No matter how hard the authorities have made efforts to make tap water meet World Health Organization standards and how many tests it carries out each year, Thai residents, don’t feel safe to from tab water.
It may be true that treated water is safe to drink before it leave the water treatment plant, but the problem is from piping system and your tap. In Thailand, most of tap networks have been installed for more than 20 years. You can imagine what is inside the pipes.
So, is it safe to drink the tap water in Thailand? The short answer is “No”. You should never drink the tap water any where in Thailand. Always drink bottled water instead.
Bottled water is the most common here and the good news is it is relatively cheap in here.
Like any other products, bottled water in come in variety of quality levels. The sources of bottled water in Thailand are spring water, underground water, water from well, and water from tap. If you don’t choose wisely, you might end up buying low quality bottled water that made from tap water.
My recommendation is when you are to buy bottled water from a shop, you should go for spring water be the price of spring water is not much different from underground water. If you’ve been drinking bottled for years, you will notice that spring water has much better taste than underground water and it is believed that mineral water gives you more benefits in terms of minerals your body needs.
Before we go into detail of what domestic brands of bottled water to choose, let’s check sources of bottled available in Thailand.
1. From Tap water.
Yes, many producers use tap water for their bottled water. In fact, good portion of drinking water producers use tap water for their bottled water. I don’t have statistical data to back up, but I think at least 60% of bottled water consumed each day is manufactured using tap water.
There are a few large water producers use tap water as their material. They have invest million of dollars on sophisticated and high-quality purification facilities to produce good quality water. There are a few big names in this category, such as Sprinkle, Nam Thip (Manufactured by Cola-Cola), Cystal (Manufactured by Pepsi) and some plants of Singha drinking water (sister company of Singha Beer). These brands are good and their water is very safe to drink.
Some producers really care less about people’s health. They use low quality purification facilities to produce bottled water. Normally they are local unknown brands or the brand that have not registered with department of Department of business development and never processed through Food and drug administration. It is quite easy to spot this low quality water. Its bottles are normally made from high-density polyethylene, white in colour, and not crystal clear.
You can spot that bottled water in this category is genuine or not by reading the label (some bottled water have label printed in English). The label should clearly specify brand, name of company, and registered signed from Food and Drug administration, which look like the figure below; where X is numeric.
Another tip to check the source of water is, regardless of what brand is if you can read it is manufactured in Bangkok, it is almost 100% tap water.
2. Underground water
Pumping water from underground nowadays is prohibited. You have to have a permit from the authorities to use underground water. In Central Thailand part, almost all of underground water sources are now reserved for beverage and drinking water producers through concession.
There are 3 major sources of underground water used to produce big brands of bottled water. There are Pratumtani Province (just 200 km from Bangkok), Ayutthaya Province (Central Thailand), and Khon Kaen (North Eastern Thailand). The bands that use underground water for their bottled water are Singha Drinking water, Chang Dringking water.
3. Spring water.
In Thailand we call spring water as mineral water. There are 4 main sources of spring water in Thailand. There are Bang Pahan City, Ayutthaya Province (Central Thailand), Sing Buri Province (Central Thailand), Tak Province (Northern Thailand), and Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand). Spring water in Chiang Mai is considered to be the best in Thailand. Some of the most common brands are
Aura: THB10, THB19 for a 500ml and 1500ml bottle, respectively
Mont Fleur: THB10, THB19 for a 500ml and 1500ml bottle, respectively
Minere: THB8, THB15 for a 500ml and 1500ml bottle, respectively
Nestle PureLife: THB8, THB15 for a 500ml and 1500ml bottle, respectively
Aqua: THB7, THB20 for a 500ml bottle
and Tesco (only available in Tesco).
It is also easy to spot whether the water you’re buying is spring or not. On the label, it must be written clearly that it is 100% mineral water and the price is THB4 – THB6 than other brands. The maximum price of mineral water of Thailand is THB10 for a 500ml bottled and THB for a 1500ml bottle.