Thailand is a very popular destination not only for tourists but also for retirees. Thailand is definitely a paradise with tons of beautiful beaches, year-long warm weather and amazing food. Although Thailand is a very popular place for retirees, the facilities it provides for the disabled are always an afterthought. So you might be wondering if it’s possible to live in Thailand as a disabled person, well you definitely can but it wouldn't be the easiest thing in the world.
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Is Thailand Disabled-Friendly?
Thailand is not disabled-friendly because the majority of disabled and older Thai people live in rural areas and it is generally their family’s responsibility to take care and provide for them. Family is extremely important in Thai culture and elders in the family are usually taken care of and provided for by their children which makes it much less of a hassle for them to live and move around. Furthermore, the Thai government provides little help to disabled people in terms of infrastructure such as wheelchair ramps, elevators and handrails. In addition to that, the roads and sidewalks are very uneven and very few buildings in Thailand actually offer handrails to help aid disables people and crossing the street can be extremely dangerous due to the lack of pedestrian crossing lights. When you book rent apartments, you should also take note of the area because if you use wheelchairs then you would require a bigger space and more facilities such as elevators, handrails and ramps in the apartment complex. At baansmile, we can definitely help you find apartments that are suitable for you and we will always take care of your needs.
Is public transport Disabled-Friendly in Thailand?
If you are physically disabled in any way that makes it difficult for you to walk then you should definitely avoid the buses in Thailand because they are extremely unreliable and also dangerous. Almost all public buses in Thailand are not wheelchair accessible, but not only that, the bus drivers frequently drive off quickly and sometimes the buses don't even come to a complete stop making it dangerous for anyone who cannot walk properly. The boats in Thailand for example those in the canals in Bangkok are also dangerous to get on because there is usually a gap between the pier and the boat as well as the fact that these two constantly move up and down due to the water stream.
If you live in Thailand, the safest and most convenient way is to travel by taxi, which luckily costs much less than in western countries. The fares are very reasonable and taxis are available almost everywhere in Thailand. You can also order a taxi on the Grab app so that the driver will be able to pick you up from wherever you want without the need to call one by the road. If you live in Bangkok, you have a couple more options, especially if you live closer to the city. The BTS skytrain system could also work for you as there are escalators available in every station. There are also lifts available in selected stations such as Wong Wian Yai, Asoke, Siam etc. If you are not able to use the escalator and can only use the elevator then the MRT underground train service is perfect for you as there are elevators and escalators in every station all the way from the road to the platform.
Travelling around Thailand as a disabled person
A majority of major tourist sights in Thailand are not wheelchair accessible as there are usually lots of steps to monuments and temples and there are no ramps available most of the time, so unless you can walk up a few steps, or you are with someone who can help, it will be extremely difficult for you to travel to these places. On the other hand, most malls are wheelchair accessible as there are ramps, elevators and escalators available as well as security guards who will help you. Furthermore, parks such as the Benchasiri and Lumpini park are also wheelchair friendly as there are paths and lawns for wheelchairs so that you can enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings. The world famous Chatuchak weekend market is also accessible for wheelchair users as it is a huge market with many alleys which makes it perfect for those in a wheelchair as long as you have someone to push you around.
The silver lining
This is one of the best things about Thailand, People here are extremely nice and friendly. Thailand might not have the best infrastructure for diabled people but the locals really make up for it. Thai people are very respectful and treat disabled people better than their own. You will never feel alone when travelling around and there's always someone willing to help you whether it's to give up their seat in the skytrain or to help you walk down a flight of stairs, they will always be happy to help. Furthermore, you can research places you want to go beforehand in order to plan out your trip and to check for wheel-chair accessible places to minimize your dicomfort.
Furthermore, Thailand has excellent world-class hospitals that will most likely have everything that you will need. There are basically no procedures or medications that you will not find in Thailand, and in case you need any special medication, it can always be imported here.Not only that, the medical facilities here are absolutely world-class and are on par if not above hospitals in Europe and USA. Ther service is also top notch and you will always be greeted with a warm smile.
The bottom line
Thailand is far from a disabled-friendly place according to the infrastructure put into place. In bigger cities such as the center of Bangkok, it could be a little easier however it is still difficult to live here being disabled. However, the people here are far more welcoming and much more willing to help as compared to anywhere else in the word and it helps make up for the lack of facilities and infrastructure to help the disabled. You will have a great time living here as long as you are aware of the lack of facilities and plan everything ahead. There are also world-class hospitals so you do not have to worry about your health.
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