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Tap Water Safety in China

Do not Drink :(

LAST UPDATED: April 8, 2021 12:53 pm

Table of Contents

How do People In China Rate The Tap Water?

Travellers and residents of China have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data. A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.

Can you drink the tap water in China?

The US Center for Disease Control's travel advisory recommends avoiding tap water and drinking bottled or disinfected water in China (source). Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.

What do people in China think about the tap water?

In general, you should never drink the tap water in China, even in five-star hotels. Boiling water makes it safe to drink, but you might still prefer to buy bottled water for the taste or mineral make-up.

  • Never drink unboiled tap water.
  • Water fountains at the major airports are clearly marked if they are safe to drink from.
  • Bottled water is generally safe – check that the seal is intact at purchase.
  • Avoid ice.
  • Avoid fresh juices – they may have been watered down.
  • Boiling water is the most efficient method of purifying water.
  • At very high altitudes, boil water for an extra minute as water bubbles at a lower temperature.
  • The best chemical purifier is iodine. It should not be used by pregnant women or those with thyroid problems.
  • Water filters should also filter out viruses. Ensure your filter has a chemical barrier such as iodine and a pore size of less than 4 microns.


Asking for ice is best avoided. Many, perhaps most, places just don't have it. The ice they do have may well be made from unfiltered tap water and arguably unsafe for travelers sweating bullets about diarrhea.
The Chinese do not drink water straight from the tap, and tourists should not either. All hotels (even boats) provide either a thermos flask of boiled water in guest rooms (refillable by the floor attendant) or - more commonly - a kettle the guest can use to boil water. Generally, tap water is safe to drink after boiling. Purified, bottled water is widely available and a small bottle usually costs ¥1. Check that the seal on the cap is not broken. Beer, wine and soft drinks are also cheap and safe.


tap water
  • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 59% Moderate
  • Water Pollution 68% High
  • Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility 41% Moderate
  • Water Quality 32% Low

The above data is comprised of subjective, user submitted opinions about the water quality and pollution in , measured on a scale from 0% (lowest) to 100% (highest).


Always take extra precautions, the water may be safe to drink when it leaves the sewage treatment plant but it may pick up pollutants during its way to your tap. We advise that you ask locals or hotel staff about the water quality. Also, note that different cities have different water mineral contents.

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