Thailand Alcohol Hours: Where and When Can You Drink?

"Thailand alcohol hours are restricted to 11:00 – 14:00 and 17:00 – 24:00. Convenience stores, wine shops, and other retailers are not permitted to sell alcoholic beverages outside these hours. However, shops located in the international airport building and service places such as bars, restaurants, and nightclubs can sell alcoholic beverages in accordance with their opening and closing schedule confirmed by authorities. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be sold on 5 important Buddhist holidays in Thailand. Additionally, there is an alcohol sales ban in Thailand on several days a year, including important religious days and during elections. The legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 years old."

Thailand is known for its lively nightlife and abundance of bars and restaurants, but the country actually has strict laws dictating when and where you can purchase and consume alcohol. The hours where you can legally buy and drink alcohol depend on the type of establishment and even the province or city you’re in. As a tourist, it’s important to be aware of Thailand’s alcohol laws so that you don’t unknowingly break them during your visit.

This article will provide you with an overview of the standard alcohol hours in Thailand, as well as outline any exceptions, special restrictions, and holiday hours that you should know about as a tourist. Whether you’re looking for a chill restaurant to have a drink with dinner or want to bar hop late into the night, we’ll cover when and where you can legally get your drink on in Thailand. Having a general understanding of Thailand’s alcohol rules will ensure you can enjoy yourself without worry as a tourist.

Normal Alcohol Hours

The general alcohol hours in most areas of Thailand allow entertainment venues like bars, nightclubs, and restaurants to serve alcohol from 11am to 2am. This gives a substantial 13 hour period to legally buy and consume alcoholic drinks.

Bars and nightclubs in Thailand often utilize the full alcohol hours, staying open until the early morning hours of 1 or 2am. Some may even have special permissions to stay open and serve alcohol 24 hours a day.

So if you’re looking to enjoy Thailand’s renowned nightlife scene, you’ll generally be able to drink legally in bars and clubs from mid-morning until the early morning hours. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to these hours which we’ll cover next. But for the most part, entertainment venues have very generous alcohol hours that can accommodate even the latest of night owls.

Exceptions to Normal Hours

While the standard alcohol hours in Thailand are 11am-2am, there are some exceptions and restrictions to be aware of:

Grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers cannot sell alcohol during certain time periods each day. Specifically, these types of stores cannot sell alcoholic drinks between 2pm-5pm and midnight-11am. So if you walk into a 7-Eleven wanting to pick up some beer during those hours, you’ll be out of luck. The only exceptions are tourist-oriented stores like those at the airport or large hotels.

Restaurants are one type of venue that can obtain licenses to serve alcohol 24 hours a day. So if you want to enjoy some drinks with a late night or early morning meal, you may be able to do so at certain restaurants. Just be aware that not all restaurants choose to acquire the 24 hour alcohol license.

Some provincial laws, especially in more rural and conservative areas, enforce total bans on alcohol sales between midnight-11am each day. These bans apply to all types of venues from stores to restaurants to bars. The provincial bans override the national 11am-2am hours, so it’s important to check the alcohol hours in any new destinations you visit.

Knowing these exceptions is key, because the rules can vary significantly from Thailand’s standard entertainment venue alcohol hours. A little research before you go out can avoid confusion!

Places with Special Restrictions

In addition to the laws governing opening hours, Thailand has strict regulations prohibiting or limiting alcohol consumption in certain locations:

Universities – Alcohol is completely prohibited on university and college campuses. Students, faculty, and visitors cannot possess or consume alcohol at educational institutions or university-sponsored events, even those held off-campus. Fines are issued for violating campus alcohol bans.

Public Parks – Drinking alcohol is not permitted in public parks, gardens, and recreational areas. This includes popular parks that hold festivals and events. Having an open container or being publicly intoxicated can result in fines. Exceptions may be made for certain licensed establishments within a park.

Public Transit and Roads – Consuming alcohol on public transit like trains, buses, BTS skytrain is illegal. There are also open container laws prohibiting possessing open alcoholic drinks in vehicles and while walking on public roads and sidewalks. This is strictly enforced by police.

Temples – Temples and religious sites also commonly forbid possessing or consuming alcohol on their grounds. Disobeying this rule would be considered disrespectful.

Tourists should be discreet and avoid drinking in any forbidden public places during their Thailand visit. Violating these alcohol restrictions can ruin your trip with fines or other legal issues. When in doubt, save the drinks for a licensed venue.

Festivals and Holidays

Thailand’s alcohol laws are relaxed during certain festivals and national holidays to accommodate large celebrations. The standard opening hours are extended in most areas on key party dates:

New Year’s Eve – Bars, clubs, and restaurants can serve alcohol on December 31st from their normal 11am start time until 5am on January 1st instead of the usual 2am closing time.

Songkran – For Thailand’s famous Songkran water festival in April, entertainment venues can apply for special permits to serve alcohol beyond normal hours, sometimes up to 24 hours a day.

Full Moon Parties – The popular full moon parties on islands like Koh Phangan run all night long. Local businesses can extend alcohol service by obtaining one-day full moon party permits.

Other Thai holidays like Loy Krathong, Labor Day, and more also often feature late night parties and extended alcohol hours in tourist areas.

However, provincial bans on late night alcohol sales may still be in effect during holidays. It’s wise to check if the destination you’ll be partying at has any holiday hour restrictions before enjoying the revelry. With some prep, you can make sure your festival experience in Thailand stays within legal boundaries.

Wrap Up

Thailand has a complex patchwork of laws dictating when and where alcohol can be sold and consumed. While the general entertainment venue hours of 11am-2am are quite liberal, tourists should be aware of the various exceptions and restrictions that exist. It’s illegal to drink in public places like parks, roads, transit and illegal to buy from stores during afternoon and late night hours. Some provinces ban alcohol sales entirely during late night hours. But holidays and festivals often extend the party with relaxed alcohol hours.

The best advice for tourists is to research the specific alcohol laws in the area you are visiting, and always consume responsibly within licensed venues. While Thailand is known for fun and nightlife, it helps to understand the nuances of when and where you can actually drink. An informed tourist who follows the local alcohol rules can fully enjoy Thailand’s festivals, bars, restaurants and more without worry. Just remember – when in doubt over alcohol laws, abstain or confirm with your server.