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:

New Island Destinations for Phuket Day Tours

From the 15th of October 2021, there will be additional day tour options available to both Domestic and Sandbox customers. This time of year brings with it a change from the Monsoon to the Dry Season; where you can enjoy calmer winds and sea conditions which unite for a perfect combination for a day out on the sea.

This time of year also welcomes the reopening of the Similan and Surin Islands, by the National Park departments.  Two phenomenal island-hopping destinations situated off the West Coast of Phuket.  These areas are bursting with amazing marine life, rich coral and sandy white beaches.  Similan and Surin islands are only available to visit 6 months of the year, so this is something we have been looking forward to.

This year 5 Star Marine has licensed its fleet of boats to enter the stunning areas in and around the Similan and Surin Island National Parks.

The great news is that this means that both Domestic customers and Sandbox guests can all enjoy the natural marine richness and crystal clear blue waters these locations have to offer.

In addition to these destinations opening, the islands of Koh Rok and Koh Ha will also be able to welcome guests.  These are another two fantastic snorkeling and Day Tour locations that are a “must-see” and feature on many bucket lists.

To find out all the details about these new openings as well as take a sneak peek at what these destinations have in store for you, check out the YouTube video below:

Here we go Again! – Phuket Sandbox Rules Update

Today we are thrilled to report good, positive news – now doesn’t that make a change to the negative news cycle?

The new Sandbox rules mean that from now on it is easier than it has ever been before for Sandbox guests to explore Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island, Phi Phi, Hong Krabi, and beyond.

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.

Let’s Explore

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:

  1. A copy of your passport
  2. 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.

SHA Approved

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.

Team Work

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.

#savephuket

August Updates for Sandbox Guests

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.

THANK YOU!

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!

 

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’

Stamp and You Shall Receive

Here at 5 Star Marine, we love seeing how much our guests enjoy their travels onboard our private speedboats to Phi Phi, the Similan Islands, Hong Krabi, and beyond. For the past 16 months, our loyal residents have kept us busy exploring the islands around Phuket and Krabi, and now we feel that it is our turn to say ‘Thank you back. 

Say hello to the new and exclusive 5 Star Marine ‘Rewards Passport’ – the ultimate way for us to thank you; our loyal speedboat junkies. We have certainly missed international travel and passport stamps, so we are giving you the chance to feel the travel bug again. Dedicated to our loyal customers, each time you take a VIP speedboat trip with us to the islands in the Rewards Passport, you receive the relevant stamp. Simply collect all 7 destination stamps and you will receive your FREE day trip! No hidden extras, fuel costs, or charges; just a FREE day out with friends or family to create more memorable experiences with us.

For some inspiration on travel within 45 minutes of our pier at Boat Lagoon (and remaining in Phuket waters), you could consider a day trip to Coral Island returning via Mai Ton to try your luck spotting the friendly pod of dolphins. Perhaps a family-friendly day out to the Khai islands where you can enjoy shallow water snorkeling, relaxing on the beaches, and even a picnic lunch which can all be arranged by us.

Alternatively, if you are looking to get away for a night or two, why not enjoy the stunning snorkeling, wildlife, and beaches at Raya with a custom multi-day tour. In addition, from July 11th, 2021 you can explore the iconic and stunning Phi Phi islands again, as these open up to Phuket tourists.  

Wherever you chose for your next booking, just remember to collect your Rewards Passport before you set off, and start collecting your loyalty stamps for Phi Phi, Khai Islands, Raya, James Bond, Hong Krabi, Mai Ton, and the Similan Islands. Once filled with traveling stamps, you can collect your well-deserved reward, a FREE 5 Star Marine day trip experience. 

Thank you once again to all our loyal customers, we are proud that you have put your trust in us and look forward to welcoming you back onboard

Explore more to get more; contact 5 Star Marine on 093 720 6221 to book.

The Need Continues, and So Will We

From July 1st, 2021 we welcomed a positive and critical step in the right direction; with the opening of the Phuket Sandbox. With hopes that this will help jump-start the return of international tourism and the economic benefits that come with this for an island such as Phuket.

We are all hopeful that this will be a welcome development for southern Thailand and eventually the rest of the country. However, we know that this is going to take some time, and while it ramps up slowly, we understand that the need for food and our vital life bag efforts continue to be hugely important to many communities.

So, we continue to get our volunteers together to organize our life bag packing efforts, each and every Saturday at 10 am at Sutai Muay Thai. But it doesn’t stop there, once the huge packing efforts are complete the 5 Star Marine teams carry on through to distribution by truck or boat to some of the most suffering communities in and around Phuket. 

No matter what, we do what we can to help and will continue to do so until such time that tourism returns to more normal levels. 

The Life of a Life Bag – Video by Chris Parker

5 Star Marine was thrilled to welcome Chris Parker, (from Retired Working For You), as he joined their usual weekly efforts to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes of each vital life bag.

Chris Parker got an inside glimpse of how things work right from the organized packing efforts by volunteers at Sutai Muay Thai, to the distribution to some of the most suffering communities in and around Phuket. He joined the distribution efforts by truck and then headed out on the sea to get to some of the harder-to-reach places which the 5 Star Marine have been able to serve using their speedboats for deliveries.

In his follow-up, hard-hitting video, you get to see where these life bags go, and how vitally important they have become for the worst-hit communities around us here. 

In Chris’ own words: What 5 Star Marine in Phuket, Thailand have done during the past 14 months is nothing short of unbelievable. This video will tell the story about how, when the pandemic struck, one man decided to begin helping those in need on his home island and as the need grew, so did the effort. Today, One Phuket has handed out more than 210,000 ‘Life Bags’ with daily essentials for a local family who have no income. On Phuket, where tourism is basically everything, this has provided a lifeline and gotten many through this challenging year. 

The news in Bangkok and Thailand has been mostly bad this past year, but the Phuket Sandbox is reopening travel and bringing hope to the locals who are looking to get back on their feet. So book a ticket and be a hero!”

5 Star Marine is so grateful to Chris for filming this emotional and honest video and for helping to raise awareness by sharing this story on his YouTube platform also; all much appreciated.