Disability Resources for Travelling in Thailand

17 August 2017, Jenny Holt

On the whole, there is always more we can do to help accommodate the less abled, whether it’s a visible disability that requires a wheelchair, or a less visible one that can affect mobility and ease of movement. In Thailand, it can be more challenging for those with mobility restrictions, but this does not exclude adults and children from doing some of the same fun activities that the able bodied can enjoy.

The Whole Family

When a family is out and about in Bangkok or on a local holiday and one of its members is disabled, everyone may feel as if they need to put limitations on themselves so as not to exclude the disabled member. However, with some planning, this need not be the case.

Parents should be able to talk to their children and find out what each of them wants to experience that can find accommodation and activities suitable for wheelchairs, for example, or even just contact individual websites through the “contact us” page to ask for more information and help before their visit.

The Kindness of Strangers

Wherever we are in the world, it is important to remember that we are all humans, and we all have individual needs, regardless of disabilities. This means that people, in general, will want to help someone in need. If you are doing something amazing with your children, and you get stuck or need assistance, you should feel as if you could just ask for help.

Thais are quite friendly and helpful, so don’t hesitate to approach people around you. Using some simple Thai phrases might make people feel more at ease. Wherever you are, in or outside the cities, asking for help will always have good results.

Practicalities

The kindness of strangers is one thing, but a good trip for someone with disabilities and mobility/access issues requires good planning. Help and resources within the Kingdom do exist and should be explored prior to any trip.

1.    Accessibility Resources: The Giving Back Association have compiled a long list of resources for various physical and mental disabilities within Thailand.

2.    The Airport: There is limited information on the Suvarnabhumi airport website, but help exists in terms of parking, elevators, toilets, and public telephones for those with reduced mobility. The airport has staff on hand who are happy to help as well as electric carts; also, if you inform your airline’s staff in advance, they will send a dedicated staff member to help get you from the ticketing counter to your gate.

3.    Public Transport: This is a mixed bag. Most buses are not accessible for those who need wheelchairs so wheelchair taxis are required instead. The BTS Sky Train is split level and this makes accessing the trains difficult though plans are underway to improve access. Some of the major stations have lifts but those are often require flagging down a staff member to unlock them for you. You can have an easier time with the Metro, which is more disability friendly. The airport rail link is also pretty accommodating for those with limited mobility.

4.    Local Attractions: Some but not all have accessibility ramps for those in wheelchairs.

5.    Parking: If you elect to drive in Bangkok, large, relatively new malls, hotels, office buildings and attractions will have disabled/elderly parking close to the entrance. Some, especially malls, will also have free valet parking, making it easier to get everyone and everything on and off the vehicle with ease.

6.    Hotels: Old or low budget hotels may be lacking lifts and other resources; however, more modern or mid-to-high budget hotels will have better accessibility. There are rules and regulations around accessible accommodation you can research too.

7.    Footpaths and Sidewalks: They are uneven and often filled with obstacles which make it tricky to dangerous for anyone physically or visually impaired.

8.    The Country: Like any nation, the more rural an area becomes the more difficult mobility becomes. Check out this excellent resource on Accessible Thailand.

Enjoy Yourself

The most important thing to remember is that you and your family are out to enjoy yourselves. Perhaps some things might be difficult to accomplish, but persist as much as you want to, and if it is too much, you can always move on and find something else to do.

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