How to use water in Vietnam correctly and safely

You are wanting to study water in Vietnam to get safe use when traveling to this lovely country.

In this article, Vietnamdrive will mention:

Get a deep dive in each one or jump to any part that you like to notice!

tap water in vietnam

How is tap water in Vietnam?

Tap water is the main source of domestic water supply in major provinces and cities of our country today. When judged by the senses, tap water looks very clear, clean, and free of dirt.

drink tap water in vietnam
Be careful to use the tap water | ©Vietnamdrive

Tap water, which is taken from groundwater or water from rivers, lakes, and ponds, is treated through a water purification system with industrial treatment methods. And then, it is supplied to households through pipes, being endpoints in the water faucet.

The tap water treated at treatment plants serves the needs of the people. Most of this source meets the domestic water standards set by the Ministry of Health of Vietnam and is safe to use for daily life.

Can you drink it directly?

In Vietnam, almost no one is confident or dares to use tap water for drinking directly without cooking or other treatment methods.

There are reasons to explain why you cannot drink tap water in Vietnam:

  • Firstly, the water treatment system and technology here are still not good. Upstream water, when brought in, will be filtered from dirt, residue, algae and uses chlorine to remove some heavy metals and bacteria. However, this is just a basic step, not a thorough one. Tap water still contains some bacteria as well as chemicals, especially chlorine chemical residues. So, it can only be said that water is only relatively clean, but not for direct drinking.
  • Second, the quality of the water pipeline system in Vietnam is not stable. The pipes have not been replaced for a long time and are often rusted and covered with dirt; so even if the water source is clean, but when running through these pipes, it will also be contaminated with heavy metals, dirt, bacteria, etc. Also, pipeline monitoring, maintenance, inspection, and repair can be very costly.
  • In addition, more importantly, the water system needs to be disinfected regularly, which is difficult to do effectively because of lacking the finance and technique.

If not treated carefully before drinking, tap water can affect human health. Many areas have very foul tap water and a high concentration of chlorine because, in the process of treating tap water, chlorine is left over, drinking excess chlorine is toxic to the liver, kidneys, and digestive system. That’s not to mention the metal substances contaminated in the water, which are many times more toxic, with a high risk of causing cancer.

Water quality in Vietnam

Most of the cities in Vietnam have tap water to use, which means that the urban habitats meet basic requirements of water standard to use in their daily life.

vietnam water quality
Tap water is alright for daily use.

However, many rural areas in Vietnam use water from bore wells, dug wells, or springs.

Many people in the mountainous regions and the Central Highlands are still not aware of the importance of clean water.

When asked about whether the water they are using is hygienic or not, many people think that having water to use is already very lucky, but the quality of the water source is not interested.

Although the state has built several clean waterworks in mountainous areas and rural villages, many projects are damaged quickly. And the local people there have to face the use of unsafe water, which is heavily contaminated with alum, salt, or lime.

Therefore, when traveling to rural or mountainous sites in Vietnam, you should bring enough bottled drinking water to drink, wash your face, and brush your teeth.

We recommend that you arrange your trip starting from famous tourist cities in Vietnam to visit, taking this as the key foundation to going to rural and mountainous areas.

Bottled water in Vietnam

In the bottled water market in Vietnam, many brands, from unknown ones to famous companies, also have involved in the field of bottled-water production.

Although plenty of companies can help to distribute more products to consumers, this issue is opening for poor quality water bottles to exist in the market.

water bottles
One of good bottled water brands to choose in Vietnam.

You are very careful with water bottles of local manufacturers. Their quality is not guaranteed because it is difficult to manage and thoroughly handle these organizations although the local authorities have tried so hard to stop them.

The bottles produced from a small facility usually has a very low price. This creates an opportunity for some unscrupulous traders to take advantage of it to sell to tourists who don’t know much about it.

I was also a tour guide, so I often traveled on the road a lot, the use of a variety of bottled water is inevitable. Once by chance, on the way to visit, I left half a bottle of water in the 35 degrees Celsius during half an hour. Then, after opening the cap, I saw a strange, very bad smell from the water bottle. Since then, I have never used that product and have been very cautious with small manufacturing water-container products.

You are a foreigner, it is better to choose famous brands to ensure your health and help you fully visit Vietnam. Typically, if you do exercise or run marathons in Vietnam, you need to choose water bottles carefully.

