VietnamTravel Tips & InfoIs It Safe to Drink Tap Water in Vietnam?

Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water in Vietnam?

Health issues are a part of traveling safely. Vietnam is a developing country in a tropical area with many chances of catching diseases. Before going to Vietnam, it is advised to see if there are any current epidemics there, like viral hemorrhagic fever, especially during hot and humid summers. You may also worry about food and drink safety in Vietnam. Please read our guide on Vietnam water to learn about the safety of using tap water in Vietnam.

Vietnam Water Supply

Contamination of water is still a challenge for the government. The water has a high level of E. Coli, ammonia, and arsenic that can affect your health differently. Even the bottled water manufactured by shady and unlicensed water firms has a certain amount of contamination; these factories were shut down in a row when the government inspected their manufacturing places. The water supply, sewerage, and waste treatment in urban and rural areas are controlled by many organizations, from the state government to local authorities, agricultural cooperatives, and private enterprises. The state government still holds substantial responsibilities for those activities, but the division between organizations makes quality control, operation, and maintenance hard. Many problems are the result of that.

Check if you need vaccinations for your Vietnam trip

In rural areas, people have less access to pipe water systems. They mostly use groundwater or river water for cooking, bathing, and cleaning. Because of the poor operation and management, there could also be water shortages during the dry season, even in major cities in Vietnam. Inadequate treatment and purifying processes have caused the water to have a high level of chlorine (sometimes above the required standard) and, thus, the smell.

Most Vietnamese don’t drink water directly from the tap because they don’t trust the tap water quality, even in urban areas. Some people also go to the extent that they install water filters and purifiers in their homes to ensure they don’t drink contaminated water.

Water and food from street vendors are other problems for your health. Street vendors usually have a small budget so that they will use water from a cheap supplier, and thus, the water is not suitable for your stomach. If your stomach gets upset quickly, avoiding street vendors you find unhygienic is best.

See How to Avoid Food Poisoning in Vietnam

Common Questions about Water in Vietnam

Can I Drink Water Directly from the Tap in Vietnam?

No, do not drink tap water in Vietnam under any circumstances.

It is highly recommended that you always boil the water before drinking to avoid travelers’ diarrhea. It should be safe to bring the water to boiling point for about one minute. However, if you are in rural areas where old water pipes may contaminate the water supply, it is best to use bottled water for drinking, cooking, and rinsing.

A bottle of water costs only about VND 10,000. It is best to buy one from supermarkets, convenience stores or hotels. Before drinking, check the seal and the bottle for signs of damage or opening; you should only drink from one with a proper seal.

Can I Brush My Teeth with Tap Water in Vietnam?

In the urban area, yes. Rinsing or brushing your teeth with tap water in Vietnam is fine, as long as you don’t swallow much of it.

In the rural areas, maybe no. If you have bottled water or boiled water available, use them.

Can I Bathe or Swim in Vietnam?

In the urban, yes. In the rural areas, maybe no.

If you find the water, for example, in the streams, canals, or pools and tubs, is not treated well – has a smell, weird color, and weird objects, it is best to avoid swimming or bathing in there. You may get skin irritation problems.

Can I Have Ice in Vietnam?

Yes and no.

Yes, if you know that the water source to make the ice is safe enough to drink, boiled or bottled. If it is tap water, you should avoid using ice. Many stores try to save money by doing this, so read the reviews about food safety before eating at any restaurant.

Tips for Staying Safe When Using Water in Vietnam

  • Go to the doctor before traveling for a general check-up and see if you need to bring particular medicines.
  • Check the tap water quality at your hotel for the color, smell, etc., and see any construction sites nearby. If there are, the tap water may be infected.
  • Always drink bottled, boiled, purified, or pasteurized water.
  • Always store water in case of water shortage.
  • If you run out of bottled water, in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang, you can boil the tap water with an electric kettle. It is then safe enough to drink.
  • In rural areas, filter the water with a water filter machine or settle the water in a clean container and then boil the filtered/settled water. You can also use chemical disinfectants or ultraviolet light. But you still need to filter when using chemical disinfectants and boil them in both cases. Ensure you follow the instructions thoroughly because the latter two methods can affect your health.
Vietnam water filter
  • Bring medicine and activated charcoal. Activated charcoal can help with digestive cleansing and water filtration.

Check out these activated charcoal brands

  • Buy refrigerated beverages instead of putting the ice cube in the drink.
  • Never leave your drink or food to strangers or unattended because they might be drugged.
  • Make sure the bottled water you buy still has its seal and no signs of damage.
  • Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands before eating and cooking. Carrying around a small bottle of Purell Hand Sanitizer can come in handy.
  • Use bottled water to wash your contact lens and injuries to prevent an allergy and infection. You can also use eye drops and lens solutions for your lens.

How to Deal with Travelers’ Diarrhea

Many factors can cause travelers’ diarrhea, but it usually comes from consuming contaminated food and water. Make sure to follow the above drink/food safety tips in Vietnam. However, if you, unfortunately, get travelers’ diarrhea, you can check out the below tips to deal with it.

  • STAY HYDRATED. It is essential to make up for the amount of water you lose when having travelers’ diarrhea because it could endanger your survival.
  • Drink alkaline ionized water to make up for the minerals you lose. Remember to buy the sealed and bottled ones.
  • Eat and drink warm food that can slow diarrhea, like rice, bananas, apples, and tea.
  • Have yogurts or probiotics drink (the easiest to find in Vietnam is Yakult).
  • It is best to let out all of the toxic insides of your stomach when you have travelers’ diarrhea. However, if you need to keep it under control, you can take Imodium. Read the instructions carefully, and do not use more than the recommended dose because it might be fatal.

For more details and tips, you can check out an article from the NY Times.

Hospitals and Pharmacies in Vietnam

Usually, each hospital will have pharmacies located near the gates or on the ground floor. You should go to hospitals for a check-up if there are any signs of diarrhea. Get to the hospital as early as possible because you may have to wait in a long line. Check-up hours: 7 AM – 4 PM (Mon-Fri); after that, you may be charged an out-of-office-hour fee.

Read more about the Healthcare System in Vietnam


The hospitals below will have English-speaking staff that can assist tourists in case of emergency

  • FV Hospital

Address: 6 Nguyen Luong Bang Street, District 7

  • Vinmec

Address: 2 Tran Cao Van Street, District 1

  • Victoria Healthcare

Address: 20 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, District 1

  • American International Hospital

Address: 2 Bac Nam Street, Thu Duc City (District 2)


Most pharmacies in Vietnam don’t open 24/7, so it is advisable to prepare some medicines in advance, if possible. You can also order the medicines on these pharmacies websites or apps and have them delivered.

Tap water in Vietnam is safe depending on where it is provided and what purposes you use it for. In urban areas, it is safe to use for bathing, cleaning, rinsing, and cooking, so you have to boil it before drinking it. In rural areas, it is safer to use boiled or bottled water. Some advice that you need to remember: 1) check the water quality before consuming/using it, 2) avoid food and drink that you find poorly processed and unhygienic, 3) stay hydrated and make up for the minerals you lose when having diarrhea, and 4) go to the hospitals for a check-up and buy medicine at their pharmacies. Follow these rules to keep yourself healthy and safe when traveling in Vietnam.

For food and water safety tips, read the guides from the Government of Canada and the U.S. Department of State.

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