Opinion: It’s Time to Lift the Afternoon Alcohol Sales Ban in Thailand

It’s been in place for over fifty years but many people agree that it is time to lift the much criticized afternoon alcohol sales ban from 2-5 PM every day in Thailand.

This isn’t a position from TPN media but rather a building opinion from the entire tourism and business sector pressing for the Thai government to lift the rule, as we reported here.

In fact, the rule isn’t even part of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act but was rather an independent order from a coup leader over fifty years ago, with people arguing to this day about why the rule took effect.

Some even claim it was to prevent government officials to stop drinking alcohol in the afternoons or to leave the office early to go drinking.

Regardless of the reason, the pressure is now on the Thai government to lift the archaic rule which often confuses tourists, especially at shopping malls, name brand convenience stores, and high-end restaurants.

Yes, it is certainly true that smaller mom and pop shops and small venues ignore the rule and have done so for ages. But many places do not and the opponents of the law argue this hurts tourism, especially when tourists are denied an alcoholic beverage with their meal in the afternoon.

Certainly, the law does have some supporters, most claiming that it helps prevent people getting drunk while schools let out during the 2PM to 5PM time.

However, opponents point out that someone could drink as much as they wish until 2PM and then get on the road or simply purchase alcohol before 2PM and drink it during the forbidden period.

Regardless of one’s thoughts about the rule, a major meeting between the Department of Public Health and the Thai Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee will take place to discuss possibly lifting the afternoon ban. This meeting will take place on February 15th but even if they decide to lift the ban it will need approval from various other sectors, likely including the Prime Minister.

Signs are pointing, however, to the government agreeing that the afternoon ban is archaic and a problem for tourism and it is looking increasingly likely that it will be lifted by Songkran of this year. Of course, that’s not a guarantee, nothing is ever written in stone, but all signs are pointing to this law likely going the way of the dinosaur.

Songkran is seen as a major target to lift the ban as there were reports last year of police in some areas shutting down alcohol sales during the busiest Thai New Year festival water play days, leading to many upset locals and tourists.

Do you agree that the afternoon ban should go away? Tell us at Editor@thepattayanews.com.

The original version of this article appeared on our sister website, The Pattaya News, owned by our parent company TPN media.

Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for five years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.