Thai Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Thailand. There are a number of local beer brands that you can try in Thailand and the 3 major beer brands Singha, Leo and Chang are present all over the country. Here you will find an introduction to the most popular Thai beers and beer price in Thailand.
Singha beer is the first beer produced in Thailand and is one of the most popular beers in the country, brewed by the Boon Rawd Brewery. Singha is also the best known Thai beer outside of Thailand as it is exported to many foreign countries. It has been brewed since 1933 and many locals claim that it is the only real Thai beer. The name "Singha" is derived from the Sanskrit word for "lion" so you will see the white label representing a lion (Singha) from mythology in almost every bar or restaurant in Thailand.
Singha lager version has 5% alcohol, but a 3.5% light version with a slightly bitter taste is also available. Singha Lager Draft Beer is delivered by the brewery in 30 liter barrels and has a more intense taste than the normal lager beer.
You can buy a can of this beer brand at the store for 35 THB. Singha is often a few baht more expensive than the other top beer brands in Thailand so it is mainly drunk by high-earning Thais and tourists. Perhaps that is why more budget travelers prefer Leo or Chang.
Chang beer (Elephant beer) was launched in 1995 by the breweries of Thai Beverage or just ThaiBev, one of the largest beverage companies in Southeast Asia, and is available nationwide. Chang brand is known for its logo with the 2 elephants looking at each other on the label of the green bottles. The beer is brewed from rice and has more tart taste than Singha.
The normal Chang beer (Chang Classic) has an alcohol content of 5.2% and it is currently the second most consumed beer in Thailand, taking approximately 33% share of the local beer market. The Chang Export is another classic lager with an alcohol content of 5% by volume. In contrast to the Classic, it is not brewed from rice but from malt. It is therefore a 100% malt beer. Other Chang varieties are Chang Draft with 5% alcohol content and Chang Light with 4.2% alcohol by volume. Chang beer has won the Australian Beer Award 3 times and is fresh, tasty and a bit like Kölsch, only stronger.
Chang is most probably the most popular beer for tourists visiting Thailand. It is usually the cheapest of the best Thai beer brands on offer. The price of a can of Chang beer in the store is in the range of 30-35 THB.
Leo beer, currently the most admired beer in Thailand occupying about half of the local beer market, is also brewed by the Boon Rawd Brewery. Many beer enthusiasts are unaware that the same brewery owns Leo and Singha brands. The word Leo comes from the Greek and means lion. The label on the bottle shows a leopard (rather than a lion) staring at you.
This Thai beer’s alcohol content is 5%. The taste is very similar to the older sister Singha, but the price has been wisely lowered. Leo is also served as a draft beer in pubs.
Leo Beer price per bottle is 38-40 THB. The beer has received multiple awards and, like Chang, is very popular with Thais and foreigners.
Among other Thai beers, Archa beer is one of the newest beer brands in Thailand and deserves a mention. Apart from Chang, ThaiBev produces another quality beer, Archa. Archa is a beer with bubble content comparable to champagne which tastes slightly sweeter than Singha and is pretty strong with an alcohol content of 5.4%.
Archa is a slightly cheaper than most Thai beer brands as it focuses on the economy market. Archa is still a very young brand so it is not very popular with Thais and Westerners. Due to low demand, it is unlikely that you will find it in bars, but it’s available in most of 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Almost everywhere in Thailand you will also find some international beer brands, much more expensive than the local ones and not necessarily better. The most famous is definitely Tiger beer from Singapore. This beer is popular with locals as well as tourists.
A good beer that you should definitely try is Beerlao from neighboring Laos. You can find this beer in every 7-Eleven and, despite the fact that it is imported, it is still affordable.
You can also find brands like Heineken and Carlsberg in the touristy areas over the country. Of course, these are usually a bit more expensive than Chang or Leo.
Craft Beer in Thailand
You can usually find some types of interesting craft beers in Thailand in special bars or shops, mostly in Bangkok. If you want to try some really good beers from on tap in Bangkok, you can go to CRAFT at Sukhumvit 23. The craft beer scene is also growing in Thailand, however, strict laws and severe penalties for home brewing are suffocating the industry. In 2016, the laws were made even stricter. Since the regime change, Thailand has been tightening its alcohol laws so it won't be easy to find an alternative to the commercial lager brands in Thailand. There might be some products for experiment but be prepared to spend much more.
Beer Price in Thailand
Beer price in Thailand can be very different, depending not only on the size of can/bottle and beer brand bus also on the place you order. The most popular in Thailand is the bottled beer and there are two different bottle sizes: 320 ml bottle and 620 ml bottle. When ordering beer at the restaurant, you will also often have a choice of a small beer (320 ml bottle) and big beer (620 ml bottle).
A small bottle in the supermarket can cost 35-42 THB, a big bottle – 50-60 THB.
For the local larger beer in 620-660 ml glass served at the table expect to pay around 80-100 THB at the local restaurant. If you want to buy it cheaper you can get it at any 7/11 supermarket or local stalls.
There are often taps in bars but the price is much higher.
Keep in mind that Thailand has no local whiskey, so when you hear them talking about Thai Whiskey, they are actually talking about rum. Small bottles of Thai Whiskey cost around 100 THB and large bottles normally start from 300 THB. You can find it being sold at 7-Eleven stores and supermarkets over the country.
There are several brands of Thai Whiskey although the main 3 are the following.
Sang Som: This is the main brand with an annual consumption of around 70 million liters consumed in Thailand. It has a pretty sweet taste so it is used in various cocktails. The alcohol content is around 35%. This rum won gold medals in liquor competitions in Madrid in 1982 and 1983, in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1983 and again in Spain in 2006. The medals highlight the product's packaging and it is referred to as "Sang Som Reanthong” (Sang Som gold medal).
Mekhong: This is the first liqueur that was produced in Thailand. This brand has been on the market since 1941. The flavor is slightly spicier and has a much more intense aroma. The alcohol content is around 40%.
Hong Thong: This is quite light and cheap liquor and therefore you will see many locals drinking this brand.
Alcohol Bans in Thailand
It is not forbidden to drink alcohol in public or on the street in Thailand.
However, one issue that must be mentioned here is alcohol bans in Thailand. Alcoholic beverages are only allowed to be bought during the specific hours and even not any day.
There are certain Buddhist holidays, such as Makha Bucha or Visakha Bucha, when no alcohol should be sold nationwide. Sometimes alcohol is also not sold on other public holidays or political events.
There is a national law that imposes specific times for the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and shops between 11:00 – 14:00 and 17:00 – 24:00. This rule is carried out consistently.
Beer with ice: It is perfectly normal in Thailand when your beer is served with a glass of ice. It is not as bad as it sounds and it tastes very refreshing, particularly in the heat of Southeast Asia.
Drink beer in Thailand with locals: When they order beer, they get one bottle in the middle of the table and glasses according to the number of people. Local drink etiquette is to share large bottles, as they don't stay cold for long. However, in most tourist places they are already used to the Western style, where everyone has their own beer without ice.
Language tips for drinking in Thailand
- Bottom up!: Chon!
- Drinking beer: Gin Bia
- Drunk: Mao