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Tourism In Phuket, Thailand - The Russians Are Coming

Russian Mafia In Thailand
When I first arrived in Thailand just over 10 years ago, there were a lot of Russian tourists in Bangkok. The area near The Grace hotel was a common hangout for Russian mafia types as well as freelance Russian working girls. During this time the Russian mafia also controlled much of the nightlife scene in the beach resort of Pattaya, just an hour drive outside of Bangkok. These days the Russian mafia remain firmly implanted in Pattaya, with a stranglehold on organized crime including prostitution and drug trafficking. It would appear that the Russians have left Bangkok, whether they simply lost interest, or if the Thai government and law enforcement forced them out is not clear. What is clear is that they have their sights focused on Phuket, and it appears that the local corrupt Thai politicians and law enforcement are welcoming them with open arms.

Phuket Invasion
Since the Tsunami in 2004, Phuket has changed a lot, one of the most noticeable changes has been the increase in Russian tourists. Of course not all of the tourists from Russia are involved with organized crime, however those who are have made a big impression. While the Russians won't win any awards for being the most friendly tourists, they have a reputation for spending big money on luxury hotels and private boat charters as well as anything else that might tickle their fancy. Property developers seem to be thrilled with the prospect of more wealthy Russian investors and potential buyers with deep pockets. Local businesses in Phuket are scrambling to get a piece of the new Russian market, translating their websites into Russian language, and targeting more of their advertising toward the Russian tourists.

The nightlife scene in Patong has also changed, with the opening of new Russian owned clubs employing Russian girls as "dancers", something that has been going on for years in Pattaya, but is quite new to Phuket. The last time I visited Phuket I saw Russian girls out in the street on Bangla Road, dressed in school girl uniforms, inviting tourists into the "Moulin Rouge". I decided to go in for one drink, just to see what all the fuss was about. I saw naked blonde Russian women all over the place, giving "not so private" dances. When I looked at the menu, I noticed that the cheapest beer would cost a staggering 10USD, so I decided to pass, and I just walked out.

I found a few things about this club to be a little shocking, not the least of which were the two uniformed police officers that were seated at the entrance. Just a few years ago, The Shark Club (Phuket's most famous nightclub) was shut down by the federal government for an incident involving nudity. Live shows involving nudity are illegal in Thailand, although it seems that law enforcement normally turn a blind eye to such things. One thing that is normally a serious matter, is working without a work permit, and it seems fairly obvious that there is no way in hell that any of these "dancers" would have work permits.

It is also quite ironic that you have a bar in the heart of Phuket's entertainment district, charging 10USD for a beer, so patrons can watch sleazy blonde girls shake their moneymakers on stage. Surely this wouldn't be appealing to North Americans, Australians, Europeans? The only people I could imagine would have any interest in this outrageously overpriced entertainment would be local Thai mafia, and Asian tourists that might find this some sort of novelty.

The Thai government has recently stated that they are trying to transform Phuket's image from a place that caters to "family tourism" as apposed to "sex tourism". If they want to be taken seriously, they will have a lot of cleaning up to do. Reports of unexplained deaths, violence involving tuk tuk drivers and jet ski operators are still far too common in Patong beach. I would recommend that people with families stay clear of Patong, and spend their holiday in Kata - Karon or Nai Harn if they are planning a trip to Phuket.

Russian Go Go Bar In Pattaya


Put on December 22, 2013:

Every were this low life go the lower cons follow if Thai want cheap low life's they lose cashed up manned people many will find a none Russian crime iland short time gane in time big loss easy

blunt on March 18, 2013:

ive lived on Ko samet for 13 years .and the Russians have taken over here, hate them crazy idiots. rude the women are ugly , they cut coral and leave it to die , everyday ,horried people from pattaya Russian day out to samet , this island finished , go to Cambodia ,same Thailand 20 ago with the Russians , go home your not welcome

Farang69 on February 24, 2013:

Russians are disgusting. At least the ones who come to Thailand are. They are Slav chavs. It's a shame, as there are some wonderful Russian people.Educated, witty, soul ful. But they sure as hell aren't the ones who come to Thailand. Avoid like the plague! Eeeew!

Petr on January 28, 2013:

First I would like to apologize for my English. I could write it myself, but I'm afraid you would not understand me so I use the Google Translate. I was in Pattaya twice in 2011 and 2008. On the streets of this town was a little Russian, but it was full of drunken, rude people from other countries. They also drank alcohol on the street and abused. A year ago I went to Spain in S'Arena where he observed how the English and German teenagers drank until he lost consciousness. I watched from the balcony of the German teenagers throwing beer cans neighboring roof and laughed loudly. Why do I say this? So simple! Enough accentuate the nationality! The problem of Phuket and Thailand in general - is an increased interest on the part of the stupid people! Nationality is not important here idiot! Important fact of his idiocy!

TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on December 25, 2012:

Thank you Al,

I think we can also agree that many of the worst Italian, German, British etc. also make their way to Thailand. Places like Pattaya and Patong Beach attract scum from all over the globe.

