Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai

Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai
Photo by: Angela Afandi (Stock Exchange)

A big welcome to all disabled travelers and their travel companions for this edition of our China access guide!

This week we pay a visit to Shanghai, the largest city on the mainland and a center of Asia’s financial world.

Sitting at the mouth of the mystical Yangtze River, Shanghai is a modern marvel that hosted the World Expo in 2010, drawing over 70 million visitors from afar.

Like Beijing and the Summer Olympics, this event has major implications for disabled access in the city, so let’s hunt for good news!

There’s a lot of ground to cover in Shanghai – after all, it’s just a hair under 3,000 square miles. But I think a good place for disabled travelers to start is the Shanghai Disabled Persons’ Federation. This group isn’t as new as you might be tempted to think; in fact, it’s been around since 1986. It provides all kind of assistance and advocacy for the needs of disabled people in China, and also aggregates the latest news on barrier-free access, all available in straightforward English.

While not perfect, SDPF showcases some valuable facts, like the Shanghai Daily report that accessible cabs and buses are being expanded throughout Shanghai. At the time of the report, which dates back to before the 2010 World Expo, there were only 30 accessible buses for the almost one million disabled people living in Shanghai. In preparation for the Expo, an estimated 90 cabs were to rolled out, and accessible bus service extended to landmarks including People’s Square and the Shanghai Rail Station. There is also a much larger, and more frequently updated, China Disabled Persons’ Federation with all the news you’d expect, also in English.

(Though it has limited value for us short-term visitors, it’s also worth noting that Shanghai is home to the Shanghai Wheelchair Factory, the largest state-owned concern focused on the production of rehabilitation and mobility equipment.)

Expo for Handicapped is a brief travelogue by a New Zealand wheelchair user who had the good fortune to visit the Shanghai World Expo, definitely a positive experience from his perspective! There’s a small collection of other Shanghai travelogues available from TravelChinaGuide.com, including trips from before and after the Expo, and a handful from disabled travelers: like this one from Jing’an Temple. Definitely worth a once-over. Wheel Adventure also has a series on accessible areas in Shanghai. This includes a breakdown of accessibility by neighborhood and information on public transport. A short article on Shanghai attractions from Buzzle turns out to be a very handy guide!

Don’t forget that many of the outstanding disability tour operations we met in previous China posts also have itineraries for Shanghai. For a good introduction focused entirely on Shanghai, try out Shanghai Tours and Travel Guide. It offers timetables, tips, and a whole buffet of timely information on accommodations and attractions, but seems to be out of the tour business since the end of the Expo. Also, don’t overlook sites like TripAdvisor, equipped with handy forums where you can get insight from locals.

For the right accommodations, try Just in Time Hotels’ Shanghai listings. Also consider Booking Advisor and Late Rooms. To my surprise and delight, Hotels.com also proves to be very good in the area of searching for hotels in China, thanks to its growing capabilities for finding disabled hotels. Usually, though, I’d recommend looking at more specialized and local websites before going to the bigger stand-by sites. This way, you’re more likely to get expert perspective that global websites don’t always have.

That’s it for Shanghai, and Disabled Travelers is just about done with its visit to China. ‘round this time next week, we’ll be revisiting a few great Chinese destinations we looked into in the past, and doing a round-up of all the disabled travel resources throughout the country that haven’t quite fit in so far. Hope to see you then!


Submit Comment


(required) (This will not be published)

Comment by Eddie

Posted on August 7th, 2011


please any one can tell me about Van accessible for wheelchair in other Shanghai