Must Drink S.E.A. (on a budget)

Drinking. One of the biggest money eating activities while traveling. Those temple visits and motorbike rentals might round a nice five dollars a day but a night out can easily double that. Drinking in Southeast Asia isn’t the cheapest; for example you’d be had pressed to find a can of beer for under a dollar in Thailand. But for many, a big part of traveling (or living) is drinking… but most importantly traveling should including sampling what the region has to offer and Southeast Asia is not lacking in drinks. If you’re just into beer or simply down for the spirits, SEA is a must drink type of place. (leaving wine out of this: Thai=horrible/Vietnam=nothingspecial)

Remember hangovers do not equal watching the sunrise over the Mekong.

1. Beer Lao – Laos – No matter where you are in Asia, many a backpacker can be seen sporting the famous Beer Lao logo across their chest,  but don’t let their lack of individuality fool you. Beer Lao is good. Really good. It comes in light and dark and is made from locally grown rice. Only recently have exports started making their way into neighboring countries, and still rather hard to find far from Laos. (heard rumors it has reached the states – unconfirmed) Beer Laos is hands down my favorite drink in South East Asia, even though it pulls in on the high-end of this list at just over a dollar for 640ml. – 5%/6.5% abv light/dark

2. Mekhong Whiskey – Thailand – arriving in Bangkok last year it came as a surprise as to how much drinking cost. Alcohol in Thailand isn’t cheap (neighboring countries much cheaper) so much like college the cheap turn to is whiskey. Mekhong Whiskey is much closer to a Jamaican rum than an American whiskey, (95% sugar cane/molasses and 5% rice) but it brings to the table exactly what you are looking for. Thais on general stay away from the stuff and prefer to drink 100 Pipers or Blend 185 – (I was never offered Mekhong by a local)

3. LaoLao – Laos – Much like Thailand’s Mekhong Whiskey, whiskey is Laos taste like rum. It’s thick, dark and makes you cough, but there is no arguing with paying a dollar for a liter of alcohol. In convenience stores across Laos there are stacks of random brands from local whiskey distilleries, some with bugs, snakes or other forms of crawling creatures fermenting within. What is maybe the most exciting part about drinking whiskey is Laos (beside potential blindness) is picking the brand. Have your choice between varying Lion brands, Angry Tiger, Snake Venom, and my recent pick Absolute Manhood… the list is endless and sooo cheap.

4. Bia Ha Noi – Hanoi, Vietnam – already mentioned on this blog in the Hanoi post, as one of the reason I loved that city so much, Bia Ha Noi is the cheapest drinkable beer I’ve ever had at 4,000-6,000 Dong ($0.25) a pint. Unlike the beers mentioned above, which are bought at the store, this is cheap at the bar, and by bar I mean local Vietnamese tiny-seat restaurant found around Hanoi. The beer is brewed in Hanoi and delivered fresh every morning in kegs. It tastes great and makes going out on a budget completely affordable. Don’t expect this cheap treat to be making it home anytime soon, it isn’t in Siagon yet.

5. Angkor Beer – Cambodia – found exclusively in Cambodia, this beer packs a nice hangover at 50 cents a draft and is a welcome treat after a hard day’s work exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat. The grocery stores across Cambodia have a variety of cheap local brews you can also choose from, but Angkor is the best of Cambodia’s brews. Also worth trying is Cambodia’s Black Panther Stout that packs a Guinness-like taste.