ALCOHOL & TOBACCO In Chiang Mai

ALCOHOL & TOBACCO in Chiang Mai

Thais enjoy a good time as much as anyone, which is great news if you are partial to a drink or three!

Alcohol is widely available in Chiang Mia, though the cost of enjoying a few drinks will be dependent on how sophisticated your choice of drink or brand is – and where you drink.

Whilst beer is by far the most consumed alcoholic drink in Thailand, you’ll see spirits on sale in any convenience store. Equally, cigarettes and tobacco are widely available in convenience stores and at some bars.

Drinking Beer In Chiang Mai

Beer – usually pilsner/lager-style – rules Thai drinking culture. There are three “home-grown” brands that dominate the market – Chang, Leo, and Singha. You will find all three at basically every store, bar and restaurant across Chiang Mai, and drinkers are often fiercely brand loyal over them.

In terms of cost, Chang and Leo are marginally cheaper, with a 320ml can costing upward of 35 baht in stores. Singha will be nearer 40 baht. Each are also sold in a similarly-sized and priced bottle, with a larger 490ml can from 50 baht, and 620ml bottles from 55 baht.

Whilst these three dominate the market in Thailand, foreign beer brands like Heineken, Tiger, and San Miguel are commonly available in the same outlets, starting at 45 baht for the smaller cans. The Hoegaardens and Brooklyns of the beer world could set you back 100 baht for a small can, and upward of 250 baht in bars.

Prices in the bars and restaurants of Chiang Mai will obviously be higher than in stores, but the markup will depend entirely on the establishment you drink in. A local street-side vendor might charge you as little as 70 baht for a large Chang, but the same beer could cost you more than 200 baht in a 5-star hotel.

ALCOHOL & TOBACCO in Chiang Mai

The biggest difference you are likely to see in costs when comparing with western countries is that in general the markup when buying beer in bars – especially more local, Thai bars – is far lower. A large Singha might cost you 70 baht in a convenience store, but stroll to the bar next door and – with a glass, ice and probably a smile – you’ll likely get one for just 90 baht.

In a city like London, however, the likelihood is that you will see at least a 4-times markup on the supermarket price on a bottle of Heineken or Tiger in an average pub.

There has also been an upsurge – much like in the traditional beer-making countries – of boutique and craft beers being brewed and consumed in Thailand. They can be pricey, but then they aren’t cheap to produce. Expect to pay at least 100 baht for a 330ml can of Thai-produced IPA, rising to a few hundred baht for the really niche ones.

On a service note, it is very common in Thailand to see people drink beer with ice. It is hot in Chiang Mai. Beer doesn’t stay cold for long without it, and many will say they like that the ice mellows out the rather less-than-premium taste of the cheaper Thai beers! Don’t knock it until you try it.

Note that some bars might charge 10-20 baht for a bucket of ice.

Wine And Spirits

There are some very affordable local spirits on the market, if you aren’t too picky about how you get your buzz.

Thailand’s favorite home-grown rum (Sang Som) and whiskey (Hong Thong) are widely available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and every bar you visit. Both will set you back from around 200 baht for a 50cl bottle in a store.

It is common in Thai bars to purchase a bottle. In a local bar a bottle will cost around 250 baht with the expectation you will buy water, mixers and/or ice too.

ALCOHOL & TOBACCO in Chiang Mai

Buying imported spirits will inevitably cost more. In fact, they are likely to be similar in price to many western countries. The range isn’t generally as wide as you might be used to, and to find the more premium spirits you’ll have to head to pricier restaurants and bars.

Wine is not commonly drunk in Thailand except in bars and restaurants mainly servicing foreigners. Even a lot of foreign-owned bars in Chiang Mai might only have one or two options – frequently just a red or a white.

In trendier areas such as Nimman, there has been an upsurge in dedicated wine stores. With duty relatively high, prices for imported wine are similar to most developed countries.

ALCOHOL & TOBACCO in Chiang Mai

The only wine produced in Thailand tends to be very sweet, fruit-based wines – many made around the Chiang Mai area though, thanks to the mountain climate.

Many wine-drinkers find themselves losing the taste for it once here for a while!

Smoking In Chiang Mai

Tobacco is cheap in Thailand. The higher costs of buying cigarettes in most developed countries are largely tax and duty-related, and those costs are significantly lower here.

There are several Thai brands, such as Krong Thip and SMS, that are cheaper again than the brands familiar internationally. Most of these brands are manufactured in Thailand anyway, and as smokers who travel will agree, they taste different from country to country.

Pick up a 20-pack of a local brand for 50 baht in some places, with brands like Camel costing around 70 baht, and Marlboro and premium brands upward of 100 baht.

ALCOHOL & TOBACCO in Chiang Mai

Vaping is currently illegal in Thailand.

One thing to note when buying alcohol, there are restrictions on WHEN you can buy it. The law currently states that no alcohol is to be sold before 11am, or between 2pm and 5pm, so plan your shopping or drinking accordingly.

While the cost of living in Chiang Mai is low – as proven by the cost of tobacco – drinking alcohol is one of the living expenses where savings often aren’t quite as big compared to more developed countries.

If you drink like a local, though, you’ll likely find it a very affordable pastime!

Find out about some of the costs of living that do offer big savings compared to many other countries in these articles:

Join The Discussion

4 thoughts on “ALCOHOL & TOBACCO in Chiang Mai”

  • Tingtong(my thai nickname)

    I usually buy 10 cartons of LM Dang(normal size).

    Please give me your best price?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Perfect Homes (Chiang Mai Properties)

      Sorry we specialize in property sales not Ciggarette sales!

      Reply
  • Steve Davis

    Looking for a house to rent with a 5 ft fence in or around Chiang Mai. I won’t be ready to move until around the first part of June! I have a big dog ; very loving . I understand that I may have to stay in Bangkok for 30 days if the people want to impound for whatever reasons they decide! I will try to follow all rules and shots ect.

    Reply
    • Perfect Homes (Chiang Mai Properties)

      Dear Steve,
      Thank you we will email you shortly.
      Perfect Homes

      Reply

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