Where is the toilet?

I think when I first came to Thailand, one of the first Thai phrases I learned was “Where is the toilet?” It is quite a simple phrase. All you have to say is “hong nam, yoo tee nai?” (toilet where?). I will talk about experiences in Thai toilets another time (complete with pictures). In the meantime, I will help you find where to find the correct toilet!

Finding a toilet or the right section isn’t a problem in Thailand if you keep to the main tourist route. The signs are nearly always in Thai and English and there is a picture of a man or woman for the different sections. However, as you travel to more isolated areas you might find it useful to recognise the Thai words.

Here are the first words you should look out for:

These are “hong nam” and “soo kaa” – two ways of saying toilet. You might see either.

Now for the signs that say “men” and “women”. If you are lucky, you will get a picture of each sex, but not always:


The one on the left says “ying” (you sometimes also see “poo-ying”). This is the more common lable for toilets. The one on the right “soo-pap-sa-dtree” is rarer but more proper.


The one on the left says “chai” (you sometimes also see “poo-chai”). This is the more common lable for toilets. The one on the right “soo-paap boo-root” is rarer but more proper.

You can see our collection of toilet signs in the Learn Thai with Pictures Photo Album. I thought I had seen just about all the signs possible. But, yesterday I was at the Ancinet City and these two toilet signs confused me for a second about which one was which:

As I can read, I could make an intelligent guess that the one on the left says “women” and the one on the right says “men”. The only way I could confirm this was to take a look inside! At the moment, I am presuming this is northern dialect.

Next time you are in Thailand, if you cannot read, enter the toilets slowly. Oh yes, I should add at this stage, the men’s toilets often have a female cleaner! They do that just to confuse you. Don’t take any notice.

7 responses to “Where is the toilet?

  1. Nice shots of differently written signs. Very interesting. Cool.

  2. cool Thailand

  3. As well as the female cleaners, some places (mainly bars/nightclubs it seems) have a small army of massage guys in the toilets as well, who given half a chance will demand a tip for doing arduous tasks like turning the tap on for you.

    Also, I think you are right about the last two signs being in the northern dialect. :)

  4. Massaguers in toilets? They DO sound handy to me. I mean they could wet the tissue for me while I’m in the filthy toilet. And oh, they could open the contaminated door for me. And possibly wipe my bottom.Gr8.

    By the way, the men in black suits at Harrods toilets has the job of looking after the trial fragrances and after-shaves on the sink. What a job. You get to smell piss and poos, wearing a cheap suit watching out for nickers. Anyway it sounds a bit better than the massageurs in Thai filthy toilets as Mike referred.

  5. A commonly used euphemism for “hong-naam” -by english speaking Thais at least -is “The Happy Room”
    Similarly Prisons are called “The free hotel”

  6. Excellent article about the most important thing. The first time I went to Thailand, my guide told me these words the first thing at Cozy Corner in Chiang Mai.
    Before hitting the bar, we went on a trek because I wanted to ride the elephant. On the way up, we stopped for lunch. Upon going to the unisex bathroom, I looked where to pee. Seeing the toilet in the ground, I figured this must be the spot. When finished, by instinct I reached to flush the toilet, but was just waving air. Later when asking my guide what is this toilet in the ground. He explained what it was and to pour water down the hole. At the hill tribe village I now knew how to use the asian toilet.
    In regards to the massage guys at the disco toilets, that was a first too. At the urinal and being felt up, and drunk the big hoot, I said hey hey what is going on. Left the disco then. I absolutely hate that, and avoid trying to drink at these discos.

  7. Great photos of the bathroom signs! I’m learning that finding a bathroom is different everywhere you on in the world (some places more than others). I would love to see Thailand one day!

    I actually found this blog article because I’m working on a bathroom website called SitOrSquat.com. It’s a website and mobile app helping people located the nearest toilet to them using GPS. Anyone can submit a toilet as well. Seeing that the bathrooms are much different in Thailand it would be great to have people add toilets onto the site.

    Feel free to check out the site at http://www.sitorsquat.com.