Handicapped-Tourist-Friendly Hong Kong
Hong Kong is the most disabled-people-friendly place in East Asia. Hong Kong holds a special attraction for disabled tourists in Asia because the main transportation systems, shopping venues and highlights that disabled people would want to go to are disabled-friendly.
The Best Place in East Asia for Handicapped People
Hong Kong is the world’s sixth most popular city for international tourism according to a 2012 Forbes survey. Handicapped people can find information and aid that you won't find in any other major city in Asia. The city has made an effort to help its disabled citizens and tourists travel and enjoy themselves. Hong Kong's shopping, scenery, dining, and major attractions are probably better than any other city in Asia too.
Hong Kong currently ranks behind Bangkok and Singapore for international tourism. However there is little in the way of handicapped services in Bangkok, and Singapore is known for the difficulties that people in wheelchairs will find and the lack of wheelchair friendly public transport.
In Japan, travel by train is difficult. The train stations commonly don't have handicapped access elevators or even ramps, but Hong Kong's main train station called the Hung Hom Station is well equipped with elevators, and you can find helpful English speaking attendants.
Travel for handicapped people in China is very difficult. Few if any public buses are equipped with automatic wheelchair lifts. But in Hong Kong about 41% of the buses on the main routes are equipped for handicapped travel. Many of the buses that run along the main bus routes tourists take are wheelchair lift equipped.
Getting into Hong Kong
Air: The Hong Kong International Airport may be the best in Asia for easy handicapped travel and services such as special private handicapped bathrooms. The escalators and walkways have audio sound systems, and there is Braille signage for blind people. If you are coming by plane, then there is plenty of aid to get you from the plane to local transportation.
Passengers with physical disabilities can travel by using the driverless shuttle train in the basement level or the moving walkways along the concourse on both the arrival and departure levels. In addition, the airlines also provide passengers with special needs with electric cart services for intra-terminal transfer.
Train: If you are coming from China, then it is best to take the direct train to the Hung Hom Station. From there, you can catch wheelchair capable MTR buses or take taxis.
The city buses in Shenzhen and Chinese long-distance buses are generally never equipped to aid disabled people. Also, the Lo Wu border crossing in Shenzhen has neither wheelchair ramps nor wheelchair elevators. This makes crossing the border difficult there for people arriving at either of the two main Shenzhen regular train stations or the bullet train from Guangzhou. .
Getting Around in Hong Kong
In general, it is always best to do a little research before deciding to go to any specific place. Here is some information that might help you.
Subway: In general, Hong Kong does relatively well with trying to aid disabled travelers to travel in Hong Kong and enjoy their vacation there. The MTR Airport Express will whisk you in half an hour to the ICC Tower in Kowloon or to the IFC Tower in Central. Wheelchair access and facilities are good.
Bus: All the buses from the airport to Kowloon or Central (A12) have wheelchair lifts and space for you. About half the 171 buses from Kowloon to Aberdeen are good wheelchair lift equipped. You just have to wait for one to come. They seem to alternate wheelchair equipped buses and regular door buses. Travel to sites such as Temple Street Market and Ladies Market along Nathan Road is made easier by the wheelchair-equipped buses of route 6.
Trams: The two major trams that a tourist might use are the Victoria Peak Tram and the Island Tram that runs east and west on Hong Kong Island. However, it is recommended that disabled people don’t use either route. The Island Tram is not wheelchair accessible, and it is even difficult for ambulatory people to get in it. The Peak Tram is accessible for people with folding wheelchairs if they get assistance and they are willing to be carried in and sit in regular seat.
Taxis: Most of the taxis will allow people with folding wheelchairs or crutches to get in. Wheelchairs and crutches are carried free of charge. They often have Braille signage on the doors. Many taxis also have talking meters.
Ferries: Hong Kong is an island territory, and many places are only accessible by ferry. The Star Ferry offers cheap and scenic transportation across Victoria Harbor. People in wheelchairs can access it only if they have either a very good motorized wheelchair or assistance because the wooden ramps to the boats are steep. The situation may be similar for some of the other ferries that go between islands. Check out the situation beforehand.
Popular Wheelchair-Accessible Attractions
Disneyland: Most places in Disneyland are accessible by wheelchair riders. The bathrooms are handicapped accessible. The company has made an effort to allow handicapped people to travel by offering free special assistance, making the rides especially handicapped accessible, and providing a wheelchair capable shuttle that goes to the major attractions there. You can easily reach the resort via the special Disneyland Resort Line of the MTR.
Avenue of Stars and Symphony of Light: This tourist favorite walkway with its 8 pm light show is built to allow easy wheelchair travel along the shore of Victoria Harbor. You can reach this area via the Star Ferry (see “Ferries” above).
Victoria Peak: Another place where you can travel and easily enjoy the sights is on the top of Victoria Peak. The views are spectacular both day and night, and there is a mall for shopping and dining. Bus 15 from Central is wheelchair-modified. Once there, there are paved walkways to various spots that are designed for people with wheelchairs and baby carriages. It is a place to enjoy the scenery. However, off the crest of the peak, the pedestrian walkways are probably too steep for easy wheelchair travel.
The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence: At this disability-friendly scenic area and museum a person in a wheelchair can take the roads that lead out of the museum, and see a lot of scenery and old guns and fortress walls on the roads along the battlements of the former British fortress. However, you’ll need to take a taxi to get there since it is in a relatively remote place.
IFC Mall: This huge ritzy mall has broad flat walkways just right for people in wheelchairs and elevators that connect the various floors. You can have great views of Victoria Harbor and fine dining either at the rooftop cafes and restaurants or at the Four Seasons’ two 3 Michelin Star restaurants: the expensive French Caprice restaurant and the world’s only 3-Michelin-Star Cantonese restaurant called Lung King Heen. Here is your chance to enjoy the finest of foods and views at the same time.
Temple Street Night Market: For an opposite sort of dining experience that is a real Hong Kong touch of local color, you can take Bus 6 or a taxi to reach Temple Street. The night market that starts around 4 pm is noted both for its cheap souvenirs and clothing and the relatively inexpensive food laid out on tables that are set up on the street in the evening. It is a memorable experience.
China Highlights Can Tailor-Make a Tour to Your Requirements
So to experience the unusual blending of East and West, some of the world's best shopping and dining opportunities, Hong Kong's rich cultural activities, and Asian culture, come to Hong Kong! Tell us what you want to do and what you need, and let us help you plan a disabled persons’ tour!
Questions and Answers About Handicapped-Tourist-Friendly Hong Kong
I updated this article on February 24, 2014
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