Is it Safe to Drink Tap Water When Traveling Abroad?

It is okay to drink tap water in some countries and unsafe in others.

Contaminated tap water can ruin your trip. It can cause discomfort like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

Before traveling abroad, you need to find out whether your destination’s tap water is safe to drink. Note that although the water might be safe for the locals, it might not work for you.

Locals might have immunity to pathogens in tap water, but foreigners might have it rough.Related Read: Signs you are drinking contaminated tap water

So, how can you avoid drinking unsafe tap water when traveling?

Know the Countries with Safe and Unsafe Tap Water

The United States, North America, Canada, and Greenland are the only countries with safe tap water. Most countries in Africa, South America, and Central America tap water have contaminated tap water.

If traveling to Europe, check the status of the tap water for the country you intend to visit using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list.

In Asia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore have safe tap water. In other countries, play safe by traveling with your bottled water.

And in Oceania, we only drink tap water only in New Zealand and Australia.Related Read: Benefits of Drinking Water in Glass Instead of Plastic

Treat the Tap Water

If you really have to travel in a country with unsafe tap water for long, you can’t survive with bottled water from home. You can’t travel with enough to last you for several months, right?

Listed below are ways you can treat contaminated tap water when traveling abroad.

  • Boiling

Boiling the water will help kill disease-causing organisms like bacteria, viruses, and bacteria.

Simply bring the tap water to a boil for a minute or 3 minutes if at an elevation above 6,500 ft. Let the water cool before drinking.

  • Disinfecting 

If it is impossible to boil the water, use a chemical disinfectant like iodine-containing tablets to filter it.

However, although the disinfectants can kill most disease-causing viruses and bacteria, they can destroy resistant organisms like the Giardia parasites and Cryptosporidium.

  • Filtration

According to, a portable water filter can come in handy when traveling in areas with contaminated tap water. A reverse osmosis filter is the best as it has tiny pores that filter even the most stubborn contaminants.

  • UltraViolet Light

Portable water filtration systems that deliver UV light can disinfect unsafe water. In fact, UV light helps kill and destroy the DNA of parasites and bacteria in the water; hence one of the best methods.

Tips to Avoid Getting Unwell from Untreated Tap Water

Below are a few tips to keep you hydrated but safe when traveling in a country with contaminated tap water.

  • Only drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice in your drinks since you do not know where it has been made from.
  • Avoid eating salad, as it could be prepared using untreated tap water.
  • Clean your teeth with bottled water.
  • Only eat fruits if peeled or washed with treated tap water.

So, is it Safe to Drink Tap Water When Traveling Abroad?

Drinking tap water when traveling abroad is safe if the tap water in your destination country is safe.

Find out about the condition of tap water in the country before you leave so that you know what to expect.

If it appears risky, play safe by drinking bottled water only until you jet back home.

Last Updated on October 17, 2023

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