World’s Worst Toilet: #9 Paid Public Toilets in Dharamsala

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Last Updated on August 17, 2017 by Christine Kaaloa

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 Dharamsala, India:

By now, I’ve seen many examples of bad toilets, to know this is one of my least favorite subjects about India.

On a positive note: they have both, free and paid public restrooms. Wait, paid public restrooms?

Although I don’t like paying someone so I pee, I do love the idea of the public paying for their toilet use. This narrows down the occupants and guarantees slightly better and cleaner facilities. Also, this often means that the facilities are maintained and cleaned regularly, right?… right?

A row of squat toilets

I’ve never seen a string of public squat toilets before. So this was a bit of a shock to me.

This multi-squatter was the second public john I tried to use in Dharamsala.. and it was pay-for-use. The first one was free and should’ve made this list, because it consisted of a stairway to a dark basement and the smell hit me so violently, that my eyes began to water and I seriously couldn’t take another step further.

Outdoor urinals: The largest toilet in India is public and free.

It’s not like I can’t go into a bathroom that has an unpleasant odor to it. When you gotta go, you gotta go.  Unless, you’ve either been traumatized by the smell of something or just overwhelmed by it.

In India, a common odor stain you’ll find is the scent of pee.  Outdoor urinals are plentiful and Indian men have no problem zipping down and going anywhere. So you smell urine in streets  a lot.

I mean … a lot.  Virtually anywhere and in extreme cases,… everywhere…. which is another reason I avoid leaving my luggage on the ground when I wait for a bus.

If you live there, your nose may be immune to this scent. Three months wasn’t enough time for my nose to gain immunity.  By my third month, I smelled it so often, my mental resilience broke down as if to say– Enough is enough. No more.

IMG 2561public toilet dharamsala

Paid Public Restrooms:   Pee for Free or Pay to Pee?

Only when I started traveling abroad did I encounter paid public restrooms. As to date, I’ve experienced paid toilets in Europe, India and Thailand and in  many cases, I’ve found the paid bathrooms to be better than free public toilets. Usually, there’s an attendant that sits outside and collects money. The prices range but they’re usually under 1/2 a dollar.

Sometimes, it provides tissue and sometimes, not. Most of the time, I always carry a packet of kleenex, tissues and which I always have on hand,… baby wipes (which never be flushed).

What I like about ? The rule of thumb is that if you’re paying for a bathroom, you’ll get one that’s being maintained, by a lady who cleans them regularly.  Not to mention, because less people want to pay or can’t afford to pay for usage, less folks are using it; hence, it’s cleaner than most.

Not always… but generally.

IMG 2016%2520copy
Public bathroom in Madurai

Perhaps the perfume of the last public bathroom was still stained my nose, so I actually didn’t go in.

This one did appear to be well-maintained and the first long (pun intended) john with multiple toilets.


What are your world’s worst toilets experience? 

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  • You definitely don’t need the Google Map or a gadget or an applicative to find a toilet in India. Your nose can locate one more accurately – no internet, no download, no smartphone, etc. required. Under an emergency, just use the nearest wall to complete the ceremony and contribute to the most ancient culture!

  • I have been to Dharamsala, but unfortunately didn’t see this fancy public toilet. However I had a problem with toilets at the train stations. Most of them had a door, but broken locks! It’s not a big deal if you pee (at least for men), but it’s pretty annoying when you have to do other thingy.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 21, 2014 9:39 pm

      @Mr B: Bwahahahaha… You had me at “thingy”. lol. Agreed. Kinda hard to keep the door closed with one foot, when you need both to hold you up.

  • […] to squat over sand on a public beach.  This was our workaround and as a child, who hated entering dirty, stinky and dark places, it made me less afraid and worried about having to take a whizz at night. My dad took it upon […]

  • Most places in Germany like in train stations, you have to pay to use the washrooms too! Took a bit to get used to!

  • Interesting post on pay toilets; if nature calls you gotta pay the fee to pee i guess.

  • Ewwwghhh! Shivers. Sometimes I think it’s almost better to find a secluded little spot and go behind a bush. I’m scared to see what they look like inside.

  • I had to pay to pee in Mostar, but that one was a lot cleaner than these ones look. I’ve also had to pay to use a public toilet in Belfast. That was a space-age, self-cleaning one. In between people the thing locks and essentially hoses itself down.

    • @Melissa: Cool, I’ve not seen one that hoses itself down before! Wouldn’t mind seeing that. The only self-cleaning one I’ve seen is like the Chicago airport where they’ve got the plastic cover thingie that rotates.

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