All facts about drinking water in Vietnam you should know

Drinking water is an essential daily need. However it may not be until you get to Vietnam that you start to appreciate the ease of the West when you simply have to turn on the tap to get clean drinking water. Things are a little.. different here.

Drinking water from the tap is not advisable

A grab driver drinking water from a tap on the street

Unfortunately, the tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink – it contains microscopic microbes which can make you seriously ill – so although it may look like water and smell like water and even taste like water – be warned as you could end up with serious digestive problems which if not addressed can end up with you becoming seriously dehydrated and end up hospitalised!
You do need to be careful with ice cubes – as in smaller places in particular they are made from tap water and this means that when they melt you end up drinking the water.

As a result, it is important that you only drink filtered water – even when brushing your teeth – although tap water is perfectly fine for bathing and showering in. Tap water is however fine for hot drinks as the boiling will kill the majority of the harmful parts.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to buy water – however, if you do not want to end up with a million and one plastic bottles then you need to opt for a longer-term solution for your daily drinking water needs.

The different types of bottled water

On a basic level, bottled water is available in all supermarkets and most small shops. There are a few brands with the most popular being “La Vie “. Do be careful when dashing into a shop and grabbing a bottle of water as Korean bottled water is also available – however, as it is imported it is about five times the price!

  • You can purchase bottled water in small individual sizes (250 ml) large one-litre bottles and then very large five-litre bottles. The larger bottles generally have a plastic circular handle at the top which makes them much easier to carry home.
  • In addition to buying water in a supermarket, small bottles of water are available in all tourist destinations from people with a small stand as well as from vending machines. Although gaining in popularity, the vending machine is still relatively unusual – but can be found at some tourist destinations e.g. walking street and Book Street in Hanoi.

If you are only in Vietnam for a short or medium amount of time then these bottles are fine – however, if you are staying for longer and would like to use an alternative which is cheaper and with the option of making the water hot and cold then you need to look at using a filter machine.

A filtered water system is very much needed

In the West, you may have only have seen a water filter system at offices and thus not realised that you can get them for your house as well.

There are basically two main types.

  1. The first is simply a base which holds the large water container.
  2. The other is a machine which you put the water container on and plug in, which will then provide you with both hot and cold water.

Common types of water filter system in Vietnam

Some houses will have a water filter already in the house – in which case you will only need to be concerned about the water container. If however, you do not have a machine then it is quite easy to get one.

The cheapest option to acquire a water filter is through advertising on Facebook – there is a constant influx and exit of foreigners in Vietnam so if you are lucky then you will be able to pick one up second-hand. Do not worry about trying to get it to your house as you can simply use

Grab delivery service and the person can strap it to the back of their motorbike and deliver it simply and cheaply to you.

Notes:

  • If you don’t manage to get one on Facebook then you will need to purchase one from a large supermarket or electrical store. The small base one is the cheapest option and if funds are an issue then it is possible to simply have this for the pure water and then put it into jugs/bottles and put it in the fridge so that you have cold water.
  • For the large hot and hot cold option machine, prices vary according to the brand and the style. Many of the machines have a small fridge at the bottom of the machine (which is a very useful option) although this does mean that the price increases with this feature. It is advised that you shop around and make sure that you get one in a sale as it is an expensive purchase, however, great bargains can be found.

Where to buy your water bottles

Once you have purchased your water machine base then you will need to think about purchasing the water container (which contains the water). The good news is that it is available in all supermarkets and if you live in an apartment and there is a small shop then you will find it is sold there as well.

The first time you buy your water you need to pay extra for the bottle – this is a deposit only and at the end when you return the bottle you will get the deposit back again. The water itself is quite cheap – about 65, 000 VND for the large container – which is a significant save on purchasing water in smaller bottles. Every time you finish your water simply take the large empty container back to the shop and you will pay a lower price as they will deduct the bottle price.

Typically the water container is then delivered for free to your house – you need to give your address (and you may need to give your phone number if you have ordered from a supermarket that is further away from your house and they will call you when they deliver). The small apartment shops will usually bring it all the way to your door with larger shops leaving it downstairs.

Large bottled water containers can be easily purchased once a small deposit is given

Water that are available in public places

Although it is good to take your water bottle out with you in Vietnam as it is does get hot and you need water throughout the day, sometimes you will finish your water or forget to fill it up before leaving. The good news is that there are lots of opportunities to fill up your water bottle for free when out and about! Free drinking water can be found in all department stores (they often have cups as well) as well as in most banks. There are a few shops which have free water – e.g. Baya – but there are not many in shops. Shopping malls typically do not have free drinking water (probably because they want you to make purchases)

Overall, access to drinking water is easy in Vietnam – however, you do need to think about how long you will be in Vietnam to decide on which water option is the best for you – as all these little bits spent can add up to a lot!

Author

To have good luck is a skill Not knowing how to seize opportunities is also a form of incompetence.

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To have good luck is a skill Not knowing how to seize opportunities is also a form of incompetence.