Snake Wine in Thailand

Thailand 42 107

Whilst walking through the markets in Thailand, I´ve made the strangest discovery. A snake, with or without a scorpion, floating inside a bottle. At first I thought it was a souvenir. But after enquiries I´ve learned that this is in fact an alcoholic beverage. A delicatessen. A must drink. Call me boring, unadventurous, you name it, but I was NOT going to drink that! The mere sight of the bottle and what was staring back at me, turned my stomach upside down.

Snake Wine,Scorpion in bottel

I have never seen anything like it before. Surely tequila, whiskey or beer is tastier and better looking! Why would people drink it? Does it have a kick? My questions seemed to remain unanswered until a couple of nights later when I was having a meal with a couple of friends at a corner café. We were discussing Thailand, the culture, the food and soon the conversation started to drift to weird and wonderful things that we have seen. It was not very long before a couple of guys asked the owner if he has snake wine to taste.

With the glass jar on the table and the snake staring at us, I had 2 choices. Grab my things and go or stay and watch. I stayed.

Snake wine,Asian snake wine,Wine with snake or scorpion

The snake never comes out of the bottle. They scoop the watery mix with a small cup and then pour the content into a glass. Three brave men around our table decided to try it. A silence descended upon the table. We were holding our breaths as they brought the glasses to their lips. 1…2…3…down! I did not have my camera with me and I am so sad I didn´t bring it along. The expressions around the table were priceless but especially the faces of the guys who just drowned their sorrows. I could not help to feel sorry for them even though they said it was not too bad. One guy though was not convinced and he soon left for the bathroom. He told us “It was the grossest thing I ever drank in my life!” Funny enough I believed him.

So what is the fuss about the snake wine?

Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage that includes a whole poisonous snake in the bottle or jar. Like I mentioned before the snake could also have a scorpion as room-mate. It can be found around South-East Asia. The wine is prepared by slicing a snake along the belly and then draining the blood into a mix of rice wine or grain alcohol. The lid is then closed and stored for up to six months.

What do you think? Is it cruel to kill snakes and scorpions for an alcoholic drink? Will you drink it or have you tried it?

Where: Thailand
Date: April 2006

Information: Apparently it is illegal for people to display the snake wine. This I have read in a Thailand forum. The snake wine is still available around the Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai and other places. For more details follow the link to the forum that I have mentioned.

Snake Wine in Thailand was last modified: December 2nd, 2013 by Nelieta Mishchenko

About the author / 

Nelieta Mishchenko

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

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42 Comments

  1. alejandro guzman April 12, 2011 at 1:27 am -  Reply

    No thanks. errr.A

  2. sheril benedict April 12, 2011 at 1:27 am -  Reply

    OMG yuck !! i never heard about snake wine.Man these photos makes me uncomfortable :( .I wont drink at all even if they give me 10000$ and i never take such risk

  3. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita April 12, 2011 at 1:35 am -  Reply

    Sheril, yuck it is! You will not believe how popular it is. What the fuss is I don´t know. They say it doesn´t have a kick and is not very tasty. So why on earth would people drink it?

  4. Bongo April 12, 2011 at 1:39 am -  Reply

    ok so I'm not into alcohol..snake or no snake…and I don't believe in killing animals or anything for that matter…but to kill for pleasure..no wayyy….grrrrrrrrrr…As always…XOXOXO

  5. jawahar April 12, 2011 at 1:50 am -  Reply

    snake wine huh ?? i have never heard about this type of wine… nice post yaar..

  6. Jessica April 12, 2011 at 1:31 am -  Reply

    Merlot..yes…snake wine…nope!…wow..I had honestly never heard of that kind of wine before. Count me out! I do give those credit that try it…though for two reasons I wouldn't : I'm a vegetarian and ..well, it's just not an appealing thought! Great post :)

  7. Kerry-Ann April 12, 2011 at 5:25 am -  Reply

    I am with you on this one – boring and unadventurous. Yuck, just looking that pictures has my stomach turning. It does boggle my mind that there would be such an alcholic berverage. And who discovered it? How did the first person decide to take a poisonous snake and make a drink from it?

  8. Jorie Pacli April 12, 2011 at 6:09 am -  Reply

    Yikes! I almost threw up upon seeing that snake in the bottle…worse it made me sick with displeasure as I read through your story about this one Nelieta. Totally not the kind of adventure I would be doing… and it's really cruel for them to do that. I admire you though for posting this…. It's an additional discovery to us now…:)xo

  9. Rimly April 12, 2011 at 9:57 am -  Reply

    God, just reading it wants me throw up. Never heard of it! Thank you for sharing Nilieta

  10. Nava.K April 12, 2011 at 10:59 am -  Reply

    have seen in on the travel chanel, its quite normal drink at Thailand. many other animals and insects are also offered to be tasted here.Nothing shocking for me.

  11. melissa April 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

    i've never tasted snake wine… and they don't look very appealing to me neither… although i've eaten raw snails in north africa and they were good…:P… snakes are different…hmmm… thanks for this very interesting post

  12. Corinne Rodrigues April 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm -  Reply

    Nelieta – You're a brave woman to continue sitting at that table and watching….YUCK! I remember running out of the room when a group of friends decided to try out their famous balut egg…eeks!!

