Unless treated by means of an in-home water purification system, the municipal water that supplies Chiang Mai is best considered not safe to consume direct from the tap (faucet) and should therefore be sourced from elsewhere. For those on the very tightest of budgets, the omnipresent self-service coin-operated water-vending machines are easily the most cost-effective alternative to guzzling regular tap water and dispense a litre (or, on occasion, 1.5 litres) of water for either 1 baht or 50 satang.
Domestic bottled water is available individually or in shrink-wrapped bundles of 6, 12 or 24 off the shelf. Almost without exception, the greater the volume of same-brand bottled water you buy, the better the value with prices for the standard sized 1.5 litres starting at 9 baht (or 49 baht for a pack of 6) up to 24 baht depending on the brand and the vendor; the larger 6 litre containers of branded bottled water range in price from 26 to 59 baht. Outside of any promotional period, the price differential for identical products can be significant though so if you’re brand-loyal, it’s worthwhile shopping around to secure the biggest bang for your baht.
Infinitely more affordable, numerous companies throughout Chiang Mai offer the added convenience of home delivery (and collection/refill thereafter) of potable bottled water. Of all such local concerns, Glacier is consistently regarded as the most reputable providing non-sparkling and ozonated ‘Pure Mountain’ drinking water in re-usable, properly sealed bottles; a crate of 20x 1 litre opaque plastic bottles costs 42 baht (with a refundable deposit of 200 baht), a single 20 litre opaque plastic bottle 23 baht (with a returnable deposit of 90 baht) or, for a cleaner taste, 24x 500ml of drinking water in transparent glass bottles for 60 baht (with a refundable deposit of 300 baht). Competition between the various bottled drinking water suppliers is keen, however, with negligible differences in price.
Thirsty to learn more? Drinking Water in Chiang Mai – A Survival Guide.