Please do not stand on the toilet!!

shantiGoing to the toilet in Vietnam can be an adventure in itself. 10 years ago, I would witness most people just stop and squat on the side of the road anywhere, anytime. I recall taking an old bus up to a small city called Dalat located in the mountains about 120 km inland from here. We bounced along seated on old American army ammunition crates. Whenever a person needed to go to the toilet, the bus would pulltoilet over to the side of the road and everyone would head for the closest ditch, or patch of grass and let loose. I was a bit bashful at first, however, It is a required fact of life and the people seem to just take it in stride. Today, a person can still see this practice to a lesser extent. The side of the road is a common place to relieve oneself, mostly for men.

toilet1I must admit that I miss the availability of a clean toilet. It is almost impossible to find a clean toilet in a commercial area or a local neighborhood. The toilets can range from none at all, to a western standard. Of course, most hotels will have clean toilets, but finding ones that are not scratched up….. That is another matter. I will explain later.

toilet2The most crude of the toilets are built on shacks and boats that are near or in water. A simple box suspended meters over water and gravity does the work. In the country, pit toilets are common. French influence is heavy here, so most toilets are squat based. ( I have avoided using them so far as I have no experience using them.) Usually because the body does not touch anything, cleanliness in not an issue to them. It takes a little adjustment to be able to use them. And do not forget to bring your own paper. I have no idea how they clean themselves, however, there is a hose and spray gun in almost every toilet. Paper is available in the stores, but you have to try to purchase a good brand. Some of the brands are so soft and flimsy that more paper is left inside of you rather than out. Now that the basic information is out of the way, let me tell you about what is the norm for most hotels and homes in the city.

toilet3A typical

Bathroom consists of a sink and mirror, a glass shelf, a shower device, and a toilet in that order. There is usually a floor drain in the far corner. You just enter the room, and use the shower without the worry of curtains. The water is heated ( If equipped) with an on demand system, a solar roof heater, or an electrical powered tank. However, electric tanks are more for higher end hotels. There is a glitch to this system. The problem as I see it is that when taking a shower, everything. gets wet. If you wish to use the toilet, you will have to somehow dry it off. I know I do not want to sit on a wet seat. Another big problem is that you have to put on thongs for a good part of the day if you wish to use the room. The floor remains wet for hours. If you goheater in with bare feet, the dirt off your feet leaves muddy tracks. Also, If you just drop your trousers to go, they end up on the floor and getting all wet. You actually have to remove them to use the toilet.


Post navigation


Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

3 thoughts on “Please do not stand on the toilet!!

  1. Renovating the bathroom of where I decide to stay long term will be my first priority.
    All water is not as bad as that photo, but I have to admit. It needs cleaning up. They are starting to remove these garbage areas, but it is a slow process as the government has to relocate the people to different areas and compensate them for losing their homes. Reguardless of how bad these places look, it is waterside property, and worth bucks!

  2. I assume in your own home you could rig up a shower stall if you don’t want water everywhere (big plastic basin with a curtain hung from the ceiling?) or just throw a sheet of plastic over the toilet during a shower to keep it dry.
    At least the bathroom gets washed when you do!

Leave a Reply