Can I drink the water in Mexico?

Stay healthy in Mexico: stick to bottled water

Faucet
••• Yuji Kotani / Getty Images

You've heard it said time and again: don't drink the water in Mexico. But it's hot, and you're bound to get thirsty. So what will you drink? Don't worry: we've got the answers to these questions and any concerns you may have about drinking the water in Mexico.

Is it safe to drink water from the tap?

Many first-time travelers to Mexico and those who have never been at all have heard that they shouldn't drink the water.

But not to worry: you won't have to drink beer or soft drinks during your whole trip, there's plenty of drinking water available everywhere in Mexico! You just need to avoid drinking tap water. Stick to bottled water to be sure the water you drink won't give you problems with your digestive system or a case of the dreaded "Montezuma's revenge."

Stick to bottled water

As a rule you should not drink tap water in Mexico. Generally the water is purified at the source, but the distribution system may allow the water to be contaminated en route to the tap. Most Mexicans find the idea of drinking tap water somewhat repulsive: they buy water in five gallon jugs called "garrafones" which are delivered to their homes (and recycled). Do as Mexicans do, and stick to purified water. Some families may have water filters installed in their homes, but this is not the case for the majority of Mexican families.

Most hotels provide bottled water, or large jugs of purified water for you to refill your bottle. Many resorts take this worry away from their guests by having their water purified on-site; if this is the case, there's usually a notice by the tap that the water is potable ("agua potable"). Some hotels may provide a bottle or two of water in your room and charge you for any other bottles you consume beyond that.

Keep a look out for a note to this effect, and if this is the case, you may be better off stopping at a corner store for water to avoid paying inflated prices for water at your resort or hotel.

Bottled water is readily available wherever you travel in Mexico and is generally very affordable. Order it in stores or restaurants by asking for "agua pura," or to specify that you want a bottle, you can ask for "un bote de agua pura." You'll find bottles of 500 ml, 1  liter, or 2 liters. There are various brands. Stick to local brands to be sure you won't be overcharged (imported water can be very expensive). Learn more essential words and phrases in Spanish.

What about the ice?

Ice is generally made from purified water; in hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists you shouldn't encounter any issues with the ice or water. Purchasing drinks from market stands and food stalls may be more risky. Ice that is in the form of a cylinder with a hole in the center is purchased from a purified ice factory and you can feel safe consuming it.

Brushing your teeth

Residents in Mexico may brush their teeth with tap water but they'll rinse and spit, being careful to not swallow. As a tourist, you may be better off taking the precaution of using bottled water to brush your teeth, and do try to remember to keep your mouth shut when you shower.

 

Stay healthy in Mexico

You should also practice some safety measures when choosing foods and drinks in Mexico so that your digestive system doesn't act up during your trip. Find some tips and read more about how to avoid Montezuma's Revenge