Thailand is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia that attracts visitors from all over the world. You can hike and explore the ancient Buddhist temples and ruins, or you can party in the night-life scene in Bangkok. However, visitors need to be wary of what they consume while visiting Thailand, as most of the water is undrinkable.
So, can you drink tap water in Thailand if you boil it? The tap water in Thailand is drinkable if you boil it. Boiling kills any bacteria or organisms that may be in the water that could potentially make you sick. If you are staying in Thailand, make sure you are only consuming bottled or treated water – and never straight out of the tap.
Keep reading to find out more ways you can treat your water, what could happen if you drink the tap water, and how to avoid getting sick.
Is Tap Water Safe in Thailand If You Boil It?
Yes, you can most certainly drink the tap water in Thailand if you boil it. Boiling the water will kill any bacteria or organisms that could be contaminating the water, making it safer to drink.
One of the most common ways that people treat their water in Thailand is through boiling it. Boiling is free and easy, whereas getting water treatment kits or tablets could be costly.
Even though some water purification drop brands may be cheaper, the price adds up with the amount of water you’ll drink, especially if you are planning a long visit.
Aside from boiling and treating the water with purification tablets, you can also get water filters that you can hook up to the tap or pour water directly into. However, these won’t necessarily kill or remove all bacteria, so there is still a chance you could get sick from the water.
Overall, your safest bet is to treat the tap water yourself by boiling it. It is more convenient, quick, and less costly.
If you are traveling to Thailand for vacation, work, or if you’re even moving there, you have to make sure that the water you are drinking is boiled or treated. If you’re staying at a hotel, most likely they will provide you with bottled or treated water. However, you should always double-check in hotels and restaurants before you drink.
Why Isn’t Tap Water Safe to Drink in Thailand?
So, we’ve established that most of the tap water in Thailand is unsafe for human consumption. All of the water that you ingest while staying there should be completely treated first.
Water from the taps in Thailand isn’t safe to drink because most of the pipes in the country are old and damaged, so they carry bacteria and organisms which make people sick.
Even though the flowing water is unsafe, there is still a lot of safe water that is accessible. Most hotels, restaurants, and bars will have treated or bottled water that they serve to their guests, so you don’t have to worry about getting sick at a restaurant. If you are ever in doubt, just ask the server.
Interestingly, there are actually ice factories in Thailand where businesses buy ice to serve. These ice factories only use treated water before freezing it, so you know that your ice is safe.
How to Correctly Treat Tap Water in Thailand
There are a few different ways that you can treat your drinking water, how you choose to do it is completely up to you and what’s more convenient for your trip.
To effectively treat the water, bring it to a boil and let it remain at a rolling boil for 1 full minute. If you’re not using it immediately, let it cool and then store it in previously sanitized containers.
Most hotels or AirBnb’s will give their guests kettles, either stove-top or electric, to treat the tap water or some will even give you free water bottles.
You can get a water filter that attaches to your faucet, or you can purchase purifying water bottles meant for travel, like this one.
Before you purchase a water bottle with built-in filtration, check product information to ensure the model is intended to purify water. Some bottles, like this one, have very advanced capabilities, able to remove viruses, bacteria, and radiological contamination.
Water Purification Tablets
Even if you plan to use other methods of cleaning your water, always bring along water purifying tablets for use in a pinch. You can buy them online or in stores, and many hotels offer them to guests.
Using Water Refill Stations
Thailand does have water dispensing machines. However, these are reported not to be as clean and aren’t really trustworthy with the locals. In fact, according to a study done in 2017 by the Bangkok Department of Health, about 40% of the water in these vending machines don’t meet water-quality standards.
When in Doubt, Drink Bottled Water
Water bottles are also easily accessible in Thailand, so you can always pick a few up if you don’t have access to purifying tablets or a stove to boil the water.
What Happens if I Drink Untreated Water?
If you accidentally drink a few sips of untreated or not boiled water, you will be fine. But be sure to try to completely avoid it.
A common illness that a lot of tourists experience if they ingest the water is called Traveler’s Diarrhea. It is as unpleasant as it sounds. Some of the common symptoms that you should look out for are:
- Loose, watery stools
- Stomach pains
Typically, this illness usually passes within 2 to 5 days, and you don’t have to seek medical treatment. While you are feeling ill, make sure you drink plenty of filtered water and fluids and eating. You don’t want to become dehydrated.
Even though it typically passes on its own, Traveler’s Diarrhea can lead to dehydration and high fevers, so you should monitor yourself while you’re sick to make sure you aren’t getting worse. If so, then seek out medical treatment.
Can I Shower and Brush My Teeth with the Tap Water?
For the most part, yes it is safe to shower and brush your teeth with untreated tap water. However, you should still avoid ingesting large amounts of it. Some people who are a little more cautious in Thailand actually brush their teeth with bottled or boiled water.
Some people have also been wary of washing fruits and vegetables in the tap water or eating from restaurants where the kitchen uses tap water to wash the food. In fact, some tourists have even said that they won’t eat salads at all while visiting Thailand.
While washing your food in the tap water shouldn’t cause any illness, if you are in doubt, use bottled water or preboiled water.
The Bottom Line
The water quality in Thailand is actually improving, but it’s still not entirely safe In short, you should stay away from intaking too much untreated water while you are staying in Thailand.
While it is probably safe in very small amounts – such as when you are brushing your teeth – most travelers decide to use treated water for all purposes while visiting Thailand.
While you’re traveling, be sure that the water you are drinking is clean and drinkable so you can avoid spending your vacation sick. If you start to feel ill, go to a hospital immediately to get treated and make sure you are getting plenty of filtered fluids
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