You can choose Pepsico’s Aquafina, Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Nestle’s La Vie but be careful to avoid fakes, … You should buy them in reputable stores, supermarkets that are the most suitable choice.

The price of a 500 ml drink bottle costs from 5,000 to 10,000 VND, the 1.5-liter bottle costs from 10,000 to 20,000 VND depending on whether you buy it cold or normal, buy it at a retail store or buy it at a restaurant.

You’d better drink it cold. If there is no cold, drink while it is still cool, avoid drinking when the water bottles are warm.

Should you drink ice while you’re in Vietnam?

It is difficult to distinguish clean and dirty from ice. It is hard to tell with the naked eye whether ice is clean or not because ice is colorless, odorless, and cannot be judged by eyes or noses like other Vietnamese traditional foods.

Using ice has become the normal drinking habit of many local people. They are considered as “an interesting addition” to support refreshment.

There are two types of ice: Instant ice used for drinking, and ice manufactured for food preservation or other purposes. You absolutely do not drink ice to preserve food.

ice to cool drink
Not drink ice to cook drinks or food.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has stipulated that instant ice is considered clean when it ensures three factors from the source of ice-making water, production machinery, and distribution packaging. The water source must be tested, modern machinery, packaging for ice must be PE sealed, during transportation to the selling points must ensure no breakage and cold storage.

However, because of the profit, many ice production facilities do not meet the above requirements, even the distribution stage does not ensure food safety and hygiene.

The use of dirty ice brings many health risks. That dirty ice is easily contaminated with E.coli, Coliforms, Fecal streptococcal bacteria that can cause intestinal diseases, acute diarrhea, some kidney failure, and blood sugar infections.

Therefore, if there is a need to use ice for instant use, you should use ice at production facilities that have been granted certificates of eligibility for food safety and hygiene.

When you are a tourist, you should ask the restaurant what water the ice is made from. You can rest assured when the ice is made from bottled water by reputable companies or they make their own from cold boiled water.

In many cases when using ice under normal conditions, there is still no problem. Maybe the amount of toxins or bacteria in the ice is not enough to cause harm to the body. However, drinking ice water with beers or other drinks should be paid attention to it. Best of all, if you prefer to drink cold, use chilled bottled water, beer, and other beverages chilled.

10 important notes with water in Vietnam

1. In general, tap water is safe to boil and then drink. However, the risks of water pollution are unavoidable. So, you can check the water quality by observing. If you see any problem with the water source, you can contact the owner of the restaurant, hotel, supplier to fix that situation, ensuring the health of yourself and others.

water vietnam
Using tap water | ©Vietnamdrive

2. If tap water has a strange smell, you should not use it because the water can contain a lot of chlorine. Boiling it is not able to remove this chemical, and it will be unsafe for drinking.

3. Do not let the boiled water for too long, in the normal environment for more than 12 hours – too long. In the process of boiling water, the bacteria can die but not all of them, leaving it in the normal temperature for a long time will create conditions for bacteria to grow stronger.

4. Do not use the boiled water to cook again the next day because heating water again can help bacteria relive strongly. The best solution is to boil enough water to drink during the day.

5. Do not use bottled water if you open the lid for a long time and especially in warm and humid conditions. Accidentally, you leave it in the car in the hot temperatures, please use another one.

6. Tap water is usually safe for brushing teeth, but you should not swallow them. If you accidentally drink tap water, you can quickly take a little bit more bottled water to dilute that environment.

7. Do not bathe in rivers, streams, or the sea when you detect one of the following signs: unusual color, strange objects,… That is a safe way to protect your health, especially your skin and diarrhea.

8. Always be careful to ask your guide or operator to bring enough water or be sure you can buy enough bottled water on trips to the countryside and mountains in Vietnam.

9. With forest expeditions, be careful with spring water but may contain many pathogens. It is better to join a forest trip with a tour company, and avoid exploring in the primeval jungle alone. Example, if you explore Son Doong cave in Quang Binh, the tour company will bring drinking water for cooking for the entire trip.

10. Be careful with rainwater in some urban areas, especially where there are many industrial plants. Because in rainwater there can be too much acid and minerals that will be harmful to your skin and health. An umbrella or a light raincoat to keep in your body and bag is a good choice.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.