Thai Toilets – Get Me Out Of Here

Typical Thai toilet

This post is aimed at those of you who are soon heading to Thailand for your first trip and also the slightly more experienced Pattaya type tourist who is considering a jolly upcountry to sample village life for the very first time.

Big trouble in tourist Thailand, I wouldn’t go that far, but it would have taken some explaining. I was in a Thai toilet, my camera primed. I wanted one more shot, a big one. My problem was the dim lighting; I didn’t want my camera to flash. I had visions of flashing being read out from the police charge sheet. I wouldn’t recommend taking photographs in Thai toilets it can be quite embarrassing.

You may think your first evening in the village is going well. You’ve indeed shown your girlfriend’s family how to drink, and you haven’t had to empty your bladder all night. You are one fantastic falang.

Uncle Boon has collapsed in a drunken heap and proven to you that Thai vomit has just as much tomato in it as the western variety. Uncle Sakchai staggered off into the jungle, singing a strange-sounding lullaby about one hour before and is yet to return. You glance over at Grandma’s dentures fizzing away in half drank whisky and soda as your girlfriend’s brother snores loudly in his sleep with a Marlboro cigarette still burning in his hand. You are one smart falang.

Thai village bathroomThe hot and sticky night takes a turn as a gentle cooling wind starts to stir, and as your body temperature lowers your bladder swells to twice the size. Hey Slackbladder, it’s time for your first visit to Grandma’s toilet.

Switching from Thailand to Taiwan here’s a story that Slackbladder might like to read before he shuts the door in Grandma’s bathroom. It involves a toilet, a snake and a part of a man’s private anatomy. Snake bites man’s pe**s in toilet.

Thai toilets or squat toilets as they are also known are one of the main reasons for westerners deciding village life is not for them. The comfort of a hotel bathroom and the safety it offers is a world away from the village home’s outside or under house lavatory and the dreaded visit to it in the middle of the night.

Mosquitoes, frogs and lizards are part of the bathroom decor, and stories of snakes in the washroom are not uncommon tales. Snakes don’t just slither through an open doorway they also pass through the waste pipe via the septic tank and exit out of the squat toilet. Squatters rights in Thailand are unheard of. Did I mention spiders? Aaaaaah!

Avoiding foods which may lead to an upset stomach is another consideration if you find the squat toilet an unwelcome and disturbing thought. A spicy salad (som tum) with its red hot chillies should be avoided because being full with som tum is a recipe for a disastrous night. Many a brave man has visited the hong nam in the middle of the night with his Thai girlfriend stood guard outside.

‘ Dah…ling, you okay. Village have no snake and man next house eat all spiders. Frog your friend. Ching ching.’

If nature does call you one night just after thunder and lightning has laid low the village electricity supply, Beyond The Mango Juice offers you five songs to upload onto your iPod to keep you company while you squat your bot a few metres from a septic tank full of cobras.

Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile) –  Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
Once Bitten Twice Shy –  Ian Hunter
Oh What A Night –  The Dells
Why Do Fools Fall In Love –  Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
Push It –  Salt n Pepa

If you have any alternative songs, then please drop them into the comments box and flush the chain after.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

15 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for a great Monday morning read Martyn! Fortunately I rarely experience the delights of real Thai toilets-except on trains and its sort of fun trying to squat and watch the track go by!

    I can only speculate what the rat snake was thinking when it bit the guy from Taiwan. Well they are territorial you know.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Muay Thai Training =-.

  2. Talen says:

    Martyn, I’ve done my share of stories on the hongnam so I don;t have to tell you my thoughts on the subject. While I can and do use the squatter I am much happier using the western toilet.

    I don’t worry about the flash anymore when taking pics of the Thai toilets…it usually starts a fit of laughter from the family as they say ” Falang pee baa”
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand in the News Week Ending 10/31/09 =-.

