We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

advice for people with a disabilty

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
947 posts
71 reviews
Save Topic
advice for people with a disabilty

Hi fellow t/as, my wife and I will be travelling to chiang mai for the first time in august and staying at the shangri la resort, my wife has a disability and walks with the aid of a walking stick and finds it very difficult to walk long distances, we visited bangkok 2 years ago and to be honest we did not like it, not the people, just the city itself, it is very disability unfriendly, we would like your advice on getting around chiang mai, we did not use tuk tuks in bangkok because my wife could not climb into one and we thought they were not very safe so we used taxis to get around, are taxis plentiful in chiang mai? and do they mind taking you short distances? in hong kong they objected to taking us short distances but not so in singapore and kuala lumpur,is it far to walk from our hotel to the night markets or would we need a taxi? we will be hiring a driver for a day or two to show us around the main things to see, but i am just wondering about places near our hotel, also we have seen some lovely photos of some cultural shows with dinner but it looks like the guests are either seated on the floor or very low seats,are they all like this or do they have normal seats for guests like my wife who cannot sit that low, many thanks and I look forward to your valued advice

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level Contributor
557 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

Thailand is not the most friendly place to travel for people with disabilities. The sidewalks and roads in general are hazardous with cracks and holes everywhere.

Chiang Mai itself does not have metered taxis,. You/your hotel can order a taxi out to take you to one specific place or you can hire them out for the day to take you wherever you need. The normal practice here is that the taxi driver will give you his business card so you can call him privately whenever you need. Collect a couple of cards on your first couple of trips and use the better and/or cheaper driver going forward. There are also many private drivers that will pick you up and/or provide 1/2 day of full days services. Check out the FAQ section about private tours, ask at the hotel, or send me a PM and I can try to help.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
Level Contributor
10,215 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

I'm not sure if this will help you or not - it came to mind when I read your question. It is a trip report posted last year by a family who visited Chiang Mai with their young son in a wheelchair. I found them to be very inspiring in their attitude towards getting around with the wheelchair - and two other small children as well.

tripadvisor.com/…42571320

The Shangri-la is not right in the night bazaar - or right in the old city. I think there might have been slightly easier choices where you could have just walked out the door and been in the midst of more. Having said that, it is not far at all. It just means you will need to get around with a tuk tuk or cab. If you can find a cab driver and get their phone number - as suggested above, then just call when you need to go out. We do this sometimes and find if our driver is busy, they will send a mate.

All the best,

Caroline.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
947 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

CNXSteve,we are looking at hiring one of the taxis or a private car and driver for our main touring trips, I was mainly concerned about the close trips near the hotel,thank you for your reply.

Vancouver
Level Contributor
3,901 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

aussie010 - I just came back from a 3 week trip in Thailand. When I was in Chiang Mai, (and by the way, I also can't walk far without a lot of pain, and I also use a cane to help with steps, uneven pavement, etc.). I found that for tuktuks, I'd have them pull up close to a curb or a step and that was easier for me to get into it because I was up higher on that curb. The other thing I did was find the side of the tuktuk that was easiest and then I just stretched the leg closest up into the tuktuk and slid onto the seat and sort of pulled myself in... sounds clumsy and it was a bit! Not the most graceful movement I've ever made, but it worked. I always got some surprised looks from the tuktuk drivers when I slithered in this way, but for short distances, the tuktuks seemed to be easier to get than taxis.

I also used my hotel a lot to find a tuktuk for me, and to make sure the driver understood where I wanted to go; and if it was a short distance, I asked the hotel to confirm that the driver was willing to do that. Make sure when you get in, to confirm the amount of baht. The hotel can get this agreed upon with the driver and let you know, but confirm anyway with the driver.

It may be that my way of getting into a tuktuk won't work for your wife , but it's worth a shot! I too had a tough time in Bangkok at the end of my trip - never found a down escalator or an elevator, and usually had many steps to walk up or down at the BTS stations which was very difficult. So eventually I just started taking taxis even though the traffic in BKK was terrible...

