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Don’t Drink From the Tap in These 10 Countries

It’s not safe for tourists.

Traveler’s diarrhea is real. When you’re traveling internationally, you have to remember that the country’s tap water may be unhealthy for you to drink, or even brush your teeth. Even if it’s safe for locals, the water may give you troubles because your body may be unused to those pathogens. 

Unfortunately, safe tap water is a luxury that not many in the world have. In 2017, a WHO study revealed that 785 million people in the world lack a basic drinking-water service. Listed amongst those with safe tap water, even the U.S. faces challenges with equal distribution and quality standards. The problem is much more severe around the world and water-borne diseases cause thousands of deaths every year. 

With this list, we’re just scratching the surface. There are dozens of destinations in the world where you shouldn’t drink from the tap, so it’s always a good idea to check the CDC’s advisory before you plan your visit.

Note: Instead of depending on bottled water provided by hotels, you can consider buying a water filtration bottle and reduce your plastic waste.

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Around 10.5 million travelers from the U.S. headed for Mexico in 2019. Throughout the pandemic, the country has remained an attractive destination for American tourists with its ease of entry requirements. But if you are flying to the neighboring country, remember not to drink tap water or use the ice that’s made from it. 

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In July 2021, Puri in Odisha became the first city in India to have safe tap water, but as a rule of thumb, don’t drink tap water in the country. Street food will also seem tempting (and it really is delicious), but your body may not react well to it. Stick to cooked food in restaurants and boiled/filtered water.

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The Asian country has been dealing with salty water and locals are relying on water tanks. But even without the crisis, the water hasn’t been safe to drink for travelers. Now that the country is reopening for tourists in phases, you will want to remember this tiny bit of detail.

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The Bahamas

Tap water is considered safe for consumption on many islands in the Bahamas, but people mention an aftertaste and advise bottled water. The CDC also recommends disinfected water. You should also know that Hurricane Dorian impacted the water quality in 2019 and left the residents of Grand Bahama island without safe drinking water for months. It is still recovering from the aftermath.

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If you’re going on an Incan exploration in Peru, make sure you take a water filter or water-purification tablets because the water isn’t potable. If you’re going on treks and camping, make sure the water is boiled and disinfected.

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The Asian country doesn’t have dependable sources of piped water, and the locals don’t drink water from the tap. It’ll be safe to shower with tap water, but you should boil tap water or use filters for drinking.

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Around 35 million people (of 212 million) of this South American country have no access to clean drinking water even though Brazil has 12% of the planet’s fresh surface water reserves. The CDC recommends travelers to avoid tap and well water.

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South Africa

Tap water in the big cities of South Africa is safe for consumption, but you will need to boil the water you find in rural areas. However, the CDC recommends using filtered water in the country. Water is sacred in South Africa and it’s been facing water shortages and drought.

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The Maldives

The islands in the Maldives depend on rainwater and seawater, but luxury resorts have their own water desalination facilities. So, it may be safe to consume tap water at properties like COMO Cocoa Island. When in doubt, ask your resort. However, note that the CDC doesn’t recommend drinking tap water in the Maldives.

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French Polynesia

It is safe to drink tap water in some areas of French Polynesia (including Tahiti and Bora Bora), so it’s better to ask your hotel or the locals. To be on the safe side—as on CDC’s side—stick to boiled and filtered water.

judysos November 10, 2021

A problem we had in Cozumel, MX was that the only bottled water we could buy on the Island was bottled in Mexico!  The best advice when traveling there is find a very reputable resort with US water bottles.  

christopherjones8239 October 18, 2021

I drank tap water in Mexico and could squirt through a key hole for a week

archsimpson6515 October 17, 2021

I don't think I would travel to a country where you can't trust the water.

ugo3968 October 15, 2021

Unopened, Bottled Sparkling water is the way to go.  

Viewpoint007 October 15, 2021

Well, I never drink tap water anyway. In Western Europe/US there is just too much chlorine and elsewhere - bacteria as per above. Best to boil it and let it cool or....just buy water.