Drinking in Thailand

Drinking in Thailand

By Chris QuanUpdated Nov. 17, 2021

Drinking is a way to stay hydrated during the day, but it can also be a way to socialize with locals. Thai people have a strong drinking culture and, when visiting Thailand, you will get to taste their many specialties. Inexpensive beers like Chang or Leo can be found everywhere and are an ideal fresh break.

You can also try one of their liquors made from fermented rice or have a cold cocktail in the heat of the night. Lime juice stalls are pretty much everywhere, and Thai iced coffee is perfect to start the day with a kick.

Read our short article and learn more about drinking in Thailand!

Quick Facts

  • For Thai people, drinking is a sharing experience, a way to relax and have fun with friends.
  • Try the famous Thai beers like Singha and Leo.
  • Customized cocktails are increasingly popular in many high-end restaurants and bars.
  • It is important to know and to follow the local drinking etiquette.
  • Shout “chon!” to propose a toast and surprise your Thai friends.
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Popular Thai Drinks

Drinks (any kind of drinks) are part of a country’s culture, and enjoying them is a way to bond with locals and experience their lifestyle. Having a drink with someone is anspecial way to socialize, and joining groups of Thai people for a drink or two can be really fun.

Beers are extremely popular, and the most famous brands are quite inexpensive. You can find industrial or craft beers – both kinds are ideal during the long tropical nights. For something stronger, try one of the many cocktails inspired by Thai culture. Fruit juice and Thai iced coffee, will keep you hydrated during the day, while amazing your taste buds.

Beers

Beer is a popular drink in Thailand, and the most common brands are Singha, Leo, and Chang.

They are inexpensive and easy to find everywhere. Singha is a pale lager, and it is the most famous Thai beer abroad. It is also possible to arrange tours of the brewery located in Bangkok. Leo,another lager, is cheaper than Singha and almost as popular. Chang is extremely popular all over Thailand. It is the cheapest top brand beer you can find, and it is a little bit stronger than Singha and Leo (6.4 percent).

Besides industrial beers, you can also find some really good craft ones. For example, Full Moon Chalawan Pale Ale, with its fruity notes and sour taste; it is an easy drink for the long hot days. Eleventh Fort Black India Pale Ale is dark brown, with coffee and chocolate notes and a medium-bitter taste – a beer as far away as you can get from the ones listed above.

Cocktails

Cocktails are popular as well, and in Bangkok it is possible to taste some unique creations inspired by Thai culture.

The Siam Mary is for those looking for strong flavors. It is made with Thai chili, wasabi, basil, coriander, lemongrass, and tomato juice−basically a Thai spicy variation of the classic Bloody Mary. It was created for the opening of the St. Regis Bangkok.

Finally, at the Sky Bar in Bangkok, you will get a cocktail commemorating the movie “The Hangovers II”, which was shot in Bangkok. The Hangovertini is made with green tea liquor, Martini Rosso, green apple juice, and rosemary-infused honey, for an incredibly rich taste you won’t forget easily.

Fresh Juice

Fresh juices are an excellent choice when trying to stay hydrated under the scorching sun of Thailand. One of the most popular ones is pomegranate juice, a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Orange juice combines salty and sweet flavors, and it is a common favorite.

Sugarcane juice is not something you will easily find abroad. It is incredibly sweet (with no sugar added) and it has a somewhat strong flavor that can be unpleasantfor some people. However, we sure think it is worth a try.

Coffee

Oliang is the famous Thai iced coffee. Coffee is brewed with a simple coffee filter (a metal ring with a bag attached underneath) which is also used for tea. The oilang is put inside the coffee filter and boiling water is poured slowly, so to let the coffee to dissolve properly and release all its flavor.

The coffee in the bag will have to steep for about 10 minutes until it gets strong enough. Oliang is then served in a big glass filled with ice, and sometimes condensed milk is added as well.

Drinking Etiquette in Thailand

When drinking with others, pouring a drink for someone else is considered a nice gesture. Seniority is always important;when toasting, toast the older people first, and then the rest of the group. Usually it is the host’s duty to start a toast. If you are the host, remember to sit in the middle of the table, not at the head. When it comes to paying the bill, the older people should pay most of the bill;but this doesn’t always happen.

Drinking is sharing −it is common to have a bottle or a beer tower to share with everyone or to invite strangers to join the table.

Thai people like to eat while they drink. While in western countries it is common to drink first and then maybe eat something late at night, Thai people will keep eating small amounts of food throughout the night to keep their stomach full and to avoid getting drunk too quickly.

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Drinking Culture in Thailand

It is common for Thai people to enjoy themselves at the local bar. However, drinking culture in Thailand is somewhat different from the drinking culture in many western countries.

When drinking with Thai people, try not to lose control or be too loud. Thai people like to enjoy themselves and keep a relaxed environment. Drunken behavior is unacceptable.Shouting, fighting, harassing other people, rolling around the floor… are all behavior that Thai people despise. For them, drinking is a moment of sharing happiness and nothing should ruin it.

Thai people usually drink in bars, nightclubs, or karaoke bars. However, they usually keep to their own group, dancing and singing around the table.

You can say ‘cheers’ in Thai in more than one way. When someone wants to have a toast, they will shout “chon!”, which means “to touch glasses”. Mote gaowis an invitation to finish your drinks (“bottoms up”); while chok dee and chai yo are two ways of saying “good luck or success”.

Interesting Facts About Drinking in Thailand

Thailand is the fifth biggest consumer of alcohol per capita in the world. The most popular drink is beer, followed by local whiskey. Wine is becoming increasingly popular.The boom began when the royal doctors recommended to the king to drink a couple of glasses of red wine a day for heart problems.

If you like liquors, try the local spirit, Sangsom (40%). It is often referred to as a whiskey, even though it is brewed from sugarcane and aged in oak barrels – so it should be categorized as rum. Other popular brown spirits are Hong Thong and Mekhong.

It is also possible to find an extremely cheap, locally made whiskey made of fermented rice (it could be considered the local Moonshine). It is called lao khao.Even though it is possible to find bottled varieties, the homemade lao khao you can find pretty much in any village, is considered to be the real deal.

Many other drinks (alcoholic or not) can be made using plants and herbs. According to the book The Thai Kitchen, you can get the liquid or flavor out of plants using at least three different methods: squeezing, crushing or boiling. The book recommends to drink the juice as soon as it is made. Most popular are lemongrass, carrot, tamarind, tiger herb, black wild ginger, roselle, noni fruit, and chrysanthemum.

Explore Thai Drinks with Asia Highlights

After a day under on the beach under the hot sun of Thailand, a cold drink is what you need. Tasting different drinks will be part of the pleasure of exploring Thailand.Book with Asia Highlights and start planning your next amazing adventure in Thailand. Our knowledgeable staff will craft a hassle-free trip for you.

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