Ultimate Asian Toilet Guide: How to Use a Squat Toilet

Last Updated on April 28, 2024 by Christine Kaaloa

Ultimate Asian Toilet Guide 2 How to Use a Squat Toilet for Travelers
Ultimate Asian Toilet Guide :  How to Use a Squat Toilet for Travelers

How good are your squatting legs? While the western throne is becoming more widespread, squat toilets still exist to haunt westerners, who have never experienced one.

Did you know that two-thirds of the world still uses squat toilets?  It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  If you’ve never used one, this video and guide will walk you through how to use a squat toilet, giving you more insight, into a toilet which may give you the heebie-jeebies.

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Travel Survival Tips: How to use a squat toilet in Myanmar (Watch Video above)

What is an Asian squat toilet?

The general theme is a porcelain bowl (or hole) in the ground, a nearby tub of water to pour flush and a waste basket to throw your used tissues.

My (Mis)Adventures with the Squat Toilet in Asia

My first introduction to the squat toilet was on the Indian trains. I side stepped that experience by buying myself a female urinary device! Ha!

My mis-adventure with the squat toilet in Thailand was not good. I accidentally pee’d on my shoe and I spent the rest of my day trip spritzing my shoe with hand sanitizer, paranoid, sniffing it to see if the smell was me or my shoe. It made me a bit of a timid sputterer. Using a squat toilet gave me performance anxiety. It was like driving on a scary road with many turns, I prayed and held on tight during each pee.

ways to get around in india, getting around india, indian trains
Train toilets


My second misadventure with the squat toilet was my first day of teaching English in Korea.  I was told that every peeing portal in my new Korean workplace was a porcelain hole in the ground. Bare-assed and cold is inevitably something one must deal with in during Korean winters and it’s due to Korea’s occasional lack of public heating. When your work attire is office professional – suit jacket, blouse, a sleek pair of slacks, a winter coat and scarf- and you have to squat to pee, it raises the stakes. With shivers, I had to hoist my pants and leggings up around my knees to keep my nice clothes out of shot range!  There is no pretty or elegant way to do this. I felt quite unlovely most of the time. One time, my new scarf accidentally dropped next to my girl urinal and onto a bit of my splash. No amount of washing sterilized that mental image of my fallen scarf.

After a week or so, my Korean co-teacher finally told that there was one western toilet built for handicapped children in the opposite building. For an entire year, I jogged over to that building and ran up the stairs just so I could sit and do my business in comfort.

However, my love for traveling Asia and developing worlds forced me to eventually confront my fears.

squat toilet in Korea
My workplace squat toilet in Korea

Why do they often call it an Asian toilet?

Being Asian, I feel slightly offended by the fact many refer to the squat toilet as the “Asian toilet”, when it’s clearly something over half of the world uses. But perhaps it has to do with the fact that Asians are more flexible in that regard and find squatting a natural position.

Being Asian, squatting is native to me and something I’ve done since childhood. I squat next to my grandmother, as I helped pull weeds in her tomato garden.  I squat when I was tired and my mom said not to sit or lie on a “dirty-dirty”  floor.  Come to think of it, I squat a lot as a child, as did my Hawaii friends. It’s something we never thought twice about.

Squatting to “do my business” over a bowl in the ground… was different though. It was something new in my vocabulary.  Initially it felt awkward, uncomfortable and humiliating. “Would I pee on myself? “…was my first thought.

pp_squat toilets
You can buy Squat toilets in Asia

Toilets in Asia: Health Benefits to Squatting vs. Sitting

While many westerners find the squat toilet appalling, there’s health benefits to that position. Having acclimated to using toilets in Asia, I agree with the idea that the squat position is the ideal and most natural position for defecating, making it easier, cleaner and quicker.

When self-cleaning, you don’t get the feeling you’re smearing yourself as you are with western toilets. The position also releases strain on the rectum and colon, reducing the risks of colon disease and hemorrhoids. It’s also more sanitary in that you’re not sharing the same toilet seat as others, which is a nesting ground for germs. Read more benefits to squatting here.

don't squat toilet
What are squat toilet better than western ones?

A Mother’s Secret to Using a Squat Toilet

After my Thailand fiasco, my mother gave me some wise advice …  and I guarantee it will be the best advice you will ever need for a squat toilet!

