Rolling Around Beijing: A Wheelchair User’s Travel Guide

The Summer Palace

Once called Peking, the city of Beijing is home to approximately 22 million residents. It is the capital of China and definitely has the population to prove it. Being such a large populated city you would think that accessibility would be something that close attention was paid to. However, this has not always been the case. Up until recently, about 2008 when the Summer Olympics were hosted in Beijing, wheelchair accessibility was few and far between for a comparable city of its size.



wheelchair accessible beijing

Great Wall of China!



Since the Olympics, great strides have been made to make rolling around Beijing a little easier. This probably also has something to do with the fact that Beijing was supposed to host the international ParaOlympics. When you host an event of that size, you kind of need the structure to support the people that will be attending right?

Let’s take a look at a few areas that make it easy to roll around Beijing.


So for starters, let’s look at transportation as it relates to wheelchair access. One of the greatest things about Beijing is the installation of some barrier free subway stations. These were installed in all 123 locations because of the ParaOlympics, Summer Olympics, and such. Rolling on and off of the subway trains has always been rather easy. Now it is much more convenient to get to the train because those pesky turnstiles have vanished! However, with progress comes a drawdown in certain areas. Beijing’s drawdown was in the area of hospitality. All subway locations may not have an assistant there to help you transition on and off. Be prepared to ask a stranger for help, or just muscle your way on and off if you’re in a manual chair. If you have extra belongings, just be conscious of that fact and make sure you have them all packed up and ready to go before you exit the train.


wheelchair accessible beijing

Level entry into the subway

wheelchair accessible beijing

This lift can help you get down into the subway



Buses with lifts are available. You might need to check with the bus station to see which buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts. Most of the major artery routes will have lifts on every bus. Smaller, more indirect routes, may have a few buses that have lifts on the route. Just be sure to check beforehand so your bus stop wait is not hours long.

If you can, book an accessible cab. Most of the sidewalks in Beijing have large gaps between the curb and the bus ramp, which make boarding the bus next to impossible. Be sure to call ahead for accessible cabs though. They are in shorter supply and you will want to make sure you have one prepared for you ahead of time if you plan on using it to do some sightseeing.


Wheelchair Friendly Hotels

Most of the pricier hotels in Beijing will have wheelchair access ramps. All of the hotels that are five stories or more will have an elevator as well. Most of the attached restaurants and lounges are quite wheelchair accessible. You should have no problem rolling up to a table or getting the bartenders attention to grab a cocktail if you need one after a long day of sightseeing. Also, many of the four and five-star hotels feature wheelchair accessible rooms with roll-in showers. Just ask the front desk before you book your reservation to choose the best option for your needs.


Major Accessible Attractions


All of the major attractions such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace are all wheelchair friendly. The world renowned Great Wall of China is wheelchair friendly to a degree. The entire wall is not accessible, yet sections such as Badaling and Mutianyu have dedicated flat lanes built specifically for wheelchair and scooter users. The Badaling section also has two lifts available for use. Just make sure you reserve one beforehand if you plan on using it to see the wall. If you are curious about other sections of the wall then ask a local. They are usually more than happy to help out.

wheelchair accessible beijing

The Summer Palace


Final Thoughts


Beyond that, you should not have much trouble navigating sidewalks and the like. The only challenge that is particularly unique involves accessibility for the blind. There are bumps that have been installed on sidewalks to assist in guiding the blind. Most often these are placed at crosswalks, however they might be in the middle of the sidewalk too in order to prevent a blind person from running into a fire hydrant, streetlight, etc. These can be little mini obstacles in your path. Most of the time it is easy to roll around them. Just be vigilant in these areas. The last thing you want to do is get airborne. It would make for a great highlight video, but the ER trip would probably not be worth it! Take caution and enjoy your time in Beijing.


*I have not traveled to Beijing. I found this information from various websites and compiled the information to make this article.







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