Al on December 25, 2012:

Hello from Russia, guys :)

The hard cold fact is the Russian nation is in decline now and people here are worse than ever, BUT ironically they are more rich than ever (because of selling everything in this country out). This country now has a system when the most ugly, aggressive and somewhat criminal people are making good money (very often corruption driven) and spending everything abroad. You simply do not see the intelligent and polite Russian people in Thailand because of :

-they typically have a lower income in Russia and cannot afford the travel

- many of them have already quit the country

- they are typically silent, so you won't notice them around

But really we now have a great number of morally ugly people who are ruining everything around - not only abroad, but also inside the country.

I strongly hope this trend will eventually change (maybe with decrease of oil and gas prices as a main export products) and these people will be making less money from the air here.

I personally prefer to choose a place in Thailand without russians although I'm a russian myself!.. That sounds horrible but you're right many of them may ruine your holiday. But surely that's just a wave and that's not forever.

jan a on December 18, 2012:

juat came back from 3 weeks in phuket, stayed at the new grand centara karon beach, beautiful resort, but full of russians.

The entertainment in the hotel was in russian language, so this hotel is

russian hotel. You will hear: blaski wutski nutski, all day.

jules on November 21, 2012:

Just got back from Phuket and until now I wouldn't have believed the Russians could be that awful. I spent the first day or so laughing at their photo posing - the women would do a sexy pout with their thrust out hips and chest and the men would open their shirts and stick out their chests (and bellies). That was hilarious.

But then the sheer volume of them, their arrogant stares, their persistent queue jumping, bumping in the street, and their conceit really got to me. Also got the impression that the locals, especially the street sellers and tuk tuk drivers don't love them either.

jkay on November 10, 2012:

these russians are the most abnotious,ignorant horrible race on earth and are putting a lot of people of coming to thailand, iam married to a thai and they also hate them. in 10 years of coming here iam still to meet a friendly one. THEY ARE SCUM.if something is not done soon about there attitude towards others then they can have thailand and the other european tourists will go elsewere.

L. on October 27, 2012:

You had to endure the neighborhood of Russians only during your holidays, but our family has to live with them for all our life. You can imagine how it is difficult for us, although we are also the Russians and live in Moscow. The most of Russian people are: rudeness, impudence and mongrel (еspecially if they are from a country town). What we have to endure a lifetime! Our sincere joy - our few friends who are suffering from compatriots as well as we do. Now we try to find any hotel in Thailand, where there are no Russians or at least where the rest just a few cultural Russians (as a rule, they are the intellectuals from St. Petersburg). While nothing is found ...

Q on October 01, 2012:

I have to agree with all the comments here, apart from "Bill". I have been coming to Phuket for many years with my family and have always enjoyed ourselves and the Thai lifestyle. However on this trip I found a Red Dawn taking over the Island.

The Russians are rude, refuse to recognise anyone apart from their own, won't share the foot path and treat the locals very poorly. As an Australian Farang I understand that a minority can spoil it for the rest but I believe its nearly 99% of the Russians that are ruining it here.

I can only hope that things turn around sooner than later or we may need to find somewhere else to travel soon. Good luck to the Thai locals.

Michael on April 09, 2012:

Went to Phuket in January 2011, and stayed pretty clear of the russian tourists, hardly notice them. Came back in december, seeing the streets of Kata falling apart. Shops closing down, drunken assholes on the streets shouting slavic abusities. I spoke to many thai people who saw this as a major problem. Even if the hotels and boat charters earn some money on the russians, common thai people in the streets earn less. The russians bring their own alcohol to the restaurants, they make normal farang people want to go someplace else as they act rude and push in line to the bouffet, and they rather drink in the streets being already drunk when they come to the bars. And even if the hotels make some money on the slavs, they lose more and more money on for example scandinavian people (like me) going somewhere else, away from the russians.

I rather not get into trouble when I am abroad, but seeing the t-shirt vendor girls being humiliated is breaking my heart. But instead of getting myself sent to Bangkok Hilton I bought some shirts of her for more money than she wanted. A smile from a thai girl is worth everything for me. They deserve better.

Phuket will have a hard time getting by if they don't act soon. Some hotels have already put up "no russians" signs. When will the rest follow?

Mark on March 26, 2012:

Yep- perfect description/ Rude, Stupid, Ignorant MF!!!!!!!!!! I been in Thailand for 10 years and the Russian are in effect ruining it.

Pupil on March 19, 2012:

I hated my vacation in Pattaya.I have never seen so many Russians in one place. Rude, stupid, ignorant MF.

TravelinAsia (author) from Thailand/Southeast Asia on October 15, 2011:


I am sure that Bill isn't your real name, in fact I strongly suspect your real name is Alan Morrison. I am well aware that local business owners don't like people rocking the boat, however I will offer no apology. This article accurately describes what I personally witnessed on my last trip to Phuket, if you do not agree with my assessment, publish your own story and fill it with as many interviews and stats as you like.

bill on October 15, 2011:

plenty of suggestions, loads of accusations, a healthy dose of assumptions and all coated with (understandable) stereotypes, but where is the beef? where are stats? where are the interviews? who wants to read a story that is no more valuable than bar-side banter. i suggest the author gets some interesting facts or comments before he pens another edition of this claptrap. the author ought to try submitting this piece to a print publication and see where it gets him.

Grow from British Columbia - The Amsterdam Of North America on September 01, 2011:

Those Russians are ruthless man, you don't wanna mess with those guys. I would stay away from anywhere that is full of heavy duty Russian mobsters.

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