On high speed trains, lavatories can be used at all times, even at stops in stations. Toilets that are not available or are occupied will be marked in some cabins with the obligatory “red WC icon”.
Note that in all cases, toilets cannot be used as a place to take a “quick smoke” as they come with smoke detectors. If you smoke, you’ll cause the train to slow down come to a halt and will be liable to prosecution. You will be warned and could be fined up to RMB 1,000.
Both squat toilets and throne toilets are available on trains. On high speed trains and in Deluxe Soft Sleepers, throne toilets will be the norm. Toilets in Business Class will invariably be the throne variant you might be used to in the West. Some high speed trains and most regular trains will have either both, or be dominated by squat toilets. The key here is not to let anything remain in your back pocket — in particular, cards can easily be mutilated this way by the force you exert when you squat! Be sure to keep your balance: hold on to something if you’re so inclined.
Note that most Chinese trains (and most places in China) will not provide you with toilet paper. (This is despite a railway requirement demanding this.) Always go prepared with toilet paper. If you see a basket in the toilet, throw your paper there, so as to avoid jamming the sewage system (unless signs tell you otherwise).
Water in the toilets cannot be regarded as safe for drinking! They are at most OK for a quick teeth brushing exercise, but cannot be used for human consumption.
Buttons to push in the toilets:-
- DO NOT press the red button unless there is an actual emergency!
- Some toilets come with automatic doors that are controlled by buttons. Make sure the doors are closed and are locked (either by latch or by push button) — inconveniences may result otherwise!
- The “flush button” is sometimes close to the red SOS button — don’t hit the wrong one!
- After using the toilets on CRH3C, CRH380B, CRH380BL, and CRH380CL trains, close the doors on toilets operated by buttons by pressing the “close door” button just as you leave the toilet when you are done (timing is crucial here!) — the odour might spread otherwise.