Drinking Water in China
Unlike in most western countries, the tap water in China is undrinkable before it is boiled.
Drinking Water in Hotels
Hotel rooms often feature a water dispenser which delivers both cool and hot potable water. However, some hotels have no water dispenser but are instead equipped with a water heater or thermos. You can use the heater to boil water or use the water directly from the thermos. If the water in the thermos has run out, you can ask a waiter to refill it. In some cases, four- or five-star hotels may supply high-quality mineral water for free or for a minimal charge. The tap water in the hotels can be used to brush teeth.
Drinking Water in Restaurants
In most Chinese restaurants, water is served for free before the meal, although some will offer tea or noodle soup instead. Always, the drink offered has been boiled, and you can drink it without worry. Most restaurants also have bottled water or other beverages on their menu. However, you must pay for them and the price is higher than that found at the supermarket. Note that some of the restaurants may sell cold drinks, but without ice.
Drinking Water Outside
Although the tap water is not drinkable, you won't have to worry about finding water when you go out as it is quite easy to buy bottled water in shops everywhere in China. Foreign brands are available in the supermarkets of big cities, while in small cities or rural areas only local brands are sold.
Several popular brands of bottled water, such as Wa Ha Ha, Nestle and Nongfu Spring, are available for purchase, while bottled tea and juice are also popular. Ordinary bottled mineral water and various beverages are commonly sold in many street shops, supermarkets, restaurants and hotel stores for about CNY2 per bottle.