Phuket: Where Russian Expats Shine Under the Thai Sun

In the picturesque setting of Phuket, Thailand, the presence of Russian expatriates has become increasingly notable, particularly following the conflict in Ukraine. This influx is tied to various factors, including avoidance of military draft and economic challenges back in Russia. The documentary series “Insight” delves into the local response to this growing Russian community.

Vladimir Yeremenko, a real estate specialist, has been residing in Phuket for the past four years, witnessing firsthand the expansion of the property market on this Thai island. With a background in international property markets, Yeremenko has observed a shift in the clientele demographic, with Russians becoming significant buyers in the luxury property sector since 2022. These buyers are particularly interested in high-end properties, including beachfront and sea view villas, with prices ranging significantly.

The geopolitical situation has led to a substantial capital exodus from Russia, with the Centre for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting reporting a record net outflow in 2022. Phuket has emerged as a prime location for Russian investment, contributing to a boom in the luxury property sector. According to Phattanan Phisutvimol of the Phuket Real Estate Association, the island is currently developing thousands of luxury villas, indicating a surge in foreign investment.


The attraction to Phuket among Russians is not limited to property investment. Many have sought to establish a more permanent presence through long-term visas, including the Thailand Privilege Card, which allows stays of up to 20 years for a fee. Yeremenko highlights that the allure of Phuket, coupled with its proximity to Russia, has made it a favored destination for relocation.

The Phuket Tourist Association notes that Russian tourists have become the largest group of foreign visitors, contributing significantly to the local economy. However, this influx has also led to increased property prices, affecting the local market and potentially pricing out local residents from certain areas. The documentary explores the complex dynamics of foreign investment in Phuket, including legal loopholes that allow foreign ownership of property through certain arrangements.

Amidst the property boom, concerns have arisen over the impact on local businesses and the potential displacement of local residents. The increase in rental prices has made it difficult for some locals to afford living in popular tourist areas, raising questions about the sustainability of tourism and its benefits for local communities.

Furthermore, the presence of Russians in Phuket has raised issues regarding illegal employment, with some engaging in jobs reserved for Thai nationals. This situation has prompted increased vigilance from local authorities, aiming to maintain lawful employment practices.

Despite these challenges, the arrival of Russians in Phuket has also brought economic benefits, helping to revive the tourist industry and stimulate the local economy post-pandemic. The documentary “Insight” presents a nuanced view of the situation, acknowledging both the positive and negative aspects of the growing Russian presence in Phuket.

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