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Here’s Why Thailand Is Banning Alcohol This Weekend

Thai and dry.

Thailand, recognized worldwide as a party destination, will have to do without some libations this weekend. From 6 pm March 23 to 6 pm March 24, the country is implementing a ban on any alcohol sales because of an election. Individuals who do not abide by the 24-hour restriction could face a 10,000 baht ($315) fine or a six-month prison sentence.

The alcohol ban, first implemented in September 2018, is designed to “prevent voting manipulation and bribery, with canvassers previously throwing parties to attract votes at the last minute.” This election—which will see voters taking to the polls on Sunday—is especially important. It’s the first general election since the military took control in 2014. Many young people will be voting for the first time and they will be voting “between a return to democracy and legitimized military rule,” CNN says.

However, while tourists won’t be voting in the upcoming election, they will be required to abide by the alcohol ban or face punishment. “I believe that foreign tourists will understand that this is law must be followed. When people travel to a foreign country, we must comply with the laws of that country,” Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Colonel Sermpan Sirikong told The Phuket News.

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How to Enjoy Your Thailand Trip This Weekend Sans Booze

If you’re in Thailand this weekend, you may not be able to enjoy a glass or wine at a restaurant or buy beer at a local shop, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time! Also, if you’re considering going soon, keep in mind that lobbyists are actively pursuing a ban of alcohol sales on Songkran, or Thailand’s New Year’s Day, which lasts from April 13-15. Here are a few other public holidays/dates where the sale of alcohol is not permitted.

This election—which will see voters taking to the polls on Sunday—is especially important.

Hang Out in the City

If you’re in Bangkok, this is the perfect opportunity to soak in some culture or take in the cityscape. Try heading to the city’s sprawling, neon-lit outdoor Flower Market that offers a great respite for the heat (especially when cold beer isn’t an option). Or, head way off the beaten tourist path and check out the Museum of Death, home to some of the freakiest medical oddities on display.

Take in the Majesty

Thailand is also full of majestic views. Since you’ll be sober, this weekend is a great time to drink them in from the country’s great hiking trails. A couple of our favorites include the challenging (but extremely rewarding) Doi Chang Cliffs and Hang Nak Mountain Nature Trail.

Chill at the Beach

While the Full Moon Party might be Thailand’s booziest beach experience, it’s not the only good time you can have by the water. If you’re looking to completely escape from reality, try Haad Salad, a gorgeous beach tucked away in a quiet cove or try Railay Beach, a remote, laid-back slice of paradise.

See the Temples

And, of course, you’d be remiss if you didn’t include a trip to see one (or two, or three, or 10) of Thailand’s some 40,000 Buddhist temples during your visit. A few notables, which must be seen to be believed, include the contemporary Wat Rong Khun and the gilded Doi Suthep (which is set in a park surrounded by rushing waterfalls).

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