Alcohol in Thailand: Interesting Rules and Regulations Surrounding Liquor Sales

If you’ve just bought a new house or condo in Thailand, you may be thinking of kicking back with a cold beverage to celebrate. But before you go buy a beer, learn about these interesting laws first!

Tourists in Thailand love taking advantage of the fact that you can literally get a bucket of something to drink just about anywhere that tourists tend to go. That means carts on the street, stands set up on the beach, even people walking around with coolers on their backs. But tourists and those new to Thailand should realize that there are some rules prohibiting the sales of alcohol. Read on to find out:

No Mid Afternoon Private Sales

If you walk into a grocery store, convenience store or liquor store and try to buy an alcoholic drink between 2pm and 5pm, or between midnight and 11am the vendor is not legally allowed to make the sale. This does not mean that you can’t drink during these hours, because bars and restaurants will welcome you with open arms at any point during their operating hours. You just can’t buy in bulk.

No Sales on Buddha Day:

As Thailand is a Buddhist country, holidays that acknowledge and respect Buddha are reserved as sober holidays. It is technically not legal to sell alcohol on these days, even at bars and restaurants. This being said, local establishments in very touristic areas tend to bend the rules and will still serve thirsty customers. Don’t be surprised if your beer is served to you in a paper cup before the clock strikes midnight and the holiday ends.

No Open Container Laws, Except for…:

Many places in the world do not have “container laws” like they do in America, meaning you can pretty much drink anywhere. This is true in Thailand as well. For example, passengers can drink out on the street, in moving vehicles, and even inside most businesses. There are some exceptions to the rule though, so remember that drinking alcohol is illegal in the following locations: temples or places of worship; infirmaries and pharmacies; public offices; education institutions; petrol stations or petrol station shops; and public parks.

No Alcohol Sales on Election Day:

While it’s not a holiday Election Day is reserved as a sober day as well. In fact, Election Day liquor laws are often more strict than they are on Buddha Day. The theory is that banning alcohol on and before the polling will ensure that the Election will be done properly and honestly. The ban on alcohol is often (but not always) enforced starting at 6 PM the day before the election and will end at midnight, or the very end of the day of the Election.

Have you had any unusual or interesting experiences buying alcohol in Thailand? Share with us your story in the comment section below!