In most restrooms in Thailand, you will find a small hose with a showerhead next to the toilet. It is not for cleaning the toilet bowl; it is a shower for the butt, also known as a bum gun. Thai people use it instead of toilet paper, and you should definitely try it.
It may seem weird to use a bum gun instead of toilet paper, but if you think about it, you will realize that it is actually much more hygienic than using toilet paper. Let us say that you get faeces on your fingers; do you wash your hands, or do you wipe them clean with paper?
Many Westerners find the bum gun so appealing that after a visit to Thailand, they get one installed at home. Here is a small tribute song to the bum gun:
Should you become a fan of the bum gun, and you want to install one at home, then please consider the temperature of the water at home. In Thailand, the cold water is not particularly cold; at home, you may want to mix cold and hot water in order get an appropriate temperature.
How to Use the Bum Gun
The first time you use a bum gun at a place, you should check the pressure by spraying in the toilet bowl. The pressure can vary from place to place, and you do not want to get a nasty surprise. Usually, you can regulate the pressure by applying more or less force at the pressure lever.
Raise yourself a little from the seat, and grab the bum gun with one hand.
If you are a man, spray down, while using the other hand to wipe, as if you were using toilet paper. No, it is not disgusting, even if it may sound so. Use a piece of toilet paper to wipe afterward, not to make you clean as we usually do, but in order to avoid a wet bum.
If you are a woman, spray from front to back and wipe backward with the paper in order to avoid a urinary tract infection.
Many Thais use a small piece of soap in order to increase the hygiene. If you use soap, start by cleaning as mentioned above, then use the soap, and, finally, rinse and use paper to wipe away the water.
Please note that not all public restrooms have toilet paper. It would, therefore, be a good idea to bring your own paper in the form of a small package of paper handkerchiefs. At some toilets, you can buy paper in a slot machine, which you then need to do before you go to the toilet.
You can see a demonstration of the bum gun in this little video. Don't worry, he keeps his pants on: