Let’s discuss that super important, but often overlooked topic of restrooms in Taiwan! This aspect of Taiwanese culture seems to alarm Western foreigners the most… so let’s change that!
The infamous squat toilet
The squat toilet is the most common toilet you will find in Taiwan (and most of Asia). It is set into the ground, and is meant to be used by squatting with knees completely bent and each foot flat on either side of the toilet. There is usually a string dangling in the restroom or a lever that can be stepped on to flush.
While some public restrooms will have one or two Western toilets, these are rare! They are also used as handicapped toilets for the elderly or those who are disabled and have trouble squatting. You’ll be expected to allow these people to go first if you’re waiting in line for a Western toilet… so get used to using the squatty potty!
A sanitary solution
Although many visitors to Taiwan are shocked and befuddled by these toilets, Taiwanese people consider them much more sanitary than “Western” (sitting down) toilets and are in turn shocked by the idea of actually sitting down on a toilet! The Taiwanese are very conscious of hygiene, and squat toilets are both easier to clean while also ensuring that there is never any actual contact between the user and the toilet.
Crucial Travel Tip!
Unfortunately, public restrooms in Taiwan do not always have toilet paper. For this reason, toilet paper (衛生紙, wei4 sheng1 zhi3) is sold at every convenience store, folded up in packets. It’s a good idea to have a packet of some kind of tissues with you at all times, just in case!