Amazing Toilets from Around the World
Published 24 June 2016
In honour of World Toilet Day (yes, that really is a thing) on 19th November, we’ve scoured the globe for the best loos around. From quirky designs to kick-ass views (not literally!) from the porcelain throne, here’s our round-up of the best places to spend a penny.
Mount Kenya, Kenya
Africa’s second highest mountain after Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya offers a challenging summit hike without the tourist hordes and the high price tag of its more famous neighbour. When nature calls, climbers have a choice – it’s either the ‘blue sky toilet’ or a hole in the ground with three flimsy walls. Still, at least you’ll get a good view.
Visit Kenya with Round the World Experts’ East Africa Discovery Journey.
Porcelain House, also known as China House, is a museum of pottery and antiques in Tianjin, about 60 miles southeast of Beijing. The building is exquisite, a historical colonial structure lovingly decorated with mosaics made of broken pottery, and the bathrooms are no exception.
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All those adventurers and ice trekkers have to relieve themselves somewhere, and where better than this frosty hut in the middle of the snow? Back when traditional toilets were used, water in the bowls would ice over, so instead waste is now collected in 20-litre drums and covered with talcum powder to help neutralise the smell. Over time, this freezes and is taken to a sewage treatment plant for processing.
Suggested by our Facebook user Maureen Brown-Canavan, these First century latrines are arranged in a U-shape, as Maureen says, “so that you can have a chat whilst doing the necessary”. To clean up afterwards, users would dip a sponge on a stick into a channel of clean-ish water running by their feet, although in the absence of water a bucket of diluted vinegar was used instead, no doubt causing more than a little discomfort to the nether regions. Pretty advanced for its time, this system was reserved for the more well-to-do of society, who had to pay a fee to use it.
Around 30 miles from Huanshan lies Xidi, a small village and World Heritage site built in the Huangyou era (1049-1053). Popular with painters wishing to capture its old-fashioned charms, narrow cobbled streets and attractive houses on canvas, Xidi is also home to this ornate toilet block, a modern construction designed to blend seamlessly with the quaint olde-worlde style.
Visit China with Round the World Experts’ Highlights of China Journey.
National Parks, Africa
Africa is covered with over 300 national parks and countless more game reserves, each protecting myriad flora and fauna. Safari is big news here, but with the sun beating down all day, water-guzzling wildlife-watchers are often caught short. So, to prevent any foolhardy tourists attempting to wee au naturel, most parks have at least one toilet.
I’m not going to lie, facilities are not always in the best condition. A particularly memorable washroom visit for me was in Namibia’s Etosha National Park – so overpowering was the stench that I could not even go inside the toilet block without my eyes watering, and instead used the ground outside. Evidence showed me I was not the first to do so! In contrast, some high-end safari camps build luxury toilets overlooking the plains, tastefully covering your modesty with thatch or makuti (palm leaf) walls. Just look out for curious lions.
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Namaqualand, South Africa
Sticking with the African continent, South Africa’s Namaqualand bursts into glorious displays of orange, purple and yellow blooms during its August and September flower season. How about this toilet then, nestled among the flora, giving you a sweeping view of the colours?
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With miles and miles of sand and no vegetation to speak of, it’s just not that easy to find a tree to hide behind, so this gem in the middle of the Sahara will do nicely thank you.
The Outback, Australia
Known as dunnies, the long drops of the Australian outback are legendary. What better place to stake your claim to the land than these shacks, often with little more than a curtain to preserve your privacy? Some don’t even have a roof, so night time bathroom users can stargaze while they do their business. Speaking from experience, all I can say is don’t forget a light. Sitting on the dunny in the pitch black, I switched on my torch to find I was sharing my toilet time with a scarily large and hairy spider, clinging to the ceiling right above my head. I’ve never peed so fast!
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Kepler Track, New Zealand
South Island’s gorgeous Fiordland is full of wonderful walking tracks, but this 37-mile loop, passing through Te Anau and covering mountain ridges, lakes, gorges and rivers, is one of the best. Kiwis are understandably very protective of their natural wonders, so it’s best not to just poop anywhere – instead try this stunningly situated WC for size.
Tour Fiordland on Round the World Experts’ Best of the South Island Journey.
Japanese toilets, the most advanced in the world, come with a dazzling array of hi-tech features. Futuristic-looking commodes have digital control panels covered with buttons and dials and, as Round the World Experts content manager Lauren tells us, “the only way to work out what these buttons mean is to press them all”. That’s exactly what I did on my recent visit, and discovered that there’s a control to warm the seat, one to spray you ‘down there’, one to adjust water temperature, pressure and direction, a deodoriser, and best of all, a button that mimics the sound of the flush, in case you are a little noisier than anticipated.
Visit Japan with Round the World Experts’ Classic Japan Journey.
In all seriousness
It may be an amusing topic, but there’s a serious note to World Toilet Day too. The World Toilet Organization is a non-profit body aiming to improve sanitation conditions worldwide, with a focus on health, dignity and well-being for the 40% of the world’s population who do not have access to a toilet.