Safe Drinking Water in Penang

Drinking water

Clean drinking water is important

If you are a regular traveler, you know that water can be an issue. Hydration is important for general health and you will need more as you live in Penang, an arguably hot climate. There are recommendations about how much water a person should drink online. They say that adults need to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water a day. I find that hard to keep track of and over generalized. What about children? They cannot be expected to drink that much in a day. What about other fluids?  Is the water in Penang safe to drink?

So for that reason, I have a general rule of thumb to know if I’m drinking enough water. Try to keep your urine relatively clear. If it starts to get a little too dark, you are running low and you should have more.

Bottled water

Unless you are far off the beaten track, you should be able to buy a bottle of water in Penang relatively cheaply and close to where you are. A 600 ml bottle will be around RM 1 to 2 at a convenience store (like 7-eleven) or as much as RM 3 if you are at a restaurant. A 1.5 L bottle will run between RM 3 -5, again, depending on where you are buying it.

Tap water in Penang

Tap water in Penang is potable. Many drink it and have report no problems with bacterial infection or parasites.

Yet, we’ve noticed that when using a ceramic filter, the filter often turns a rust color faster than we ever saw a filter get dirty in Indonesia (where no one in their right mind drinks the tap water). So, it’s up to you, but you may want to get a filter.

Many people just get one of the blue and clear plastic-cased fabric filters that fits next to the meter in front of your house. They’re very cheap and usually include installation.  I have written more about these water filters in another post on this site.  I also describe my sink-side water filter system in my kitchen for drinking water.

You may also want to get a ceramic filter set for your kitchen, like the one pictured here. These come in many forms—one is just a clear tank on top with a filter below and another tank below—gravity fed. You have to pour a few liters of tap water into the top to get it dripping through the filter. It’s cheap and easy to find replacement filters at Tesco etc.

Or you can get one of the multi filter sets that have become popular these past few years, that sit on the counter next to your sink and put water through multiple steps before you consume it. This costs a bit more, but is probably more convenient. If you’re willing to spend more, you can get a complete, multi-staged system set up in front of your house so that every drop of water that comes out of all your taps is guaranteed to be pure and healthy.

Check out the photographs of the water filters at my house and make your own decision if you think the water in Penang is safe to drink.