Russians In Phuket – A Phenomenon Explained

Phuket, the beautiful Thai island known for its pristine beaches, has become a magnet for tourists from around the world. Among the millions of visitors each year, a significant number are Russians.

One of the reasons for the influx of Russians in Phuket can be attributed to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Many young Russians are trying to escape military conscription in their homeland, and Thailand is an attractive alternative option. The bilateral agreement between Russia and Thailand allows Thai people visa-exempt entry to Russia, making it possible for Russians to stay longer in Thailand without facing the twice-per-year limit for border runs.

Phuket has also attracted long-term Russian expats who work in IT and related fields. These freelancers find opportunities with both Russian and Western companies. Yet others are affluent individuals with substantial financial resources to spend on the island.

A unique aspect of the Russian community in Phuket is the existence of a parallel economy within their own ranks. Various Telegram channels serve as hubs where one can find a wide range of services, from plumbers and electricians to haircuts and pedicures. Some Russian-owned tourist businesses operate personal vehicles that have not been registered with the Thai transport department as service vehicles, offering tourists nearly 20 percent cheaper fees than local companies. In some cases, Russian-run companies may even go as far as to prefer doing business exclusively with fellow Russians. The island even has its own Russian-language newspaper called Novosti Phuketa.

Wealthy Russians have also made their mark on Phuket’s real estate scene, with many purchasing properties that drive up real estate prices. According to Thailand’s Real Estate Information Centre (REIC), Russian citizens now own close to 40% of foreign-owned condominiums in Phuket. They are now the top buyers of condos, ahead of the Chinese.

While the presence of Russians in Phuket has brought economic benefits and cultural diversity to the island, it has not been without its challenges. Some individuals feel that Russians can sometimes be perceived as rude tourists, although this may be attributed, in part, to cultural differences. In Russian culture, there is often less emphasis on formal politeness and smiling compared to other countries.

Additionally, there have been concerns about organized crime activities involving Russians in Phuket. However, it is important to note that such instances are likely perpetrated by a minority within the Russian community and should not be generalized to all Russians on the island.

Leave a Comment