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Why would you open a bar in Thailand

Honestly in my own personal opinion owning a bar anywhere in the world seems like a real pain in the ass let alone doing it in Thailand of all places! I'm already a borderline alcoholic so imagine what things would be like if I actually went out and opened a bar! Not saying that if you own a bar your an alcoholic in fact it's probably better if you own a bar and you don't drink at all, i'm just saying that it seems to me like too many guys come to Thailand can't figure out what to do so they open a bar. I can't seriously believe that most of those dudes think their going to make a profit and if so then why even do it? Makes no sense.

For those guys thinking about opening a bar in Thailand then you should really concider what your about to do. Having had first hand experience starting and running a business in Thailand I can tell you it's not easy at all. In fact running a business anywhere is difficult and if you have no experience running a business yourself then you should really think long and hard about what your about to do.

beer bars in thailand

Some say that when running a business the customer is number 1. I don't buy into that philosophy at all, the people who make your business is not the customer but the employees. Thai people are so much different to us and especially those who actually go to work in a bar whether it be a beer bar or regular Thai bar your going to have to deal with things you couldn't even imagine.

  • Staff incapable of doing simple things
  • Staff incapable of thinking on their own
  • Having to lay out things step by step in every minute detail
  • Booze being stolen
  • Money going missing

If your lucky enough to actually find decent Thai staff then your going to have to keep them! Without knowing any Thai or having any management experience and especially without a few years in Thailand understanding the culture and how Thai people "work" then your just setting yourself up for failure. Think long and hard about it!

So lets talk about figures then. What do you really expect to make from a bar? In my personal opinion the only real winner is owning a Go Go bar the profits are big and your staff actually make you decent money and you pay them virtually nothing. But it's no guarantee either and it's not exactly easy to set up but can be done and the rents are fairly cheap compared to what you actually rake in everyday but a regular bar/pub is going to be a waste of your time and money. Think about this the Sukhasem cafe here in Chiang Mai is super popular on a decent weekend they probably pull in about 120-140,000 baht. But I doubt there profit margin would be more than 10% so that's 14,000 baht. Lets say during the week they break even their investment is maybe pulling them in $1000 a week then they have taxes people stealing shit blah blah blah on a 20,000,000 million dollar investment doesn't sounds like a good deal to me.

I don't know what the margins are like on a regular beer bar are like but unless you own the bar and not paying any rent then you might get 20% if your lucky. So you'd have to have a daily turnover of 20,000 baht in order to make 4000 baht which is what I'd want to make it actually worth my effort and if you think many beer bars are pulling in 20,000 baht a day your kidding yourself and if they are I garuntee their margin is less than 20% anyway more like 10% making it only 2000 baht a day then you have low season and high season you know if it actually works I doubt your going to make much at all. Unless you actually own the bar/land etc what a joke I could think of better ways to invest my money.

The reason I say a Go Go is a better investment is because you can charge premium for the drinks like 200% premium and the girls virtually pay themselves with bar fines (go go)   and are way more likely to get drinks bought for them (they have to) so your virtually running a bar without paying for the staff and making bank on the drinks. You'd be surprised too it's not a huge investment to open a go go bar either.

As for starting a nightclub, well I unless you've been in that kind of business before I wouldn't recommend it and again unless you can actually pull in a huge crowd (you have something better than others) then it's again a bad buy.

Again I don't understand why so many dudes come to Thailand and decide to open a bar just doesn't make sense the figures just don't add up especially when your selling beers for 70-90 baht a piece. But if you fail to listen to the advice in this article best of luck your going to need it.

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.

9 Responses to Why would you open a bar in Thailand

  1. jack August 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    girls, alcohol, bar = police and criminal extortion.Goodluck.

  2. Thailand Friends August 25, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    One of the bar owners on Soi 22 once told me that Thailand has the most bars per capita of almost any country. Just of registered businesses, not counting all of the late night drinking carts and such, the number was something like 1 bar for every 10 people in Thailand.

  3. Johnnie Walker August 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    A good friend had the same respectable English restaurant and bar on 2nd Road in Pattaya for 20 years. I say respectable because there were no bar girls, only waitresses (some available) and no loud music. For the first 15 or so years it did him very well and afforded him a simple yet comfortable lifestyle.
    When the Russians and Koreans began to arrive in big numbers who didn’t frequent such places and the number of British visitors declined steeply due to GBP v bht exchange rate and the gradual passing on of older regulars the takings dwindled to below running costs. In the last few years before be died, he then had to sub it from his pension.

    Just around the corner on Soi 8, Adam, (internet name “hammer”) the owner of Cherry Bar has now been there quite some years, but he’s seen some tough times in more ways than one.

  4. galey August 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    A bar is a mugs game you have the constant hassle of finding girls keeping girls people on the take etc: the lots goes on and on, it’s know harder then ever to make a dollour in the game.
    The only person I know is making a very good living is a friend of mine he has a big open area on the water food is main go that’s where all the money is. He has girls but doesn’t pay them a cent they are all freelancers they can come and go as they please. He has cheap lady drinks and reasonable drink prices seems like a very good formula to me. He makes alot more then any GoGo without any of the hassle.
    Bars will just get harder and harder to make any money I believe for a start with somewhere like a place my mate has why go paying bar fines, mobile phs also are a killer if you own a bar once you have bar fined the girl once, just get her mobile and she will happily come see you before or after work.

    • galey August 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      A few typo’s in that last post i was in a hurry to get to work, however you get the idea. Owning a bar is a mugs game.

  5. CoCo Channel August 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I think its also if you are buying a bar to make money , have something to do or impress your “friends” ,
    I believe whenever you “invest” money in Thailand you better be able to walk away from that “investment” and not have it hurt you in the pocketbook !
    This is money in a bar , a business or property , the rules can change but they will NEVER change to your advantage in Thailand.


  6. Derek February 25, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    my wife is Thai and at moment she works for a friend of her’s selling coffee earning 200 THB a 12 hour shit I was thinking of a bar for her but now I’m not sure but I do want to set her up some kind of business any Ideas

    • Chris February 25, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

      Find a Thai website that makes $200 a month wouldn’t cost you more than $5k to buy, she’d be making the same but she’d own it and can improve it. good luck.

    • vasan June 15, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      Hi Derek,ive been looking for a bar and got some ideas too but ive no clue on how to get the licensing and all…It will be great if we can wrk somethinf out since your wife is from thailand..

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