Why There Are So Many Russians In Asia

Why there are so many Russians in Asia.

Russians are moving into South East Asia by the truck load – and changing the feel of many popular luxury resorts.

I was staying in a luxury beachside resort in Phuket in 2021, and noticed a huge variety of French champagne bottles for sale – and many vintage bottles. Many more than I remembered seeing in Thailand. I was surprised.

Alongside those bottles were designer cigars, and again, a lot of them. And the music was distinctly Euro – good Euro, and I felt like the whole international vibe in Phuket at least had gone up a few notches.

The women were mostly blonde and super well dressed, as were the men, and everywhere I looked were designer clothes and equally sharp designer attitudes.

There were a few signs in Russian, and a lot of breast implants on the beach, and with a deep inhalation I could soak up the exotic and expensive fragrances only found in European department stores. I exhaled with a sigh thinking the calibre of tourists generally in Thailand was on the way up.

Russians are the most common group being deported from Bali.

But fast forwards almost two years later and Russians have truly taken over South East Asia. News stories are pouring regularly out of Bali about wild Russian parties, about Russians taking over beauty spas, motorbike businesses, opening restaurants  and more. Russian visitors are second only to Australians in 2023 so far, and they are fast earning a worse reputation.

Whereas Australians were known for over indulging at times, Russians over indulge too but the difference is they want to take over. They probably feel they need to. There is a desperation about their lives right now.

Thailand, India and Sri Lanka report the same phenomena. Asian coastal resorts offer a safe, cheap, idyllic place for Russians to shelter from the threat of war, and even conscription in their own country.

I was sitting at Seminyak’s The W a few weeks ago where I met a young Russian woman whose family had given her their life savings to “get out of Russia and make something of your life.” She seemed shaken and uncertain. It is easy to forget these are people under real life pressure.

W Bali, Seminyak
The W Bali, Seminyak

Many countries including Europe and the US have made it difficult if not impossible for Russians to go there due to strict sanctions, so Asia is an easier and more affordable option.

Russians are savvy business people – and they need to be, given what their alternative is back home. They are setting up businesses in Asia which brings a whole new flavour to many tourist areas.

But they also love drinking, are often scantily dressed, and commonly do not pay attention or show respect to dress codes at religious sites. They get around on motor bikes often too fast and without local knowledge of roads and driving styles, and the whole scene can become chaotic.

Personally I think Asia has no choice but to embrace them, and the French Champagne and other luxury goods that come with them, but when there is such cultural conflict, problems are bound to arise. I would not let it stop me from visiting any South East Asian resort, as I have mainly seen and enjoyed the positives they bring.

From what I have so far seen the potential problems only apply to residents.

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