Enjoying a cold Thai beer during a hot sunny day in Thailand is one of my favorite activities. After going through a very hands-on research period, I am prepared to share my favorite beers, their prices, and where you can find them in the land of smiles.
The best local beers in Thailand are: Singha, Chang, and Leo. The foreign brands: Tiger, Heineken, and San Miguel are also widely available and excellent choices. Thailands beer is significantly more expensive than its neighboring countries. Prices generally range from 40-200 THB for a 33cl bottle.
We will briefly discuss each beer individually, then we will go over the Thai drinking customs so you come prepared for your stay in Thailand. And for the budget-conscious like myself, we will also discuss where you can get good deals, and which beer may be the right choice for you.
I want to start by going over the local beers for you, they are generally available anywhere there’s any beer for sale in Thailand.
Singha (Pronounced: Sing) is the granddaddy of beer in Thailand. The beers logo is a golden lion, as Singha translates to Lion from Sanskrit. The golden logo and writing on its white label make for a very stylish presentation.
It is a fairly light beer with a crisp taste. If you enjoy a light-beer back home then Singha is a good choice. I find it to be one of the most refreshing beers to gulp down after sweating in the hot Thai sunshine for an hour or two.
It does leave you wanting a bit more in the taste department though. This combined with the fact that it is often 5-10 THB more expensive than the other popular local beers is it’s two main drawbacks.
Overall, it is a solid choice. And perhaps a good introduction to Thai beer.
If you want to get a taste of Singha before heading off to the land of smiles, this beer is often available in alcohol stores around the world.
Beer Chang is a great alternative to Singha. It is a lot richer in taste and will keep you richer in the long-term as well as it usually is one of the cheapest beers available (along with Leo).
Chang (pronounced: Cha-ah-ng) means elephant in Thai. Can you guess what their logo on the green-labeled bottle is?
This beer used to be a bit controversial in the past. It was said to contain 6.4% alcohol, but stories of inconsistencies were everywhere. Some people say it reached as high as 10% alcohol. No bueno.
These days, however, Chang is 5.2% alcohol and a lot more reliable. Since the beer is cheaper and very tasteful I think it is an excellent choice. It is available everywhere, and most beer drinkers will be more than happy to share a large bottle with you.
If you have seen any of our YouTube videos, you know I really enjoy this beer.
What I don’t like about this beer is that the taste can be a bit much if you want to have more than one on a night out.
Pro-tip: Don’t drink this one after a light-beer. It tastes really bad.
Leo is made by the same cooperation that produces Singha (Lion, Leo, get it?).
It comes in a distinct bottle with a shiny red and white lining. I personally prefer the presentation of the two previous beers, but we are here for what’s inside so whatever.
I would describe Leo as the budget version of Singha. It tastes a bit different than Singha though. Some people really enjoy this beer so I will include it in the list. Personally, I find it to be very bland and tasteless.
I think the reason people buy this beer is because of the cost. It is usually the cheapest beer available right next to Chang. But this beer lacks the strong taste that comes with Chang.
You should try it out and see if it is for you. I’d rather spend 5-10 THB extra on a Singha for a proper lightish-beer drink.
International Beers in Thailand
Thailand has in later years finally allowed international beers to be sold in Thailand. Below we have listed the most popular, and best international beer brands you will find in Thailand.
Tiger is the first international beer on our list, and the last of the animal-themed beers on it as well.
While the local Thai beers most certainly are more than good enough, there are quite a few international options that are worth mentioning on this list as well.
While they are not all as readily available as the local beers, they can be found in most bars, supermarkets, and restaurants.
Tiger is a very popular beer from Singapore. It comes with blue labels, and a tiger in front. Tiger is a rather tasty beer with a fruity taste, but it is also rather light beer.
The largest drawback of the Tiger, is that it is not as easy to find as the local brews. And like the rest of the international brands, it tends to be marginally more expensive in most places.
Apart from its friendly people and beautiful beaches, San Miguel is my favorite thing to come out of the Philippines. Thankfully, this beer is now also being produced in Thailand!
The most commonly found variation of the San Miguel Pilsner is the very light “San Mig Light”. With only 99 calories in each of the stylish silver bottles, this beer is a darn good light beer.
While it certainly is not as tasty as the regular San Miguel Pilsner, this light version is certainly quite thirst-quenching in sweltering Thailand.
It is usually a rather expensive drink compared to its main competition Leo and even Singha, but a very welcome sight on the beach or when hiding from the sun.
A personal favorite of mine for a day on the beach.
The pride of the Netherlands can be found all over the world. And that includes Thailand.
