Alcohol has worldwide consumption and is believed to be a wonder for all moods, whether you want to drink away your problems or celebrate a success. Nightlife and daytime drinking are both popular amongst not only the youth but also the older generation.
When traveling to a new place, it is perfectly normal (and sensible) to think about drinking laws specific to that destination. So, in Thailand, what is the legal age one can drink, and where is it easy to buy and consume alcohol?
The legal age for drinking in Thailand is 20 years old. Alcohol can be purchased at shops, markets, restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs across the country. Vendors may request proof of age. Alcohol is not sold to anyone during religious and political holidays or between 14:00 and 17:00 each day, irrespective of age.
This article will provide you with the proper rules and restrictions needed to have the freedom to drink where you please around Thailand. While religiously known as conservative, most foreigners recognize the country with a party-like persona.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Thailand?
Unlike the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia, alcohol in Thailand is pretty inexpensive and cheaply taxed.
Thai beer is famously known for its unique taste and for complimenting spicy dishes in the tropical heat. On the other hand, local rum is a favorite for locals during Thai events and celebrations. Drinking is viewed as “Sanuk,” a phrase that emphasizes fun.
You can drink alcohol in Thailand anywhere that sells, as long as you are over the age of 20 years old and obey the country’s laws. Locals have a unique way of drinking alcohol and follow particular etiquette.
How to Drink Alcohol in Thailand
For one, Thai people prefer to order one large bucket of ice with mixers instead of individual drinks. Popular mixers include sparkling soda water, sprite, and coke. One of the best tips is to pour the ice into everyone’s glass first and allow them to make and control their self-mixed drink.
It is proper manners to pour the drink for your respected other as it is noted as a nice gesture. Staff will continue to top off your glass each time it reaches below halfway. Another proper manner is to allow the guest of honor to sit in the middle and will enable the person of respectful age or status to start the clinking of glasses, also known as Chone Gaow.
When referring to good luck, Thais say Chok Dee, and for win or success, they say Chai Yo. (Source)
Is Thailand Strict on Drinking Age?
The legal drinking age in Thailand was increased from 18 to 20 in 2006.
In order to control the over-consumption of alcohol in the country and prevent druggings, Thailand has further implemented stricter rules. You cannot buy alcohol without showing your ID, whether that be in a restaurant, bar, or mini-market. The drinking age law is strictly followed in Thailand. If disobeyed, you can face hardship with the police, which will get you no remorse in a foreign country. (Source)
Can You Drink Alcohol on the Streets in Thailand?
The legal age for drinking in Thailand is now 20 years old. With proof of ID, you can purchase alcohol at nightclubs, bars, and markets across the cities. With some security precautions, it is legal to drink on the streets. However, Alcohol is banned during religious and political holidays.
Thailand is not strict on public drinking. You can legally drink on the streets without any serious problems. The only places you cannot drink are around areas of worship, such as temples and Buddhist sculptures. Furthermore, some parks even mention or provide signs that say you cannot drink. The same goes for smoking in Thailand.
It is uncommon you will find locals walking around the streets with beer bottles all drunk. Thai people are very respectful and sit at tables or outside workplaces while having their drinks. On the other hand, you’re more likely to come across other foreigners drinking on the streets, such as Khaosan Road.
What Time Can You Buy Alcohol in Thailand?
Thailand has specific alcohol hours (ie., times of the day that alcohol can or can not be served and sold). According to Thai law, all liquor and alcoholic beverages are permitted to be sold from 11:00 AM to 14:00 PM and from 17:00 PM to midnight. Also, there are particular days of the year, such as Buddhist holidays, when there is a ban on alcohol sales. On these days, bars and clubs are also closed.
So, if you’re wondering, what time is it illegal to drink alcohol in Thailand? Don’t be trying to buy alcohol between the hours of 14:00 PM and 17:00 PM.
New Rules on Drinking Alcohol in Thailand Following the Pandemic
Since the pandemic, curfews have become stricter, and Thailand’s specialty Chinatown bars are being left behind. Gunn Leelhasuwan of Tax Bar says that the new laws are embarrassing as Thailand is known for its nightlife.
Most vendors call the rules “draconian,” as there are set hours in the day when you can sell alcohol and heavy taxes on imports. Furthermore, unequal laws only allow large companies to distill alcohol and brew beer. (Source)
There is also a ban on alcohol ads, meaning you can be fined for cocktail-making and menu delivery. It is suggested that foreigners can be fined up to 1500 USD for posting pictures in a bar, whereas owners can face up to 15,000 USD.
Thai conservative groups have further created a more extensive program, saying that the country should implement stricter laws as drinking alcohol is a huge sin that can take you to hell. Even then, opposition members of the parliament are trying to save Thailand’s tourist industry and demand an alcohol empire. (Source)
Some Popular Thai Alcoholic Drinks
If you want to drink beer in Thailand, have it with a balanced meal of a spicy noodle dish. Amongst Thailand’s top options are three favorites: Singha, Leo, and Chang: a go-to for backpackers. All contain an ABV of 5% and are popular amongst the youth.
Another famous attraction for backpackers is the buckets. Colorful plastic buckets are filled with booze and a handful of straws. People can have fun and drink as a group.
Furthermore, a 300ml bottle of Songsom can save you money. Other beverages include Thai red bull and coke. Khaosan Road is famous for having cheap buckets for as low as 5 USD (Less than 170 THB).
Other famous pop drinks are the har spirits rum and local moonshine.
▸ Learn more about Thai beer here: The Thai Beer Drinking Guide That Will Leave You Thirsty
Thailand is famous for its alcoholic nightlife and is prominently remembered for its favorite worldwide drinks. While the drinking age of 20 falls behind other countries, Thailand is still promising a security-filled alcohol world where bars close earlier and restaurants follow strict ID checks. There are many places to enjoy drinks and have the freedom to drink almost anywhere you want.
Like always, if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay with ThaiGuider. You might discover something you never knew about this unique country.
▸ Learn more about Thailand's smoking laws here: Where Can You Smoke in Thailand? (Vape & Shisha Laws)
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