Some people critical of Thailand are constantly banging on about the
country being “third world” without a hope of joining the club of
developed nations any time soon.
But those spouting these weary and predictable condemnations have
clearly never been in some of the restrooms at Bangkok’s upmarket and
swanky department stores.
For these toilets are anything but third world and would put to shame
the very best that Western nations could muster.
In fact it would be no surprise to see the Tourism Authority of
Thailand promoting the country as a center of sanitary and relief
driven excellence in the near future.
Take for example the extraordinary restrooms now on every floor at the
Central Westgate shopping center in Bang Yai, Bangkok.
Approaching the lavatories it is immediately clear that this is going
to be a memorable experience whether your business is number ones,
number twos, whether you are male or female, young or old.
The first thing you are aware of as you approach is a suite of rooms
for breastfeeding mothers. Inside it is luxurious with cushions and
cubicles and places to change babies’ nappies. Few five star hotels or
international airports would have anything like these facilities let
alone shopping centers.
Naturally there is a well-appointed toilet for the handicapped or
infirm. Along with all the usual bars and trappings you would expect
is an emergency button that calls an attendant in the event of
A flashing light outside warns that the occupant might be in difficulty.
While the roads in Thailand may be somewhat dangerous there is little
danger in falling victim to an unexpected event in these surroundings.
The ladies and gents are spotlessly clean; as you enter a cleaning
lady who is clearly immensely proud of her facilities utters a polite
Thai greeting to all who have business there with offers of help
should anyone need anything.
Best of all for parents is a specially appointed area for young
children with “Boy” and “Girl” sections. The urinals and bowls are low
down as are the taps for that all important wash of the hands
Any child would be thrilled to have their own place to “spend a baht”
– it promotes independence and means children don’t have to go with
parents to adult loos that can be problematical especially for fathers
But the very best thing about Central’s restrooms has to be the
waiting area outside – while not wishing to be sexist in any way it is
often men that have to mill around outside the ladies’ waiting for
wives and girlfriends wondering why it is that they seem to be taking
Central have provided a cushioned suite of comfortable sofas outside
the toilets for people to lounge on and perhaps do some internet
surfing while they are waiting. Or, like the man in our picture, have
a deep sleep with some shades on….
The only thing missing perhaps is a transgender toilet but it would
not be surprising if that was in the pipeline.
Central have clearly invested a great deal of thought and money into
ensuring cleanliness and convenience for the public at this shopping
center. And while it is the best this writer has seen in Thailand,
facilities at similar places in the kingdom, while admittedly less
swanky, are often spotless and excellent.
Many of Thailand’s restrooms would make the first world proud!