  3. malcolm says:

    Martyn, as you know from reading some of my fiest post , we bought the house without even being able to look or go inside , when we can back in 2004 to live and remodel the house , the first thing that I saw and that, I just knew had to go was the squatters and the huge ugly concrete tanks along the sides, I have never seen anything so UGLY, and then when we had the use of a friends house while remodeling ours , they had a SQUATTER and tanks , but they were very clean so I made do . My first experience with a squatter was after we got off the plane and left the airport with our driver friend , I said “I had to go” to the toilet and he stopped at a place on the road side I went in and there was the ugliest thing I had ever seen waiting for me to figure out which way to sit facing the wall away from the wall putting my feet in what looked like a suggestion , I faced the wall and did my business , only to realize that I had wet my pants and my pants leg and socks and shoes , when I finally came out , my driver (friend) was laughing real hard , my first lesson , remove pants and underwear before squatting , at least thats the way I do it, now if I am traveling and I want to be sure to get a western or sit down flush toliet , I always stop at a Tesco Lotus and if theres not one of them around I go for a Hospital as most of them have up-dated their bathrooms.
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY =-.

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Mike I remember the train toilet when I travelled up to Udon in May, the track speeding below, I wish I had taken a photo. I reckon the rat snake was probably thinking if you want to try it on little fella then have some of this.

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Talen the western toilet wins hands down, or should that be trousers down. I felt a bit of an oddball taking photos in the toilets even though they were empty and even backed away from some of them. I think it was probably that if someone had spied me they wouldn’t have understood my English spoken explanation and I had no hope of explaining it in Thai.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Malcolm nice to hear from you again and I hope you have now fully recovered from your dog bite. When I stayed at Wi’s mama’s house they had a squat toilet but on my third or fourth visit I was pleasantly surprised to see Wi had installed a western one. Our house has obviously got the falang version and Wilai prefers it too. I very often take the Tesco Lotus option myself and that’s just for a leak. Thanks for the laugh about your wet pants and there will undoubtedly be someone sat on a plane right now who is going to land and do exactly what you did 5 years back.

  7. Talen says:

    Martyn, When I was at the Wat at the back of the floating market there was no one around and I found the public hongnam and since I was there I decided to go…as usual my camera was with me so I took a few parting shots when from out of nowhere I hear laughter from an old monk behind me. I knew exactly what he was thinking….pee bah falang.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand Boogie, One Step Forward Two Steps Back =-.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Talen credit to you, nothing stands in the way of you and your picture. I would have died. Don’t you just wish that in moments like that you could explain exactly what you are up to in their own language….pee bah falang sounds about right.

  9. Catherine says:

    Great toilet shot Martyn. I have a growing collection of pottie photos so I know how difficult it is to get a good one.

    Whenever I’m faced with a squat toilet, I remind myself that it is better for me physically than the comfy western seats.

    But please excuse me if I don’t describe why, ok?
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: Paul Garrigan =-.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I have read about the more suitability of squat toilets for women and one article mentioned pregnant women especially, not that I’m suggesting that is what you mean. Perhaps you, me, Mike and Talen could start up a photo toilet site as I know they have a few pics as well. A very embarrassing way indeed to collect photos.

  11. Jon says:

    What a great article Martyn, I particularly like the Uncle Boon character – reminds me of my wife’s uncle who, recently suffered from being Mao on the account of too much Leegency. Ended up face down in the hedge, asleep, no-one could find him for 20 minutes.

    Gotta love the characters and the hong-nam, of course, we go Western here but I’ve, of course, gone Thai squat-style before.
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..Bump =-.

  12. Emm says:

    “Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile)” is one of my favourite song in the world ever. I really love it!

    I’m not sure I could go on a toilet like that – do they have, um, normal ones in ther main resorts???
    .-= Emm´s last blog ..DC: Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials =-.

  13. Hoo Don says:

    Thanks Jon and I love the bit about your wife’s uncle. Every village has got a few people like that. Leegency…nice one.

    Emm, Steve Harley was my boyhood hero and even today is my all time favourite singer. I love his lyrics, very inspirational. If you should ever stumble across my Google Blogger profile I’m fairly sure he is listed on it.

  14. I used to hear from my grandmother that “toilets” reflects personality. So I really give extra look at my toilet, I am OC when I clean that part of my crib..

  15. Tina says:

    Yikes If that is my toilet I will make it white and clean. I cant take to use dirty toilet especially in public toilet a lot of germs. We should take care of our health lets observe cleanliness not only to our body but also to our surroundings. Health is wealth Thanks for your pics more power to your site! G-d bless 😉
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..Free Laptops With Mobile Phones =-.

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