% dry and no rain at all, and on the other side of the road it’s raining.
If you have booked a 5 Star Marine Phuket private boat tour and you are worried about the weather, we have some top tips for you.
WAIT until the morning of your trip to really check the weather. The Phuket Weather forecast for high season, will generally say, Sunny with a chance of Thunderstorms. This is the go-to weather forecast for high season weather in Phuket.
If you are staying in Patong and it’s raining on the morning of your tour, don’t worry as Patong is on the West Coast of Phuket and your tour is going to the East side of Phuket and the weather can be very different. Phuket has lush jungles and mountains in the middle of the island which have huge effects on the weather in Phuket.
Phuket Roads Update
A month or so ago the road between Kathu and Patong collapsed due to a landslip which was an effect from all the rain and flooding that we had at the start of November. You would have seen all the floods that we had. This road was a vital connection between the West and East of Phuket and the Patong Hill Road collapsing caused major transport and traffic issues on the two other routes that take you into Patong. Traffic going or coming into Patong had to go either south down the West Coast through Kata and Karon or North up the West Coast through Kamala and Surin. This did cause a few longer journeys for many locals and tourists BUT now the Patong Hill Road is open for what they are calling “Light Traffic” Please do not ask me what “Light Traffic” is, as I have no idea. BUT the good news is that mini buses, cars, motorbikes and light trucks (not sure what that is either) are now all allowed to use the Patong Hill Road, which is very good news as we are now coming into Peak Season.
Phuket Marine Life
Some super great news. The past few years have been difficult for many people, however the marine life not only here in Phuket, but across the world seemed to have really benefited from the past few years. So much so that the Phuket pod of dolphins has grown and are much more active than they were 3 or 4 years ago, and even more amazing news is that humpback Whales have been seen in the past few weeks up in the Similan islands as well as a small pod of orca’s (Killer Whales). This adds to the already stunning marine life we have here in Phuket, with the sea turtles, Whale Sharks and Rays. This is just a small amount of the stunning underwater life you can see here in Phuket; I have not even mentioned the Black Tip reef sharks at Maya Bay, the clown fish, the moray eels, Star Fish, Parrot Fish, snappers, and so much more. We are so lucky to live in such a stunning location.
If you want to see some of these stunning animals then book up quickly and some of these beautiful marine creatures are only here for a short time. So click here NOW to book.
Just one fact for you – Killer Whales are Dolphins. That’s right, Dolphins.
Getting a private speedboat with 5 Star Marine to tour James Bond Island is one of the most memorable things you can do when you’re in Phuket. Here, we explore what you can expect from a day going on our James Bond Island Tour from Phuket.
5 Star Marine
During our James Bond Island Tour from Phuket, you will have the opportunity to view the island’s most interesting features in the luxurious comfort of a private, fully upgraded speedboat. As you head out to Phang Nga Bay you will be welcomed to the home of some of the world’s most beautiful limestone formations.
One of the most iconic features of Phang Nga Bay is its limestone islets, including James Bond Island and Koh Panyee; The bay is filled with these vertical limestone cliffs which makes the area perfect for kayaking and exploring the sea caves.
The James Bond Island Tour from Phuket with 5 Star Marine is one of the most popular day trips. Rest assured, you and your friends or family will be treated like a “Super VIP” every step of the way. Not only will you get the chance to swim in a secluded lagoon on the way to Phang Nga Bay, but you can also visit the floating island of Koh Panyee and enjoy a traditional Thai lunch.
A private luxury speedboat offers you a truly impressive experience; you have the opportunity to see the best sites, you will also be able to work with our experienced crew to customise your itinerary to suit your specific requirements.
James Bond Island
Located in Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island is a fantastic area to explore. This limestone island is part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park and was featured in the film “The Man with the Golden Gun” in 1974, starring Christopher Lee and Roger Moore where the island was the hideout for Scaramanga.
The James Bond Island Tour from Phuket is a bespoke experience, so our guides and captain can help with spots for lunch such as the floating Ko Panyee village, canoeing or kayaking through caves, finding iconic photo opportunities and many other fantastic activities.
Private Speedboat Benefits
Whether you’re traveling to Thailand for the first time or you’ve already visited, James Bond Island is a must-see. With 5 Star Marine, the James Bond Island Tour from Phuket is a perfect private tour for a full day trip. In addition, you can sit back and relax with the following inclusions for your tour:
• Fresh fruits
• Soft drinks
• Snorkelling equipment
• Life jackets
• Beach mats
• On tour photos
• Tour video
• Cool towel
• Fins (adults)
• Hand sanitiser
We look forward to welcoming you onboard our luxury speedboats to experience our James Bond Island Tour from Phuket.
James Bond Island Tour Explained:
One of our most popular private speedboat day excursions is our James Bond Island Tour, heading out to Phang Nga Bay. This is a sumptuous day trip that includes classic sights as well as more sporty activities such as caving and paddling. On 5 Star Marine’s James Bond Island Tour you will go to a place unlike any other, with stunning karst limestone formations rising steeply from the turquoise waters creating an unbelievable seascape for your special photos.
