This was a serious stress point for me as I prepared for my trip. After I had agreed to go I was told to practice my squats and pack toilet paper. What??!!! Why??!!! Because they have a lot of squat style toilets.
I did quite a lot of research regarding this. Not a lot exists about this. I am guessing because a) men don’t have to worry about it as much and b) women don’t talk about it as much.
Firstly I was told squat toilets would only be in the rural areas. Big cities and places like airports and train stations, tourist areas would have western toilets. Lie! Beijing airport AND train station both have squat toilets. Forbidden City, Great Wall, 2008 Olympic tour, all squatties. All the restaurants in Beijing and Jinan have had squatters and everyplace on campus has squat toilets with, blessedly, the exception of our dorm room. This isn’t so much a deal breaker but I appreciate having the most and best information I can.
Men, it is my understanding that you will have the squat type as well and possibly no urinal. I think that is about 50/50. Also, 99% (not an exaggeration) of these toilets will not have tissue of any kind and you will need to carry your own. They sell tissue here, of course, but I would bring a roll until you can purchase some. We stayed in a hotel in Beijing and were given about a third of a roll and no spare. I didn’t speak the language well enough to request more and had to use what I had brought for the public toilets!!
The public toilets will most likely not have soap or dryers. Most have a sink with cold water but no soap. I carried hand sanitizer attached to my backpack to use after my cold water rinse off, thank you Bath and Body Works!
Most ladies carry around these tissue packets in their purse or pocket or just take the whole business with you if you will be gone for the day.
Side note: get a mini backpack if you don’t carry a fully size one or a cross body bag. A purse will not work well as these toilets typically do not have hooks and trust me, you don’t want to set it on the floor. Nearly everyone here carries a mini backpack.
I bought this on Amazon for $30 before I left and it has been indispensable! You can get them all over China for $10 if you want to wait but I have had issues finding them with a big outside pocket for my cellphone.
I picked up this cute crossover one for about $5. I love it and it is big enough for a water bottle but not my umbrella, which everyone here also carries. They are great for portable shade and can often skip the sunscreen. Sometimes being a girl is ridiculously complicated. However if you have read my blog you have probably figured out I am not the kind of girl that can grab a backpack and head out for two weeks, keep that in mind as well LOL
Note for the ladies: it is my understanding they do not have tampons here, only pads. If tampons are your preference you should be sure to pack what you need. Personally, I brought everything I use normally just so I didn’t have to deal with finding what I wanted in another language. On the right side of this picture you can sort of see the selection
Upside is, after you use up your toilet tissue and feminine products you have more room for souvenirs!