Squat toilets are all over Bangkok, but there are plenty of Western ones too. In the rest of Thailand though you’ll find much fewer toilets other than squat toilets, but it is possible to find Western toilets here as well. You just need to know where to look.
1. Shopping malls – The easiest place to find Western toilets is in the malls. All the new malls now have Western-style toilets with sometimes one or two squat toilets right at the end of the bathrooms. In the old malls, they have mostly squat toilets with a couple of Western toilets at the end.
Make sure, before you go into the stall and lock the door, you check the toilet paper situation. Most of the upscale malls have toilet paper, but some don’t. For those that don’t, you’ll find machines that sell it at the entrance to the bathroom. For about 5 cents, you can get a box of tissue paper that will nicely do the trick.
|This is how Thais from ‘upcountry’ pee.|
Be aware though, you’ll still often find feet mark on your toilet seat. Outside Bangkok this will be the norm, but even in Bangkok you’ll find them too. People from upcountry (‘upcountry’ being anywhere outside Bangkok) still haven’t quite figured out that the porcelain thing isn’t meant to be stood on then squatted upon.
2. Restaurants – The American chain restaurants, if they have bathrooms, will always have Western toilets. However, unlike in the US, if you sell food in Thailand you don’t have to have a bathroom, so you’ll find at least 50% of the restaurants here don’t have a toilet – squat or Western. If you’re desperate to go, usually the McDonald’s has a toilet and so do the large restaurants, in Bangkok,like Tony Roma’s and the Hard Rock Café. Otherwise, if it’s a Thai restaurant they may only have a squat toilet, in which case you’re either crossing your legs or squatting down like you’re Thai.
3. Hotels – All the large hotels have Western style bathrooms and they are beautiful. Marble, with huge stalls, proper terrycloth hand towels, and an attendant that keeps the place spotlessly clean, this is the place for a Western loo. Also, unlike hotels in the US, nobody will ever bother to ask if you’re staying there. Just walk in like you own the place and head for the signs that show beautiful Thai ladies and handsome Thai men.
4. Guest houses – Some of these will have Western toilets and some will have squat. Even with squat toilets though, most of them are very clean. Thais are a very clean people (they were actually voted the cleanest people in the world by a European magazine a few years ago) so toilets in guest houses tend to be quite well cared for. A lot of the time you will be sharing a bathroom with everybody on your floor though, so it’s best to get up early if you need to spend a bit of time on the toilet.
5. When traveling – At the airport in Bangkok and most of the larger cities, the toilets are all Western. At some of the smaller cities, there’ll be a mix of Western and squat.
At the train stations, unfortunately, your choice is going to be a squat toilet or nada. They are however usually clean, so don’t worry too much. Just hoist up your pants or skirt and get to it. Just make sure you’re holding up your skirt, or you’ve folded your pants legs up, and aim straight. Otherwise, you might end up leaving a bit damper than when you went in.
The bus stations I have visited have only had squat toilets and most of them are not too clean. Nip in and nip out and take your own toilet paper – that’s about the only advice I can give you on these.
Overall, you’ll find Western toilets in major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai in malls, larger restaurants, hotels and movie theaters. In a lot of the smaller restaurants, you will find either squat toilets or none at all. But because men are luckier than women, if you absolutely have to go and there’s no toilet, peeing against a wall seems to be okay. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen local Thai guys standing facing a wall. You just learn to avert your eyes.
When looking for toilets in Thailand though, remember this, apparently Thai women have less incidences of hemorrhoids then Western women and the medical experts put this down to squatting. So, see, there’s a positive side to everything.
Copyright World Traveler – Photo of squat toilet, copryight Wikimedia Commons/Wrightbus