I’ve been trying to figure out the inner workings of toilet etiquette in Vietnam. This is as far as I’ve gotten and I’ll update it when I have fact-checked.
As far as I can tell, it’s actually quite civilised once you get the hang of it! I’ve survived Chinese bathrooms and Vietnamese bathrooms seem fairly clean for most part.
I’m still too chicken to ask my new Vietnamese friends how it’s done – “So…I’ve only known you for a fortnight, but how exactly do you use the toilet?”
So without further ado let’s chat about…
The eternal question- in the bowl or out of the bowl?
It doesn’t help that there are various signs around Vietnam that vary in wording and imagery.
They range from this, which I assume means “no dumping” and not, “no confetti from your pinata”,
to this, which is fairly standard wording
so…just paper towels? Or toilet paper too?
I’m still not sure.
Some places seem to take toilet paper quite well – but others expressly have signs put up. I’ve been chucking paper down the loo at my AirBnb and it’s been fine so far.
That not-bidet thing
Affectionately known as the “bum gun” by expats around Indochina, I’ve seen this in Thailand and Vietnam. They seem more utilitarian than your average shower head – which is what I’ve seen across the rest of Southeast Asia.
My mother used to tell me that people (in other countries with similar contraptions) used this because they believed it was a sin to use toilet paper as it was classified as masturbation. I’m a little dubious.
So how is this done?
My understanding is that people use the bum gun before they dab with toilet paper, and then dispose of the toilet paper in the bin. There’s no smell and it’s reasonably hygienic. Genius if you ask me, so long as you don’t question what’s in the water.
Whatever the case, if you get a case of the Saigon Squirts, you’ll be thankful for this.
If anyone has confirmations or refutations, please let me know. I’d love to know.