Bathrooms Around the World

As you have repaired (or hired a plumber to repair) the toilet, tub, etc. in your bathroom, you probably learned how these fixtures work. However, you're in for a new experience when you travel outside of the United States.

You might think that an action as basic as going to the bathroom is the same from culture to culture. But it might surprise you that each country has its own unique plumbing systems.

Check out how toilets in Thailand, Japan, and Germany work compared to toilets in the United States.

United States

The U.S. city you live in pumps water into your home and pulls waste from pipes into the sewer. Then the city will treat the water that collects in the sewer and release it back into the environment.

The average American toilet is 17 inches tall (from the floor to the seat) with a 17-inch wide seat. These toilets are designed to be easy and comfortable to sit on, and to flush an average amount of toilet paper.


Things work a little differently in Thailand. The Thai toilet is also known as a squatter. It's a simple, white porcelain bowl with a hole that leads to the sewer. To use this toilet, you squat over the top and never sit on the bowl.

After you finish, you're not going to find a roll of toilet paper anywhere in sight. You can do as the natives do and use your hand, but many travelers choose to bring their own toilet paper with them when they visit Thailand.

What you will find in a Thai bathroom is a bucket of water. This bucket serves as both a hand-washing station and as a way to flush. To flush a Thai toilet, pour a bucket of water down the drain and repeat until the bowl is empty.


If toilets in Thailand are at the basic end of the spectrum, then toilets in Japan are on the opposite end. Most toilets in Japan are bidets, with a setting for washing yourself with jet water when you finish. These high-end toilets even come with seat warmers, a way to change the water pressure, and other electronic options.

A unique feature that has nothing to do with the actual bathroom in Japan is the sound you'll hear. In many public restrooms, you'll hear the sound of running water. Before this recorded sound became popular, Japanese women would run water so they wouldn't have to hear each other in the bathroom. When businesses realized the amount of water they wasted, they began playing recordings of running water to solve the problem.


At first glance, toilets in Germany are similar to those we use in the United States. However, a German toilet has two buttons for flushing. One button is for conserving water-you use it when you flush only liquids. The other uses a full amount of water.

Before you use a German toilet, you will notice that the model is backward from U.S. toilets. Directly under the toilet seat is a rounded shelf that blends in with the rest of the toilet. The water level falls below this shelf, leaving it exposed. So while it may only take one water-saving flush for liquid waste, solid waste takes several flushes to wash away from the shelf.

These are just a few examples of bathrooms around the globe. When you travel, expect to see different plumbing systems around the world-each with their unique pros and cons. Until then, learn more about your own plumbing system so you can deal with any problems that arise. Continue reading our blog for more insights about your toilet and other plumbing.