In Chiang Mai, I found many places to sit down if I needed to, and the Thai people are very sweet and understanding, especially when you have a cane - then it's obvious that you're not just trying to grab a chair for no reason. So if your wife gets tired or her knees start hurting and she needs to sit, ask a local if they can lend a chair for a few minutes. While you're sitting there, a delicious fruit smoothie or iced cuppachino goes down pretty good! I travelled in places in the northeast of Thailand and in the north, and you learn as you go, how to take care of yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for help from the locals or even other tourists. I found that for the most part, people are glad to help.

Chiang Mai is an easy place to be because in any moment of even a short distance of walking, you're likely to find a beautiful temple or a food cart with tempting street food, or an interesting shop, or who knows what! It's a great city to relax and just enjoy spontaneous things. You won't have to walk far to find great little restaurants, and shops, and beautiful temples. I would steer clear of the red trucks - called songthaews. They could be difficult for your wife to climb up into and probably even harder to get down from. That was the case for me. If you use taxis, let you wife sit in the front beside the driver - this will give her more leg room and be easier on her knees. Get the driver to push the seat all the way back for more leg room. Hope this helps.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
947 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

Caroline, we booked the shangri la resort in a package through air asia, they offered return airfares k/l to chiang mai, 5 nights deluxe room with breakfast $600aus total for 2 adults incl. taxes, we have never stayed at a shangri la hotel before and at this price we had to take it, i am not worried about cabs not using their meters as long as i think its a fair price and after visiting k/l numerous times i have become used to them not using their meters, maybe someone might find out if wheelchairs can be hired in chiang mai? my wife can get around, we did a private tour of the grand palace in bangkok, the guide was very patient and we were ableto see everything but with plenty of rest stops along the way. If a wheelchair can be hired it would make it a lot easier to go to the night and street markets , without one i think she might have some trouble getting around the markets as i believe they are quite large, again thank you caroline for your reply.

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level Contributor
557 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

Just an FYI. Its not that Taxi's do not use meters, rather they do not drive around town looking for fares. you must call them out from the office to pick you up. The only transports that drive around looking for fares are tuk-tuks and redtrucks.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
Level Contributor
10,215 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

I think the advice above from Sheezix is really good advice. In many ways you will find Chiang Mai much easier than Bangkok. There isn't those big up and down stairs and overhead road passes that mean so much walking up and down.

The pavements are not flat - but the city is, and there are so many wonderful pit stops that you will be fine.

I also agree with the advice to avoid songthaews - tuk tuks are not too bad to get in and out of.

It is so very different to KL with cabs all over the place. There are few cabs as such - far more just songthaews and tuk tuks to get around.

That's why it is helpful to get a card with a phone number for a cab driver in case you need it.

I'm sure you will cope fine.

One thing - I'd suggest getting yourself a Nancy Chandler map. It is good for exploring because it has all of the eating, drinking, shopping and sights marked directly on the map. That way no matter where you are, you will be able to check the map and see what is close by if you need to stop and rest.

I'm sure you will enjoy the Shangri La and make use of the concierge to help you get around.

All the best,

Caroline.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
Level Contributor
10,215 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

This might help too..... from the FAQ (top right of this page)

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g293917-i9325-k…

tripadvisor.com/…25730909

Caroline.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
947 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

SkeezixVancouver, thank you for your very informative reply, my wife will try your suggestion re tuk tuks, she thinks she should be able to get in this way, hopefully, if there are places along the way to rest then we will probably be able to get around the area near to the hotel ok, re the taxis, my wife always gets in the front for the very reason you say-more leg room, i sometimes laugh to myself at the look on the drivers face when i open the front passenger door and ask if he could put the seat back for my wife, i dont think they usually have passengers in the front when theres only two, the red trucks are definetly out, my wife has had both hips replaced and has arthritis in her knees so you can understand our problem, but we intend to enjoy this trip to thailand, many thanks for your advice.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
947 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: advice for people with a disabilty

caroline, the first thing we downloaded after booking this trip was your 20 tips for first timers post, my wife has it filed with all her paperwork on chiang mai she has to take with her, I also ordered a nancy chandler map yesterday direct on their website it was $16aus. I probably could have waited and bought it for a lot less in chiang mai but we like to look up places and things to do before leaving australia, again thank you