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Russians putting down roots in kingdom

BANGKOK: Russian tourists have been flocking to Thailand since pandemic travel restrictions were eased, with many choosing to invest in the kingdom’s real estate sector after an extended holiday in the country.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 13 March 2023, 01:15PM

Tourists crowd old town Phuket, a favourite with international arrivals from Europe and Russia who travel to the resort island for the warm weather. Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran / Bangkok Post

Tourists crowd old town Phuket, a favourite with international arrivals from Europe and Russia who travel to the resort island for the warm weather. Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran / Bangkok Post

Since January, over 370,000 Russian tourists have visited the country, according to Pol Maj Gen Phanthana Nutchanart, deputy commander of the Immigration Bureau ‒ a sharp increase compared to last year, which only saw about 435,000 Russians visit the country in the entire year, reports the Bangkok Post.

Despite the influx, there has been no indication that Russian criminal figures have snuck into the country through illegal channels, he told the Bangkok Post, noting most legal issues involving Russian citizens in Thailand were minor offences, such as traffic violations.


Pol Maj Gen Phanthana said authorities in Phuket, Koh Samui in Surat Thani and Pattaya -- tourism hotspots known to be popular among Russian visitors ‒ have not detected the presence of any Russian citizens who might pose a threat to national security.

"There are those who have been convicted for petty offences, such as shoplifting and traffic violations, but they are not that big a problem. Those with serious criminal records, however, are barred from entering the country," he said.

According to the IB deputy commander, while some Russians are choosing to stay in Thailand to avoid fallout from the war in Ukraine, others may have a different reason to visit.

Under the law, Pol Maj Gen Phanthana, accommodation providers must notify their local immigration office of any foreigners staying there. “This will help police find those who are wanted in other countries,” he said.

Pol Lt Gen Sukhun Prommayon, commissioner of the Tourist Police Bureau (TPB), said no Russian organised crime rings have been detected amid the recent influx of visitors.

“Most Russians visiting Thailand are affluent holidaymakers and prefer to visit seaside provinces,” he said. “Large numbers of tourists will also benefit the economy.”


Phatthanan Pisutwimol, President of the Phuket Real Estate Association (PREA), said the real estate business in Phuket has recovered quickly as the island is popular with foreign tourists looking to escape the cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

He said the prospects for pool villas and horizontal property projects are improving while condos are also popular among foreigners looking to invest.

“Russians are visiting Phuket in large numbers, which has helped the tourism sector here. They stay between one week and up to six months and most prefer to rent pool villas,” he said.

“Many want to buy and live in pool villas rather than renting them. The most popular zones are Cherng Talay, Kamala and Rawai in Muang district.

“Many Russian investors have also bought and resold them, or rented them out to others,’” Mr Phatthanan said.

“Spending by Russian tourists has boosted the local economy in Phuket. Local tourism-related businesses hit by COVID are making a quick recovery,’” he said.

Some Russians also have bought cars and motorcycles and rented them to their compatriots.

PREA Vice-President Boon Yongsakul, Chairman of Boat Pattana Co Ltd which operates Phuket Boat Lagoon, and who has previously served as PREA President, said Phuket’s sea and beaches are popular among Russian tourists.

Many Russian families are affluent and can afford to rent houses in the island province for two to three months rather than condos which have limited space, he said.

“Since the Russians arrived, rental homes on the island are almost fully occupied. This also benefits hotel maids, gardeners, swimming pool cleaners, and restaurants.

C and C Marine

“The downside is that large numbers of foreign arrivals may lead to traffic congestion, accidents, and petty law violations,”’ he said.

Mr Boon also said Russian investors are seeking to invest in the real estate sector in Phuket as some have lived there for several years and are familiar with the law in Thailand.

Some are interested in investing in horizontal property projects, condos, and mixed-use property projects, he said.


Bhunanan Patanasin, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, said about 300 Russians were arriving every day after Thailand reopened its borders and eased travel restrictions late last year, and since then the number has increased to 500-700.

Many Russian tourists spend about 10-20 days in Pattaya, he said.

“Jomtien Beach and Wong Amat Beach are full of Russian tourists. They are everywhere in Pattaya. Most tourists in Pattaya are Russians,’” he said.

