Drinking Water in China

Drinking Water in China
By Nicholas Osborne

When visiting China, it is important to remember the guideline for drinking water. During your daily excursions and travels, it is important to stay hydrated and healthy. Be sure to safely drink water to maintain your health as you roam about the Middle Kingdom.

Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water in China?

Tap Water

NO! First and foremost, it is crucial to understand that it is unsafe to drink tap water in China, which is unfiltered and not treated for drinking purposes. While it is entirely safe to use for washing your body, clothing, or food, tap water should not be directly ingested. There are microscopic contaminants that will harm your stomach or insides if you ingest tap water in China. Similar to many beauty products, the water in China is safe for exterior use, but be sure to avoid drinking it directly.

What Water Can You Drink in China?

Travelers are not the only ones that cannot drink the tap water, so as all native Chinese people. In response to this, there are some very accessible resources to help find fresh purified water.

- Bottled Water

3 main brands of bottled water in China

The number one source for fresh water is bottled water. There is a wide selection of bottled water companies at incredibly low prices per bottle or per set. The three main brands of bottled water in China are:

Where to Find Bottled Water

You will be able to find bottled water nearly anywhere you look. A wide variety of convenience stores, grocery stores, or local markets will have them available. They will also have a selection of cold and room-temperature water bottles.

If you are staying in a hotel, each hotel will provide complimentary bottled water in room. Some hotels usually have different brands of bottled water offered for rooms. Some generic bottled waters are offered complimentary, while other premium waters are for sale. Confirm that you are drinking the complimentary water before opening a bottle. The hotels stock rooms consistently with fresh water not only for drinking, but brushing your teeth and for cooking instant meals if needed.

- Reusable Water Containers in Restaurants and Tourist Sites

large blue buckets filled with purified water

If you have found yourself stopping for a bite to eat, look around for one of the large pitchers of fresh water provided for restaurant patrons. Many restaurants offer large blue buckets filled with purified water for patrons. This is a reliable source for fresh water when in need of a refill. You will also find these large blue water jugs at popular tourist destinations.

Culture Note: In China, it is quite common for restaurants to server hot water with meals, regardless of season. The healing properties of hot water are beneficial to the body and digestion, making it the choice water temperature in China. The process of boiling water, regardless of its source, is effective because it removes all contaminates from the water.

- Drinking Water Facilities

Drinking Water Facilities

Similar to the presence of water fountains in other countries, China has also developed a large-scale push to provide public drinking water facilities. These are especially common in popular tourist sites, such as theme parks like Disneyland or Chimelong.

Can I Brush My Teeth with Tap Water in China?

It is advisable that if you plan to brush your teeth when visiting China, that you should use fresh bottled water or purified water from boiling to clean your mouth. While holding tap water in your mouth has no significant health effects, to avoid harm from accidental ingestion, it is best to use purified water to reduce risk. This may seem like a chore, but remember that hotels will provide complimentary bottled water at any time.

What About Showering with Tap Water?

The tap water from a shower or sink is entirely safe for external use. Washing your body, hair, or clothing is perfectly fine with tap water. It is advisable to be extra cautious when washing your face, especially your eyes, nose, or mouth. Be sure to take caution that too much water does not enter your body.

Can I Drink Tea in Restaurants Safely?

Free tea in Chinese restaurants

Restaurants will always provide freshly boiled water for drinking. This can be for plain water or for tea provided at the restaurant. China has implemented strict health codes that are similar to those around the world. You can enjoy the variety of delicious Chinese teas with confidence that the water is safe to drink.

Can I Use Ice?

Similar to drinking water, ice should be purified first before consumed. If you are offered an ice-cold drink in a Chinese restaurant, make sure the quality of the water used for the ice. If not, then refrain from drinking beverages with ice. Unless you are certain that the ice is purified, please do not use ice when out at a restaurant.

What Should I Do If I Have Allergies?

If you have sensitive skin or a sensitive stomach, using tap water in China may come difficult to you. The most important step to take firstly is to ensure that all water being drank is fresh and purified. If you are experiencing sensitive skin from washing, it is best to collect a large bucket of boiled water to ensure it is purified and then wait to use it for washing when it has reached your desired temperature.

If you are allergic to wheat flour, please bring an allergy card with you and inform the waiters, as some Chinese restaurants offer wheat tea. Please check the allergy cards here.

What If There Are No Bottled Water Vendors Accessible when Sightseeing?

We recommend first planning ahead to bring an appropriate amount of fresh water based on your needs or duration out and about. While it is very rare to be stuck without fresh water bottles available, it can happen at time.

Kindly remember that China Educational Tours plans for all events. We provide bottled water in your daily-use vehicles.

Can I Use the Kettle Provided in My Hotel Room to Boil Water?

Absolutely Yes! This is a great method to ensure that you have fresh water for drinking throughout the day. If you are not used to hot water, especially in the warmer months, then consider boiling ahead of time to allow for a cooling period. Hotels will always have kettles available for use in the rooms. Make good use of this resource to drink water with confidence!

How to say WATER in Chinese and Useful Chinese Phrases

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