This year, the important Buddhist holiday of Makha Bucha falls on Monday, February 11. Since this is a national holiday, government offices including your local immigration bureau, banks and many other businesses would usually be closed for one day. With Makha Bucha falling on a Saturday, however, and government offices being closed anyway, Monday, February 13, has been designated by the Thai government as a substitute holiday.
As usual on the four most important Buddha days, alcohol sales will be strictly banned nationwide and bars and entertainment venues in Pattaya required to close from midnight to midnight.
Makha Bucha Day, one of the most important holy days in the Buddhist calendar, commemorates the miraculous event when 1,250 disciples traveled to meet with the historic Buddha with no prearranged agreement.
Throughout the day, devout Buddhists will turn out in the thousands at local temples to make merit (tham bun) and take part in religious ceremonies. The spiritual highlight comes after sunset when Thai Buddhists gather at their local temples to listen to chants and sermons and join the traditional candlelight procession (wian thian).
As on the three other main Buddhist holidays, alcohol sales are strictly illegal and most bars in Pattaya will be closed from midnight to midnight. While hotel bars are exempted from the ban, restaurants, department stores and supermarkets (including 7-Eleven and Family Mart stores) will not be allowed to sell alcohol either. Anyone acting against the law can be fined up to 10,000 Baht and/or receive a jail sentence of up to six months.
As usual, you may need a bit of luck to find a quiet dimly-lit bar that defies the booze ban to a certain extent and sells you a beer or other alcoholic beverage in an alibi coffee mug. If you don’t feel like taking a chance but wish to rest assured you can maintain your usual level of intoxication you’re advised to stock up on booze and have a private piss-up in your room or join fellow sinners on the beach.