“Russian tourists spend an estimated B3,000-5,000 each per day in Pattaya. Most spend time on beaches and go shopping. Many signs in Russian are posted in Pattaya,” he said.

Many Russian tourists also stay and rent condos in Pattaya for extended periods, Mr Bhunanan said, adding that no Russian mafia have been found in Pattaya as authorities have stepped up crackdowns on illegal activities.

He said the number of Russian tourists will fall after this month or April as many will return home and they will be replaced with tourists from China and India, Mr Bhunanan said.

He said the main reason for Russians visiting Thailand is because they want to escape the cold weather in their country while the Russia-Ukraine war has little bearing.

“I organised a roadshow to promote Thai tourism in Moscow, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and the war did not have any impact.

“Russia is a huge country and the fighting scenes are far away and have little impact on other parts of the country,”’ he said.

Damrongkiat Pinitkarn, secretary to the Entertainment & Tourism Association of Pattaya City, said Russians were among the first group of foreign visitors to return to Thailand after the country reopened.

“According to immigration officers in February, Russians were the third largest group of foreign visitors to Thailand,”’ he said.

“They come in family groups to escape the cold weather and can afford to pay travel and accommodation expenses and Thailand can respond to their needs,’” he said.

Chayapol Intarasupha, the chief of Koh Samui district in Surat Thani, said more than 100,000 foreigners visited Koh Samui in January, generating more than B1.3 billion in income. Russians were the largest group of foreign tourists, he said.

Ratchaporn Poolsawad, chairman of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said Russian investors have invested in real estate businesses, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops and other tourism-related businesses in Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan in Surat Thani.

“Their businesses are beginning to hurt Thai-owned businesses as they snatch foreign customers away,” Mr Ratchaporn said.

In January, about 8,885 Russian tourists visited Koh Samui, the largest number among foreign tourists.

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JohnC | 15 March 2023 - 10:02:48

@pascale. Dodgy Russians have been here for many many years already too, not just the recent influx hiding from being drafted to fight in Putin's illegal invasion. Yes, like any place that attracts tourists from all over the world the greedy and corrupt turn out in force to prey on the gullible and vulnerable. Sadly that is the nature of our species. Sickening isn't it!

JohnC | 15 March 2023 - 09:54:52

Russian prostitutes have been working in Thailand already for many years. I suppose they are going to tell us they are controlled by Thai mafia not Russian?

Kurt | 14 March 2023 - 20:13:21

Now we just wait for Russians to settle on Phuket, set up 'Grey' business and start 'stealing' thai jobs. Fun times ahead. Russian cartels versus thai cartels.

Capricornball | 14 March 2023 - 18:46:46

I would think the RTP welcomes the Russian mafia and general thuggery, as they represent a well heeled source of graft, whether that is the standard tea money to look the other way from their dirty dealings...or because they are good sources of road-side fleecing income. 

christysweet | 14 March 2023 - 13:58:54

Wait until the Russian mafia  moves in. They will make current corruption levels look benign.

Pascale | 14 March 2023 - 11:17:11

Some people should educate themselves a bit more. Russians are still free to travel to most countries in the world. May it be Africa,Asia or South -America. Even to some countries in Europe !
@JohnC    Yes there are dodgy people from Russia here, same as there are for many years dodgy people from other countries here too !

Kurt | 14 March 2023 - 09:25:14

More and more the Russians ( unfortunately also the good ones) become the pariahs of the world. UN voting proves that, more and more voting against Russia's bestial illegal war. In my 'home country' and many more countries are Russians not welcom. Even Russian Emnassy staff have been for 70% kicked out. But Thailand,.... well....

JohnC | 14 March 2023 - 08:58:38

This has all the hallmarks of being written by a Russian trying to make their presence here sound worthwhile to the country. The truth is they are not able to easily travel to other destinations because most civilized nations are against this murderous regime. Thailand just wants their money, no surprises there. Russian mafia have already been here for many years, everyone knows that! 

Maurice | 14 March 2023 - 08:47:17

The main reason for Russian to fly from Russia is of course not the climate of the "amazing Thailand" but the war in Ukrain and the fact that they are not allowed to fly to Europe or other democracies . They come to Thailand because they are welcomed in Thailand... Other countries do not accept to be blind to the atrocities of Russia.


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