Can I drink tap water in India?

We do not recommend ever drinking tap water in India, as it's just not worth the risk (or the stomach cramps). India is notorious among travellers for sickness – we’ve all heard horror stories about Delhi belly – and waterborne diseases are common due to bacterial contamination in public water, including E. coli and typhoid. As a general rule, travellers should avoid drinks with ice and foods that haven’t been cooked or peeled. This means salad is off the menu for now! Some hotels, restaurants and establishments may have a water purifier installed, but you should always ask the staff if it's safe before guzzling down a glass of tap water.

When travelling in India, the general advice is to stick to bottled or canned mineral water instead. However, single-use plastic bottles contribute to a massive environmental problem, so we recommend bringing a reusable water bottle with purification technology, and/or some water purification tablets with you. Brands like Steripen sterilise water using UV, while bottles like those from Sawyer remove 99% of all bacteria using an in-built foam purifier. Your Intrepid leader, if you’re travelling on an India tour, can also help you find safe drinking water to refill your bottle throughout the day. Another delicious and hydrating solution is drinking from fresh young coconuts, which are abundant (and cheap!) throughout the country.

Find out more ways to avoid buying bottled water while travelling

Water safety tips

Here are the best practices to follow when it comes to drinking water in India:

  • Avoid using tap water to brush your teeth
  • Try not to open your mouth in the shower
  • Avoid eating salads and uncooked fruits and vegetables – eat fruits that have to be peeled, like bananas
  • Buy a special water bottle that can purify tap water
  • Bring plenty of oral rehydration tablets or sachets in case you come down with diarrhea or stomach upset
  • Drink fresh coconut water

What to drink in India

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