Wheelchair friendly travel for disabled people wishing to visit Thailand can still enjoy the wonderful sites and exotic beauty the country has to offer. This is in spite of some facilities for the handicapped being somewhat underdeveloped.
I emphasise this because should you wish to wander around on your own, you may find some streets and paths around many of the cities and resorts a little daunting at times. They are uneven and riddled with potholes and broken kerbs.
Many are studded with unforeseen obstructions. Even for the non-disabled, you would need to be especially careful. Occasionally you get to see cobblers on many a street corner repairing damaged shoes caused by holes on pavements.
Just trying to cross the major streets in Bangkok without utilising the pedestrian bridges is to court potential disaster. The steep flight of stairs on either side of the overhead walkways are most certainly no-go-zones for any disabled person. As for blind people, there are no audio signals at any of the traffic crossings.
Most of the International hotels and upscale shopping centres are wheelchair accessible, although access ramps to many buildings and some temples are often non-existent. You would definitely require some assistance in these areas.
Another problem is that the normal taxi service is not sufficiently geared to assist you should you be disabled, as they lack storage space for wheelchairs. However, there are specially adapted and modified wheelchair taxis and buses available for hire which have ample room to accommodate your every need. Of course, the hiring of a private car could be your most reliable alternative.
Although the Skytrain in Bangkok has disabled facilities at five of their major terminals, access to other stations can be burdensome for wheelchair users. Apparently, plans are in the pipeline to build elevators to alleviate the problem.
The Bangkok Underground Rail System is far better equipped with elevator access for the handicapped at all of its stations. The trains have special locking devices for wheelchairs and assistance is also available for you should you ask.
As far as the national rail network is concerned, there are no special facilities for disabled passengers, but assistance will be given to you should you request it.
You would think however that the new Suvarnabhumi Airport would provide a better service for the disabled but there is a total lack of elevators and toilet facilities thus making it somewhat inappropriate for wheelchair users.
In Thailand there are several villas, homes and apartments available for disabled people to rent should you so wish. Some have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate up to 6 people. Other amenities include kitchens, living rooms and verandas with terraces as well as swimming pools all with easily accessible hoists for the physically challenged. Some homes even provide you with a Jacuzzi.
Many have electrically adjustable beds, self-propelled shower wheelchairs and or fixed shower seats with hand grips as well as hand grips on both sides of the toilets. Some have separate living quarters for housekeepers who can provide you with various services such as cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping.
I've located a website dedicated to assisting you with suitable lodging at the beach resort of Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand. Hua Hin is close to Bangkok and is fast becoming a popular destination for tourists. The selection of self-catering accommodation in wheelchair accessible holiday homes for disabled people should greatly help you in making your vacation just that little bit extra special.
Please contact the Association for the Physically Handicapped of Thailand
should you need some additional assistance. Their office is located at
73/7-8 Soi 8 Thanon Tivanon Talaat Kawan, Nonthaburi 11000. Telephone: 0
2951 0445 or 0 2951 0569. Fax 0 2951 0567. Their e-mail address is email@example.com.
The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality is an educational nonprofit membership organisation whose main mission is to raise awareness for the needs of all travellers with disabilities. They assist in removing physical and attitudinal barriers to travel access opportunities across the globe. Contact them at 347 Fifth Avenue, Suite 610, New York, USA 10016 or telephone at (212) 447 7284.
A site worth visiting online is Miusa Mobility International which is a USA based organisation that empowers people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights. You can also contact them at 132 E. Broadway, Suite 343 Eugene, Oregon, USA 97401 or telephone them at (541) 343-1284.
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