Thailand’s Hidden Jewel

Judging by the number of people arriving and departing through Phuket International Airport the Thai destination is back in popularity, showing a substantial year-on-year increase for July, with total passenger numbers up by over seventeen percent. International travellers headed up the surge, increasing to 224,361 arrivals and departures, up over forty seven percent. The total numbers rose above the half-million mark, to 507,698. The trend seems set to continue through September and with the high season approaching the future is looking good. Domestic travel, interestingly enough, was virtually the same. Total in-bound and out-bound flights through Phuket rose by nearly thirty percent year-on-year in July, with international trips jumping by nearly thirty five percent. ‘Premier Property Center International’, a company specializing in renting and selling luxury private villas in Phuket and Hua Hin have reported increased demand over the festive season. “We have had requests mainly from the UK and Australia and so far we have managed to accommodate our clients. The demand is growing again and we are developing our portfolio of private villas to satisfy interest in the future”, says Managing Director John Sutherland. Direct flights to Phuket are an advantage that the southern resort capital has over other destinations within Thailand that require travel through Bangkok. Given the recent troubles there it seems that Phuket has certainly benefited from tourists bypassing the capital. However, Hua Hin is one Thai destination that is a hidden jewel and gaining more interest from the Western market. Situated on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand and around a two hour drive from Bangkok airport, it has Thailand’s lowest rainfall and a good all year round climate with sea breeze. Hua Hin also boasts some of the best golf courses in the country with a stunning new seaside course due to open next month. This new course will bring the total to around nine all within a thirty minute drive form the town centre. Due to the fact that the King’s palace is located there it has become very popular with wealthy Thais and more Westerners are looking to Hua Hin as a retirement destination. Already some developers are building for the future and at least one development is under construction aimed at retirees that provides residents with a twenty four hour medical centre and full concierge service. The last year has seen the housing market decline due to political uncertainty and a strong Baht but many people are coming for longer visits and weighing up their options for the future. It’s definitely a buyer’s market at the moment. There has been an increase in activity of prospective buyers who want to come and stay in Hua Hin for a few months during the winter periods back home. “We have had enquiries from the UK and Europe with clients looking for rental private villas so they can sample the lifestyle before they buy. It’s a very relaxed place to live and easy to see why many people prefer it from the hustle and bustle of some of the larger Thai cities”. Tourists from Sweden, UK, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands who visited Hua Hin last year collectively totalled more than 200,000. For information on luxury villas in Phuket and Hua Hin contact or visit the web site at