If you look past the recent Bangkok riots, Thailand appears just as alluring as ever. Hongkongers are particularly enamoured with what they see, both as leisure visitors and investors, especially at the country's resort destinations. Sadly, for the Thai people, tourism will inevitably be affected by the political events that rocked the capital. But what, if any, will be the effects on property investment? David Simister, chairman of property advisory firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Thailand, concedes 'a new mood of caution' among both local and foreign buyers since the protests, but says this has not been reflected in sales. 'We don't believe there has been a significant drop from abroad. Overall, in the high-end and luxury segments, foreign purchasers continue to represent about 25 per cent of total sales. Most who buy in Bangkok and resort destinations are fans of Thailand, and are well acquainted with the local situation.' CBRE thinks Thai property values have been depressed by continuing political unrest for the past several years, and that prices reflect this. 'Commercially, there is a dichotomy between political issues and the economy - as witnessed by the strength of the Thai baht, the stock market and property prices, which have held up solidly through the political crisis,' Simister says. 'Sales are still going through and have shown no discounts.' Simister, who launched Conrad Koh Samui Residences in Hong Kong in March - very close to the protest period - says developers remain optimistic. 'Developers launching new projects have postponed events planned for last month. However, this month's events are proceeding as scheduled. 'The general mood of developers is that they are still confident and believe their product is sellable in the current market.' Claire Brown, of Claire Brown Realty, launched spa development Sukha Samui around the same time and says she was 'probably more worried' than her clients while watching the news unfold. At the height of the troubles in Bangkok, Brown had three villa sales going through, all of which were completed without any issues. 'I think visitors and potential investors see Samui as an island destination in its own right - it's a long way from Bangkok and, with direct flight to and from most Asian gateways, people generally stuck with their plans,' she says. Duangjai Kraus, executive chairman of Engel & Volkers Thailand, believes the riots hurt confidence among European investors, but Asian investors 'still love to invest in Thailand'. She forecasts an initial recovery period of six months, while it will take two years to get back to the level of property sold in 2006 and 2007, and the first quarter of 2008, that were 'very good periods for Thailand'. There's an upside. Kraus notes that there are 'great prices in resort areas now', with sellers and developers willing to negotiate. Whether for tourism or investment, she says, 'this is a great time to enjoy Thailand at a bargain price'. For Hong Kong buyers, Samui is 'a proven market' offering excellent value for money, high yields, strong capital growth and a relatively easy exit, according to Brown. She lists Samui as 'arguably the region's most sophisticated hang out' offering spas, numerous five- and six-star resorts, two golf courses, sailing, yachting, diving, and an abundant and ever-growing supply of fine dining restaurants. As a small island with wide appeal, occupancy is consistently high year-round at Samui resorts. Rental yields for investors tend to be above average, and 8 per cent returns for well managed properties are roughly the norm, Brown says. 'Land prices tend to double every few years, which continues to push up the price of property. Building materials and labour costs are also rising steadily. 'If we go back three years, the average selling price per square metre was 50,000 baht, whereas it is now anywhere between 110,000 and 140,000 baht per square metre. These prices have a long way to go before they settle and the appetite for Samui property continues unabated,' she says. 'The market is not buoyed by investors seeking to get in and out quickly. 'Most buyers are primarily interested for lifestyle reasons: holiday homes for regional city workers, retirement villas for Europeans, who can live very well on pensions that would not stretch so far back home, and those seeking a lifestyle change. 'Those investors who do buy on the basis of above average capital growth and high yields typically view Samui as a mid- to long-term play - and see that the real money to be made on Samui will be over the next five to 10 years, as prices continue to increase to levels of other international jet-set locations such as the French Riviera, Palma and the Bahamas. Samui prices, I believe, will overtake Phuket in the coming two or three years and keep going.' Simister agrees now is the right time to invest in Samui. 'The Thai market is not for investors without any interest in the country, its culture and the lifestyle. But it is certainly a market that offers value for money where investors can afford a much more expansive and luxurious property than they can in other Asian markets,' he says.