What toilets around the world are really like

Toilet etiquette and set-up is different from country to country, and it pays to know what to expect before you travel. Not every country automatically has fresh white toilets, or even toilet seats. And some don’t have Western toilets at all! Here’s what you need to know about dunnies and their customs around the world.

1. Paying to use public toilets

It is common in South America, Europe and parts of Asia to pay to use the toilet. It is usually less than $0.50AUD and you may need to pay to take in a toilet roll as well. It also always pays to bring along tissues or a toilet roll because some places do not have loo paper in the stall. Avoid an awkward situation by being prepared!

The cost is meant to be for facilitating the bathroom’s upkeep and cleanliness but you’ll most likely find this isn’t the case. So bring hand sanitiser!

2. Squat toilets

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Squat toilets are very common throughout Asia – even in Bali and other spots filled with tourists. They might just be a hole in the ground, or slightly elevated, and most often accompanied by a hose to wash with, and no toilet paper. There may be a small bin next to the toilet to put your toilet paper in.

Some squat toilets might have automatic flush or a bidet hose next to it or some have just a bucket and a scoop. This type of toilet is quite smelly so one tip is to rub Vicks vaporub under your nose before you go in.

3. Toilets on buses, boats and trains

Around the world, most moving transport have toilets on board but they are the equivalent of public bathrooms on a Saturday night in a nightclub. You need to be wary of any germs and bring along your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

Some buses may request that you do not do “number twos” in the toilet and to instead ask the driver to pull over.

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4.  No flushing toilet paper 

We’re used to having modern plumbing systems that can handle toilet paper however you might find that in Latin America and Asia there’ll be a sign that requests you put your toilet paper in the bins provided. If you do this, be sure not to open up the bin with your hands.

5. Bidets

In Asia, you will most likely come across a bidet – it is a hose with a sprayer that is attached to the water tank. These are used to wash your areas after you use the toilet, and is a custom in some countries – and is used in place of toilet paper.

If you want the ultimate toilet experience you need to go to Japan – their toilets have very advanced and there are little panels on the right of the toilet seat complete with seat warming functions to feminine spray, and noises.

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6. Cleanliness (or lack thereof)

Be cautious as some of the toilets around the world can be disturbingly unhygienic, full with bacteria, and smell very pungent.

It’s best to bring your own little toilet kit with toilet seat covers, wipes, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

Extra note: in Latin America and some parts of Asia, you may encounter what are known as “suicide showers”. Rather than use a large tank-style water heater as we do, the heater is built into the shower head and usually has many wires sticking out – locals usually install them theirselves. Be sure to get your hotel staff to show you how to do it properly before you use it.

Have you encountered any of these toilets while travelling abroad? Let us know all about your experiences in the comments section below. 

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