The summer palace in Beijing

The summer palace in Beijing
Photo by: nahpets (Stock Exchange)

Greetings, all! As promised, today’s blog is all about accessible attractions, disabled hotels and more in Beijing. The capital of China and one of the most populous cities in Asia, it’s home to about 22 million people. The city has become much more welcoming to tourists in recent years, especially since the 2008 Summer Olympics, which were held there. Last time we took a quick look at handicapped tour operators, which I still highly recommend for the first-time visitor to China; now, let’s take a peek at the city once called Peking.

Global Access News kicks off our coverage with three articles on Beijing from not that long ago. Though the 2008 Summer Olympics was considered the big draw, Beijing also hosted the international Paralympics, leading to a lot of speculation about what the city had to offer disabled travelers. The overall verdict? Things were still pretty rough, as A Canadian in Beijing suggests. The Christian Science Monitor offers a more thorough view of accessibility and what the authorities were up to at the time. The Sunday Times shows that there were some cultural misunderstandings (warning, may be offensive to some.) But overall, the event was a success, as you can see at the 2008 Paralympics site.

The Shanghaiist offers us Beijing Tips for the Elderly and Disabled, which includes a hands (and wheels)-on view of some of Beijing’s legendary attractions, the Great Wall and Forbidden City. As we learned last time, only parts of the massive Wall are particularly disability-friendly, and not all sections around Beijing don’t seem to be on the list. Luckily, it’s USA Today to the rescue here with How to See the Great Wall of China in a Wheelchair. For another “visitor’s eye view,” see A Weekend in Beijing.

By now, you may be wondering about how to get around in Beijing. Wired talks a great deal about accessibility improvements in the wake of the 2008 Olympics including a totally barrier-free subway system said to be very accommodating to disabled travelers and their travel companions. Barrier-free entrances and exits are presumably still in place in all of Beijing’s 123 stations, and buses with lifts are available; no word on whether there are still assistants to help with transition onto and off of subways.

From ITourBeijing, another tour operator providing some services and information for disabled travelers, we have a tips page for disabled travelers. Now, let’s face it – if you’ve been reading the Disabled Travelers blog for a while, none of this is news to you. What’s probably more useful is the all the other tips pages offered along the left-hand side of the page. It’s not every destination where we need a page called “Tips for Water Drink,” so once again, know before you go. For a good general information page on accessible attractions and disabled hotels, see TimeOut Beijing’s Disabled Access page.

Remember, 82.7 million people in China have a disability! It may be a challenging destination, but by taking that trip, we’re helping spread understanding and pushing the envelope for all the travelers to follow – disabled and able-bodied alike. So, this is Si signing off on Disabled Travelers’ latest China adventure. This time last year, we took a look at Hong Kong, so I think it’s about time to update things there. Shanghai is also on our list, along with a lot of terrific general resources for China travel, so be sure to drop in next time for Part III of our China access guide!


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