The distinct shape and transparent labels can be recognized anywhere. Heineken is a very fruity and sweet beer compared to many of the other beers that are widely available in Thailand.
Personally, I don’t see why you would want to come to Thailand and drink something so common when there are so many more exciting choices available.
But Heineken is a very safe beer if you are not in the mood for adventure. It tastes almost exactly like the imports you will have in your home country.
For being a non-Thai-beer the prices for Heineken are very reasonable. I found that they usually cost about the same as a Singha beer (perhaps 5 THB more).
BeerLao is as you probably guess from Laos.
Unfortunately, this beer is not as easy to find as the other beers are. But if you are lucky enough to see one on a menu, 7 Eleven, or a supermarket, I highly recommend that you try one.
They are usually very easy to see. A short bottle wrapped partially with foil is what you are looking for.
The beer itself is quite sweet and crisp with a lot of gas.
If you find it, it is worth drinking over most other popular beer in Thailand.
Personally, I think BeerLao is one of the best mass-produced beers you will find in South East Asia.
Thailand Beer Prices
Beer is disproportionately expensive in Thailand compared to food, soft drinks, and even rum! Beer is very heavily taxed, with imports and craft beers being the most expensive.
Beer in convenience stores costs 45 THB (1.5 USD) on average for a 33cl bottle, and 70 THB (2.3 USD) on average for a 64cl bottle. Beers in bars and restaurants are on average 80 THB (2.5 USD) for a small bottle. Beer in nightclubs and high-end bars can cost up to 200 THB (7 USD).
I will share some secret tips on where and how to get the best deals for beer in Thailand.
The first and most obvious way to save money on beer is to buy the cheap brands like Leo and Chang. But savings here are so marginal that unless you are penny-pinching just get whatever beer you want.
You can usually save a lot of money by going to bars during happy hour, which is very common to see in Thailand. During set hours, you can usually get a 2 for 1 type of situation going or even half of if you’re lucky. The drawback of this is that you will usually have to start your state inebriation early.
It is not uncommon to see people bring their own drinks to the beach in Thailand. Usually, you will find 7 Eleven everywhere you go, and if you don’t there is usually some kind of similar establishment where you can pick up your Thai beer.
Even though it is a little less legal, I also noticed a lot of people will use this trick in the party streets of Thailand. Just make sure to buy only one or two beers at a time, as they will get hot really fast in Thailand.
Where You Drink Beer
Generally, you will find that the cheapest spots to drink beer are at street food stalls, shophouses, and cheaper restaurants. You can usually get a small beer for 60 THB here, or a large one for 100 THB.
Backpacker areas and more “local” bars are often your best bet if you want to get a beer in a real bar 60-100 THB
Nicer or more trendy restaurants and bars will usually be a bit more expensive. On average a small beer will cost 100-120 THB at one of these places.
The most expensive beers can be found in nightclubs and rooftop bars. At these spots, a little beer can cost upwards of 200 THB.
Drinking Beer in Thailand
In nightclubs, nice restaurants, and more expensive bars it is common to drink like you would in the west. In general, you will have your own drink unless you’re sharing a bottle of wine of whiskey. So for beer, usually you can just nest your bottle or glass.
How to Drink with Locals in Thailand
In more traditional Thai restaurants, or if you’re just having a few beers with locals, things change a little.
Drinking culture in Thailand is often situated around food. And just like the Thai people like to share their food in a communal way, they also like to share their drinks.
It is very common for a group to share a large bottle or two amongst each other instead of having one little bottle each.
Here, it’s good form to top of your friends’ glasses as you fill up your own.
There is also this custom of putting ice “nam kaeng” in your beer! You have to remember that Thailand is a very hot country. So unless you want to drink warm beer, partaking in this practice is a good idea. As a bonus, you will also get less intoxicated because of all the water.
One of the people’s main concerns when it comes to drinking chilled drinks in foreign countries is the ice.
It is a valid concern, as it sucks getting unwell for days on end because of unclean water.
If you are really worried, perhaps it is best to just skip the ice in your drinks entirely, no need to waste time worrying just to have colder drinks.
I have never had any problems drinking anything with ice cubes in Thailand personally. You can try to look for the cylinder-shaped ice cubes, as they are made in factories with pure water, or just ask the waitress how they are made.
Now, that you know what beer to drink in Thailand, and what kind of venue suits you best, I recommend checking out my article on the 6 best party streets in Bangkok to find the streets to go party!
I hope this article was helpful, I had a lot of fun writing it! Consider sharing this article to help others in need of beer advice as well.