One of the best ways to socialize and enjoy the nightlife in Thailand would be by joining the drinking culture of Thailand. The most common and popular drink to enjoy during such events would be Thai beer.
Local Thai people love drinking Thai beer on many occasions, such as festivals, parties, celebrations, and Thai beers are well-known among foreigners too. There is a wide range of Thailand beer brands with different tastes and price points.
If you are looking to find the right Thai brew for you, this article serves as your ultimate guide on how to drink Thai beer just like the locals.
What Are the Different Thai Beers?
There are many Thai beer brands available everywhere in the country, from convenience stores to high-end bars. Each beer brand can be different from the other in terms of price, taste, and style.
Here’s a list of the most 5 well-known Thai beers sure to wet your whistle:
Currently occupying almost half of the market in Thailand, it’s fair to say that Leo is the most admired beer by the locals (1). The bottles of Leo have their signature Leopard staring on the logo, making it fitting for such a name like ‘Leo.’
Leo beer was introduced to the Thai market more than 20 years ago, and since then, it has quickly established itself as the no.1 best-seller. It is a premium lager beer made from Thai rice, Australian spring barley, imported German hops, and artesian water, with 5% alcohol by volume (2).
Fans of Leo beer describe it as smooth and easy to drink. One of the lesser-known facts about Leo beer is that it is also brewed by Boon Rawd Brewery, which is also the brewery for Singha beer. This may be the reason why Leo tastes similar to Singha. However, the price of Leo beer is lower than Singha, only costing around 40 baht per bottle (1).
For those who want a stronger and more sophisticated taste, Leo also has another version called Leo Super which has 6.5% ABV (3).
Bar Tip: How to order Leo Beer in Thailand
Rather than pronouncing the name like how it is spelled, switch the sound for the ‘e’ with the sound of ‘i’. Then pronounced it by extending the end words like “Lii-Ooooo,” and there you have it! (4)
Known for its intense flavor and the subsequent ‘Changover’ the next day, Chang beer is another one of the most consumed and popular beer brands in Thailand, with over 30% of the Thai beer market.
Launched in 1995, Chang is a lager beer type known for having a pleasant, full flavor with the subtle aroma of fruit and hop, making it taste natural and easy to drink (5).
Chang beer also has various versions; Chang Classic has 5.2% alcohol content per bottle (brewed from rice) and Chang Export, a lager type beer with 5% alcohol (brewed from malt.) Chang Draft beer is another variety of Chang beer and has an alcohol percentage of 5%, while Chang Light has only 4.2% alcohol by volume (1).
The famous emerald green color with the two elephants’ logo symbolizes Chang beer, which is present on both bottles and beer cans. It is manufactured by ThaiBev, one of the biggest breweries in Thailand.
One of the cheapest Thai beer brands, a can of Chang usually costs around 30-35 THB when bought at stores (1). Chang’s popularity goes further than inland Thailand. It is available globally in almost 50 countries, including the US, the UK, and Central Europe (6), proving its status on the world stage as one of the iconic beer brands in Thailand (1).
Recently Chang beer Thailand won the Gold award for the flavored-beer category at the 2021 World Beer Awards for its Espresso Lager Beer (7).
Bar Tip: How to order Chang Beer in Thailand
Contrary to how it’s spelled, Thai people do not pronounce it “Chang.” The way locals called this beer instead sounds like “CHAAANG,” with the ‘a’ sound being brought down and then up again to a cosmic level (4).
Another famous Thai beer would be Singha, which is highly regarded as the original Thai beer. Singha beer has been around for a long time, entering the Thai beer market in 1933 as one of the first 3 beer brands of Boon Rawd Brewery (8).
Singha’s logo has a Garuda and a golden mystical Lion on it. The reason behind these symbols is also quite interesting. The Garuda logo was first given permission to be used by King Rama VIII to Boon Rawd Brewery. At that time, it was only permitted for financially stable and trusted companies for their quality goods.
The iconic lion symbol of Singha was inspired by one of the four great lions in Thai literature, which the locals believe to be the Himmapan forest’s king (9). From the logos alone, it is evident that Singha has a long-standing history as a Thai beer, and it’s still loved by the locals today.
Singha is a pale lager beer, and its taste profile is said to be well above average. Singha is crafted using Saaz hops and barley malt. The lager beer version has 5% ABV, while the Singha Light version has 3.5% ABV and has a slightly more bitter taste than the original version (1).
As for the price, Singha is slightly more expensive than Leo and Chang, costing around 35 baht for a single can in stores.
Bar Tip: How to order Singha Beer in Thailand
Locals do not tend to order Singha as ‘SingHA’ beer. Instead, they just pronounced it as ‘Sing,’ without the ‘ha’ sound at the end (4). But even if you pronounce it as ‘Singha,’ everyone will still get it as everyone knows the brand.
