How bad is the water in Doha

Should you drink tap water abroad?

Thirsty and no more water at home? No problem, because tap water is of very good quality: At least in Germany this is harmless to health, as tap water is constantly monitored in this country. But what about abroad? Extreme caution is required, especially in tropical countries and some countries in Southeast Asia.

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In these countries it can be very dangerous to drink tap water. Therefore, we will inform you whether you can safely drink tap water on your next trip abroad. You can also read here what can happen if the drinking water abroad is of poor quality.

Contaminated tap water abroad? These are possible consequences

Tap water abroad can be contaminated with the following harmful microorganisms:

  • Parasites (for example worms)
  • bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Protozoa (e.g. amoeba)

As a result, if you have consumed contaminated tap water abroad, various problems can arise. For example, there is a risk of severe gastrointestinal flu or other diseases within the digestive tract. Life-threatening poisoning is also possible. If the germs get into the bloodstream, they can establish themselves in other organs: Pneumonia is one of the conceivable consequences.

Drinking water abroad: You should be careful in these countries

It is of course difficult from a distance to make a generally valid judgment in which countries it is safe to drink tap water abroad and in which not. But experience and Travel warnings from the Federal Foreign Office help to narrow it down.

As Tap water in Central and Northern Europe is safe. This includes, for example, countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Finland. Likewise, tap water in Great Britain, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can usually be consumed without hesitation.

In other countries - such as in Spain or France - Depending on the region, the quality of drinking water can be strong vary. There it is better to refrain from consuming tap water abroad or to inquire with locals whether the water from the pipes is of drinking water quality.

In the rest of the world - the majority of all countries - it is better to use tap water not for drinking use. That is generally true for the countries Africa, South America and Asia also for tropical areas like Southeast Asia. The main reason why tap water is not suitable for drinking abroad is that the Pipeline systems ailing and the sources polluted are or the groundwater for example through Contaminated pesticides becomes.

Helpful tips about drinking water abroad

If you don't want to take any risks, it is better to buy your drinking water abroad only in the supermarket and do without tap water completely. Alongside this, you should protect your own health following tips follow:

  • There is a risk from the use of ice cubes, which are often made from tap water. In the tourist centers of Southeast Asia, drinking water is now mostly used, but caution is advised, especially away from the tourist areas.
  • If you do want to use the tap water, it should be boiled beforehand. This kills bacteria, germs or other pathogens in advance. Incidentally, the same effect can be achieved if the water is filtered accordingly.
  • An effective way of finding out the quality of tap water abroad is to ask the local population or hotel staff about it.

Another tip to avoid rubbish: You can buy the water in canisters in many supermarkets. If you bring a plastic or stainless steel drinking bottle with you from home, you can always refill your water in the hotel room. So you can travel through Southeast Asia without producing mountains of empty plastic bottles.


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Photos: Vietnamese child drinks water from Vietnam Stock Images /
Glass under a tap from

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About the author

Stefan has been traveling to the countries of Southeast Asia since 2006 and often spends several months there. In 2013 he founded Fascination Southeast Asia and since then has also written several eBooks and books on the subject (including the insider travel guide “555 Tips for Bangkok”). Between his travels he lives and works in Düsseldorf.

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