The Popularity of James Bond Island:
When selecting the James Bond Island Tour by private luxury speedboat, the experienced captain and guides will take you and your select group of friends or family off to the well-known Koh Tapu (James Bond Island) in Phang Nga Bay. Here you can take in the sights of Phang Nga Bay’s fames location. This James Bond Island Tour is one of the most popular day trips run from Phuket, and once you arrive it is easy to understand why.
This area is actually a marine protected site; therefore, boats are not allowed to get too close to the Island. However, right beside is the island of Koh Ping Ghan, which features a large rock that leans to one side and several caves which are perfect to explore. From here, you will have a fantastic area from which to take photographs of the famed landmark during your James Bond Island Tour.
James Bond Island has been a popular destination for vacationers since the 1970s, when it was featured in the film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ as the location of Scaramanga’s hideout. The James Bond Island Tour that 5 Star Marine provides remains a highly enjoyed trip as a result of the popularity of the film.
Indeed, this attraction helped to support the inhabitants, stores, restaurants, and the floating Muslim village of Koh Panyee, where huts, eateries, and even a floating football pitch have been erected above the water. This can all be experienced and supported as part of your James Bond Island Tour.
Spotlight on The James Bond Island Tour
No matter what it is that you require, 5 Star Marine will do all they can to provide for your perfect day out. Our experienced team will do their best to steer you away from the crowds so that you may have a day that stands out in your memory. During your James Bond Island Tour some of the possible highlights along the way are as follows:
• Stop by Panak Island to enjoy floating peacefully inside one of the hidden caves surrounded by mangroves, before basking in the golden bay.
• At Ko Kudu Yai, take in the exquisite beauty of the clear waters and indulge in this stunning lagoon.
• For a spot of lunch, we suggest taking you to the small island community of Koh Panyee where you can have some traditional food as well as support the local community.
• Once you arrive at James Bond Island, get snap happy from Koh Ping Ghan for the best shots
• During your James Bond Island Tour we can help you participate in some cave canoeing or exploring if you desire.
• Perhaps get lucky and make a sunset stop at Koh Pear, a very thin strip of sand which appears as if you are walking on water.
James Bond Island Tour Inclusions:
• Experienced Captain and Crew
• Private luxury speedboat
• Fresh fruits
• Soft drinks
• Snorkelling equipment
• Life jackets
• Beach mats
• On tour photos
• Tour video
• Cool towel
• Fins (adults)
• Hand sanitiser
Bookings and Enquiries:
We’re excited to have you join us on the memorable James Bond Island Tour aboard one of 5 Star Marine luxury private speedboats. Please get in touch to book in advance to avoid disappointment
+66 (0) 93720 6221
How Long Can You Stay in Thailand? New tourist visa rules, plus a brand-new café opening in Phuket and 5 Star Marine Phuket has a brand-new Phuket weatherman (kind of). All this is discussed in this month’s Breaking Phuket News by the owner of 5 Star Marine Phuket Shaun Stenning and YouTube host Jay Leshark, all while drinking coffee at the brand-new café “Next Door” to the 5 Star Marine towers.
Are you planning a trip to Thailand in the near future? If so, good news for you and good news for anyone working in the tourism industry, Thailand has decided to extend the stay period for those who enter Thailand on a Visa On Arrival. Starting on October 1st, 2022, Thailand CCSA has announced that the Visa extension stay period will be extended from 30 days to 45 days.
“We are looking to extending their stay, This will help boost tourist spending, revive the economy and reduce impact from the coronavirus pandemic.”A CCSA official said.
The Visa extension rule will allow tourists from 64 different countries to come into Thailand without applying for a visa before they arrive. Which countries are on the list? please see below the full list:
The new visa extension is all part of the Thailand government’s efforts to increase economic recovery post-pandemic as it looks to gain 8-10 million foreign arrivals this year. This was the figure reported in The Bangkok Post.
In August, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said some 1.07 million foreign tourists had entered Thailand in July, which is the first time that monthly arrivals have exceeded 1 million since the pandemic.
But even better news for travelers from Korea, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Chile, as you will receive permission to stay in Thailand for up to 90 days under Visa Exemption.
Always wanted a have a coffee overlooking the 5-Star Marine Towers, well now you can. The Next-Door Café has opened right next door to 5 Star Marine offices, so when you come on a 5 Star marine private boat tour you can grab a freshly brewed coffee or a snack before you go.
And finally, 5 Star Marine has a brand-new Phuket Weather Station that can accurately tell you what the weather is doing live, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The new station has been in creation for many years using NASA scientists to help with the hard stuff, hence why their rocket launch for Artemis I was delayed. Many people may say it’s just a coconut on a string, and well to be honest they might be right.