Archa is a newer Thai beer brand compared to original ones like Singha and Chang. So, it should be no surprise that it is also brewed by the ThaiBev, the house of Chang beer.
Archa was first launched in 2004, marketed as a beer to suit the demands of the new generation of beer fans who prefer the smoother taste and lower alcohol content (10). That’s why the taste of Archa is sweeter than Singha beer, with a bubbly texture that is comparable to champagne.
Initially, Archa beer had a 5.4% alcohol percentage (1), but it was reduced to 5% in 2014 (11). Archa beer is intended for the local market and budget drinkers, so it’s even cheaper than other Thai beer brands. One can of Archa beer only costs less than 30 baht when bought at stores (1).
And since it is intended for a low-cost market, it is not usually found in bars where foreigners are frequent. But if you want to try Archa beer, they are easily available in convenience stores like 7-Eleven and supermarkets, such as Lotus (Tesco.)
5. Phuket Lager Beer
Named after the famous party island, Phuket beer is the first Thai beer brand to receive a gold medal for its taste at an international beer competition held in Belgium (12). The taste is light and sweet, with an aftertaste aroma of tropical fruits, making it perfect for sipping when lazing around on the beach or poolside (13).
Phuket beer used premium German hops and high-quality Thai jasmine rice to brew. Fans of Phuket beer said that it also smells similar to a European lager due to the aroma of cereal grains, sweet malts, and grassy hops (14). It has 5% ABV.
Although it is named after Phuket island, its brewery exists in Pathum Thani province in the northern part of Bangkok and is available in every part of the country (13). On the bottle of the Phuket beer is the logo of the famous tropical bird – the toucan. One can of Phuket beer usually cost around 50 baht when purchased at convenience stores (15).
Imported Beers in Thailand
Apart from the local Thai beer brands, imported foreign beers can also be found everywhere in Thailand. However, these beers are usually more expensive due to Thailand regulations that impose import duty up to 60% to protect the local brands’ market share.
Below are some of the most favored international beer brands that can be found in the Thai beer market:
Among the imported beer brands, the most famous one is the Tiger beer due to its international popularity and awards winning products (1).
While originating from Singapore, the Tiger beer found in the Thai market is actually brewed in Thailand by the Thai Asia Pacific Brewery. Known for its crisp, full-bodied, and smooth taste brewed from high quality, natural ingredients, Tiger beer is easy to drink and tasty favorite (16).
In 2009, Tiger Crystal Light, which has a lower alcohol percentage at 4.2% ABV, was launched in Thailand to attract consumers who prefer lower alcohol content. A 330ml of Tiger Beer is usually sold at around 40 baht and can be found in every store and bar across Thailand (17).
Rooted in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Heineken is another international brand that has been brewed in Thailand since 1995 (18). It has a 5% alcohol volume, made with 100% barley malt, choice hops, and pure water to get the unsurpassed clarity taste (19).
Recently, Heineken has launched a non-alcoholic malt beverage called Heineken 0.0 for those who want to enjoy a beer without having to deal with hangovers.
Although there is no import duty tax on Heineken as it is brewed in Thailand, the price is still higher than the local Thai options. One bottle of a 330ml Heineken beer costs around 50 baht (20) and can be found in many stores and bars, especially in the big cities like Bangkok and Pattaya.
(Note, other international brands such as Budweiser, Carlsberg, San Miguel, Corona, and Tetleys are also favorites among the locals.)
Now that you know more about the famous beer brands in Thailand, it’s time to familiarize yourself with some drinking tips and etiquettes in Thailand. This would undoubtedly make your Thai beer experience more enjoyable and wholesome.
Beer Drinking Etiquettes in Thailand
Sharing is Caring:
Thai people love to share when they go out together, whether it’s for food or beer drinking. Usually, Thai people will share large bottles of beer or beer towers when they go out drinking. They will also order a lot of snacks for everyone to share.
So, if you go out drinking with Thai people, you will get offered various drinks and food from everyone. There is an expectation that you will do the same in return. Plus, it is a polite gesture to fill everyone’s glasses with ice from the shared ice bucket, especially if you are drinking with your seniors or people who are older than you (21).
As for the bills, it is kind of an unspoken rule that the elder may pay the bills, but it is not mandatory. When going out with a group of friends, normally, everyone splits the bills evenly.
Make it Icy, Make it Cool:
Local people usually enjoy their beer served with a glass of ice. They believe that it makes the beer taste more refreshing. This makes sense as the weather in Thailand is usually humid and hot.
Nothing tastes better than a glass of cool beer when chilling on a beach or a poolside. Whatsmore, it goes well with Thai cuisines that are spicy. As the taste of cool beer can help wash down those heavy spices.
