Rice terraces in Ji Pi Tian

Rice terraces in Ji Pi Tian
Photo by: Paul Segal (Stock Exchange)

Welcome one and all to Disabled Travelers! In today’s adventure, we’ll be winding down on our China access guide with a slew of resources about getting to, getting around, and getting the most of this vast country. One of the most important considerations when you head to a totally new place is decoding local customs; and though the Chinese are forgiving to foreigners, I find that the more you know about the culture, the more fun you have – so, a little unusual for Disabled Travelers, we’ll also be offering a smattering of hints for visitors who want to get savvy about how things are “done” over there.

It’s very likely that you’ll be flying into Beijing International Airport. The entire site is available in English, and includes a page on accessible facilities. That particular page is a bit long-winded, and more valuable information can be found at the special passenger services page. Wheelchairs are available for the use of disabled travelers, and if you are traveling in a group with special needs, “service ambassadors” may be dispatched on request to help you. These services are provided directly by the airport, but you can also apply to your airline for assistance if you call ahead.

You might also find yourself flying in to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Unfortunately, only the basic services for confirming flights seem to be available and fully functioning in English. In cases like this, it’s best to talk to your airline directly: there are surprisingly few U.S. airlines that provide direct service from the U.S. to China, including United, Delta, American, and Continental, among a few others. For assistance comparing rates and finding the best deals on your flight, try FlyChina.com.

Without a doubt, disabled travelers and travel companions alike would benefit from learning a bit about local customs before making this trip. There’s a whole mountain of good resources on this, such as this overview from Kwintessential, a look at eating etiquette from Diner’s Digest, and legal info and restrictions including visiting Tibet and dealing with other official issues.

China Mike’s China travel tips offer some real gems. To sweeten the deal, his site is large and established enough so you can learn about as much as you want: the page I’ve linked includes perspectives on greeting, making conversation, eating, and many other situations virtually any traveler is bound to encounter.

Another good idea for easing culture shock is to check out some of the local news. Needless to say, Chinese news outlets are eager to present the country in a positive light, but you can still learn quite a bit by reading the newspapers out there in English. I already mentioned China Today, but there’s also China Daily, Shanghai Daily, and even the somewhat notorious People’s Daily.

Though there’s not quite enough out there for a whole blog post (a shame, that!) the well-known accessible travel website AbilityTrip wants you to know that Macau, off the coast of mainland China, can be accessible with due precautions. Macau is another great place to enjoy world class casinos, if that’s your thing; a comprehensive visitor’s guide is provided by Ola! Macau, but disabled travelers should check out the AbilityTrip article first and see if they want to brave the challenge!

That’s the end of today’s journey, but next time around we’ll be bidding a fond farewell to China with a quick recap of all the places we’ve visited. From there Disabled Travelers will be back on the trail and heading out to new destinations. Join us again next week!

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Comment by James Chin

Posted on March 11th, 2011

Has anyone used Chinatours.com? Their tours are semi private, if you have more than 4 they can arrange a plan to accomodate. Would like feedback if anyone has used them.
Thank you,