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Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

Introduction to Drinking Water in Mexico

Anyone planning a trip to Mexico should familiarize themselves with the tap water in Mexico and whether it’s safe to drink. While many countries have clean water that you can enjoy straight from the tap, Mexico is a bit different. In general, Mexico tap water is considered unsafe for drinking, so you’ll have to find other ways to stay hydrated during your travels. 

If you can’t drink tap water in Mexico, what should you do when it comes to brushing your teeth, washing your hands, and showering? This guide will answer all your lingering questions about Mexican water, what happens if you drink the water in Mexico, and more.

Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Mexico City ToursClick here to check out the top Mexico City tours
Best Mexico City Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Mexico City
Best Mexico City Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Mexico City

Why Can’t You Drink Tap Water in Mexico?

While there are some areas of Mexico where you might see people drinking from the tap, it’s generally best to avoid consuming tap water in Mexico. This is because Mexico’s water infrastructure doesn’t purify it to the same degree as other countries, like the UK of the United States. Mexican water is unsafe for both tourists and locals—some argue it’s even harmful to animals. I personally always gave our dog Coco purified bottled water to drink.

Popular tourist towns like Puerto Vallarta and Cancun often purify their water sources more than rural areas of the country so that visitors have less chance of getting sick from the tap water. But having lived in Playa del Carmen I can tell you that although it may not make you instantly sick it contains very high levels of heavy metals and minerals which if consumed over time will make you very sick. In all the years I lived in Mexico not once did I drink water, or even cook or make tea from tap water in Mexico. 

I recommend always sticking with bottled water in Mexico so you don’t have to worry about falling ill. Even if the Mexico tap water has been purified, it can become contaminated with bacteria as it’s being transported through the pipes. Or stored in the tanks of older buildings.

What Happens If You Drink the Water in Mexico?

Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

If you drink Mexican water straight from the tap, you might experience stomach issues and discomfort. The tap water in Mexico frequently contains bacteria and viruses that can upset your gastrointestinal system. One of the most common symptoms of drinking the Mexico tap water is Traveler’s Diarrhea (TD), which is sometimes referred to locally as Montezuma’s Revenge. 

Trust me when I say, TD is as unpleasant as it sounds! While you can’t see the microscopic organisms that contaminate the water in Mexico, they can wreak havoc on your body. If you become sick with TD, expect stomach cramps, nausea, and having to take frequent, urgent trips to the restroom. Thankfully, TD tends to improve naturally after one to two days without special treatment.  

How to See a Doctor if You Become Sick from Drinking Water in Mexico

Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

If you drink tap water in Mexico and begin to feel sick, you can always visit a doctor to make sure there are no severe issues to worry about. Thankfully, seeing a doctor in Mexico is a relatively quick and easy process. Simply search for a pharmacy near you and swing by for a visit—most have walk-in clinics where you can see a doctor within 10 to 15 minutes. After the doctor evaluates and diagnoses you, you can purchase the appropriate medication and be on your way. Most don’t charge, they just have a tips box.

More severe cases of feeling sick from the Mexico tap water could warrant visiting a local hospital. I recommend heading to a hospital or urgent care center if your symptoms continue to worsen or do not improve within a few days of treatment. To be safe, consider purchasing travel insurance before your trip to Mexico for extreme situations like this.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $39. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Best Bottled Water in Mexico

Since you can’t drink Mexican water straight from the tap, it’s best to drink bottled water in Mexico. There are many options available, but the best-bottled water in Mexico comes from reputable brands like Epura, Bonafont, and Santa Maria. You can trust most of the bottled water options available in Mexican grocery and convenience stores.

The downside to drinking bottled water in Mexico is the environmental impact since most are packaged with plastic. One way to cut down on waste while drinking water in Mexico is to pack a reusable water bottle. You can fill your bottle with purified water available at restaurants, hotels, and more to stay hydrated throughout your trip. 

As someone who lived in Mexico, I always bought a big Garafon of water, normally for Epura. These huge bottles are reusable so there is less wastage. But they are heavy and if you are just there for a week probably not the best option for you.

When I’ve lived in other countries like Guatemala and Colombia they have big water filters everywhere. But sadly they don’t work in Mexico because of all the heavy metals…

Cooking with Tap Water in Mexico

Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

Mexico water is typically safe to cook with, though you can always stick with bottled water for extra peace of mind. I personally never cooked in tap water. When I first moved to Playa del Carmen I used to. But the water destroyed all my pans. 

The water in the Riviera Maya has so much limestone in it it will destroy anything it’s boiled in. So god knows what that would do to your internal organs! I always used bottled water to cook in Mexico, always!

Boiling Mexican water makes it safe to consume since the heat kills harmful bacteria. However, Mexican tap water usually tastes weird even after purification, so use bottled water if you’re worried about the flavor. 

If you’re just using tap water in Mexico to wash fruits and vegetables, you shouldn’t have to worry about boiling or purifying it in advance.  You will need to get some of the drops to add in to the water though. Or just using white vinegar with the water should do the trick.

Myths About Drinking Water in Mexico

One of the most common myths about Mexican water is that all water in Mexico is unsafe to drink. While Mexico tap water is not fit for human consumption, there are plenty of purified and bottled water options that you can drink instead. Reputable restaurants and resorts typically put tap water in Mexico through extra purification steps to ensure it’s safe to drink. 

