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Bathroom etiquette

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Although modern, Western-style bathrooms are commonplace throughout Thailand, it’s as well to be forewarned about local bathroom etiquette.

Sit-down toilets are the norm but public amenities, especially at bus and train stations, and in some homes and old-style guesthouses and hotels, tend to be squat toilets. Thais traditionally don’t use paper but wash rather than wipe themselves after going to the toilet. Modern bathrooms are fitted with a special hose for this purpose, while more primitive bathrooms just provide a bucket of water and a dipper. Thais always use their left hand for washing – and their right hand for eating. As Thai plumbing is notoriously sluggish, where toilet paper is provided, it’s normal to throw it in the waste basket and not down the U-bend. If a toilet is not plumbed in, you flush it yourself with water from the bucket. In really basic hotel bathrooms with no shower facilities, you also use the bucket and dipper for scoop-and-slosh bathing.

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