Days Alcohol is Banned and Bars

In Thailand there are specific days when the sale of alcohol is officially banned nationwide and bars close. These days are Buddhist holidays and some public holidays.

The dates on which these Buddhist holidays occur change each year according to the Thai lunar calendar. In the table below use the link in the Buddhist holiday name to view more info about the holiday.

The Buddhist holidays include:

Buddhist Day 2016 2017
Buddhist dayMakha Bucha Day 22 Feb 11 Feb
Buddhist dayVisakha Bucha Day 20 May 10 May
Buddhist day Asalaha Bucha Day 19 Jul 08 Jul
Buddhist dayKhao Phansa Day 20 Jul 11 Jul
Buddhist day Awk Phansa Day 16 Oct 06 Oct

Selling Alcohol During a Ban

According to Thai law any vendors found selling alcohol during an alcohol ban will be fined 10,000 Thai baht and could also be imprisoned for up to six months. Some bar owners in remote areas of Thailand sometimes have arrangements with the local police who allow them to discreetly sell alcohol during closures. You might be sold your drink in a coffee mug or a tea cup.

When alcohol is sold during these mandated bar closures the bar will assume a different mode of operation. There will be no music, at night the lights will be dimmed, you will be required to pay for each drink as you order and there will be no alcohol drink containers in public view.
During alcohol ban periods most establishments do follow the law.
Follow this link to:

Alcohol on Election Days

The selling of alcohol is also banned on election days all across the country. Sometimes this ban can last two to three days. So if you are planning a seaside holiday trip to Pattaya from another part of Thailand or somewhere else in the world and expecting the bars to be operating as normal, just make sure it is not during a local election.

Days for Royalty

The utmost respect is shown to the Thai monarchy by the Thai people. They revere their king and queen. Two very important events of course are the Royal Birthdays.

  • HM the King of Thailand (July 28).
  • HM the Queen of Thailand (August 12th).

Some establishments choose to close on these days.

Note: If either of these dates fall on a weekend then a substitute nationwide holiday is usually granted on the Monday.

Daily Ban on Sale of Alcohol

Yes you read that correct. There is a daily ban on the sale of alcohol during certain hours of the day. This ban effects supermarkets, franchise shops such as Family Mart and Seven Eleven. It also applies to family run mum and pop shops but sometimes the rule is not always enforced at these smaller businesses.

Currently in Thailand at these locations the sale of alcohol is banned seven days a week between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. then again from midnight till 11:00 a.m.

Thai Drinking Laws Alcohol-Free Zones

The legal drinking age in Thailand is twenty. It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of twenty. Sometimes bars do get raided by the police and proprietors can be fined for selling to underage drinkers. Therefore it is in the best interest of the owners to enforce this law.

In Thailand drinking alcohol is illegal in the following locations:

  • temples or places of worship
  • public offices
  • hospitals, clinics and pharmacies
  • education institutions
  • petrol service stations or petrol service station shops
  • public parks

The penalty for drinking alcohol at any one of these locations without proper authorization is 6 months incarceration AND / OR a fine of up to ten thousand baht.

There are exceptions to these rules. For example; you may legally drink an alcoholic beverage if you are attending an authorized banquet at a public office or an education institution, or if you are inside a temple at which consuming alcohol is part of the worship.

Drunken Scams

It would be remiss not to mention or warn you about scams that a non suspecting tourist with a bulging wallet and a belly full of alcohol might be conned into. In his nightlife guide, Bill Williams describes fifteen scams that occur often in Thailand. You might want to take a look at that.

When you go out on a binge make sure you take one of your hotel's address cards with you. Usually the cards are bilingual, Thai and English, so if you lose your way or forget the name of your hotel, you could just show it to a motorbike taxi driver who would deliver you safely to your lodgings. Take just enough cash with you to cover food and drinks for the binge time.

© 2008