A guide to alcoholic drinks in Phuket
What is the best drink to order?
When going on holiday in a new country, for many people it is almost obligatory to explore the drinks that are on offer. People going to Spain are likely to try the San Miguel lager, while visitors to France and Italy would be missing out if they did not try some of the region's legendary wines. So when you are relaxing by the pool at your Phuket hotel, what is the best drink to order?
Most people enjoying a night out on the town are likely to come across some of Thailand’s unique lagers. The oldest lager in Thailand dates back to 1934, and is called Singha (pronounced Sing). It has a distinctive crisp flavour that most people enjoy, and like most Thai beers is relatively strong at 5%. Leo beer is Singha’s cheaper cousin, yet some prefer Leo for its sweeter taste and slightly higher alcohol content. For a really potent brew, Chang (Thai for elephant) is especially strong at over 6% - it is many people’s beer of choice, but beware of the “Changover” that can follow!
Most bars in Phuket charge 70 baht for a small bottle of beer (330ml), although buying the same drink for one of the bar staff may cost you as much as 150 baht - it is best to check first if you are not sure. Nightclubs are substantially more expensive - many big clubs in Patong charge 150 baht a bottle as standard. The main foreign lagers served in bars and clubs are Heineken, San Miguel and Tiger - they are usually slightly more expensive than the Thai lagers, and will taste familiar if you have tried them before elsewhere.
What's your favorite beverage?
Thai Whisky is not always what it seems – most of the best-selling brands like Sang Som are actually rums. Other popular rum whiskies include Hong Thong, Blend 285 (Song bared ha), Regency and Mekhong. Although these whiskies may seem cheap at around 200 baht for a 70cl bottle, Thailand’s rural population prefer the cheaper but equally potent rice whisky called Lao Khao, which is available for around 80 baht for a large bottle. Having tried the three varieties (for research purposes, of course!), the green one (Lao Khao see keow) is probably the sweetest and weakest, and the blue one (Lao Khao see far) is the strongest and smells and tastes like glue. Lao Khao see deng (red) is perhaps the most tolerable of the three, and mixes well with coke and soda.
Thai Whiskies Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Imported vs local spirits
Most of the big-name spirits from back home are readily available in convenience stores, but be prepared to pay a large mark-up in import duties. Bars and clubs always have a good selection of spirits available, admittedly at high prices. If you want to save money, you can drink the local whiskies (rums) and earn some respect from the locals.
Wine can be expensive
Wine is not Thailand's strong suit - be prepared to pay the import duty of a staggering 350% on any bottle of wine that you buy. Phuket's top restaurants stock some of the world's finest wines, so if money is no object, you can drink whatever you please. Shops like Wine Connection specialise in wines, and have a good choice of bottles - but no matter where you go, the wine is expensive.
Being a tropical island destination, Phuket is naturally a fine place to order a cocktail, and most upscale bars will have a good cocktail menu. Many of the smaller bars can surprise you with their excellent creations. Certainly, if you want to lie in a sun lounger watching the sun go down with a cocktail in your hand, you won't have to look far to find a delicious concoction on the more popular beaches.
If you have a favourite Phuket drink of your own, why not share it with your fellow travellers - we always welcome comments on our Facebook page.