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The M Scale Black Mark

thailand & menstruation

October 2, 2023

Koh Tao is an island off the east coast of Thailand, and it’s only accessible by ferry or catamaran. We were returning to Koh Tao (our honeymoon destination) for our 15th wedding anniversary- with our three kids in tow. It was the trip of a lifetime, but of COURSE, Aunt Flow couldn’t resist inviting herself along too.

Toilets at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

I got my period while travelling just as we got off our overnight flight from Muscat to Bangkok. I was unprepared (and sleep-deprived) and grabbed a pad from my backpack. (I mostly use a menstrual cup, but this was packed away in the depths of my suitcase). We headed straight for lunch at the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The market toilets were interesting because the toilet paper wasn’t in the stalls but in the corridor. I had to make a hasty exit, grab some, and dash back into the cubicle. Sinks for washing hands were also outside the stalls on the outside of the toilet block.

Hua Hin and the Phraya Nakhon Cave at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

We then moved on to stay at Hua Hin, where I could sterilize my menstrual cup by boiling the kettle. We stayed in a retreat centre with a spacious bungalow and fully equipped en suite bathroom. In Thailand, you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet; you need to throw it in the bin. 

The next day, we went on a trek to see the breathtaking Phraya Nakhon Cave. 

Before we started our trek to the cave, I used the toilets on the stunning beach of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. They were clean and well-equipped, but the sinks were outside the cubicles so I couldn’t rinse my cup. Once again, The tissues were outside the cubicles, so you need to grab some before entering the stall. 

We then got a taxi to Hua Hin, and a bus from Hua Hin to Surat Thani, where we caught the catamaran Speedboat to Koh Tao. The toilet on the bus was tiny and terrible, so I waited to go on our speed boat. The bathroom on the Lomprayah catamaran was spacious clean, and had toilet paper, a bin, and soap. It was an extra feat to change out my menstrual cup with the rocking movement of the speed boat lurching from side to side!

A landscape of a beautiful beach surrounded by greenery
Picture: author's own

Koh Tao Cabana, Koh Tao Island

My family and I stayed at Koh Tao Cabana, Saree Beach Koh Tao, for our final destination. We stayed in the stunning Chompoo Suite Villa, which had two huge bathrooms with everything you could ever need, including complimentary toiletries- but no sanitary products. Because I use a cup, I didn’t need to shop for pads or tampons, but both are available in pharmacies and 7-11’s on Koh Tao.

We took a snorkelling trip near the end of my period, and I decided to just free-bleed. No one would ever know, and did you know that sharks aren’t attracted to menstrual blood? Good job, too, because that day was the most amazing because we saw black-tip reef sharks and even a turtle- all while I had my period while traveling.

Tips for having your period while travelling in Thailand

  • A cup is ideal, as finding tampons in non-touristic areas can be hard.
  • Most public bathrooms have tissues outside the stalls.
  • Most public bathrooms have sinks outside the cubicle, so expect to have to wipe your menstrual cup clean rather than rinse.
  • Don’t flush tissues, but put them in the bin.
  • Don’t let menstruation stop you from discovering Thailand’s gorgeous ocean life- get in the water!

Are you planning a trip to Thailand?

Download the M Scale menstruation app and add feedback about the bathrooms you visit throughout your adventures. You’ll help other menstruating travellers and help improve facilities on beaches, hotels, boats, and beyond so that no travel remains off-limits for menstruating individuals.

Becky Hunter-Kelm

A Brit living in Istanbul, Becky is a copywriter for heart-led coaches, business owners and entrepreneurs doing great things in the world.

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