Monkey Abroad

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Beer Chang

Thai Beer-Drinking Guide


Beer aficionados won’t be impressed with Thailand’s limited selection of domestic brews, but if you’ve got an open mind, Thailand’s beer can certainly get you tossed as well as any. Chang, Singha and Leo make up the holy trinity of Thai beers. In this brief guide, I analyze this trifecta of bevies and offer my suggestions to tourists seeking suds in Siam.


SinghaStats: Brewed since 1933, Singha is Thailand’s first beer. It’s exported all over the world, making it the Thai beer you’re most likely to find in a liquor store outside of the land of smiles. Shingha is the ritziest domestic alternative.

Flavor: Crisp, light and clean. Singha is probably the best beer to pair with spicy dishes.

Price: It’s the most expensive of the trifecta of Thai beers, so if you’re a budget traveler, I wouldn’t suggest it. 7-11 price: 50 baht (630ml). Bar price: 60-120 baht (330ml).

ChangBeer Chang

Stats: Topping the charts at 6.5% alcohol, Chang is probably the most popular beer among Thais. Pronounced “chong,” it means elephant in Thai.

Flavor: Powerful, flavorful and heavy, Chang is like a malt liquor. Drink too much of this beer and you’ll feel the dreaded “chang over” the next day. Be sure to drink it at an icy cold temperature, otherwise it’ll taste like wet dog.

Price: Cheap as dirt. Chang is definitely your best friend if you’re a budget traveler/backpacker. And since it packs so much alcohol, you don’t need much to feel the effects. 7-11 price: 40 baht (630ml). Bar price: 50-90 baht (330ml).



Stats: Leo is made by Boon Rawd Brewery, the same folks who brew Singha. It may be Singha’s low-class younger brother, but Leo is more popular among the Thai working class since it’s so cheap.

Flavor: Damn near the same as Singha. Leo is a light, crisp Thai beer at 5% ABV.

Price: Usually about the same price as Chang, but about 5 baht more. 7-11 price: 45 baht (630ml). Bar price: 60-100 baht (330ml).





My preference

Leo takes the crown as my favorite Thai beer. It’s about as cheap as Chang but it doesn’t taste like piss in a bottle (sorry, Chang). It’s a pale lager with decent flavor, and at 5% alcohol, it’s got just the right amount of kick.

Drink beer like a Thai
Leo on ice

Beer on the rocks: Thais drink beer a little differently than folks in the western world. Namely, they drink beer with nam keng (ice), which literally translates to ‘hard water’.

At first I was staunchly against this practice, claiming that it just waters the beer down unnecessarily. But the more I experimented, the more this method grew on me. Now, I prefer my brew on the rocks. It stays ice-cold longer, plus it’s a good way to sneak in a little extra hydration to prevent hangovers.

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!


  1. Are all three beers actually priced the same? Appears so on this post. Or am I confused?

  2. Singha for me, after drinking Thai beer for quite some years, Heineken tastes decidedly sweet.

  3. There is another interesting way the Thais drink beer is to put the beer in the freezer until it freezes to jelly. That way, you won’t have to watered down the beer using ice.

  4. Pronounced “chong” – only when you have drank too much of it. When spoken it most def does not rhyme with “song”. 😀

    • Then how would you suggest I pronounce it, buddy?

      • It appears to farang as Chang..but if you add a soft “r” after the “a” then you won’t hear the dreaded eh? from Thai waitresses and bartenders…Charng or Chahng…make it longer and softer than “ang”..more like “Chaaarhhng” Kor Charng neung lek…One small bottle of Chang please 🙂

  5. I hear you Kevin about Beer on the rocks! Here in the Netherlands we do dont drink Heineken (or any other beer) on the rocks. But when i am in Thailand i will for the same reasons as you wrote here. Heineken (export and made under license) is not the real thing. Together with Heineken, Chang tastes like ditchwater. I stick with the Singha in Thailand. Never tried Leo, but i will do that in October after reading your comment. Thanks

  6. Beerlao for the win!

  7. You posted that “leo is the same price like chang, just 5 bhat more”… So difference between singha and leo is also the same 5bhat more. Leo is priced exactly in the middle (40 45 50). Same could be said – singha cost the same as leo, just 5 bhat more 🙂

    I mean your post sounded like leo is such a good deal because it cost almost same as chang, while in fact there is the sdame 5 bhat difference between singha and leo as well.

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  10. Chang all day, every day! The real Thai one, not the export 5,0% one. It actually has taste, unlike most Asian or American beers.

  11. I live in Germany so that says a Lot anyone that has not lived here or visited Germany you don’t know what you’re Missing If you’re a Bier drinker. I visit Thailand every year and like every Country that I visit I prefer to only Drink the local stuff from that Country, I like the Leo Brand and it’s usually my choice when it’s available. I grew Up in the Caribbean and drinking an Ice cold Beer was pretty normal. In Germany we don’t do it, but in Thailand it works because Just Like the Caribbean it’s usually very warm Temperatur so Ice cold helps the Drinks, nothing Ruins the taste of a Beer faster that when it’s too warm to Drink. I won’t complain about the costs either, it’s pretty decent If you ask me, I usually get a few 6 Packs or a Case so that I don’t have to Deal with the odd hours of alcohol Sale there in Thailand.

Let me know what you think


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