Just a reminder: On Tuesday, July 19, and Wednesday, July 20, Thais will celebrate the two important religious and public holidays of Asarnha Bucha and Khao Pansaa, or Buddhist Lent Day.
As usual on the four “big Buddha days” (yep, there’ll be another one later this year), a nationwide alcohol ban will be in force from midnight on Monday until midnight on Wednesday and bars and other nightspots around Pattaya will be required to close for 48 hours – at least on paper.
While hotels are exempt from the alcohol ban, all local stores and supermarkets will be equally prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages, including to non-Buddhist foreign tourists.
Bar owners caught violating the rules can be fined 10,000 Baht and face a possible prison sentence of up to six months along with a temporary closure of their venues. So unless you want to rely on hosts who are ready to flout the law by serving beer or other alcoholic drinks in coffee mugs you’re advised to stock up before the booze ban takes effect.
To round the annual nuisance off: In order to make it a five-day long weekend for the Thais this year, Monday, July 18, has been declared an extra bridge holiday, and government offices, banks and many other businesses will be closed not just for two days but from Monday to Friday.
No, the alcohol ban won’t be in force until midnight on Monday (so bars should be open as usual today). But if you need to pay your local immigration office a visit this week, be aware that immigration will not open again before Thursday morning.
Now don’t panic if your visa should expire in the meantime (or has already done so over the weekend) and you need to get an extension: If your visa has expired anytime between Saturday, July 16, and next Wednesday, these days won’t count as an overstay and you’ll just pay the regular extension fee. Expect the immigration office to be specially busy though on Thursday.
And now you better go and stock up before it’s too late!