Accessibility remains a challenge for wheelchair travel throughout Thailand. Sidewalks and footpaths in Bangkok are not wheelchair accessible meaning that you will need to travel alongside on the road. However, there are wheelchair-friendly taxis available and the good news is that many local attractions in the city have wheelchair access. These include the Grand Palace, Chinatown, Chatuchak Market for all your shopping needs and some boats on the Chao Phraya River to view Bangkok city from the water. For those looking for a green space in Bangkok, Lumphini Park has paved pathways throughout making it very accessible to wheelchair users. Many of the large Bangkok shopping malls such as Siam Paragon are wheelchair accessible. Just outside the city, the ancient UNESCO city of Ayutthaya is also wheelchair accessible making it a definite trip to add to your holiday must-sees.
Only three hours drive from Bangkok is the charming seaside town of Hua Hin. The former holiday favourite for Thai Royals, Hua Hin is a great beach and accessible holiday destination. There are several accommodation options with built-in access such as a wheelchair ramp, ground floors, no steps, including hotels and some private purpose-built villas for an accessible holiday. Khao Takiab Beach is about 7 km from Hua Hin town centre and is the most accessible beach in the area. To reach Hua Hin, you can get there via private taxi if transferring into a car seat is OK for you, or you can find accessible wheelchair taxi vans with wheelchair lifts/ramps that are limited by available in Bangkok. They charge higher fares than normal taxis but are a good safe mode of transportation.
There are other places to visit like Phuket and Kanchanaburi. Some of Phuket’s beaches like Karon beach are accessible in that they are lined with paved sidewalks but visitors may struggle with accessibility at other tourists sites such as the Big Buddha. The WWII museums in Kanchanaburi have paved paths and but unfortunately, the railway bridge over the River Kwai is not accessible.
In Chiang Mai, the ancient Wat Doi Suthep – a temple perched upon on a mountain top, has been made accessible. There is an elevator from the road that connects to a cable car that by-passes the 306 steps to reach the temple. Once in the temple site, there are very steep ramps that connect the various levels in the temple.
For those with mobility restrictions or wheelchair users, disabled holidays means easy access across all elements of the holiday, from transport and accommodations to activities. This means hotels are fitted with wet rooms, hoists and other specialist mobility equipment is available to make your holiday truly disabled-friendly. Disabled-friendly holidays should be about the perfect balance of accessibility and fun.
Traditionally disabled- whether that be cognitive or physically disabled, have been cared for by their families and it has been extremely difficult to obtain employment. More recently the Thai government has introduced inclusivity measures to assist disabled populations into employment by offering employers incentive schemes to support their efforts. The National Office for Empowerment of Persons with Disability is a government department whose mandate is to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities.
Some tourist areas are wheelchair friendly but many temples are not. However, in Chiang Mai, the ancient Wat Doi Suthep – a temple perched upon on a mountain top, has been made accessible. There is an elevator from the road that connects to a cable car that by-passes the 306 steps to reach the temple. Once in the temple site, there are very steep ramps that connect the various levels in the temple. Other attractions can be accessed in Bangkok, Hua Hin, Phuket and Kanchanaburi.
Some of Phuket’s beaches like Karon beach are accessible in that they are lined with paved sidewalks but visitors may struggle with accessibility at other tourists sites such as the Big Buddha.
Sidewalks and footpaths in Bangkok are not wheelchair accessible, however, there are wheelchair-friendly taxis available and the good news is that many local attractions in the city have wheelchair access. You will find hotels within Bangkok suitable for your stay as long as you do your accommodation research and confirm ahead of time for their accessibility.
It’s best to avoid drinking the tap water; it’s not treated and thus unsafe to consume. Avoid eating food that’s been sitting around for a while. Avoid insulting the monarchy which can lead to imprisonment, avoid touching monks or patting Thai people on the head as these are acts of disrespect. Avoid using illicit drugs or gambling as both attract harsh penalties if you’re caught.
Thailand is considered one of the safest countries in Southeast Asia. It is recommended to exercise standard safety precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings, not carrying too many valuables around and generally staying alert as you would in any new environment. From time to time there are political tensions and public protests against the Thai government in Bangkok which are best avoided. Thailand also has strict laws (lèse majesté) about defaming the monarchy which can lead to imprisonment, therefore its best to avoid discussing the Royal family altogether. Visa overstay also attracts harsh penalties. Check your home country’s Thailand travel advice before travelling.
Choose your destination and what activities you are interested in, along with what kind of care and special assistance you may need. From there, contact some Thailand disabled-friendly tour operators.
There are several tour operators who can design accessible holidays to Thailand for disabled tourists taking out the labour of researching yourself. These are a great option if you need all your needs taken care of without any of the stress. These can include tours to popular places like Bangkok, Hua Hin, Phuket, and Kanchanaburi, incorporating all suitable transportation and accommodations to make your Thailand holiday tension-free and easy.
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