In Thailand,alcohol is plentiful. Come sip a Thai Beer like Singha or Chang or Leo or Archa. Sangsom rum is the spirt of choice.
For food in Thailand, consider a massaman curry, papaya salad, or tom yam soup.
"Thailand is a very generous
country. You always leave with more kilograms of fat than you came in
Thailand is a very reasonable place to get plastered on alcohol.
Cocktails at street side cocktail stalls typically cost less than USD 3.
You can drink a dozen of these and not get drunk, letting you know that
potency isn't a strong point with Thai-made cocktails, if they
actually get made right. Then again, I've been in Western countries
where I've paid USD 7-10 or more for similar drinks, and I could've
still recited the alphabet backwards.
This is not
a place for tee-totalers
The safe bet here when ordering mixed
drinks in non-luxury hotel environments is to make the order
simple. For instance, ordering a screwdriver or a
gimlet leaves your bartender less room to err than if you
order a Long Island Iced Tea, which they will invariably
screw up. Drinks containing 'exotic' ingredients, like
Blue Curacao and butterscotch schnapps, are risky to order.
Thai bartenders will mix them with their own variations, and
they probably won't resemble the drink you wanted.
If you're a tequila connoisseur, remind yourself you are
very, very far from Mexico. Tequila is readily available,
but usually it's not the finer resposado type nor is it 100%
agave. You would have to visit an
upper tier hotel's bar or an expensive import market to
obtain fine tequila.
For that matter, you'd have to visit the posher places to get fine
alcohol period. In Western bars you can request top
shelf liquors and pay the premium. Street side bars in
stock Grey Goose or Gran Patron. Imported alcohols
from most countries, particularly the European Union and
North America, incur a hefty excise tax and duty.
Alcohol manufactured in ASEAN and ASEAN-affiliated
nations is taxed at a lower rates. Some Western alcohol
manufacturers get around the high taxes to some extent by
having brands manufactured under license in ASEAN countries. Gilbeys sells gin and vodka manufactured in the Philippines.
Vietnam takes it a step further and rips off the Gilbey's
bottle design and logo to manufacture their own brand that
is even cheaper. Mimicking well-known Western brands
is de rigeur in this part of the world. Western copyright
infringement isn't something the Thai government is losing
any sleep over.
Indian-made vodkas and rums are available cheaply.
If you want to step up the ladder a few rungs to get
mid-range Finlandia or Absolut vodkas, distilled in Finland
and Sweden, respectively, you're looking at about USD 25 per
700 ml bottle. For a change, the duty free prices at
Suvarnabhumi Airport really are a savings. There, a 1 liter
bottle will run about USD 20.
Made locally but priced internationally
Wine is relatively expensive, wherever
it's from. Chilean, South African, Australian,
American, and French wines can be found easily, though the
brand selection can be thin. The least expensive
bottles of anything passable will cost at least USD 13,
probably more. Thailand has a developing wine industry
of its own. None of these locally-made bottles would
incur any duties, and yet strangely, they cost the same or
more than the superior-made imports.
The drinks of choice among Thais and resident foreigners are
beer and locally-produced whiskey and rum. With two recent
price hikes, Thailand-made beer ain't as cheap as it used to
be. All the same, no one can say that paying USD 1 to
1.80 for a 630 ml bottle of beer, depending on brand, is
going to break the bank. Archa, Cheers, Leo, and Chang are
found on the lower end of the price scale. Singha, Heineken,
Tiger, and upstart Federbräu are
on the higher end.
Singha is the best known internationally and the oldest brew
in the Kingdom. Chang entered the picture in the last
decade and dethroned Singha as the champ, mainly because of
Chang's lower price. These two beers remain the most
popular and can be found anywhere. Common, but
less common than the two champs, is Leo and Tiger. The
lesser-ranked brands may be available at your local 7-11 or Family Mart or
may not be.
There aren't many Thailand-produced beers given the size of
the country. The microbrewery renaissance that hit
Western countries in the 1990's has yet to make an
impact in Thailand. For a recent New Year's Eve party with
guests from abroad, we purchased every mainstream
Thailand-produced beer we could get our hands on. A pricey
brew like Phuket Beer, made by a mainstream brewery but only available in limited supply at
premium supermarkets, was not considered, as most people
living in Thailand have never seen it. The
amount of beers remaining under the mainstream umbrella was just twelve.
Not all from this mainstream dozen are indigenously Thai
They're just brewed locally so as to escape high import
duties. The most popular and expensive of these
non-Thai Thai beers is Heineken. Doug's Republic won't
endorse it, but consumers around the world seem to.
The Singaporean Tiger Beer seems to be quite popular, too.
