There are many things to research when you plan your trip to Vietnam: attractions, hotels, tours, foods, money, visa, etc. One of the most important things to know is tap water in Vietnam. The quality of the water you drink impacts your health although you stay in Vietnam for a short time. This article gives expats who live and work for a long time and tourists necessary information, must things to know about tap water in Vietnam and avoid getting sick from digesting tap water.
Tap water is contaminated with pathogenic organisms
In Vietnam, water is contaminated with pathogenic organisms. So that it is a major source of sickness and can make us have diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, giardia, dysentery, hepatitis A, etc.
Tap water is filled with chlorine and enormous other toxins such as arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, water softening, nitrates, radon, diethyl phthalate, bacteria, phosphates, pharmaceutical drugs, dioxins which increase the risks of developing cancer.
Tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink
The most popular forms of drinking water in Vietnam include tap, bottled purified water, filtered water, bottled spring water, artesian water. It is not safe to drink tap water in Vietnam. For tourists, it is recommended to buy and drink bottled water which is cheap and easy to find in the country. A 0.5-liter bottle of water is portable, 1.5-liter and 5-liter bottles of water save your money. Most of the hotels sell bottles of water but prices are higher than at convenience stores and supermarkets. Two complimentary free bottles of water are available in hotel rooms.
For expats, you can buy big bottles of water to save money. You can buy 5-6 liter bottles of water at supermarkets or convenience stores. Or contact a water delivery service so that they bring 20-liter bottles of water to your house/apartment. Installing a house water filter system or water purification machines for home which cost from VND 4,000,000 to 20,000,000 is one of the best ways to save your time, so that you do not need to buy bottled water frequently. Buy a cheap and portable water filter jar/cartridge/pitcher if you are not ready to buy the expensive water filter system or purification machine.
Do not brush your teeth with tap water
As mentioned above, tap water in Vietnam is not safe to digest. A small amount of tap water can make tourists, who are not familiar with the water in a new country, get sick easily. It is not worth a risk to brush your teeth with tap water. I would like to recommend tourists or foreigners who stay in Vietnam for a short time to brush your teeth, rinse your mouth and toothbrush with bottled water.
If you travel or work and live in Vietnam for a long time, you should be accustomed with tap water by brushing your teeth with tap water.
Do not wash fruits with edible peels, vegetables and cook with tap water
Most of the fruits in Vietnam have inedible peels. If you love to eat fruits (apples, pears, plums, strawberries) with the skins or fresh vegetables, you should wash your fruits with tap water in several changes of tap water. At last, wash them with filtered or bottled water before eating.
I would like to recommend not to use tap water to cook, purified, filtered, boiled water are better.
Which bottled water brands are good in Vietnam?
Not all bottled water brands provide water meeting standards so that I would like to list the trusted water brands in Vietnam: Aquafina (PepsiCo), Sapuwa (Saigon Pure Water Limited Liability Company), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Evitan, La Vie (Nestle), Ion Life, Vital, Vihawa, Thạch Bích, Đảnh Thạnh, Evian.
Fake and poor-quality bottled water and where to buy real bottles of in Vietnam
Fake bottles of water are popular in Vietnam. It is not difficult to clean and fill throwaway plastic bottles provided by top brands with poor-quality water. These bottles of water are sold at drink stalls on the streets or small convenience stores.
You should not buy bottled water at any place on the street. Supermarkets, convenience stores such as Circle K, Aeon Mini Stop, Family Mart, Vinmart, B’s Mart are good places to buy bottled water.
You can also buy them at coffee shops, bars, restaurants but prices are a little higher. It is worth paying VND 50,000 for a bottle of mineral water and a glass of ice at a bar where you can sit and enjoy the crazy music. At a reasonably-priced restaurant, a bottle of water costs VND 12,000. If you would like to buy bottles of water and take them away, you should go to the nearest convenience store or supermarket.
It is not worth a risk to drink strange bottled water provided by your hotel or tour agency which would like to maximize their profits. On some tours to Vietnam’s countryside or at some tourist attractions, they serve you water in a jar or big bottle and you do not know if the water is safe to drink, do not drink it.
How to deal with fake, poor-quality bottle water and jar or water? You should bring your own bottle of water when you go out, join a tour, go shopping.
How much does bottled water cost in Vietnam?
A 0.5-liter bottle of water costs about VND 5,000. One or two 0.5-liter bottles of water are enough for a one-day trip.
A 1.5-liter bottle of water costs about VND 12,000. This bottle is not as portable and light as the 0.5-liter bottle.
A 5-liter bottle of water costs about VND 20,000. It is enough for you to drink for more than 2 days.
Prices of 20-liter bottles of water range between VND 45,000 and 60,000. You need water delivery service to deliver the 20-liter bottle of water to your home.
How to do if you must use tap water? – Boiled water
Vietnamese people usually boil tap water before drinking it if they do not have enough money to buy bottles of water or water filter machines. At a temperature of 100 degrees Celcius, many pathogens die, and boiled water becomes cleaner. The water must be boiled for at least 10 – 15 minutes. In addition, boiling water is to eliminate impurities and make the water softer or crystallize calcium and magnesium salts.
Water filter system at hotels in Vietnam
At some higher-end hotels, they install water filter systems which are usually not mentioned when you read the information about the hotels on official websites, review sites and OTAs. Check with the staff if there is a water filter system in your hotel. If you book an AirBnb or rent an apartment, ask your host if there is a water filter system for the entire apartment building or the apartment. If the answer is yes, it will be great. Although you should not drink tap water directly, you can brush your teeth, wash fruits, vegetables and take a shower without worrying about your health.