“Press your knees tightly together and then let it rip.”

Pressing your knees together directs the pee down. If you open your legs, chances are the pee will want to follow the line of your leg and spread. The letting it rip part is difficult if you don’t trust yourself, but sputtering will also entice your pee to dribble and follow the lines of your leg, so you must choose…

What is the ideal position for the squat toilet?

They don’t call it “squatter legs” for nothing. Keep your butt down as low as possible. Tuck your knees tightly together and if you’re wearing pants, you might want to roll those things up.

How to Use a Squat Toilet

Hovering the toilet, you are going to :

1. Make sure your belongings are secured and nothing is dangling loose from you, or it will fall in.

2. Straddle the bowl, placing your feet on the grated pedestal. See the photo below.

3. Squat. The squat toilet has nothing to hold onto or hold yourself up with other than the flusher (and you really don’t want to touch that) If you need support, grab the door handle or the handle in front of the toilet.

4. Follow my mother’s advice on pressing your knees tightly together and let it rip!

5. Wipe yourself with a tissue. Throw your used tissue into the nearby waste bin in your stall. Western travelers think it’s gross, but it is to avoid the tissue from clogging the pipes, which is guaranteed to be old. Please use the waste bin.

6. Take a cup of water from the nearby water bin (if there is one) and pour flush your “stuff” down.

Read my Secrets to Using a Squat Toilet
Japan squat toilet, which way to face on a squat toilet
Toilet in a Japan train terminal (There were western options also)


Essentials to Bring When Using a Squat Toilet

Invariably, while traveling anywhere, you’re going to want to bring these things with you for any toilet you meet. In cases, like my overnight buses or trains, it’s never certain what you’ll get in a public bathroom. In Laos, my overnight bus did bathroom stops on the roadside next to a highway field. Prepare for the worst and you’ll be happy you did.

  • Tissues – Not all bathrooms have tissues, so always bring your own as a safety backup
  • Hand sanitizer- Not all bathrooms will have running water to wash your hands.
  • Eco-friendly Baby wipes – Super handy, especially if you have your period. Do not to discard these in the toilet. Always use the waste bin.
  • An S-hook or hero clip- Many of these stalls will not have a hook to hang your belongings.
  • Your humility – It will feel embarassing at first.
Read my Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers

What if you have bad knees or lack squatting flexibility?

Not everyone was born equal and not everyone is flexible, when it comes to squatting. I have many Caucasian friends, who’ve told me point blank, their knees and limbs aren’t as well-greased as mine.  Squatting is something they have difficulty with it.

I highly recommend buying a “pee cup” or feminine urinary device (read my Freshette review ) and while still awkward, it felt safer to my western upbringing.

the freshette, female urinary device, pee standing up, travel gear, camping gear for women
The Freshette (Feminine Urinary Device)

Countries with squat toilets

This list of countries with squat toilets is (but not limited to): India, South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Langka, Singapore  (Asia and Southeast Asia), France, Germany, Italy, Greece (Europe and the Meditteranean), Turkey, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia,  Iraq, Israel, Sudan and most of South and Central America  (more here).

While some places may be known for predominantly western toilets, you will still find squat toilets in public bathrooms in transportation hubs, rest stops and small towns and villages.

The worst Asian toilet I’ve experienced was a rest stop bathroom on the Tibetan Plateau in China. It was a community squat toilet, where there are no stalls for privacy but a row of squat toilets where you can see everyone do their business! But other horrible experiences were in India and China with rudimentary hole in the ground toilets where you could see everyone’s remains before you.

Watch my video on my scary rural Chinese toilet….



A solution for the ladies..

Okay, so you really can’t handle the idea at all, even after finding the western toilet is in the minority… I realize how squatters can be terrifying for many westerners – it’s an awkward position and aiming your pee can take a little time to learn. When I planned my first trip to India and knew I’d be encountering many squatters, I bought a female urinary device to help me through the journey. It gave me peace of mind and was easy to use.

Read about my first experience peeing standing up

What country did you experience a squat toilet? Any tips for beginners on how to use a squat toilet? Watch more of my video travel survival tips on YouTube here.

how to use a squat toilet, squatting vs sitting, toilets in the world, toilet types, toilet tips, travel tips for bathrooms, using the public bathroom
How to Use a Squat Toilet

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