I often see people asking whether they should book tours
before arriving to 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 to 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.
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
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.
We receive a lot of enquiries via Facebook, WhatsApp and Email from Solo travelers looking to join tours with 5 Star Marine. While we are aware that the experiences that we provide are extremely unique and memorable it’s important to understand that they are this way as no tour is the same.
We customize each tour to the customers on the boat. If our customers love to snorkel then we go
to multiple snorkeling locations. If our
customers love to relax on the beach, we go to multiple quiet and idealic beach
To do this kind of customized tour it means that we are limited to just Private Tours. This means it’s just you and your travelling companions on the boat with our crew and guide.
Now for a Solo Traveller this can be expensive as you are
not splitting the cost with other travelers or with your family. The reality is, if you compare our company, 5
Star Marine, to a typical group tour company we are more expensive.
But at a group tour company you’ll have anywhere from 25 to
75 people on the boat. So if you have 75
people all paying 1300 THB per person then these group tour companies are
making significantly more than us as a Private Boat Tour provider.
The reason we decided to do only Private Tours is we can craft, and execute programs which suit just you and ensure 100% satisfaction 100% of the time. This is why we receive 5 Star Trip Advisor and Facebook Ratings and people rave about what we do.
We are customizing the tour to you and ensuring that you
have the most memorable time we can give you.
Generally when we receive enquiries about private boats we are asked what is the difference between James Bond and Phi Phi Island. The immediate response out of our mouths is they are night and day tours.
The tours while taking place on water are two completely different tours. For example the James Bond Island Private Boat Tour takes place in lagoon like water. There is very little clarity around the waters of James Bond (or Phang Nga as it is known locally). When you go on a James Bond Island Private Boat Tour you go to look at the wonderful limestone rocks, stalactite formations, hidden caves, lagoons and of course the famous James Bond Island.
But when you go to Phi Phi you go see the crystal clear water, the white sandy beaches, the colorful marine life, rocky out crops and if you are really lucky maybe a reef shark or two. The Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour is really about seeing whats under the water, as well as what’s above where as the James Bond Island Tour is about seeing what’s above the water.
Both tours are equally as beautiful, you just need to decide what kind of tour you want, do you want to go swimming, snorkeling and sit on white sandy beaches or do you want to go sightseeing, sea canoeing and cave exploring?
If you are the adventurous type then you can do BOTH in one time on a Private Boat.
Here at 5 Star Marine we specialize in Private Boat Tours and often customers we talk to prior to joining onboard our VIP Private Speedboat ask us why our tours are more expensive than traditional Group Tours.
The reality is quite simple, on a Private Tour we limit the number of people on our boat to just you, your family and friends. This means if it’s just the 2 of you on a romantic cruise or your extended family of 10, the only people on the boat are you and your friends with our crew.
By limiting our boat to just Private Boat Tours we create an exclusivity of experience for you that you could not have on a Group Tour. Group Tours can be more affordable as they are filling there boats to capacity.
For example, let’s assume that most group tour boats can take 48 people on the boat. If you pay, as an example, 2000 THB per person to be on the boat, then that boat will be producing income of 96,000 THB for the day.
Now as a responsible Private Boat Tour company we do not charge anywhere near this 96,000 THB price, in fact you’d be quite surprised by how affordable private boat tours can be.
With that said though you should keep in mind, that when we conduct a private boat tour the entire boat, equipment, crew are all dedicated to making the day out on the sea the most incredible day for just YOU!
We are not focusing on the other 40+ people on the boat. So YES, Private Boat Tours are more expensive, but how often do you get the chance to cruise around the stunning islands of the Andaman Sea in the luxury of a VIP Private Boat?
Often we have guests ask us via message or at one of our agent locations across Phuket why the native weather applications on iPhones or Android devices often predict rain each day but the predictions are incorrect.
The answer is difficult to be honest. When we are running Private Boat Tours we often use a combination of applications to predict the weather and then on the day of a tour we will also use a number of other applications as well.
When it comes to forecasting rain or sunshine a lot of people make the mistake of taking the forecast for Phuket and applying it to the island destination that they are intending to visit.
For example, we may have a forecast for rain in Phuket, but no rain in Phi Phi. So it’s important to look at the correct forecast model, for your intended destination and then also check things like wind condition, radar, tide and waves.
For each of these things we use different apps as in our experience no single app gives you an accurate prediction of Phuket’s weather conditions.
Often we can be out on the boat in beautiful sunshine snorkeling while our offices in Phuket are being drenched with torrential rain. A good Private Boat Charter company will be able to to tell you the best time to leave the pier, the best time to come back and how to avoid the rain.
Where a Group Tour provider is restricted by route and Gasoline allowances, this is not something that you will find here at 5 Star Marine. We will adjust programs to suit weather conditions and ensure you are a smooth, comfortable ride.
We are active members of many different forums in the Phuket area and often see visitors asking for trip recommendations and past visitors often reply with comments like “Go Early Too Miss the Crowds.”
Now this may seem like a good recommendation as this is how some group tour companies market themselves. But it’s important to understand that it’s not necessary to go early to miss the crowds, like it’s also not necessary to go late.
A great private boat tour company can design a program which avoids the crowds at any time. For example the team here at 5 Star Marine design programs that leave anywhere from 6am to 2pm from the pier.
Why such a big range?
The answer is simple, we are designing programs that suit our customers needs and also the wind, sea and rain conditions that we see occurring on the day. As every single private boat tour we conduct here in Phuket is customised and designed to meet you, our customers needs, every single private boat tour is different.
Some tours dictate we leave early, some dictate we leave late. For example, right now we are in Low Season (it’s the rainy / monsoon season in Phuket from mid May to October) which means that we have high winds in the afternoon, starting from around 2pm. This suggests that if we have a route plan that goes out into the open season, we should suggest a earlier leaving time.
How Can You Know What Is Your Best Leaving Time?
Again the answer is simple. Ask an experienced tour provider who cares more about your experience then your money. When you are booking with the tour provider ask what wind, sea and rain conditions they are expecting for the next day. If they answer you without checking any apps, then probably don’t trust them, they just wanted your money. Instead just message us and we’ll let you know even if you’re not booking with us.