Given its average quality, one can only conclude it was Asia
Pacific Breweries' deep pockets that allowed this beer that's
older than Singha to spread through not just Thailand, but
Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, New Zealand, Papua New
Guinea, India, Sri Lanka, Laos, and Mongolia. Of
course, Tiger, like Chang, like Leo, like Cheers, like every
other beer, is a "gold medal winner." Gold medal
winning beers in Thailand are as popular and as meaningless
as the terms "award-winning filmmakers." Less frequently
seen, but still widely available if searched for, are Asahi
and San Miguel. We're sure they've also won gold
The Thais love their hard liquors, particularly Sangsom.
Distilled from sugarcane, Sangsom is a rum, not a whiskey,
although people often refer to it as whiskey. Sang Som
tastes nothing like the fine Scotch whiskeys your
grandparents drank (or wished they drank) or the Caribbean
rums we're sure you do drink. Sangsom dominates its
market niche, with more than 70% market share in the
"disgusting whiskeys of Thailand" category. A
750 ml bottle sells in a supermarket for around USD 7 to USD
9. A smaller-sized 300 ml bottle is also common.
Similan and Sangthip are better rums and cost about 10% more
than the ubiquitous Sangsom. In a bar, you'll pay
The real whiskey is made out of rice. In Laos, they
call this white alcohol Lao Lao. In Thailand, Lao Khao.
It's bad in any language.
Doug's Republic is not a site that enjoys repeating
information you can easily find elsewhere. We could go
over the most common dishes you'll find, but we know you
could find that out
anywhere. We limit the discussion here to the
Thailand does have its own unique and varied
cuisine, so tasty and balanced that it's achieved fame
around the world. Galangal, kaffir lime leaves,
lemongrass, chilis, and fish sauce contribute to its
signature flavor. That food offers spicy soups like
tom-yam; hearty and healthy salads; noodle dishes; rice
dishes; and southern curries that have no relation to
anything you'd try in India.
Need a handy Thai menu
you can use anywhere in Thailand? Our
portable menus give the name of the dish in both
Thai script and in English and then describe what
the dish actually is in English. With our menu
in Thailand, it becomes irrelevant if a restaurant
has a menu in English or understands English.
Just point to the Thai script for the dish you
desire. Click on the menu page to enlarge and
print. Although the
prices on our menu hail from 2005, once converted
into Thai currency at today's rates, they will still
seem ultra expensive next to what you will pay in
In the small villages and in sparsely touristed Isaan,
Thai food is all you'll find. However, in areas where
more foreigners have settled, the dishes from these
settlers' homelands follow. Italian restaurants set up
by Italians are quite popular in all the common tourist
locales. It is rarely difficult to get your mouth on a
USD 7-9 wood-fire oven pizza. Japanese restaurants are
popular. Big communities of Koreans mean Korean
restaurants where you can feel like you're still dining in
Korea. Indian, Middle-Eastern, German, and Scandinavian food
is also to be found. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui,
and Patong Beach in Phuket have varied restaurant
scenes. Bangkok has an international food scene to
rival the breadth and depth of what you could eat in Sydney,
New York, or London.
Everyone is on the gain weight diet here. You just don't
know how much you'll be gaining.
There will be those among you who come to Thailand with
special dietary restrictions, like vegetarian, halal, kosher, low
sodium, high sodium, extra sugar, no sugar.
For those on kosher diets, you're out of luck, mates.
There are Chabad Houses in Bangkok and Chiang Mai catering to the
endless supply of Israelis flooding into the nation. Outside those
regions, if you're on a strict kosher diet, it's raw fruits and
vegetables. Halal practitioners have it easier. About 80% of
Thailand's three southern provinces are Muslim. Only 8% of the
country as a whole is Muslim. This insures that Muslim meat-based
cuisine is around to titillate your Islamic tastebuds in most city
hellbent on sticking with their special diets will find a vegetarian diet
should encompass their own restrictions and usually suffice. Strict kosher practitioners still won't go for a vegetarian food in a conventional
restaurant, as the kitchen will have non-kosher meats grace its plate
and utensils, and milk and meat products
won't be separated. This shouldn't technically be an issue at a vegetarian restaurant, designated
with the Thai symbol at left. Although calling these restaurants popular would significantly be overstretching the
case, there seems to be at least one in any place that would be classified as a real town. Usually, but not always, the
food is pre-made, laid out in trays, and you pay a price based on how much food you have spooned onto your plate.
To keep afloat in vegetarian-averse Thailand, some of these restaurants offer interesting combos. One, in my town, metamorphosizes from vegetarian
by day to a seafood restaurant by night. Another, located in a popular tech mall in Bangkok, offers veg
food out front, but in the back, everything from pig
intestines to chicken feet is available. Look
for this symbol on maps on Doug's Republic to find
the rabbit food.
