A guide to Bangkok’s best and worst toilets
A common scenario: You are out sightseeing or shopping and nature calls. You frantically search for the nearest toilet. When you finally find it, you wish you hadn’t. It’s filthy. Repellent. A wretch-inducing den of disgust that no amount of nose-holding or strategic tissue placement will disguise.
But this is no laughing matter. And it’s no time to start fantasizing about adult diapers and a day when humans will have evolved to a point where bodily waste has become obsolete, either. Luckily, a survey of discerning Bangkok toilet users has revealed a consensus on the best and the worst toilets this city has to offer.Before we get started, the generally advisable approach is to avoid all toilets in Bangkok’s temples, gas stations and bus and train stations. When in doubt, seek another toilet out. With that in mind, let’s get down to business.
Weekend ‘Jatujak’ Market
You’re hot, you’re sweaty and you’re fast becoming a moody idiot. This is perhaps one of the worst places to get caught having to relieve yourself in Bangkok. A revolving cavalcade of defecators continually traipses in and out of Jatujak’s slippery houses of relief.
If privacy and cleanliness are high on your list of priorities then this is not the place for you. The queues for the ladies washrooms are legendary while the men’s are a cross between a Mardi Gras parade and a rugby scrum.
Solution: Near the Kamphaeng Phet MRT subway station, on the left as you enter from the market entrance tucked between a row of ATMs, are cleaner, less crowded loos with air-conditioning that offer a far more pleasant experience.
Cheap Charlie’s, Sukhumvit Soi 11
This infamous outdoor bar may offer cheap drinks, as its name implies, but the low profit margins have clearly long delayed any plans to spruce-up the toilet facilities in this roadside hangout.
A hand-written sign on the frail wooden door of the single cramped, dank outhouse that reads “Do not shit, only pee,” says it all. A more hygienic option is to walk confidently into the Pickled Liver pub just down the road to make use of the facilities there.
Siam Square area
It’s almost a given that you will at some point find yourself in need of a bathroom break whilst in this jam-packed shopping area. All the mega malls around here offer reasonable toilets, but some are definitely better than others.
Those to avoid include MBK and Siam Centre. These are often crowded and at MBK they make you pay for the pleasure, although admittedly it is only two baht. Siam Paragon has the added bonus of real paper hand towels rather than just a toilet paper roll dispenser by the sink.
If you’re in Siam Square itself then True Coffee by Soi 3 has a pleasant facility. Just walk on up to the third floor. Grab a free magazine on your way. One warning: This could be a gamble as there’s only one stall for the men and two for the women.
Being stuck needing the loo in Chinatown can be a very distressing experience indeed. Your best bet is to seek out the Grand China Princess Hotel -- a towering building on the corner of Yaowarat and Ratchawong roads, opposite Yaowarat Soi 19. There’s the added bonus of real paper hand towels too.
Any of Bangkok’s higher end hotels offer, as can be expected, more than amenable bathroom facilities. The faint smell of lemongrass and soothing music help to make it a welcome break from the frenetic city. Many also offer cloth hand towels to help you wash off that belligerent Bangkok grime.
For the more discerning toilet hunter, the Hyatt Erawan is the keeper of an added surprise. On the second floor balcony level in the separate residence building are bathrooms equipped with Japanese-style electric toilets, complete with button activated bidets and water sprayers, and even a warm fan to dry your bottom off. The seats are heated too.
At the Dusit Thani the bathrooms at D’Sens restaurant and bar on the 22nd floor provide not only the chance to take in a great view of the city, but for men, an opportunity to pee on that view, with a glass façade urinal offering one of the more scenic relieving experiences in the city.
Suffice to say there are scores of interesting toilets around the city, with many of Bangkok’s trendy bars and restaurants putting equal effort into the design of their bathrooms as the rest of the establishment. Check out Iron Fairies for a particularly groovy bathroom.