Phuket two-day booze ban for Buddhist holidays to include hotels

by Supatra Sutham,, July 27, 2015

Phuket, Thailand -- Bars and restaurants across the island will be forced to refrain from selling alcohol on Thursday and Friday (July 30-31) as the nation marks the Buddhist holidays Asarnha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent).

But this year the ban will extend to include hotels and resorts, said Phuket City Police Superintendent Col Kraitong Jantongbai.

“Last year, the ban was not fully enforced on both days and it did not apply to hotels registered under the Hotel Act,” he told The Phuket News.

“But this year the only places that are allowed to sell alcohol on these two days are duty-free shops at airports.”

Phuket Provincial Police Commander, Maj Gen Pachara Boonyasit, the top-ranking police officer on the island, confirmed the expanded booze ban.

“It is the law. There will be no alcohol sales during those two days; this includes hotels,” he told The Phuket News.

Col Kraitong explained that the ramped up enforcement is to support a call by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha for Buddhists throughout the country to abstain from drinking alcohol during Buddhist Lent.

“PM Prayut announced on February 5 that the sale of alcohol will be banned on these religious days,” he said.

“Also, the Thai government has launched a campaign called Ngod Lao Khao Phansa (No drinking alcohol during Khao Phansa).

“The campaign encourages locals to abstain from drinking alcohol for the full three months of Buddhist Lent, since avoiding intoxicants such as alcohol is one of the five major Buddhist precepts.”

Asarnha Bucha Day and the beginning of Buddhist Lent have been mandated “National No Alcohol Days” since 2009 by an order that also banned the sale of alcohol on the major Buddhist holidays Makha Bucha Day and Visakha Bucha Day.

Under the order, anyone caught breaking the ban faces a prison sentence of up to six months, a B10,000 fine or both.

Asarnha Bucha day is the full-moon day of the eighth lunar month, commemorating the Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples after attaining Enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.

As part of making merit to honour the day, Buddhists attend evening candlelit processions called wien tien at temples across the country. Visitors are welcome to respectfully join the event.

Buddhist Lent day, or Khao Phansa Day, is the start of a period of three lunar months during the rainy season when monks are required to remain in one particular place or temple and undetake deep meditation.