For most wheelchair travelers, the Asian continent is a region of mystery. The country’s history, it’s culture and it’s citizens make the tourists to feel much more “exotic” than Aruba or Tahiti. In Asia, accessibility is improving steadily, even in extremely poor countries such as Cambodia and Thailand.
Travelers with disabilities sometimes write off as inaccessible the wonderful cities in Asia. Well, this is not real. Disabled travelers to Asia are going to face more obstacles than they could in the western countries like U.S and U.K, but none that is too great to resolve. Some of the cities mentioned on here have greater access to public transportation!
This article can be used as a guide to plan and prepare for an open holiday in Asia for wheelchair travelers.
People here in Thailand, call it Krung Thep, the “City of Angels.” While, among the tourists, it is officially known as the Bangkok city. While some of the scenes portrayed in ‘ The Hangover Part II ‘ can definitely be found in the capital city of Thailand. On the other hand, Bangkok has much more to do other than spending your night only in nightclubs. Over 8 million people live in the city as it is located in the delta of the Chao Phraya River. The city is warm throughout the year and muggy during the rainy season.
The main international airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) was opened in 2006. In this airport, via security and passport control, personal and powered wheelchairs can be taken to the door. The airport terminal itself is huge, spacious and stunning, and bathroom facilities for wheelchair access are available in both the terminal itself and the airline lounge.
There is a limited number of wheelchair accessible taxis and vans in Bangkok with wheelchair lifts or ramps. They are priced at a much higher rate than normal taxis, but the value is still lower than the amount you are going to pay for your country’s taxi. All open wheelchair taxis should be booked at least 24 hours in advance. Nearly all Bangkok taxi cabs will be a choice for travelers with folding wheelchairs that can move into or out of a regular taxi. During morning and evening rush hours, they may be hard to hail in Bangkok City, so it may be necessary to book in advance. So, wheelchair travelers no need to worry about taking a taxi in Thailand.
Most of Bangkok’s sidewalks present major accessibility challenges for wheelchair users. Lack of curb cuts and ramps, general disrepair, big crowds, and potholes are the most common issues. Thailand is a member state of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and slowly improves the accessibility of sidewalks. While footpaths are generally accessible in the city’s more developed and tourist areas, this is not always can be seen in the other parts of Thailand.
The sidewalk are often old, deteriorating and cracked when the sidewalks are “accessible.” Even at Sukhumvit Road which is a tourist hotspot, at some intersections the sidewalks are without curb ramps. Over here, wheelchair users will have to reach the street for a short distance at these locations until the sidewalk is passable. Users of power wheelchairs or scooters may feel that it is best to roll almost entirely on the road as it allows a smoother ride possible. Traffic jams are often the norm in Bangkok because of a road network that is overused. This makes it possible for wheelchair, bike and motorcycle users to travel more often than the traffic flow.
Seoul, South Korea
Korea is named the Special City.” Cultural marvel and the most wired metropolis in the world. Seoul is often known, and for good reason, as one of Asia’s top tourist destinations. Seoul is ranked by tourists as the 10th most visited city with more than 12 million international visitors in 2013. Seoul has undergone comprehensive growth as one of the leading economic and innovation hubs, even for people with disabilities.
With a subway system and airport frequently considered to be the best in the world, public transportation makes the top tourist attractions easily accessible to elderly and wheelchair users. Steeped in more than 2,000 years of history, Seoul is a city that should be visited at least once by all world and wheelchair travelers.
Namsan Cable Car & Seoul Tower
The Namsan Cable Car is the first aerial tram to introduce to Korea. It was built in 1962 to connect the Myeong-dong district at the top of Namsan Mountain with the Yejang-dong platform. Currently, the Seoul Tower is located near the hilltop destination of the cable car. The cable car has only lately been open to wheelchairs. The Namsan Orumi, a slanted elevator that departs from Namsan Tunnel 3, can be used by wheelchair travelers. This elevator provides excellent entry to the floor of the cable car.
National Folk Museum of Korea
Korea’s National Folk Museum uses replicas of historical artifacts to demonstrate Korea’s daily life experiences over the centuries. The museum is placed in the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds. The museum has around 98,000 objects dispersed around three central halls of display. The three displays, Korean People’s History, Korean Way of Life, and Korean Life Cycle reveal Korean life, culture, and national organization’s history and development. Tourists will understand about the rise and fall of the Joseon Dynasty, the connection between the people and Confucianism, and the development of a national identity. Admission to the Folk Museum is available for everyone including wheelchair travelers.