  13. Rachel Hoyt April 18, 2011 at 4:05 am -  Reply

    I'm just catching up on my reading and… HOLY COW! That snake wine is crazy. No thank you. That is too strange for me. Not cruel necessarily, but too far from my norm. :)

  14. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita April 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Rachel, yes it was very difficult to look at!

  15. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita April 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Sailor, I still get the jitters when I look at the photos :( Not nice!

  16. Sailor April 24, 2011 at 11:54 pm -  Reply

    No…Thanks! I will have nightmares!

  17. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita June 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi Johnson, are you serious? Go for it and please let me know what it tasted like. You can find it at various places in the Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai, Mae Salong and Cambodian borders. If you are in Bangkok you can find it in bars and restaurants (not the upmarket ones because it is actually illegal to sell it). You can also ask any tuk-tuk driver and they will be able to help you.

  18. Johnson June 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm -  Reply

    I want to taste it. Where in Bangkok did u see the shop?

  19. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita June 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm -  Reply

    Hi Johnson, snake wine is not something that you will find on the menu. Our Thai guide asked the owner of a small corner restaurant to bring us some. It is really strange that you haven´t seen it in Bangkok! I have not been in Poi Pet so I honestly have no idea. Go up to Chiang Mai I am sure you will find it there. I was in Bangkok in 2006. Maybe you don´t find it that easily any more. Good luck and let me know so I can update my blog with information :)

  20. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita June 28, 2011 at 9:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi Johnson, me again! Here is a link to a Thailand forum. I read there that if they have it displayed on shelves and restaurants there is a hefty fine involved. So this is something that you will not see on display any more. Here is the link: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/389071-snake-wine/Hope it helps.

  21. Johnson June 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm -  Reply

    I have lived around Bangkok for more than two years and have eaten at a variety of places including silom, sukhumvit, victory monument and nakorn p. But have never seen snake on menu. I may go to Poi Pet soon, do they have it there?

  22. Steven June 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm -  Reply

    Me and my mates tasted snake wine up in Chiang Mai 2 years ago. If you ask around you will find it.

  23. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita June 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm -  Reply

    Great, I hope it works! Talk about alternative medicine :)

  24. Johnson June 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm -  Reply

    I may try to find it. I want to take it for arthritis.

  25. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Great, I hope it works! Talk about alternative medicine :)

  26. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Johnson, are you serious? Go for it and please let me know what it tasted like. You can find it at various places in the Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai, Mae Salong and Cambodian borders. If you are in Bangkok you can find it in bars and restaurants (not the upmarket ones because it is actually illegal to sell it). You can also ask any tuk-tuk driver and they will be able to help you.

  27. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Johnson, me again! Here is a link to a Thailand forum. I read there that if they have it displayed on shelves and restaurants there is a hefty fine involved. So this is something that you will not see on display any more. Here is the link: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/389071-snake-wine/Hope it helps.

  28. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Sailor, I still get the jitters when I look at the photos :( Not nice!

  29. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Johnson, snake wine is not something that you will find on the menu. Our Thai guide asked the owner of a small corner restaurant to bring us some. It is really strange that you haven´t seen it in Bangkok! I have not been in Poi Pet so I honestly have no idea. Go up to Chiang Mai I am sure you will find it there. I was in Bangkok in 2006. Maybe you don´t find it that easily any more. Good luck and let me know so I can update my blog with information :)

  30. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jessica, agreed! A Merlot – wonderful! Snake wine – No!

  31. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Bonnie, thank you for your comment. I agree with you 100%.

  32. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jawahar, yes can you believe it? Glad you found it interesting.

  33. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kerry-Ann, mind boggling indeed! I believe the drink originated from China but is commonly found in Vietnam and other parts of Asia.

  34. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jorie, this was quite a tough one to post. I had mixed reactions but this is what I saw and what I have experienced as a traveller. It is cruel but it is also part of their culture.

  35. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Rimly, you are welcome! Always something new to learn while we are travelling :)

  36. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Nava-K, yes I have read it is a common drink in Vietnam, China and Thailand. The drink is not limited only to snakes and scorpions but also to other insects and animals.

  37. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Corinne, I am not so sure about being brave..lol! I was more curious! What is a balut egg? First time that I hear about it!

  38. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Melissa,seriously, you have eaten raw snails before?! Now that is another thing I will not be able to do!You are a very brave lady!

  39. jawahar July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    snake wine huh ?? i have never heard about this type of wine… nice post yaar..

  40. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Sheril, yuck it is! You will not believe how popular it is. What the fuss is I don´t know. They say it doesn´t have a kick and is not very tasty. So why on earth would people drink it?

  41. Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Alejandro, my thoughts exactly! Errrr!

  42. Corinne Rodrigues July 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Nelieta – You're a brave woman to continue sitting at that table and watching….YUCK! I remember running out of the room when a group of friends decided to try out their famous balut egg…eeks!!

Thank you for visiting. Have a fabulous day!

Meet the Author

Nelieta Mishchenko

Hostel Owner, Blogger, Photographer, Explorer

Nelieta Mishchenko is the face and voice behind Nelmitravel.com and is currently based in Argentina.Nelieta is always looking for a new adventure and is trying to travel as cost effective as possible.

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