Are you interested in visiting China? Has the country been one of the destinations on your bucket list for as long as you can remember? Well, you are in good company. Every year, more than 100 million people visit China for business or tourism. And, it just so happens that China was the first country I visited as a wheelchair user. So yes, it’s possible to visit China — even with a disability.
Before you book a ticket to the Far East, you’ll want to consider these 3 factors, which are important for those traveling to China:
Selecting a city to visit in China and researching its accessibility
Which Chinese city or cities are you most interested in visiting?
My first stop was the city of Beijing, China, the capital city that played host to the Olympics in 2008 and is poised to do so again in 2022. With historic sites and tourist attractions like Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, it appears on many bucket lists.
The financial center of the Chinese mainland, Shanghai is another popular destination for tourists (and businesspeople) visiting the country. More accessible than Beijing, the city offers a fantastic array of museums and other attractions including the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Nanjing Road shopping street and the incredible Shanghai Disneyland amusement park. If you’re interested in trains, or rather magnetic levitation trains, you can catch a ride on the world’s first commercial maglev train, which travels to/from the Shanghai Airport.
Both of these cities are worth visiting, but they are not as wheelchair-friendly as other world cities. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered — start your research with the Beijing Wheelchair Travel Guide and the Shanghai Wheelchair Travel Guide — two free resources that will help break down the barriers to traveling with a disability in China. The guides have information on things to do, accessible transportation, accessible hotels and more.
Finding the Right Accessible Hotel Accommodations
When you go to China, where do you intend to stay?
That can be a tough question to answer for disabled people visiting cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as not all hotels are up to the accessibility standards travelers expect in the United States and elsewhere. The most important first step is contacting hotels to request information about their accessibility. Following this step-by-step guide to verifying hotel accessibility in advance is highly recommended.
Although not all hotels will have the accessibility features you need, many others will and at a variety of price points. Whether you plan to stay at an inexpensive Ibis or Holiday Inn, or at a more luxurious property like the Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel, you’ll be able to find a degree of access that meets your needs.
In addition to considering the accessibility of guest rooms, you’ll also want to research the location of the hotel before making a reservation. If you intend to travel via public transportation, location matters, as not all subway stations and lines are readily accessible. The accessible travel guides mentioned earlier contain some additional information on selecting the right hotel.
Applying for the Correct Chinese Visa
For what reason do you intend to go to China?
Are you just interested in visiting major tourist attractions? Do you intend to go and see some of your friends and relatives? Or do you have intentions of visiting China then looking for a job that you can do while extending your stay?
The intentions behind your visit to China matter a lot. That’s because they will determine what kind of visa you can get. These reasons will also determine how long you can stay in China without raising the red flags there.
If you want to do more than visit, then find a legal way to stay for much longer. If you know someone in China, that person could send you a letter of invitation and provide you with a much easier way of getting into China and extending your stay. You could also explore the possibility of pursuing short-term studies in the country so that you can enjoy what it offers for a decent period.
Think carefully about the purpose of your visit. You need to explain it to the Chinese authorities when applying for a visa. The reasons you give must sound credible.
China is a great place to visit. But you need to plan if you intend to visit the destination of your dreams. And one of the things you should do is to get a Chinese visa that will give you official permission to enter the country.