It is considered not the best idea to drink tap water in Cambodia unless one fancies dysentery...

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When in Thailand I have been buying water from 7-11, 6 litres for 38 bath, which would last my family around a day... Or water machines that have a similar cost per litre.

However in Cambodia they don't have these 'big' volumes. A big bottle is 1.5 litres, and costs 0.50$, which isn't much, it just feels not very cost-effective...

Where does one get cheap drinking water in Cambodia?

  • Do you see any street traders selling bundles of water sachets like these? cdn.modernghana.com/images/content/h4co26rfe8_18122.jpg Might just be an Africa thing... Mar 13, 2017 at 17:09
  • I would invest in a good reverse osmosis filter (or UV pen), and then you can fill up from local sources. In the long run, I suspect it will be both more cost-effective and better for the environment.
    – choster
    Mar 13, 2017 at 19:05
  • @user568458 Hi, nope. However I saw even bigger bottles that look similar to cooler bottles something like this img.thrfun.com/img/013/872/uses_for_water_cooler_bottles_l.jpg so they could be the cheaper option but I saw them only in couple of places and it could be that they are not for sale but internal use instead... Mar 14, 2017 at 1:00
  • 3
    @choster Hi Choster. I have UV pen it does not clean chemical pollution only bacteria... In regards reverse osmosis I had one when I was living in UK and it's huge, it's a great thing but I haven't encountered one that would be mobile, and they cost quite a lot to just buy for a month and then leave it.... Locals do drink water.... there must be some cheap access to clean water... Mar 14, 2017 at 1:03
  • Yeah, over here the big cooler bottles are the second most cost effective after the sachets. If you don't have a cooler to put it in, you can probably buy a little plastic pump designed to fit in the top like this at a "misc plastic stuff" market stall or something. Also, ask whoever sells the big bottles if there's any way of selling on or giving away the big empty bottles - over here they get re-used for all sorts of things Mar 14, 2017 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


First up, this is only really suitable for long stays (at least 2+ weeks).

If big 20 litre "water cooler" style water bottles are available for sale somewhere, chances are there's some kind of refill service available. I've found an article by UNICEF that talks about one such company it has helped to get started, and the prices look like what you're looking for. The way UNICEF talk about the company makes it sound like the service isn't unusual, and that this particular company is remarkable simply for bringing this service to a remote community:

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The system works by collecting water from a local arsenic-free well and pumping it into two large tanks where a series of filters remove large pieces of dirt and excess iron to ensure it will have a good taste.

At the next stage the water is pumped through a UV (ultra-violet light) treatment system which takes out small particles of dirt and kills bacteria.

...Currently each new water bottle is sold at the low price of 18,000 riels (US$4.5). A refill costs 1,200 riels (US30₵). They also supply the local primary schools with 20 bottles per day, free of charge.

The specific company they talk about is probably not in the right location for you, but it's an indication of the sort of thing to look for, a setup based on:

  • A small stockpile of these bottles
  • Weekly (?) refills through a water company
  • Some kind of pump if you don't have a water cooler, almost certainly available somewhere "home plasticware" is sold, like this:

enter image description here

How to find such a water company is the tricky part. Some suggestions:

  • Look for contact details on the bottles themselves
  • Ask the people who sell the bottles (who may well act as middlemen for a small commission)
  • Find a local business directory
  • Ask around, particularly smart office buildings of the type that likely refill water coolers for their staff. Local NGO branch offices probably are a good easy place to start.
  • Ask relatively well-off locals what they do!
  • Hi, thanks for the answer. I would like to accept it, but I need an actual phone or address or website... something that does not require next person that comes along to go look onward. I couldn't find address on bottles and locals do not offer refill service (at least not to barangs) Mar 15, 2017 at 4:21
  • Have you managed to find out what middle-income locals do for drinking water? Mar 15, 2017 at 9:31
  • 1
    Ok, You were right I can confirm now that some shops that do have full and empty 20l bottles usually do refills. I can also confirm that price is from 3000 ryel to 1$. Mar 15, 2017 at 13:11
  • Oh also 20l water bottle is 6-7$ Mar 15, 2017 at 13:17
  • Nice, glad it worked out! If you like, you could also post your own answer giving some examples of such shops? Mar 15, 2017 at 13:28

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