Another way to enjoy cool beer without the ice melting would be to use the ‘beer holders.’ This will keep the temperature of beer cans or bottles colder and for longer. That way, one won’t need to worry about watery beer from melted ice. These beer holders are cheap and make good souvenirs from Thailand (13).
No Drunk Antics in Public:
Thai people do not like making a scene in public. The same applies to their drinking culture. Getting drunk and being loud in the pub may be more acceptable in western culture, but it is frowned upon in Thailand.
Thai people hate losing face so if you are drinking with your Thai friends, make sure not to get too drunk and change character. If you are on a big one, be mindful that some bars can even charge you extra fees if you throw up on the floor.
Drinking on the streets is usually acceptable, especially in the beach areas like Pattaya and Phuket, but some places do not allow drinking on the streets. Such as in the public parks or near the school areas and pagodas.
Saying ‘Cheers’ in Thai Style
There are several ways to make toasts in Thai. The simplest way to say ‘cheers’ in Thai would be to raise your glass (or jars, or bottles) and offer a smiling ‘Chone Gaow’ – which literally means ‘touching glasses’ (22).
Alternatively, you can also say ‘Chai Yoo,’ which can be loosely translated to ‘Cheers’ in English, as it is used to celebrate. You can also propose a toast by saying ‘Chok Dee,’ which means ‘Good luck’ in Thai.
As for clinking the glasses together, take the age and status of the people you are drinking with into consideration. If they are older than you or have higher social status, it is polite to hold your glass slightly lower than theirs as a way of showing respect (22).
The 10 Best Bars to Grab a Thai Beer in Bangkok
You can get Thai beers easily, almost everywhere. Convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Family Mart sell both Thai beers and imported ones. It is usually cheaper to buy there than to buy from the bars and restaurants.
However, do note that convenience stores near schools, universities, pagodas, or temples are not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages. So, if you are staying near those places, the chances are that you will need to go to the stores in other areas if you want to buy alcohol.
Also, since Thailand is a Buddhist country, selling alcohol is banned on holidays related to Buddhism, such as Full Moon day and Buddha’s birthday. Alcohol sales are also not allowed during provincial and national elections and on certain public holidays, such as the King’s birthday. As for any other days, convenience stores can legally sell alcohol from 11 am to 2 pm and then from 5 pm to midnight (22).
As for those who want to try craft beer in Thailand, here are some of the best beer bars in Thailand that you can visit during your stay.
1. Brewski Craft Beer Bar
Address: 489 Sukhumvit Road Soi 27, Bangkok
This popular sports bar offers 100 craft beer brews, ranging from Trappist beers to Belgian ales. It is also a rooftop craft beer where you can enjoy your beer while taking the impressive city skyline view.
Located on the 30th floor of Radisson Blu Plaza in Sukhumvit Soi 27, this craft beer bar is a must-visit for those who want to try craft beer and mouth-watering bar snacks (23).
2. CRAFT Silom
Address: Holiday Inn Silom, Silom Road, Bangkok
CRAFT is located on the ground floor of Holiday Inn Silom and is a 100% craft beers bar. This bar offers over 20 beers on tap, on a monthly rotation basis. It also has over 50 bottled labels from all parts of the world on rotation.
A unique aspect of this beer bar is that it also has a specially designed snack menu that is made to go well with each craft beer (24).
3. House of Beers
Address: 522/3 Thong Lor, Sukhumvit 55, Soi 16, Bangkok
This popular beer bar serves several Belgian ales and classic snacks, like fries with mayonnaise and steamed mussels dishes. It is a perfect place to spend some rewinding time after a day spent in the scorching heat of Bangkok’s traffic.
This stylish bar is really popular among young urban professionals and upscale locals, so be prepared for the place to be crowded (23).
4. Dock no.13
Address: 47 Phra Arthit Road, Bangkok
If you are looking for a place to chill by the famous Chao Phraya River, this is the place for you. As the name implies, Dock no.13 sells 13 different Thai craft beers. It is known as one of the best-stocked bars in Bangkok. It is also located very close to Koh San Road, a backpackers’ favorite (23).
5. Hair of The Dog
Address 1: 888/26 Ploenchit Road, Bangkok
Address 2: 593/27 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
This bar was started by a couple of beer lovers from Canada who wanted to bring something new to Thailand’s craft beer scene (23). This bar has two different locations, one at Phloen Chit and another at Phrom Pong.
Both branches are known for their decorations, inspired by the styles of operating theaters. Phrom Pong branch has two floors; the first floor sells 13 rotating craft beer options (just like the Phloen Chit branch does) while the second-floor houses the ‘The Clinic,’ a gin & tonic bar decorated in Victorian style (25). Due to its interesting concepts and decors, Hair of the Dog is popular among young ex-pats (23).
