Recently, after an hour walking along the famous promenade of Patong Beach I decided to quench my thirst with an ice cold, Tiger beer. My walking companion a Thai National stated that it was not possible to drink on this special 'Buddha Day.' I responded by stating I'd seen a number of bars serving alcohol during our walk & I intended to enter one as I pointed across the street to a couple enjoying a drink nearby.
Entering the bar & taking a seat at a table with a view of the beach, I ordered a Singha & Leo beer for my friend. Upon being served, I guzzled my beer in less than 10 minutes flat & was about to order another when in walked two uniformed Police officers, digital camera in hand - who began snapping away at any & all patrons drinking alcohol. There were a number of us. The pair approached the wait staff & demanded the manager of the bar come forward immediately. The wait staff stated the manager was not on site; at the same time waitresses dashed around our tables whipping away the bubbly beverages from the patrons, some still in hand. (In hindsight, I was glad I drank mine so quickly!)
So it may come as some surprise to many that there are a number of days when alcohol sales are restricted in Thailand. In 2009 a law was enacted to accommodate Buddhist holidays which occur throughout the year. As a consequence these days are designated as ‘no alcohol days.’ While it's still possible to purchase alcohol discreetly at a number of local retailers, vendors are expected to adhere to the law or face a penalty which includes a jail term of up to 6 months &/or a fine of 10,000 Baht.
(No Alcohol Days)
A very important holiday in Thailand where more than 1,250 disciples of Lord Buddha gather to hear him preach. This holiday takes place in February or March depending on the lunar cycle. Celebrations begin in the morning with Thai Buddhists giving alms to monks. Come evening time they perform a candle ceremony which involves holding incense, flowers & a lighted candle as they walk around the temple.
The Visakha Bucha Day commemorates the life of the Lord Buddha. This day is very significant in Thailand, occurring on the sixth lunar month during a full moon. The full moon marks when Buddha was born & later on died at the age of 45 to enter Nirvana. Depending on the lunar calendar the holiday falls in the month of May or June. All bars and clubs are closed on this day.
Commemorating the date where Lord Buddha delivered his very first sermon to his disciples, the National holiday occurs in July or August of each year. Locals fill the temples to make merit on this special day.
Khao Phansa Day:
Falling during the month of July or August this day marks the start of Buddhist Lent, a Buddhist retreat period where monks confine themselves to their temples. Aside from being a popular season for local Thai men to ordain as monks, many Thai citizens refrain from drinking alcohol & consuming meat.
Awk Phansa Day:
Marking the end of the Buddhist Lent, local Thais celebrate the occasion by visiting the temple to make merit. This period generally marks the beginning of the one-month period of performing Thod Kathin - where monks receive new robes & other offerings from various Thod Kathin events organized throughout the country. Awk Phansa occurs during October. The Thai government often designates this day as a no alcohol day also.
- Makha Bucha (February/March)
- Visakha Bucha (May/June)
- Asahna Bucha (July/early August)
- Wan Khao Phansa (July/early August)
- Awk Phansa (usually in October)
Additionally there are a number of other public holidays which restrict the sales of alcohol, including Royal birthdays.
Thai's celebrate the birthdays of two royals during the months of August and December. The two main birthdays are:
H.M King Bhumibol Adulyadej:
The people of Thailand celebrate the birthday of the late king on 5th of December.
H.M Queen Sirikit:
Every August 12th, Thailand holds an annual public holiday in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s birthday. The day also serves as Mothers Day known as Wan Mae.
The government of Thailand approved two additional public holidays in April 2017. The alcohol restrictions on these two public holidays vary from venue to venue depending on the arrangements made locally. The two additional holidays are:
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X):
King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun is the succeeding heir of the Chakri dynasty after his father H.M King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died on October 13th 2016. His son became the tenth king & he was given the title Rama X. Every June 28th, Thai’s celebrate the birthday of the Rama X & dedicate the day to their king.
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) Passing Day:
On October 13th Thai’s commemorate the death of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). The king died at the age of 88 after a long illness. Being considered the father of the nation, Thai’s celebrate the life of their beloved king in style. On this day you will notice the king’s image adorned in calendars and portraits hanged all over. From this celebration, you can clearly tell that HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) was a loved man by his people.