A guide to finding Public Toilets

This inspired me to write a post on a guide to finding public toilets.

Screen shot of a conversation with my friend who was overseas.

Screen shot of a conversation with my friend who was overseas.

It's not embarrassing to talk about nature calls. It's an everyday issue whereby every one of us has to go through. However, when you are overseas or in an unknown space, it is of good sense to know where are the public toilets. This knowledge is definitely helpful in maintaining your health and saving you from embarrassing situations. Luckily, here are some tips that I would like to share with you based on my personal experiences.



Image by  Paul Green

Image by Paul Green

What are the Signs?

Now, before you go on a trip, it's good to know some of the terms and images that are associated with "toilets". Some called it the washrooms, restrooms, powder rooms... Most of the time, the majority of the places would just use the male and female signs. In Europe, the common term or signage used is the WC. Hence, it's highly recommended to know how to pronounce "toilet" in various languages or maybe save a copy of the toilet sign in your phone!


在你去旅行之前,了解一些与“厕所”相关的术语和图像是很好的。有人称它为洗手间,化妆间... ... 大多数时候,許多地方只使用男性和女性的标志。在欧洲,常用的术语或标志是WC。因此,我强烈建议您知道如何用各种语言发音“厕所”,或者在手机中保存厕所标志的副本!

Where to find Public Toilets?


1. Shopping Malls

You can't go wrong with shopping malls! There are toilets available in almost all the malls in the world. However, it's good to note that all malls have different designs. Some malls do not have a washroom at the ground level. There could be quite a distance between the male and female washrooms, sometimes it could be on different levels too. Just look out for the signages.



2. Starbucks

I learnt this tip during my solo trip to New York City. I was shopping around in Times Square, and I could not find a restroom. Hence, I asked a sales lady. She kindly pointed out to me that I could find a toilet at Starbucks. Yes, STARBUCKS! Other than enjoying a good cup of coffee, you could find a washroom there. If not, there would be a washroom located near the coffee shop. I tested this theory, and so far, it has not failed me.



3. Restaurants

Most restaurants, including fast food chains, would have a washroom within their premises. You may want to know that some restaurants only allow their customers to use the restaurant. In Europe, the restaurants' restrooms has an electronic lock on their doors. You would need to purchase food or beverages from the restaurants to request for the password to the washroom. Sometimes, the code is printed on the receipt. Now, you would think that you would be kind and share the code with others, but surprise! The service crew would change the password anytime they want.



4. Hospitals

There was once when I urgently need the washroom, and I was near a hospital. I did visit the hospital to use the restroom. Hence, I am sure you could be sure of this option too.

Finding a hospital in the urban city is easy. Sometimes, you could even spot one in the city area. Yes, you could use the toilets in the hospitals too. I am pretty sure that the bathrooms in the hospitals are clean and comforting to use when nature calls. However, do be mindful. You are encouraged to avoid using the accessible toilet (a.k.a handicap toilet; you are not encouraged to use this term anymore), due to the location that you are in.


曾经有一次我需要上洗手间,我剛好在医院附近。我确实去过医院使用洗手间。因此,我相信你也可以确定这个选项。 在城市寻找医院很容易。我很确定医院的浴室乾淨。 但是,请注意。我们鼓励您避免使用无障碍厕所。

5. Police Station

Likewise, I did go to a washroom in a police station when I was in Taipei. I was walking around the market area and could not find a restroom anyway. My mother suggested that I go to the police station which was next door. At first, I was sceptical. However, much to my surprise, there's a public washroom.

You may want to note that not all police stations allow the public to use their washroom. Hence, this is not a safe bet. Nevertheless, I am sure the kind officers would be happy to point out the nearest restrooms to you.



Image by  Ibrahim Rifath

What if I am at the beach, in the middle of the forest, etc...?

Usually, there would be public restrooms spread out across famous beaches, forests and hiking trails. However, in times of nature calls, I could only wish you good luck. You may have to do it the army style. There are no other ways to relieve yourself.



There's even an app to help you to find a public toilet!

Yes, what a surprise! With the latest technology, there are apps available that would locate the washroom around the area. One example would be Flush - Toilet Finder (iOS/Android). It may seem useful now, but remember this: you would need wifi to use the app. Thus, it always good to check out the surrounding and think on your feet and dash to the nearest washroom.


你可应用程序找到该区域周围的洗手间。一个例子是 Flush - Toilet Finder (iOS/Android)。 希望本指南对所有对此感到疑惑的人都有用!

Hopefully, this guide is useful to all of you who are always wondering about this!


x, Esther