12 Czech Republic
19 Hong Kong
42 New Zealand
51 San Marino
53 Slovak Republic
55 South Africa
61 United Arab Emirates
62 United Kingdom
63 United States
There are many things to do in Phuket and as we are in low season, rainy season, or green season we thought we would show you a few things you can do in Phuket when it’s raining.
Of course, don’t forget that you can still come on a 5 Star marine tour to Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island, Phi Phi, or any of our trips. In fact, Phang Nga Bay is stunning in the rain.
1st stop was a trip to the Aquaria Aquarium located in the center of Phuket beneath Central Phuket Floresta. Aquaria is the best aquarium in Phuket and the biggest in Thailand. The aquarium takes you on a magical underwater journey through the wonders of the ocean and the mysteries of the rivers. There are over 25,000 animals and you can also interact with some of them.
Next to Aquaria Aquarium is Happy Kids Club, which is a high-quality and safe indoor children’s playground where kids connect through play, fun, and educational activities as well as special celebrations. Happy Kids Club also offers both Thai and western workshop activities. They cater to Babies right up to 12-year-old.
The cinema experience in Phuket at SFX Cinema is a must for everyone. Although top tip, make sure you take warm clothes as they have their aircon set on “South Pole”. There are three cinemas in Phuket, one at Central Festival, one at Jungceylon shopping mall in Patong and a brand new SFX Cinema at the new Robinson’s Shopping mall in Talang. All the blockbuster movies are in English and Thai.
If you like to bounce and have a fun indoor adventure then Village Adventure at Blue Tree Phuket is a great place for kids of all ages. Adventure Village is an indoor family entertainment center, with a commitment to bringing fun to everyone. The park includes an incredible wide range of entertainment options including trampoline arena, foam pit, zip line, donut slide, fun slide, roller skating, net climbing, pirate ship playground, Lego zone, carousels and more. Adventure Village brings fun to a new level.
And finally, don’t forget that even when it’s raining you can still enjoy an amazing 5-Star Marine Private Boat Tour. In fact, as I said at the start if this, we often tell people that Phang Nga Bay in the rain is beautiful, and of course, we live in the tropics, so even if it’s raining first thing in the morning then chances are it will not be raining later in the day and in the same way, just because it might be raining in Patong, doesn’t mean it’s raining in Phang Nga or Phi Phi.
So rain or shine there are many things to do in Phuket after you have had a fantastic Private Tour with 5 Star Marine.
What’s Open in and around Phuket
In the Phuket News today we find out what Islands around Phuket are open and which islands are closed or closing. Shaun the founder of 5 Star Marine Phuket also talks about the new Phuket Waterpark Andamanda Phuket and gives you an update on Phuket Charity work that is being done by Living Waters Phuket.
The biggest news is that Maya Bay, Phi Phi, one of the best and most beautiful beaches in Thailand IF not the world is closed from the 1st August 2022.
Maya Bay Beach was closed for over 2 years by the Thai Government to help the environment as it had become ruined by over tourism and closing it allow its ecosystem to recover from the impact of thousands of visitors each day
It reopened in January 2022 with new rules and regulations that help to manage the tourists and how they access the bay.
Other islands around Phuket that are currently closed are:
Our tours to Phi Phi Islands, and Phang Nga Bay to see James Bond Island are all still running as well as our tours to the awesome Khai Islands, coral islands are all open.
The brand new Andamanda Phuket, which opened in June this year is arguably Phuket’s only real waterpark, although Splash Jungle up in Mai Khao is a waterpark, but not on the scale of this brand-new feature to Phuket. Blue Tree Phuket, has also been described as a waterpark, but that is really an activity lagoon with a host of different activities to do, it does have Thailand’s longest Superfly (slip and slide).
So, there you have it. What’s open and what’s not here in Phuket
Please take a minute to check out the amazing work done by Living Waters Phuket.
Maya Bay is due to close again on the 1st of August 2022 for 2 months. This is part of the National Parks revised plan to maintain the newly restored marine environment. This closure is in line with the closure of other National Parks, for example, the Similan and Surin National Park areas and the Koh Ha and Koh Rok National Park areas.
While Maya Bay will be closed to walk on, sightseeing, swimming, and taking photos from behind the roped line will continue to be available. These are the exact same rules that were instigated during the multi-year closure.
Here at 5 Star Marine we fully support the sustainable nature of closing the park. While some visitors will be sad to realize they can not walk on the iconic beach, it is for the long-term health of the Bay.
Prior to the initial closure a few years ago Maya Bay had a significant amount of reef damage and the Marine Life was scarce to nonexistent. Since the closure the reef has started to restore, Marine Life has come back in abundance and Maya Bay is now the home to some reef sharks.
If you are visiting Phi Phi during the closure period you can still visit the Iconic Pileh Lagoon, Monkey Beach, Viking Cave, Bamboo Island, Camel Rock, Phi Phi Don, and more. While Phi Phi is well known for Maya Bay it is not all it has to offer.