Last Friday, during rush hour, Bangkok’s skytrain briefly had that rarest of rarities — an open seat. Unfortunately, it was open for a very good reason. Someone had pooped on it.
After the predictable juvenile laughter died down across the internet (yes, ours too), the BTS authorities let everyone in on a little secret: skytrain stations have toilets, and you can use them.
Could this really be true? For years, the commuting public has been relying on a viral list of public restrooms near the BTS. Gotta go potty at Ploenchit? Race to the Park Ventures building. Can’t hold it near Sala Daeng? Silom Complex is conveniently connected to the skywalk. How about Phrom Phong? Take your pick, heck, there are malls on both sides of the street.
But what if you didn’t have to leave the station at all?
After hearing the BTS announcement about the on-site commodes, we had to know if it was true. And so, in the truest tradition of public service journalism, your humble Coconuts crew went about finding out exactly what the hell was going on.
Over the past few days, our editors have gone up to staff at five BTS stations and unashamedly told them we had to go. And guess what? They let us.
At most stations, the toilets are located in the staff-only area, and you have to be let in by a janitor, who has a key card. There are separate restrooms for ladies and gents. They also double as locker rooms for staff.
We know you’re dying to see the facilities, and so here they are:
One cool thing to note: At all five stations we visited, the restrooms are located outside of the train platform area. But because you’re accompanied by staff to the toilets, you can ask them to let you back into the train — without having to pay the fare a second time.
Coconuts decided to give all five stations a rating. Here’s how it went down.
Rating: 2/5 stars
Opting for an simple transit toilet instead of a fancy, themed restroom at the nearby Terminal 21 shopping mall was probably a silly choice — and possibly a privilege that BTS staff had never before heard requested until the moment they met us.
Approaching a security guard, we asked if we could use the toilet. He was clearly perplexed, looking at other staff for the right answer. Right then, it was clear — this man had never handled a pee inquiry before. We then spelled it out for him: walking to Terminal 21 was not an option.
He radioed the station’s janitor, while we stood there awkwardly waiting. Then, after about five minutes, the janitor showed up to walk us — very slowly we might add — to the staff-only area, hidden in a neglected corner of the station.
After the wait, we had a better understanding of the poor unfortunate soul who was forced to drop the brown bomb on the train.
The janitor waited outside until we were done and walked us out.
All in all, while grateful for the gesture, we’re gonna give this experience a two out five-star rating because of the lengthy time it took them to escort us to the toilet. In a true emergency situation, that obviously wouldn’t do.
One word for this toilet experience: marvelous!
Maybe because Mochit is one of the few stations that has no public toilets nearby, the staff handled the pee request very professionally.
We walked up to a staffer. She nodded with understanding and radioed the janitor, who showed up in less than 10 seconds. The best part was the sweet auntie literally ran in front of us to make sure we got to the toilets in time. (We thought to ourselves, bless this beautiful soul.)
We exchanged smiles with the lady. We went in. We peed. We were pleased.
What’s up with the transit toilets in one of the, um … less classy neighborhoods of Bangkok? We had to find out.
Believe it or not, it was a lovely experience. As we stood there and waited with a security guard, he even expressed his kindness to us, saying, “If you really can’t hold it, I’ll walk you to the toilet myself.”
Thinking that he would leave his post at Nana and stop checking the baggage of shady tourists just to help a lady who needed to pee, we were touched.
Much to our surprise, there actually are public toilets at this station, but they are only unlocked/open during specific times: from 7am-9am and again from 5pm-8pm. This is strictly a rush-hour pooping zone, apparently.
However, according to a cleaning lady, staff will probably let you in if you’re really desperate outside the “open” hours. Good to know.
Overall, it was a decent experience, mostly clean, with perhaps a few too many loose hairs in the sink. Nothing glamorous — just your simple one-stall, one-sink setup.
But the lack of toilet paper (sorry Western travelers) and the rush-hour time constraints inevitably knocked a couple of stars off their score.
When a lady selling bubble tea at the station told us to go into Central Chidlom when we asked for toilets, things weren’t looking very promising.
However, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise, indeed.
Similar to Mo Chit, the staff processed the request at a decent speed. The restrooms here are more spacious than other stations’. We had to walk through a hallway sporadically lined with lockers before making a right into the sink and stall area.
There were three clean stalls, two sinks, a little wooden divider (I’m guessing where staff get changed), and even toilet paper! Well done, Chitlom. We’ll be back!
Over the years, Bangkokians have been programmed to take care of our business (whether at home or the office) before we start our commute, and yes, we’d recommend you keep up that habit.
But at least you can now rest assured that BTS has toilets when you really need one.