About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use DMCA Opt-out of personalized ads
© Copyright 2023 Market Realist. Market Realist is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.

Popular Tourist Destination in China Leaves Visitors on the Clock with Toilet Timers

A set of timers has been installed above a row of toilet cubicles in a female washroom.
Cover Image Source: Breakfast Television |
Cover Image Source: Breakfast Television |

If the toilets in a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site are receiving more attention than the site itself, there has to be a pretty good reason for it. China’s Yungang Buddhist Grottoes is undeniably one of the most picturesque places on the planet, but in recent days, the restrooms here have been making news.

A video shared on social media shows a set of timers that has been installed above a row of toilet cubicles in a women's washroom. When the timer is unoccupied, the LED screen displays the word empty in green, and when it is in use, it shows the number of minutes and seconds that the door has been locked. 


Needless to say, the reaction to this has been pretty polarising. Some people called it technologically advanced while others found this to be a bit embarrassing. "I found it quite advanced technologically so you don’t have to queue outside or knock on a bathroom door, " Xiaoxiang Morning Herald quotes a visitor. 

Another staff member at the attraction told the publication that the timers were installed to cope with an increase in visitors. "They aren’t there to control the durations you could use the bathrooms,” the staff member was quoted by the newspaper as saying.


"It’s impossible that we would kick someone out [of the bathroom stall] midway. And we aren’t setting a time limit such as five or 10 minutes of how long one could use the toilets," the staff added.

The video that circulated on Chinese social media and new websites shows the red timers in a row. Another staff member tells Nanchang Evening News that the timers have been in use since the start of May and are there to ensure the well-being of all guests in case some guests use the toilet for an extended period, and in case an emergency occurs.

Many took to Chinese social media to talk about how important it was to install this. "A tourist site isn't an office. Who would spend their time in the toilets? Is it really necessary?" asked one Weibo user via The Straits News. "Your time is counted!" said another while another wrote, "Why don't they spend money building more washrooms?" 


Included in the list of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites back in 2001, Yungang Buddhist Grottoes is one of the biggest attractions in all of China's Shanxi province. It received more than 3 million visitors in 2023, which is a record high for the site, and a significant increase since the end of the pandemic. 

This is not the first time that a public policy has caused uproar in China. In 2020, a tech firm received similar backlash when they installed digital timers over toilet cubicles at an office in Beijing. That incident came to light after social media users shared images showing the timer at the places it was implemented. Kuaishou, the company at the time claimed that it had installed the timers to monitor the bathroom breaks each employee was taking.