Video #15 | December 14, 2017
In this video I’m going to look at the topic of Bangkok drinking water, and try and answer a question that I have been asked by pretty much every friend and family member who has visited Bangkok; Is Bangkok tap water safe to drink?
This video will be broken down into 3 sections:
– Bangkok’s MWA [The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority], and the World Health Organization’s 2011 Guidelines for drinking water quality.
– Is Bangkok tap water dangerous, and to be avoided?
– So what should you do?
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Alrighty then! Welcome to the fifteenth video of Bangkok Unmasked! The YouTube channel that helps you get the most out of your visit to Bangkok city! If you’re new here, please consider subscribing! In this video I’m going to look at the topic of Bangkok drinking water, and try and answer a question that I have been asked by pretty much every friend and family member who has visited Bangkok; “Is Bangkok tap water safe to drink?”
Before I begin, this video will be broken down into 3 sections:
Section #1. Bangkok’s MWA [The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority], and the World Health Organization’s 2011 Guidelines for drinking water quality.
Section #2. Is Bangkok tap water dangerous, and to be avoided?
Section #3. So what should you do?
Let’s get started!
I’m going to give you the short answer to the question “Is Bangkok tap water safe to drink?” right now, and it’s; ‘not really’! Here’s the thing; Bangkok’s MWA will tell you that Bangkok tap water is completely safe to drink, and meets all the requirements of the World Health Organization’s 2011 Guidelines for drinking water quality. However, most Bangkok Thai don’t drink water straight from the tap, and neither should you.
The reason why most Bangkok Thai don’t drink the tap water is that they’re very aware of the water distribution system through the city. While the water leaves the water treatment plant meeting all WHO guidelines, it then has to go through the pipes in Bangkok to get to your faucet, and this is where the problems start.
The water coming out of your faucet should, and I emphasize the word should, still be at levels which are within the ranges of WHO Guidelines, but if you compare the numbers with that of where they were before they went through the pipes, everything gets worse. According to the MWA’s own tests, total solids increase by 14%, manganese by 41%, ammonia as nitrogen by 63% and, the scariest one, bacteria increases by a massive 218%.
This obviously leads to the question; is Bangkok tap water dangerous, and to be avoided?
The short answer to this question is no! I have met a number of people who regularly drink the tap water, and have suffered no ill effects. One example is ex-colleague regularly used to drink tap water when he ran out of bottled water and was too drunk, or hungover, to go to 7-11 and get a fresh bottle!
An important note; water from the tap is totally safe for brushing your teeth, showering, washing the dishes or pretty much every other task that involves water with the exception of drinking it. You can potentially do what my brother-in-law does and boil tap water, then refrigerate it prior to drinking. Frankly I think that the water, even when chilled, tastes awful but his family of 4, plus a maid, are extremely fit and healthy!
So what should you do? I suggest that you either buy bottled water if you’re in Bangkok for a short trip, or purchase a decent water filter if you plan to stay in the city for a while. My household has one called ‘Fountain’ by Stiebel Eltron, and it’s a lifesaver. The water that comes out of it tastes great, and it saves lugging water bottles from 7-11. This is what the Stiebel Eltron ‘Fountain’ water filter looks like.
To buy a Stiebel Eltron ‘Fountain’ water filter costs about THB 12,000, and the replacement filters are about THB 2,600 from Lazada. We replace the filter about once a year – as soon as the warning light starts flashing, and it makes the warning sound. [A very annoying repetitive beeping that encourages you to take action and change the filter].
As an aside, some of my friends have large water bottles – often around 18.9 liters – delivered to their house, or apartment. This is another way to go, but you’re then reliant on the water delivery companies to get you a fresh bottle, or bottles, when you’re out of water.
Another important note. Many Bangkok residents use coin operated vending machines to get their drinking water. Bangkok Unmasked would strongly advise you not to do this! First off, this is what one of these machines looks like in case you haven’t come across them. [This one is just around the corner from my house].
A couple of years ago a survey was done by a subcommittee of the private sector; ‘Independent Organization for Consumers Protection’. They took water samples from a total of 855 coin operated drinking water vending machines in Bangkok for testing. This is what was found.
– 76.3% of Bangkok drinking water vending machines were installed at inappropriate places, such as at places covered by dust from traffic and smoke from exhaust pipes of motor vehicles. The rest was installed near garbage bins and waste water ditches.
– 55.2% of Bangkok drinking water vending machines had unclean bodies, 42.9% had unclean valves, 29.4% were rusted, 21.1% were corroded, and 11.2% leaked.
– 93.8% of Bangkok drinking water vending machines used tap water to produce drinking water, and only 43.3% of vending machines were given once-a-month cleaning.
– Only 6% of Bangkok drinking water vending machines displayed a water quality test, and only 7% had ever had their water filter replaced! [Clearly not good as they would likely be full of bacteria, and goodness what else besides…]
Their conclusion was that drinking water from vending machines in Bangkok is unsafe for drinking!
We’re going to close by saying whatever way you chose to drink water safely, just remember to drink a lot, and keep hydrated while you’re out under the sun!
Anyway…That’s it for this video. I hope that it helps answer the question; Is Bangkok tap water safe to drink?” Expect a new video shortly. It should be posted in about a week, or so.
For all you techies out there, this video was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and edited using HitFilm Express.
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Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you next week. Goodbye.