You will want to know how to recognize which toilet is for your sex and how to read the characters “public toilet”. You don’t have to be able to read Chinese – it is pattern recognition. Stare at the male and female a while, or copy them repeatedly on paper.

“Nan” is the character for male. Note the stocky build and big head.“Nü” is the character for female. It is said to resemble the figure of a woman.

“Gong cuo” literally translates as “public toilet”.  Most hotels and restaurants will have a toilet. Hutongs (old alleyways) also frequently have public toilets as many residents will not have toilets in their homes, only buckets for nighttime and elderly. If you are on a main street it may help to walk down an alley if you are in search of a toilet.

There are two major types of toilets, “western style” and “Asian style”. Westerners sit and Asians squat. Do be prepared to do some squatting as sometimes there is no choice.

Squat toilets

Chinese have no concept of privacy, People will stare at each other from point-blank range.  With privacy an almost unknown luxury, foreigners