Thailand Bans Alcohol Sales After Midnight? (And Further Political Instability)

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A friend of mine shared with me a thread from an expat Thai discussion board (Thaivisa) accessible here, about a new law that would ban alcohol sales after midnight.

Thai Alcohol Laws

I commented that, if this really would be a new law, I would give it maximum of a week before it would no longer be enforced.

READ MORE: Bangkok Police Conducting “Random” Searches To Extort Money From Tourists?

The confusion seem to have come from an article on a Thai PBS website (access here) where they are referring to the new legislation:

Alcohol beverages can now only be sold from 11.00 am – 2.00 pm and from 5.00 pm – 12.00 am every day.

An announcement was made today by the Prime Minister’s Office on the 2015 law regulating alcohol sales which takes effect today.

At all other times, alcohol sales are strictly forbidden with the exception of  at international airport terminals and legally registered entertainment venues which have laws that strictly govern the periods they can operate daily.

Director-general of the office of the Alcohol Control Committee Mr Samarn Futrakun stated the core substance of the new regulation remains the same in that the permissible duration for daily alcohol sales to be capped at 10 hours.

Airports however are given the same allowance as before while entertainment venues which in the past were allowed to sell alcohol from 9.00 pm – 2.00 am can only do so up to midnight.

There was an extensive discussion about this on the ThaiVisa forum that I browsed through. What I have understood is that:

1. There is a time in the afternoon (it’s been in place for a long time) when alcohol shouldn’t be sold. Many chain stores and marts observe this, but most family-run businesses do not.

2. Bars in the entertainment zones have licenses that allow them to operate until 1AM, although this is rarely enforced.

3. Bars that stay open past their licensing hours likely need to pay “tea money” to the police/army for them to look away.

4. Most of the bars in Chiang Mai except a few police affiliated night clubs and hotels close at midnight.

Former Prime Minister Impeached

Thai Ex Prime Minister

When I was reading the New York Times international edition on Saturday on a Thai Airways flight, I came across this piece about the generals impeaching the former Prime Minister that was thrown out from her office in the military coup. You can access the New York Times piece here.

Conclusion

Many tourists come to Thailand to have a good time that often involves having an adult beverage or two. When I was in Bangkok last spring during the curfew set by the military, the entertainment venues in Bangkok did close at midnight sharp.

Martial law is still in place, but the opening hours of the entertainment venues are pretty much back to what they used to be. I was in Pattaya three weeks ago and ended up being in a nightclub until 5AM or so.

As is the case with Thailand and the laws, I have no idea really what is going on. It seems that these venues really should close earlier, but how well that would go down in the holiday islands of Phuket and Koh Samui where many tourists come to party? I would expect that both have already been hit hard due to the devaluation of the Russian ruble against other currencies. Especially in Phuket, where 80% of the of the tourists recently have been Russians.

The political instability is yet another negative factor. When there is finally new elections, the parties of Thaksin and Yingluck will be back in power in some form or other because it draws the support from the poorer rural Thais that outnumber the so called “Bangkok elite”, which can never win the popular vote.

Personally, I am surprised how well the country has done despite the two coup d’États in the past decade both with demonstrations and the recent flooding of Bangkok. Tourists still seem to flock the country regardless of the political mess.

I will be back in Bangkok this coming Sunday or Monday and then will go to Phuket for a couple of nights before leaving to South America. I will certainly observe how this selling of alcohol enforcement is in place.

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