Alcohol and Thailand
The recent Buddha Day certainly caused some confusion amongst tourists who suddenly found that all of the bars were closed on Monday. Admittedly, this is not a big problem for most people but if you are on holiday it can certainly be a source of frustration.
OK, you don’t go on holiday to purely drink but for many people who come to Thailand drinking is part of your holiday and if you are only here for 14 days, having one day (and sometimes more) where you are restricted in what you can do may put people off coming to the Kingdom.
The licensing laws in Thailand often lead to confusion at the best of times with a lot of people, expats included, not really understanding the ins and outs and the fact that how heavily this is enforced varies from province to province only makes the situation more confusing. Indeed there is some speculation that even bars and restaurants may be forced to stop serving alcohol between 2pm and 5pm to bring them in line with shops such as 7 Eleven and supermarkets but these rumours have been doing the rounds for a number of years now.
For those of you who don’t know the licensing laws in Thailand dictate that alcohol can only served between the hours of 11am and 2pm as well as 5pm until midnight. Entertainment zones get special dispensation to serve outside of these hours – usually later into the night but once again there are a number of grey areas with this. The problem with this is that the fine for selling outside of licensing hours is the small matter of a THB4,0000 and/or potential two years in prison.
Of course there are always places that run the risk of serving alcohol and we all probably know at least one of these places but they are becoming increasingly rare. On Buddha Days it wasn’t uncommon for the hotel bars to be filled with expats as well as tourists who were getting their ‘fix’ of alcohol but even these seem to be reducing in number.
As mentioned, sadly the fact that these restrictions seem to hit tourists harder than most is perhaps another nail in the coffin for the number of Western tourists who are coming to Thailand and looking forward to the many delights that the country has to offer with alcohol or things often associated with alcohol being one of the main attractions.