For every country I visit, the first thing I Google before going is “What are their bathrooms like?”. I have used all sorts of bathrooms throughout the years and from it, I have learned to be prepared. I always carry tissue, hand sanitizer, and small change (for paying any bathroom attendants). In this article, I will be sharing the differences I noticed between washrooms in Korea and North America. Keep reading for my Korean Bathroom Travel Tips.
Korea has a mix of washrooms styles. Some are very traditional washrooms and others are more modern. I found the washrooms were easy to find in Korea. Both in Seoul and Busan I could find one anytime I needed to, whether in restaurants, the metro stations, museums, and even public ones on the beach. All of the washrooms I visited were very clean. Many of them were cleaner than those back in Canada.
1. Check for toilet paper. Most have it in a dispenser in the stall, if not check beside the sinks; you take what you need from there before you go into a stall.
2. Bring some Kleenex just in case you find a bathroom that has run out
3. Don’t flush your toilet paper; there will be a trash can in the stall. On the rare occasion where it is a washroom that you can flush toilet paper, there will be a sign stating so on the inside of the stall door.
4. Some bathrooms will have squat toilets; normally it is not the only option though. Always check the other stalls for a regular toilet if you are not up for the camping style of going to the washroom.
5. Shared-use bars of soap: You will find bars of soap attached to a stick, hanging on a string, or in a dish. I did not mind this but I knew of fellow travelers that preferred using their own hand sanitizer.
6. Don’t fill up your water bottle in the washrooms. It may or may not be good drinking water. If you really want fresh water, buy some at the corner store. There are also drinking fountains that have water-testing results posted stating whether it is ok to drink.
7. Garbage cans can be hard to find while walking around. I carried my trash around with me (sometimes in my back pocket) until I found a garbage can. Often I would wait and unload it in the washroom trashcans.
8. Some smaller establishments have one unisex washroom with no walls separating a toilet and urinal in the same room. Depending on the amount of liquor being consumed, there may be a line for the washroom. Ladies just go in, lock the door, and use as your own. Men have the choice to share the facilities or lock the door and have the room all to themselves. Either option seems socially acceptable; if unsure about sharing always ask first.
The magic of heated toilet seats, as commonly found in Japan, are occasionally found in Korea as well. The hostel I stayed at in Busan had them on all the women’s toilets. I still have no idea what all the buttons do, but I can tell you that they are capable of heating the seat, playing music, lighting up the bowl with different colours, and many other functions.
Overall, I enjoyed the washrooms in Korea. There was always a good amount of signs in English with instructions in the stalls and on the walls. Generally, they were all very clean and well stocked. If you have visited Korea, what do you think about their bathrooms? Did you notice any other differences to North American bathrooms? Click here and tweet at me what you think.
Be sure to check back for new articles in my series on Korea. Click here to see full series to date.