6. Mikkeller Bangkok
Address: 26 Ekkamai Soi 10, Bangkok
Mikkeller is the first craft beer bar opened in Thailand by two former employees from Carlsberg (25). The bar houses dozens of beers on tap and a huge range of bottled beers from breweries all over the world.
Mikkeller is located on the quiet Ekkamai Road and operates in an old Thai house dating back to the 1950s. The bright open air-bar makes Mikkeller a favorite among couples for its romantic and quiet atmosphere (23).
7. WISHBEER Home Bar
Address: 1491 Sukhumvit Soi 67, Bangkok
This home bar started as an online beer shop that delivered beer specialty across Thailand. Now, it’s the house for over 500 beers and ciders from all different parts of the world. It is regarded as having the largest selection range in Thailand and offers local Thai craft beers.
The inside of the bar is huge and can seat up to 200+ people, ensuring that it never feels over-crowded or noisy, even on the weekends (25).
8. Tawadang Pub
Address 1: Rama 3 Road, Bangkok
Address 2: Leang Mueang Road, Nonthaburi
Address 3: Pradit Manutham Road, Bangkok
Originally starting as a German beer hall, Tawadang pub is one of the few licensed microbreweries in Bangkok. Suitable for a night out in large groups, Tawadang pub is a lively entertainment venue with live music, performances, and a large dance floor.
It sells locally brewed craft beer with reasonably priced Thai dishes to pair with the drinks (23). Currently, it has 3 branches so you can choose whichever location is the most convenient (25).
9. Beer Belly
Address: 72 Courtyard, Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok
Located in Thonglor, Beer Belly is a funky beer bar that houses an extensive range of beer collections. Their 20 taps range from common beer brands to craft beers and even seasonal brews.
It’s a beer lover’s heaven and certainly deserves a spot on the list of best beer bars in Thailand. Beer Belly also has a pool table, ping-pong table, dartboard, and board games for those who want to play some fun drinking games. This quirky beer bar operates every day from 5 pm to 2 am (23).
10. Golden Coins Taproom
Address: Ekkamai Soi 10, Bangkok
If you are looking for a nice little bar that doesn’t get too crowded (even on a Friday evening), then Golden Coins Taproom will be ideal for you. This bar serves only homebrew beers on 12 taps and has a dedicated group of craft beer enthusiasts as its regular patrons.
In addition to its serene atmosphere and tasty beer, the customers might even get to listen to the owner doing solo pop covers on the piano (23).
There you have it; the ultimate guide to experiencing Thai beers. From the different types of Thai beers and how much a bottle of beer costs in Thailand to drinking etiquettes and best craft beer bars list, now you have everything you need to satisfy the thirst for Thai beers! Happy drinking and ‘Chai Yoo!’
Like always, if you want to discover more about Thailand, stay guided with ThaiGuider. You might learn something you never knew about this unique country.
Thai Beer FAQs
What is the famous beer in Thailand?
The most famous beers in Thailand (i.e., the big 3) are – Leo, Chang, and Singha. They have the biggest market share among the Thai beers in the market.
What is the best-selling beer in Thailand?
Leo beer is the best-selling beer in Thailand with approximately 53% of the market share. Chang is the second biggest seller with 34%, while Singha is in third with 7%. Heineken is in fourth place with 4% (26).
What is the strongest Thai beer?
Chang beer is the strongest Thai beer as it has a version that is brewed in Thailand with 6.4% ABV (27).
What does a beer cost in Thailand?
A bottle of beer usually costs around 60 baht when bought at convenience stores, while a can cost around 40 baht. If bought at a restaurant or a bar, prices increase to around 80-140 baht per bottle for the Thai beer brands.
Who makes Chang beer?
ThaiBev is the brewery for Chang beer in Thailand.
How strong is Chang beer in Thailand?
The strongest version of Chang is said to have 6.4% ABV, while Chang lager beer has 5% ABV and Chang Cold Brew has 4.8% ABV (5).
Is Singha better than Chang?
It’s a personal preference. In Thailand, the hi-so people usually prefer Singha as it is more expensive and known as the ‘rich man beer’. Also, many beer lovers are fans of Singha as it’s made with 100% barley malt beer and comes with a rich body and a strong flavor. Those who like a stronger taste and more body would prefer Chang beer as it has more alcohol content (28).
Who owns Leo beer and where is it brewed in Thailand?
Leo beer is owned by the same brewery that makes Singha beer. Both beers, Leo and Singha, are brewed by Boon Rawd Brewery in Thailand.
Is Heineken brewed in Thailand?
For the beers distributed in Thailand, Heineken is brewed by the Thai Asia Pacific Brewery in the Nonthaburi province of Thailand.
Is Guinness brewed in Thailand?
Guinness beer that is available in Thailand is not brewed in the country. It is imported.
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