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I ordered SteriPEN before I started my India trip but unfortunately it didn't arrive in time. I'm only drinking bottled water here but am interested whether tap water in train stations and some monuments is safe to drink or is the board which says Drinking water just put there as a decoration or is that water really safe.

Related: Drinking tea and coffee on the street

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When you buy bottled water, don't forget to check that the seal is still intact. I've been told that some shop keepers might re-use water bottles and re-fill it with tap water for re-sale. After you are done drinking the bottled water and don't plan to use it, crush it. – Thierry Lam Mar 26 '12 at 19:53
India is huge. There is an incredible difference between the tap water at the Lamborghini dealership in Worli in downtown Mumbai, and the tap water in some village. – Joe Blow Jun 25 '15 at 17:44
up vote 13 down vote accepted

I was advised by both locals and colleagues who'd travelled to India to even be careful which bottled water you drink, as some (such as refilled glass bottles provided in hotel rooms) are filled from tap water.

The rule of thumb I was given was to stick to brewery brands, as most have related bottled water brands. These have filtration and other sterilising processes as their beer counterparts.

I would think the 'drinking water' taps are there for locals who are used to the bacteria which is in the water. An 'initiation ceremony' I've heard of, for people who have permanently relocated to India is to be handed a glass of tap water and told to spend the next week at home ill... once you've been ill you're good to go, but if you're only there for a few weeks it really wouldn't be good to be out of action for a week.

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Yeah, thanks... I was also thinking it was for the Indians but wasn't sure. – rlesko Mar 13 '12 at 0:56
To be completely honest, I was born and brought up in Delhi and I never had tap water. +1 For sticking to brewery brands though! Other equally good brands you can happily have in India are Kinley, Aquafina, Bisleri! – Aditya Somani May 13 '14 at 2:08
People generally will boil, filter before drinking water, or buy bottles. – phoxis Aug 18 '14 at 9:15
+1 for mentioning the risk of bottles being refilled. If you're in a up-market western hotel chain or a prestigious restaurant, you needn't worry. Even if it's an unbranded bottle has been refilled, it will have been refilled from a good-quality filtration system. Otherwise, don't risk it. – Richard Smith Dec 14 '15 at 18:16

No, tap water is usually not safe to drink in India. Households commonly buy large, office cooler type bottles of drinking water or have in-house filtration systems. So if it's a normal tap, then don't drink from it.

The exception is if the tap has a cooling or a filtration unit next to it. (I can't find a free image for this to include here.) These could be a small single unit with tubes leading to the tap, or for larger multi-tap units then the cooling compressor should be obvious to notice.

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I just spent 7 weeks in India and while I did not drink the normal tap water, I did drink the water from the Drinking Water stations in railway stations or near temples. I also drunk the water served in restaurants. I did assume that this water while not coming from bottles has been through some sort of filtering system. I did this from day 1 and have had no health problems whatsoever.

Of course there is always a risk, but most people I spoke to who got sick in India did not drink the 'public water'.

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Drinking tap water in India is not always safe, especially at railway stations. However the tap water available at most of the monuments is safe to drink. I advise you to drink bottled water in trains. At many places there is an arrangement for filtered tap water by Indian government. You can trust that water.

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I'd advise not to drink tapped water from public places. Water at railway stations/bus stations needs to be avoided. Coming to museums and places with monuments, it depends on the hygienic conditions at that place.

Thus, bottled water is advisable. In India we have places where you can get Rs.5000 worth shoes by Nike for Rs.500 by name nikee. Duplicate brands or parts of almost everything, can be found in India. Same applies to bottled water too. Watch out for duplicates or local made's like 'Aqaufeena'(Aqaufina-->Trustworthy brand),'Besleri'(Bisleri--->Trustworthy brand).

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Drinking unfiltered water in India is the number one cause of illness for foreign (and local) travelers. Consumption of tap water in India, unfortunately, carries the risk of water borne diseases such as Dysentery and Typhoid. Even with bottled water, ensure that you purchase from a reputable outlet, and not from a street hawker, to avoid the risk of contamination. On the other hand, if the water is heated to a boiling point (as in the preparation of tea/coffee), it will be potable.

PS>> I haven't heard much about the SteriPEN, but even if you had it, I wouldn't trust implicitly.

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