Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Beer sales fizzle in Vietnam as new law hits bars

Beer sales fizzle in Vietnam as new law hits bars

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The new drink-driving law comes as part of an effort to change the drinking culture in a country where swigging a few beers before dashing home on a motorbike is common. Public Domain

Beer sales fizzle in Vietnam as new law hits bars

Beer sales in Vietnam are down ahead of the Lunar New Year, bar owners said, as a tough new drink-driving law threatens to put a lid on celebrations in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for the cold stuff.

In the run-up to Vietnam’s Tet holiday, open-air bia hoi bars are normally packed with rowdy customers sloshing back jugs of the country’s favourite tipple.

But in many bars in Hanoi, rows of chairs sit empty and some managers complained business is way down since a zero-tolerance policy was introduced on January 1.

Nguyen Thi Hanh, a manager at a bia hoi in downtown Hanoi, said she would struggle to pay staff this month.

“The new regulation is horrible. The number of customers has dropped significantly, by around 80 per cent,” she said.

“If the situation carries on like this, we can only hold up for one to two months.”

The strict new law came is part of an effort to change the drinking culture in a country where swigging a few beers before dashing home on a motorbike is common – and where road accidents are a leading killer.

More than 30 per cent of traffic accidents among men in Vietnam are due to excessive drinking, according to the World Health Organization.

Under the new law, motorbike drivers who have been drinking will be fined up to $345, while car drivers under the influence could face a penalty of up to $1,800. Both face two-year licence suspensions.

Even bicyclists face up to $25 for riding after drinking.

Traffic police said they fined around 6,300 drivers across the country in the two weeks after the law was introduced. Fatal accidents dropped by around 13 per cent compared to the previous fortnight.

Bar manager Tran Anh Minh said takings were down by 50 per cent at his bia hoi and they were trying to help customers by offering to keep vehicles overnight or driving them home.

One of his few patrons, Nguyen Tien Dung, said he had barely been out to drink in recent days and had only come to have a few with a friend because the bar was close to home.

“I support the new regulation but it was introduced quite fast,” he said, nursing a beer in the deserted bar.

“The habits of Vietnamese people can’t be changed right away.”

With a population of 93 million people, Vietnam is among Asia’s top 10 alcohol consumers, according to SSI Securities asset management firm.

Beer consumption is expected to hit 4.2 billion litres in 2020, and the country is Southeast Asia’s biggest beer market.


  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Still no word about EBA but rice likely unaffected

    Officials on Monday said the government had not received an official statement regarding the EU’s potential withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. The EU launched the EBA withdrawal procedure on February 12, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”

  • Hate worse than virus, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday criticised countries that have cancelled flights with China following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), arguing that such moves amounted to discrimination against the Chinese. In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony for work on national roads 2