Another myth is that locals can drink the Mexico tap water with no issues because they’re accustomed to the water contaminants. As you’ll discover during your trip, most of the locals in Mexico also stick to bottled water. I’m married to a Mexican and not once have I ever seen him or anyone else in his family drinking the Mexican tap water.

Some private homes are outfitted with purified water lines, though it’s more common to see residences with water filters that remove harmful bacteria from the tap water. We did look into getting the reverse osmosis system fitted at one point before we left.

FAQs About Drinking Water in Mexico

Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

Still asking yourself, “Why can’t you drink the water in Mexico?” Check out these frequently asked questions for more information about Mexico’s water.

🚰 Why is the water in Mexico bad?

It’s important to know that not all water in Mexico is bad! Specifically, Mexico’s tap water is unsafe for human consumption because it isn’t thoroughly purified. Bottled and filtered water, however, is safe to drink. 

🚰 What is in the water in Mexico that makes you sick?

The tap water in Mexico contains harmful contaminants like bacteria and viruses that can irritate your stomach.  

🚰 Can I drink coffee in Mexico?

Coffee is safe to drink in Mexico because restaurants and cafes use purified water to make it. As an added bonus, the water will also be heated as the coffee is made, which kills off any lingering microorganisms that could cause stomach pain. 

🚰 Can I drink ice in Mexico?

Ice in Mexico is made with purified water, so it is safe to consume. 

🚰 Are salads safe in Mexico?

Salads are generally safe to eat in Mexico because washing vegetables with Mexico tap water shouldn’t make you sick. Oftentimes, fresh foods in Mexico are also prepared with mild products like vinegar that help clean them more thoroughly. Especially if you’re ordering a salad from a restaurant, you can trust that it probably won’t irritate your stomach. 

🚰 Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Mexico?

Can You Drink The Water In Mexico? Guide To Mexican Water

Since you typically ingest only a small amount of water while brushing your teeth, it is safe to use Mexican water from the tap. If you have a sensitive stomach or feel nervous about brushing your teeth with tap water in Mexico, just use bottled water instead.

🚰 Can you shower in Mexico water?

Yes, while Mexican water from the tap is not safe to drink, it is safe to shower with. That said in the Riviera Maya as the water has so much limestone in it it will destroy your hair if you are there washing your hair for a long time (I’m talking months not weeks). 

Personally, I kept a big bottle of purified water in my bathroom and used that to wash my hair with. I also bought one of these shower heads that softened the water. It did help a bit, but I still always did the final rinse with bottled water!

🚰 Can I open my mouth in the shower in Mexico?

Mexico tap water is safe to shower with, though I don’t recommend drinking it! There’s no need for concern if a little bit of the water gets in your mouth while you shower. 

🚰 Can you drink the water in Mexico resorts?

While some upscale resorts in Mexico have dedicated water-filtration systems that let you drink water straight from the tap, I still recommend opting for bottled water. Many resorts will provide bottled water or small tanks of purified water for your room that you can enjoy. 

🚰 Can you drink water in Mexican restaurants?

Most restaurants in Mexico will automatically provide customers with bottled or purified water. If you’re concerned about potential contamination, make sure to specifically request bottled water. You can also bring your own reusable water bottle and ask the restaurant to fill it up for you. 

🚰 Can you drink tap water in Cancun?

No, I don’t recommend drinking tap water in Cancun. While tap water might be more purified in Cancun than in other areas of the country, it is still better to stick with bottled or filtered water.

🚰 Can you drink the water in Mexico City?

I only recommend drinking water in Mexico City that comes from a bottle or purification tank.

🚰 Can you drink water in Puerto Vallarta?

Apparently so! It has the best water in Mexico. However, I lived there for over 1 year and never once drank the tap water, nor did my Mexican husband or any other Mexican I know there. It’s just not worth the risk. 

Instead of drinking from the tap, use a refillable water bottle. 

Quick Tip: View my full Mexico packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Mexico Essentials shopping list here.

Mexico Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Mexico?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Mexico which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Mexico on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Mexico?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Mexico?

First and foremost check out all of the amazing Mexico tours Where Sidewalks End has. They are a small local company and they have some really special experiences.

For everything else I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide

If you are traveling to Cancun you can use GoCity and save up to 55% of the initial cost of entrance tickets to various museums, tours, and attractions!

If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen then I recommend booking through my friend Vanessa at Turismo Channel. You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Conclusion: Understanding the Water in Mexico

Hopefully, this guide to safely enjoying water in Mexico has cleared up any confusion over the question of “Why can’t you drink water in Mexico?” Since Mexico’s tap water is not thoroughly purified, it contains bacteria that can cause severe stomach issues. Instead of drinking water in Mexico straight from the tap, purify it first by boiling it or using a water filter. 

No matter where you travel in Mexico, it’s best to use bottled and purified water to avoid getting sick. If you do end up falling ill from the Mexico water, you should feel better within a few days and can always visit a doctor for more guidance on medications and treatments to alleviate discomfort. Check out my Mexico travel guide for more travel tips and tricks, and enjoy your trip to Mexico!

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