The Y files, where Y stands for "yowza!".
Beijing was the first city I visited in Asia and while I have read and been told about the squat toilets, I don't think that any amount of tips or reading would have prepared me for my close encounter of the 3rd kind with these toilets.
My first encounter with a squat toilet happened at the Forbidden City. Fortunately all I wanted to do is pee and I could hold it until I managed how to go without peeing on my clothes....which meant undress from the waist down. Fortunately for me, the stall was clean so no harm, no foul but there was no toilet paper, so do as I did and have some tissues or TP handy. I was told that sometimes there's no soap or tissues to dry your hands so it could be useful to have some hand sanitizer that doesn't require water.
I encountered these toilets on the trains Beijing - Shanghai and back and these times I managed to pee without undressing thanks to a bar there was attached to one of the walls, where I could hold on to. On these bathrooms (that were very clean), however, there was plenty of soap, toilet paper and tissues.
Understanding that the Chinese have squatted for centuries, I understand why most people squat when they're on the streets waiting for the bus (to give an example) and there's no benches around.
Later on, I found out that the trains and the Forbidden City have some stalls with the toilets we're used to, and those stalls have a sign for it...I guess I went "all in" with my wanting to experience China.
With all this said, I do hope that these toilets don't disappear because this is part of the charm of China =)
This is a sensitive subject, so if you are 'delicate', do not read further. For a female, the restrooms in China can be a daunting experience. There are two kinds of restrooms: sitting and squatting, and most are the latter. There is seldom toilet paper in the stalls, so bring Kleenex or better yet, anti-bacterial wipes. Some of the stalls (even in nice places) had warning signs not to flush toilet paper, so there were open cans to deposit the above. Sometimes the smell was beyond belief. The worst one was at Badaling, but our guide insisted we use them before we went up to the Wall.
Toilets in China are normally of the squatting type. They tend to be dirty. To help you find a nice and clean one I found this wonderful website:
Things are changing to the better now at least in Beijing. So I added a pic of a very clean public toilett with solar energy and music. At least at places, where many tourist are, the toilets are nice and clean. Better don't try the toilets in the normal living quarters of the local people!
The toilets in China are positively vile! They are all squat toilets such as this one except for hotels and some tourist areas. Even when they are a pedestal toilet, the Chinese squat on the seat anyway, so it is usually covered in dirt, urine and sometimes splashes of faeces. The floors can also be very messy, be particularly careful not to slip over!
Toilet paper is never supplied in these toilets and you'll be lucky to find a basin. Make sure you take your own tissues and/or moist wipes everywhere with you in China.
My further advice to you is to push the doors open with your feet if possible as everything is caked in grime and mould. DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! Use your tissue or towellette if you must touch something.
Common comments and tips you may hear about Chinese public toilets (sit-down / squat toilets):
- Unpleasant, unhygienic
- Always carry tissues with you, just in case you need to go to the toilet (in many public toilets there is somebody outside to get the fee in exchange for a few squares of toilet paper)
- If there is a basket by the side of the toilet, throw the toilet paper or tissues in there in order to avoid a flooded bathroom
- Thanks to the 2008 Olympic Games Beijing’s public toilets are getting an unprecedented facelift, probably by the time you arrive to Beijing it is already too late, you won’t experience the smell of an old style Beijing toilet (eh, eh, eh!). By the way, free paper rolls will be found at the 64 toilets along the subway lines No. 1 and No.2.
- You should be aware of this: in some public toilets there are no walls, everyone is seeing what everyone else is doing.
Where can I find a toilet?
- Star-rated toilets in tour attractions
- Big supermarkets and shopping centers
- Hotel lobbies
- McDonald’s and all the big fast-food chains
- Subway stations
Toilets aren't as clean as Western toilets, however, from what I had read before leaving I was expecting worse. They are also 'holes in the ground' with no toilet roll or soap, so I would advise you to bring your own. We brought some anti-bacterial handwash with us that didn't require water.
Be prepared for the squatting toilets. They're not too bad, just don't bend down too far and try to avoid splashing on your shoes (it sounds grosser than it is).
Carry your own tissue just in case there is none. A travel bottle of hand sanitizer might come in handy too.
Your hotel will have a regular Western toilet, no fears there.
Let me do the honor of taking you into the regular hutong toilets.....remember, this is Beijing...there are still automated toilets here at major tourist spots and in downtown Beijing, but think RURAL!!! Ugh,
Toilets are in very bad conditions. Especially in places like Great Wall and Forbidden city. For those with disability or on wheel chairs, there are very few toilets specially for wheel chair bound people. People also tend to abuse these toilets when they see nobody is using the toilets. However, the toilets at the Beijing Airport is very well cleaned and flushing system is alright.
Some public toilets do not provide toilet paper, of if they do, you must pay for it. It is wise to carry a pack of facial tissues in your purse or pocket. In addition, it is usually much more comfortable to use the toilets in large hotels than the ones along the street - a clothes peg is needed for even being in the vicinity.
I believe the city will be tidying up their toilets in their bid for the Olympics.
As usual, the toilet is the warning. In the Summer Palace's toilet, because I came from tropical country and never experience winter. What I found interesting was those shiits, cigarette buds, rubbishes, urine and ice frozen together into one piece and worst is I have to do it there, yeah enjoy. I can remember in one of the toilet, I was crouching together next to many local peoples doing our important job with one guy reading newspaper and the other hand playing a gameboy.
Bear in mind that some of the toilets are not the most hygienic ones to use. Some places only have squat toilets which I presume some of you could never use. Also take some toilet paper with you when you're out and about, some toilets maybe ok to use but not contain any toilet paper.
Well they have these in Japan, too and I hate them. Fortunately, a lot of places (in Japan) have modern ones. China not so much (actually I'd think hardly at all).
On the other hand, it's better than a tree or bush or whatnot.
This is an average version of a public toilet. No flush, no door to close. But they normally get cleaned with a bucket of water once a day.....or week.
But you get used to it!
This is not so important...but be aware that the toilets is maybe not as home.
Often no paper and only a hole in ground. I could not get used to it!