Toilets in Thailand

by Josée

When you travel in Thailand you are bound to discover a few surprises along the day. For first time travelers, such as ourselves, we were definitely a little surprised by the Thai toilet culture.

Toilet Paper
The first thing we had to get use to with the toilets in Thailand was toilet paper, or lack thereof. Many public bathrooms don’t have toilet paper so unless you want to clean yourself with the pail of water or the hose provided I insist you bring some toilet paper along. You can purchase toilet paper at Tesco Lotus and 711 or snag a bit from the “napkin” dispenser on many a restaurant table. That’s right, the “napkin” dispensers actually dispense toilet paper.

The second issue with toilet paper is that it must be tossed into a trash can and not into the toilet bowl. At home I am often reminding my children to ensure the toilet paper goes in the bowl and not on the floor so it seems counter intuitive to be telling them otherwise. Apparently, plumbing in Thailand isn’t the same as in North America and wee bit of toilet paper can cause a whole lot of problems in the plumbing. I will admit that I have, on occasion, accidentally thrown my toilet paper in the toilet, but there was no way I was going to fish it out!

User Fee
The vast majority of public toilets are free but every once in a while you will have to pay a small fee to use a toilet. Usually the fee is around three baht. We have paid for restroom access at beaches and parks but paying for the use of a toilet doesn’t guarantee that it will be clean. Some restrooms are kept very clean while others are frighteningly dirty. You never know what you will get. It’s always a surprise!
Shoes or No Shoes
In some public bathrooms it is prohibited to wear your shoes. Shoes must be left outdoors and you are expected to don a pair of flip-flops that are provided. The reason for the no shoe policy is to keep the bathroom floors clean but I always find it a little disturbing to be wearing the same sandals as probably hundreds of people who have also done there thing while wearing them. Ewww.
No Hand Soap
Along with the lack of toilet paper many public washrooms, even the ones you pay to use, don’t have hand soap. I find this particularly disturbing in restaurants… Anyways, if you enjoy the satisfaction are removing fecal flora and urine from your hands I highly recommend carrying your own soap or at the very least using some hand sanitizer.
The Toilets
There are the various types of toilets in Thailand. Honestly, you never know what you will encounter at any given bathroom. Here is a quick run down.
The Sit Down Toilet
A sit down toilet with a flush lever. This is the kind of toilet we have back in Canada so there’s nothing new here. Other than putting the toilet paper in the trash everything is the same. 
The Sit Down Toilet with NO flush lever
A sit down toilet with no flush lever. If you encounter this toilet there will be a large basin of water and a pail nearby. Simply do your business then “flush” the toilet by filling the pail with water and pouring it into the toilet. It isn’t too complicated.
The Squat Toilet

Now this toilet is a little more complicated to figure out if you have never used one before. First, the positioning, place one foot on either side of the toilet on the foot rests provided. Usually you want to be facing the door, useless the squat toilet is sideways then adjust accordingly. Once you’ve got your feet on the right spots and your pants are down then you must squat! Use those quads and get low low low, putting your weight into your heels. It helps to tilt your pelvis so that any excrement goes towards to small hole which reduces undesired splashing. Squat toilets don’t have flush levers so you have to employ the good old fill the pail with water technique. 
When my daughter had her first poop on the squatty potty she was incredibly proud. It can be intimidating but it might help to know that the squatting position actually makes defecation easier. So for all you constipated travelers out there the squatty potty might just end up being a really great thing for you.

Tokyo Airport Toilet

And just for fun, above is a picture of a toilet in the Tokyo Airport. These bathroom stalls are fully equipped and very comfortable. The seats are warmed and you can indulge in a rather relaxing and comfortable cleaning of your backside. By far, the highlight of our toilet adventures. 

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Amy @WorldschoolAdventures February 22, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Ha, I remember your kids getting excited over a sit down toilet. Such luxury!

Alice McCrea February 23, 2015 - 12:07 am

I know whwt you mean of a SQUAT TOILET as i used them in India, and also a pail of water to clean ourself. Alice

Julie February 23, 2015 - 12:45 am

Oh my! I never knew there was so much to learn about toilets! I am not one to use public washrooms even in Canada (not sure where and when this phobia started!!), so I can only imagine if I had to travel…


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