• 2022.08.04
  • Toilets in Thailand
Have you ever encountered something that makes you feel anxious when you travel?
Speaking in the local language, for example? The food? Hotels? Getting around?
How about the toilets? Have you ever felt unsure about them?
Toilets are something we all use multiple times a day… and people use them a little differently in each country.
In this post, I’ll talk about the toilets in Thailand so you don’t have any problems if you travel there.


A Western-style toilet in Thailand

There are two types of toilets in Thailand. The first are the same Western-style toilets (flush toilets) common in Japan. The second are Thai-style toilets, which are flushed by manually pouring water into them from a bucket.

I often hear visitors to Thailand ask, “How in the world do we use Thai-style toilets?”
In 1897, the Thai government issued the Bangkok Public Sanitation Law requiring that people use toilets to eliminate. Prior to that, most of the general population simply did their business here and there without using toilets at all. To prevent communicable diseases, the capital city of Bangkok installed public toilets, which marked the beginning of Thai-style toilets. Following World War II, toilets had become common in everyday households as well. Most of them were Thai-style toilets, which people flushed themselves by filling buckets and pouring them inside. In recent years there have been more toilets that flush automatically at the push of a button, but it’s easy to get long pants or long skirts dirty, so you have to be careful with them. There’s also been an effort to make them easier to use for the elderly, pregnant women, and small children.

Is toilet paper all you need to clean up with after you go to the bathroom?

Personally, I think toilet paper is enough.
Most people don’t need anything more than toilet paper once they’ve finished doing their business, but 90% of the Thai people don’t feel it’s enough, and use a bidet.
Thai bidets are different than Japanese ones. They’re manual water gun-type bidets that are stored right on the side of the toilet.

That’s right—a water gun bidet!

It’s probably hard to get a clear picture of the toilets so far, so I’ll give you a little more detail based on conversations with my non-Thai friends.

What surprised you about Thai toilets?
Here were the most common answers:

(1) You can’t flush toilet paper in them!
(2) The bidets are manually operated!
(3) You squat with your backside to the wall when using a Thai-style toilet!
(4) You have to pour a bucket of water in yourself to flush when you’re done!


(1) You can’t flush toilet paper in them!
I think this was everyone’s number one answer.
The main reason you can’t flush toilet paper down Thai toilets is that the plumbing uses narrow pipes with low water pressure. This means that toilet paper and tissues tend to clog the pipes easily, in many cases making it impossible to use the toilet.
Thai toilets have special wastebaskets in each stall designed for used toilet paper, so make sure you use them!


Manual water-gun-type bidet

(2) The bidets are manually operated
Both Thai and Japanese toilets have bidets. The difference is that the Thai ones are operated manually.
Thai people don’t consider themselves clean unless they’ve rinsed with water.
To teach children the importance of sanitation, parents rinse their bottoms for them when they’re young, gradually teaching them to do it themselves. In recent years, almost all toilets have a Thai-style water gun bidet, which puts people at ease—but they don’t feel comfortable if they see a toilet without one.
My non-Thai friends often ask me how to use it. From the back, or from the front?
The answer is—it doesn’t matter! Either way is fine.
If just shooting the water directly isn’t enough, you can try it Thai style—just hold the water gun with one hand and wash with the other.
Just make sure you pay attention to the angle of the water gun and mind the water pressure if it’s your first time!

(3) You squat with your backside to the wall when using a Thai-style toilet!
Unlike a Japanese-style toilet, Thai-style toilets don’t have a splash guard, so it’s easy for the water to splash back when you use them. And because they’re so close to the wall, the smell is often noticeable as well. These are a couple of reasons to face forward, but the main reason is that many Thai people feel safer and more comfortable facing the door than turning their back to it.
In any case, make sure to lock the door no matter which way you face!

(4) You have to pour a bucket of water in yourself to flush when you’re done!
Most toilets you find at temples or gas stations these days are Thai-style toilets that you flush with a bucket of water. Even when you occasionally come across a Western-style toilet, you may have to flush it the same way using a bucket of water.
Unlike flush toilets that automatically flush everything away cleanly with a button, you’ve got to keep flushing Thai-style toilets yourself until the water runs clean, and also rinse the area around the commode in consideration of the next person. Make sure you don’t slip if your feet get wet!


Thai-style toilet

This is how toilets look in my native country of Thailand.
It’s important to learn about everyday practices before you travel, so you can enjoy your experience more.
I wonder how toilets are in other countries!

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  • Chuleeporn Suksabye
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Hi, my name is Amm. I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Have you ever been to Thailand? I have many stories about Thailand to tell you. Let’s have fun with us!!

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