Rabbits (or vegetarians) come hither
Ethnic Food Tax
A relevant thing to bear in my mind during your stay is what we call the
Ethnic Food Tax. This is not an official tax. It's a reality
charge. You'll quickly discover that most any time you order food
that's not Thai, you pay a premium. Sometimes, the costs
seem justifiable. If you want a pizza, the cheese is most likely
imported. Ingredients at an Italian restaurant that are readily
available in Europe are not so easy or as cheap to find in Thailand.
Swedish, German, Spanish food -- it's all on the higher side over here,
although once converted back into your own currency, it'll still appear
However, for some cuisines, the Ethnic Food Tax doesn't appear to make
sense. Indian food should cost around the same as Thai. All
the spices that can be ground into a curry powder blend and the
raw materials to make Indian breads
are available in
Thailand. A few Indian restaurants offer vegetarian
dishes for as cheap as USD 1.50/dish. This is a rarity. Most of
the time, you'll pay at least USD 4 for a dish. That's cheap in Western
terms, but expensive in Thai ones. Middle Eastern food is another
one where you'd think Thailand's agricultural raw materials would
furnish almost everything required to make it, with little need to
import special ingredients.
You're going to want a change from Thai food from time to time. Be
prepared to pay relatively more for it. American fast
food chains like McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC, which offer low cost
food in the West, enter the market in the mid-range in Thailand.
For the cost of a Whopper Meal in Thailand, you could have ordered a
plate of pad thai, a Thai salad, sticky rice, and a beer and still saved
money. One scoop of Häagen Dazs ice
cream in Thailand surpasses the cost of a Thai curry and several soft
drinks. Dining at Pizza Hut can be more expensive than
a proprietor-owned Italian restaurant serving wood-fire oven pizzas.
A single piece of chicken at KFC will be equivalent to a plate of Isaan
chicken wings. Foreign franchise restaurants, particularly the
famous American ones, seem to be able to cash in on their names and be
seen as treats for the locals rather than the fast food mills they
truly are. Therefore, they can successfully price themselves
Imported Food Items
Many people who've not ever been to Thailand
mistakenly consider it an undeveloped land of deprivation.
Thailand is better thought of as a developing nation, and in some
respects, even as a developed nation. What it definitely is NOT is
a free-trade nation. Duties on many things, in particular food
stuffs, are high. Most short term visitors won't ever need to go
near the imported food items, but if one is living or staying here for any length
of time, on occasion foods from home will be purchased. A small
list of American-manufactured products is shown below,
with the U.S. dollar prices of the products in Thailand and in the
United States. When different sizes of the product are available
in each country, the American price was normalized to conform to the
American export size to make an
apples-for-apples comparison. You can note where the two country's had
differing sizes when we list the difference as "cheaper per slice" or
"cheaper per ounce." When the products were sold in the same size
in both countries, we merely say "cheaper by X%." One immediately sees that
living the home-life in Thailand costs a hefty premium. Prices and exchange rates are valid as of February 2009.
Natural Fruit Juice (Orange/Grapefruit/Lemon), 16
62% cheaper per ounce in USA
Mozerella Chef, 8 oz
59% cheaper per ounce in USA
Hi-Calcium Singles, 12 slices
60% cheaper per slice in USA
Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 250 grams
21.5% cheaper per gram in USA
68% cheaper in USA
Crunch, 16 oz
51% cheaper in USA
55% cheaper in USA
Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake mix, 18.25
44% cheaper in USA
Cheerios, 12.25 oz
36% cheaper per ounce in USA
Crocker Fudge Brownies, 18.3 oz
40% cheaper per ounce in USA
Nacho Cheese flavor
23% cheaper per ounce in USA
Jerry's ice cream, 1 pint
50% cheaper in USA
Farm soft-baked Chocolate Chunk Dark Chocolate
Brownie cookies, 8.6 oz
24% cheaper in USA
traditional pasta sauce
41% cheaper per ounce in USA
spices Rosemary, 0.35 oz
45% cheaper per ounce in USA
Local Food Items
Below, we list locally-manufactured items you're extremely likely to
buy while you're visiting. We have left the prices in baht due
to the heavy fluctuations of the baht vis a vis major currencies.
If we listed the prices in USD or GBP, they could vary by 15-20%
depending on the exchange rates.
Thailand has a lot of alcohol
choices. There are twelve mainstream Thai Beer brands. Singha, Chang, Leo, and Archa are part of the
12 corp. Sangsom is the most popular Thai-made rum. Enjoy food in Thailand like massaman curry, papaya salad,
and tom yam. Mmmmgood.