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A tale of two islands in the sun

February 16, 2012

Both Bali and Phuket sit 8 degrees from the equator Bali to the south in the Indian Ocean and Phuket to the north in Andaman Sea, but what makes them different?

Bali the famed “Island of the Gods” is one over 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago it measures 140 kms from east to west and 80 kms from north to south. It has a varied landscape, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches; lush rice terraces and volcanic hillsides all of which provides a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture making it a paradise on earth.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim community, Bali is the exception with 95% of its inhabitants being Hindu which influences every aspect of the islanders daily life.

Phuket by contrast is Thailand’s largest island covering an area of 539 square miles with 39 offshore islets. 70% of the island is mountainous with the majority of its pristine sandy beaches being located on the western coast. While the majority of Thais are Buddhist again Phuket is the religious exception with 30% of the islanders being Muslim.

80% of tourist travelling to Indonesia only visit Bali so direct international flights are essential the Island has scheduled flights from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Phuket is served by more destinations;it also has charter flights from Europe and is connected to the Thai mainland by two bridges.

For most nationalities when they fly into Phuket they enjoy a visa exemption for a stay up to 30 days. The same travellers when flying into Bali are required to may US$ 25 or its equivalent for a Visa on a Arrival for the same period of stay. When they depart Thailand their departure tax is include in their ticket; departing Bali they need to have kept IDR 150,000 cash to pay the departure tax as there are no ATM machines in the International Departure Terminal.

Thailand welcomes retirees from the age of 50 who can prove they don’t have a criminal record. They need either capital equivalent of THB 800,000 deposited in a Thai bank a minimum of two months prior to making their visa application or a monthly income from outside of Thailand equal to THB 65,000. The Royal Thai Embassy in their country of residence will issue a visa for 90 days which can be extended to one year and renewed annually providing they continue to meet the requirements for a retirement visa.

Indonesia grants visa to national of 24 countries who are 55 with overseas monthly pension income equal to US$ 1,500 plus health, life and third party insurance. In addition they specify the type of property where an overseas retiree can live; it must have a purchase price of not less than the equivalent of US$35,000 or rented for a minimum of US$ 300, Having renewed an Indonesian consecutively for five years the applicant can apply for permanent stay certificate (KITAP) which is valid for five years.

Retirees often want to buy homes in their tropical paradise. In Indonesia one option is for a local person or company to buy the property in their name and to simultaneously give the foreign buyer Power of Attorney over the property with total and exclusive right to use, sell, transfer or lease the land combined with a statement that the proceeds of any sale belong to the foreign purchaser and not the nominee.

A more secure way is to establish an Indonesian company and 100% foreign equity is now possible. The draw back is this ownership freehold isn’t possible but Building Rights Title which effectively has the same strength as freehold subject to the companying continuing to use the land. Indonesian land laws are designed to prevent speculation by absentee owners how leave the land idle. Providing the purchase buys the land, builds a property which is occupied this title is safe.

While in Thailand the Civil and Commercial Code gives foreigners have the same property rights as are available to Thai nationals, however it is under the Land Code Act B.E. 2497 (1954) prohibited for foreigners to own land in Thailand. So with the purchase of a house or villa the purchase of land and the building need to be two transactions requiring quality legal representation to protect the foreigner owners rights. In both countries the legal requirements to buy property are complicated and open to risk without have the right legal advise, renting may be a less complicated option with no capital risk.

All travellers but particularly retirees need to have access quality medical services and as mentioned earlier retirees are required by law to have health insurance to cover medical expenses. Possibly the best medical care in Bali can be found at Sanglah Hospital, Jl. Kesehatan Selatan 1, Sanglah, Denpasar, Phone: +62 361 227 911 to 15 / +62 361 232 603 (VIP rooms) / +62 361 247 250 to 5 (Super VIP rooms)

In Phuket there are many high quality hospitals on admission patients are required to complete consent and admission forms and produce a travel insurance or credit card to ensure the hospital fees can be covered. Rooms in hospitals in Thailand are similar to a 3-4 star hotel equipped with a TV with International channels, fridge and a telephone. Visiting tends to be flexible and friends and family are welcome stay and extra beds can be arranged.

Both Bali and Phuket offer a wide range restaurants offering an endless variety of cuisines ranging from seafood to European style pizzerias, burger bars to fine dining restaurant, with an extensive selection of wines.

Bali boasts four championship golf courses, and what makes these courses different are the beauty of its lakes, ocean, mountains and rice terraces. In 1997 Fortune Magazine selected Bali Golf and Country Club as one of Asia’s five best golf courses. The best time to play golf here is in the early afternoon. For the discerning golfer interested in nature consider Bali Handara Kosaido Country Club. The course is nestled 1,142 meters above sea level within the slopes of an extinct volcano crater, with walls of dense forest at the back, and a tranquil lake at the base of the valley.

 

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