A Guide to Drinking Water in Chiang Mai

If you’re living in Chiang Mai, then you have likely realized by now that getting fresh drinking water in Chiang Mai is a booming industry. Everyone has their own approach to drinking water. Especially in the hotter months of April and May, having a steady supply of cool, fresh water is necessary to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Therefore, WeExpats has decided to put together a guide to drinking water in Chiang Mai.

 

DRINKING TAP WATER IN CHIANG MAI:

When considering drinking water in Chiang Mai, few people trust the tap water. Even locals will shy away from tap water in Chiang Mai. That said, with a public endorsement from Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the Provincial Waterworks Authority continues to assure those that water in the municipality of Chiang Mai not only meets—but exceeds—standards laid out by the World Health Organization.

Of course, heating water to a high boil for a minute will kill any microorganism and bacteria, hazardous heavy metals, chemical contaminants, and particulate matter that may be in the water will still remain. We don’t recommend that you drink the tap water in Thailand—unless it’s a life or death scenario. Which only leaves us exploring other options for how to get drinking water in Chiang Mai.

 

BOTTLED WATER IN CHIANG MAI:

Bottled drinking water in Chiang Mai is either sold separately, or in wrapped bundles of 6, 12, and 24. You can find them in any grocery store, such as Rimping, Tops, Tesco Lotus, and Big C.

Bottled water is big business in Thailand. Worth over 1 billion USD, bottled water in Thailand is one of the top ten markets in the world. There are three major sources of water in Chiang Mai for bottled water corporations: public water supply, underground aquifers, and spring water.

– Public Water Supply –

That’s right, tap water. Most of the water bottled in Thailand comes from the public water system. In fact, it is estimated that 50% – 60% of bottled water in Thailand is originally sourced from the Thai public water supply. The two largest suppliers who derive their water from the public water supply is Namthip—who is a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola corporation—and Crystal who is similarly owned by Pepsi. These companies have massive, sophisticated water treatment facilities to ensure that the water is purified before they bottle it and ship it for commercial resale.

– Underground Aquifers –

Underground aquifers are another major source of drinking water in Chiang Mai. Singha and Chang—more commonly known for their beer—bottle their water from underground water sources. The sustainability of this practice is dubious however, and many worry about large-scale syphoning from underground aquifers.

– Natural Spring Water –

The final major source of water for those bottling drinking water in Chiang Mai is natural spring water. More expensive than the previous two, bottles which are identified with the phrase “100% natural mineral water” are often bottled here in Chiang Mai province. The mountainous districts of Fang, Mae Rim, and Chiang Dao are where popular brands with French names like Mont Fluer, Minéré, Aura, and Purra are bottled with limited human interference.

– The Downside of Bottled Water –

Besides being a more expensive option than most of the others to come, bottled water only contributes to the single use plastic issue that is currently plaguing environments around the planet—an issue which the government of Thailand aims to decrease in the coming decade. Not to mention bottling and reselling water commercially is without question the least eco-friendly option. However, bottled drinking water in Chiang Mai is readily convenient, available 24 hours at convenient stores like 7-11 or late-night street food stalls.

 

HOME DELIVERY BOTTLED WATER IN CHIANG MAI:

Many expats use bottled drinking water in Chiang Mai, which is then delivered directly to your home. This option is far more affordable than purchasing conventional bottled water, and it is also far more sustainable. You can get water delivered directly to your home any day—even on official Thai holidays. Be warned that the water jogs or packages of liters can be quite heavy, however for a small tip you can have the delivery workers carry the packaged water directly into your home wherever you would want it.

Perhaps the most popular and most-respected of these bottled water delivery services in Chiang Mai is Glacier—which is praised by both locals and foreigners alike. Glacier has affordable prices, impeccable reliability, and above all: excellent water quality. Though they have no website, you can reach them with a local call to: 053 423991.

There are other companies that provide bottled water delivery services in Chiang Mai that have websites such as, such as: Dew Drop and Polestar.

– Glacier Pricing –

There are several options for pricing for home delivery bottled water—each with its own product and refundable deposit:

  • Deposit 200 THB; Cost 42 THB – 20 one-liter plastic bottles
  • Deposit 90 THB; Cost 23 THB – one 20-liter plastic jug
  • Deposit 300 THB; Cost 60 THB – 24 half-liter glass bottles

 

HOME WATER PURIFICATION SYSTEMS:

The most environmentally sound option is a home water purification system. This is a filtration and purification system that acts as an intermediary between public tap water and your shower or faucet water. Some of them are large-scale operations, however many smaller units that fit conveniently under your sink or on a countertop are available.

If you are a proud homeowner—or if you have the permission from your landlord—then you can get a larger-scale home water purification system in Chiang Mai. Many of them work by Reverse Osmosis, with activated carbon, sedimentation, and ceramic filters. Some even have ultraviolet filtration as well.

To find home water purification systems in Chiang Mai, you can buy them in person at Big C supercenters and Tesco Lotus hypermarkets, or you can find them at major retailers such as: HomePro, Hardwarehouse, Global House, and baan&BEYOND. You can also find a dizzying array of options online. Though there are a countless supply of foreign companies providing home water purifications systems in Chiang Mai, any of these prominent Thai companies are:

  • Uni-Pure
  • Colandas
  • Aquatek
  • Clarte
  • Filtex
  • Treatton
  • Mazuma

Prices can vary from 1500 THB to 20,000 THB depending on the quality, scale, and purification techniques. These costs do not include several extra costs such as installation and water filter replacement cartridges—not to mention your monthly water bill. Therefore, it is a more expensive option. It will eventually pay itself off, however it’s not a viable option for those travelers or temporary residents to Chiang Mai.

 

WATER REFILL DIPSENSERS IN CHIANG MAI:

Another option for getting fresh drinking water in Chiang Mai is to use water refill dispensers. These are public water purification machines that take tap water and dispense it very cheaply. Some dispensers can provide chilled water or room temperature water, while other dispensers only provide room temperature water.

These dispensers are coin operated—sometimes dispensing fresh drinking water in Chiang Mai for only for 1 THB. All you need is a container and a coin or two, and you can refill your water bottle or jug. This makes water refill dispensers in Chiang Mai one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly options available.

All you have to do to operate them is:

 

  1. Insert the appropriate amount of water in the coin slot. It is usually 1 THB per liter
  1. Open the door to the water dispenser nozzle, and place an empty container beneath
  1. Push the green button on the dispenser to start the flow, and then again to stop it

 

Practically all water refill dispensers in Chiang Mai operate on a Reverse Osmosis method. However, several have a second purification method as well, such as Ozone sterilization or Ultraviolet purification.

Thai locals swear by water refill dispensers in Chiang Mai, however the expat community largely seems more reticent. That’s why it is important to find clean, regularly maintained, water refill dispensers. The best ones to use are often found inside condominiums and hotels where regular maintenance is ensured.

Many say the water dispensed tastes no better than tap water. Others fear insects, vermin, rodents, and bacteria that are able to pollute the water nozzle that dispenses water. A recent study found that 40% of water refill dispensers in Thailand failed to dispense potable water. Therefore, in the end, though this is one of the most eco-friendly options, it does carry a modicum of risk.

*For more information on water refill dispensers in Thailand, click here.

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