Seoul FIFA World Cup Stadium
The Seoul World Cup Stadium, which was opened in 2001 in preparation for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, is the only largest football stadium in Asia. The stadium was built to depict a traditional Korean kite and features, Korean culture, inspired architectural and design elements. It is the second largest stadium in Korea after Seoul Olympic Stadium with seats for 66,806 spectators. The stadium hosted two group stage matches and a semi-final as one of the venues for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Germany and the host country, South Korea, played the semi-final match. The Korean National Team and FC Seoul are now home to the stadium.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The City of Dubai stands out as a glittering gem in an inhospitable desert landscape on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf. In the United Arab Emirates, it is a major center of government power and financial influence, but it remains one of the seven that make up the nation. Dubai has developed into a tourism destination of the Middle East over the past decade. It has drawn a large population of foreigners. In the 21st Century, just 11% of the Dubai citizens hold an Emirati passport.
The city is really above the top and holds a lot of records for “biggest,” “tallest,” and “only.” Many have made great strides to ensure accessibility. The system of public transport is one of the best in the world. Many attractions and sights are open to everyone. Sidewalks might and should be easier, but things are getting better. If Dubai is on your bucket list, use this guide to plan an accessible route for your wheelchair.
The top attractions and sights of Dubai are mostly accessible by wheelchair. At the top of the Burj Khalifa, you can take a wheelchair travel selfie. Besides that, you can visit the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort, then take a cruise on the Dubai Ferry.
The Burj Khalifa stands at an elevation of 829.8 meters (2.722 feet), holding the record for the world’s highest building and man made structure. The building dominates the skyline of Dubai and appears surreal from a distance. Tourists can access the building’s observation decks at levels 124 and 148. The entire tour, which will take 60 to 90 minutes, includes museum like exhibits that tell the story of the design and development of the house. It was not a small feat, and one of the finest examples of human creativity in the world is the house.
Al Fahidi Fort
Opened in 1971, the Dubai Museum occupies the Al Fahidi Fort and is the Dubai Emirate’s main historical museum. The fort itself was built to protect the city from attackers in multiple phases. The oldest tower was built in 1787, believed to be the oldest building in the city. There are ramps all through the fort to make wheelchair areas accessible to the public friendly. Most of the exhibits of the museum are underground, and a spiral walkway can be reached. This walkway is pretty steep, so manual wheelchair travelers may need some support to get down, but particularly to get back up.
It is extremely easy to use the public transportation system in Dubai as a wheelchair traveler. City buses and trains are fully accessible by wheelchair, making it one of the strongest transport networks.
The Dubai Metro is a completely automated rail transport network that is fully automated. The subway consists of two lines that serve 49 total stations, Red and Green. Future expansion is expected and three new lines will be added to the network. Transfers are possible at the Union and Bur Juman metro stations between the Red and Green lines. Many of the top tourist destinations in the city are within 1 kilometer of a metro station within walking distance. Stations provide links to the city bus lines, which extend to all areas of Dubai the scope of the public transport system.
Depending on the area, trains run both above and below ground. All stations are air-conditioned and closed. Others feature enclosed, elevated walkways to surrounding sites, such as the one that links the Dubai Mall to the mall and Burj Khalifa. The Dubai Metro’s wheelchair connectivity is excellent, both at stations and on trains. All stations at each entrance are fitted with elevators. There are also elevators between the race station and the train platform. Whether you’re using a manual or electric wheelchair, using the metro system you won’t have any trouble. Accessible wheelchair toilets are situated beyond the fare gates. These are highly accessible and would satisfy the United States ‘ ADA standards.
The Dubai Tram is a light rail on the street that runs from the Jumeirah Beach Residences to the Al Sufouh Depot. The Dubai Marina, the Emirates Mall and the Burj Al Arab Hotel are popular attractions along the 11-station route. As comparison to other public transit options as Dubai, there is a flat rate of 3 AED for those in the Silver Category, irrespective of the distance traveled. The tram links at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Dubai Marina stations with the Metro’s Red Line. The train and station layout are nearly identical to the metro design, and the tram is directly accessible.
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