Water storage in the stems of woody plants contributes to their responses to short-term water shortages. To estimate the contribution of water storage to the daily water budget of trees, time lags of sap flow between different positions of trunk are used as a proxy of stem water storage. In lianas, another large group of woody species, it has rarely been studied whether stored water functions in their daily water use, despite their increasing roles in the carbon and water dynamics of tropical forests caused by their increasing abundance. We hypothesized that lianas would exhibit large time lags due to their extremely long stems, wide vessels and large volume of parenchyma in the stem. We examined time lags in sap flow, diel changes of stem volumetric water content (VWC) and biophysical properties of sapwood of 19 lianas and 26 co-occurring trees from 27 species in 4 forests (karst, tropical seasonal, flood plain and savanna) during a wet season. The plants varied in height/length from <5 to >60 m. The results showed that lianas had significantly higher saturated water content (SWC) and much lower wood density than trees. Seven of 19 liana individuals had no time lags; in contrast, only 3 of 26 tree individuals had no time lags. In general, lianas had shorter time lags than trees in our data set, but this difference was not significant for our most conservative analyses. Across trees and lianas, time lag duration increased with diurnal maximum changeable VWC but was independent of the body size, path length, wood density and SWC. The results suggest that in most lianas, internal stem water storage contributes little to daily water budget, while trees may rely more on stored water in the stem.