Water Fountains and Water Dispensers in Thailand

Throughout Thailand, you’ll find many water dispensers in hotels and restaurants and gyms and hostels and other indoor venues.

They’re the same types of water dispensers you’ve seen all over the world, or in your home country. You might call them water coolers. You know the ones I mean, I don’t know why I’m still describing this in depth. I’ll stop now.

These water dispensers in Thailand serve up safe-to-drink water. I use them, locals use them, other tourists use them, everyone uses them. They are one of the best options for drinking water in Thailand.

… and because you can use them to top up your refillable water bottle*, they’ll save you some money. Bottled water in Thailand is cheap, but not buying bottled water is even cheaper.

*if you don’t have a good refillable water bottle, you should get one. They’re convenient, they’re good for the environment, and they mean you have easier access to drinking water. Buy a refillable water bottle, you doofus. Just make sure you get a BPA-free one, so you’re not harming yourself with nasty chemicals. Here’s the one I recommend, it includes a filter too.

But get this—there’s also another type of water dispenser you can find in Thailand:

In many of the bigger towns and cities in Thailand, you’ll also find on-street water dispensers. These on-street water dispensers (as pictured below) have a big space where you can put a (big or small) bottle. You place your bottle in the hole, you insert some money, you press a button, and you get some thirst-quenching water to slurp on.

On-street Water Dispensers in Thailand
On-street Water Dispensers in Thailand
by tinabasgen (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

You can insert 500-ml bottles, 10-liter bottles, and everything in between. You could probably even squeeze a 20-liter bottle in there, but I’ve never personally done it. Filling a 1-liter bottle costs 1 baht (less than 0.03 USD).

These dispensers are much more common than most tourists realize. You might have even wandered by some without realizing. But once you spot one, you’ll spot them all. They’re everywhere.

But it’s not all good news: in a 2016 nationwide study, “40% of the[se] machines dispense[d] water which fail[ed] to meet acceptable water-quality standards.”

That said, I drink this water, locals drink this water, and all locals say this water is safe to drink. I haven’t scientifically tested it myself, but I always drink it, and I’ve never had any problems.

My main advice is: if you see other people using the machine, use the machine. If you’re a panicky person who doesn’t trust the world, just drink bottled water from shops instead.

And that brings us to…

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