Safe drinking water is crucial for a trip to any unfamiliar place. This article covers the basics about drinkable water in China, so that you are better prepared for your tour.
In China, do not drink water from the tap. Drink water after boiling it first. Water heaters are available in most hotels. Some deluxe hotels offer complimentary bottled water. The water dispenser is also available in some hotels, providing both hot and cold water. The hot water tap in hotel's bathroom is used for washing only.
When going out on a side trip, you can bring a bottle of boiled water with you or buy the bottled water from a shop. Usually, the bottled water sold in supermarkets is cheaper than those in the small stores or newsstands. In China, the bottled waters can be divided into three categories, the distilled water, the mineral water and the energy drinks. Famous brands of bottled water in China are Nong Fu Spring, Wa Haha, Robust, Nestle and Master Kong. The purified water and mineral water cost usually CNY 1 - 2, and the energy drink costs CNY 3 - 5. When you buy the bottled water, please note the date of production, the shelf life, and whether the cap seal is intact or tamper free.
The water cooler has been introduced in China. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Shanghai 2010 Expo, and Xian 2011 Expo have these machines in use, and you can drink from their taps. In the future, free flowing drinkable water would be more available.
Tips for drinking water in China:
1. When visiting a Chinese family, you can drink your hosts' offer of hot tea with no fear, or you can always ask for a glass of water instead. Coffee is seldom offered.
2. You are well advised to avoid drinking water from a well or a mountain spring.
3. Wine may be served in rural areas instead of water, and it is polite for you to take a sip at least from the bowl.
4. The hot water or tea served in a restaurant comes with the meal, and you can ask for refills. You get juices, coffee, and alcohol cheaper in shops and supermarkets than in restaurants.
5. While tackling high altitudes in mountainous Tibet and Yunnan, you ought to drink drips of boiled water regularly.
6. Chinatour360.com supplies two bottles of mineral water per person per day on tour.