Can I Drink Tap Water in Bolivia?

Sucre, Bolivia

No, you shouldn’t drink tap water in Bolivia. While water is technically cleaned and purified in large plants, there’s no guarantee that the equipment works correctly. Plus, the ageing plumbing system throughout Bolivia can cause fresh contamination before the water reaches the tap. 

In a pinch, you can drink tap water in urban areas but ensure it’s been boiled first and don’t make a habit of it. In more rural areas, you should avoid it altogether. 

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Water in Bolivia

Can I Brush My Teeth With Tap Water in Bolivia?

In urban areas, you can brush your teeth with tap water. In rural areas, you should stick to bottled, filtered or boiled water. If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you should avoid brushing your teeth with tap water altogether. 

Can I Wash My Face With Tap Water in Bolivia?

Yes, you can wash your face with tap water in Bolivia. It’s the same water that comes out of the shower, so if you’re washing your entire body with it, you can wash your face with it. Just be careful not to swallow any and avoid getting it in your eyes if possible. 

Running tap water in South America
You can wash your face with tap water in Bolivia!

Do Locals in Bolivia Drink Tap Water?

Some locals in Bolivia drink tap water but it depends where in the country they are. As a general rule, if they can afford to do so, Bolivians drink bottled water. 

Is Ice in Bolivia Safe?

Ice made from untreated tap water isn’t safe to consume. However, many restaurants and bars use boiled or filtered water to make ice. Always ask how the ice is made before consuming it. If they can’t or won’t tell you, just ask for your drink without! 

How to Ask for No Ice:

In Spanish: “Sin hielo por favor”
Ice cubes in South America
Be careful when consuming ice in Bolvia – make sure it’s been made with clean water!

Bottled Water in Bolivia

Bottled water is everywhere in Bolivia. Expect to pay around 7Bs (approx $1USD) for a 1.5-litre bottle. The larger the bottle, the cheaper the water per litre. 

Always check the seals on bottled water in Bolivia. It’s not unheard of for people to refill empty bottles with tap water – this is more common in tiny shops or from street vendors. Water bought in supermarkets will generally be safe. 

Can I Use a Filtered Water Bottle in Bolivia?

Yes, you can use a filtered water bottle in Bolivia. Opt for a purifier like the Grayl UltraPress or one of the Grayl alternatives, rather than a standard filter. Purifiers remove viruses and heavy metals, as well as bacteria and particulates. Much of Bolivia’s water supply is contaminated by mining operations which flood rivers with heavy metals. Having something to remove these is important, especially for long-term use! 

Tap Water in Bolivia – Is It Drinkable?

Although it’s cleaned in treatment plants, tap water in Bolivia isn’t considered safe to drink, especially in rural areas. Stick to bottled, boiled or filtered water. Parasites like Giardia are relatively common in parts of Bolivia, so you need to be careful. Giardiasis is no joke and can wipe you out for weeks. Avoid ice unless you’re sure it’s been made from boiled or treated water.

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