Bangkok is home to over 11 million people, significantly larger by population than New York City. Despite its massive size, the locals will make you feel at home, welcoming you with warm smiles in classic Thai fashion.
But if you’re a wheelchair user planning a trip to Thailand, you’re undoubtedly wondering—how accessible is Bangkok?
Bangkok offers above-average wheelchair accessibility compared to many destinations in Southeast Asia. Accessible public restrooms are relatively easy to come by due to modern buildings, the metro is 100% accessible, and many tourist sites are either fully or partially accessible.
Nevertheless, Thailand doesn’t have strict ADA codes like in the U.S. So, there’s room for improvement.
General Accessibility in Bangkok
Bangkok has 50 districts, but most tourists visit only a handful of them, such as Siam Square, Khao San, Sukhumvit, and Si Lom.
The easiest way for wheelchair users to move between districts is by taxi. Although the metro and Skytrain (except for one station) are wheelchair accessible, the sidewalks around these public transportation stations often have poor accessibility.
Cracked, narrow sidewalks are common in Bangkok. Furthermore, street vendors, trees, and other obstacles often block the path.
Although local Thai restaurants and shops often have a step to enter and/or tight space inside, you’ll have many restaurant and shopping opportunities as a wheelchair user in Bangkok.
Many buildings are new and modern, so they’re equipped with ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms.
Getting Around Bangkok
On the surface, Bangkok offers decent wheelchair accessible public transportation. However, it’ll be easier for manual wheelchair users to get around than power chair users, given the often less-than-ideal street accessibility on the sidewalks and crosswalks around the transportation stations.
The Skytrain didn’t start out as very accessible, with only a handful of its stations having an elevator. But as of March 2023, Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain is wheelchair accessible at all stations except the Saphan Taksin Station (S6).
You can check the BTS’ FAQ page to see if/when they make this station accessible. You’ll find the answer under the question, “Which BTS stations are equipped with elevators?”
The Skytrain runs frequently. But even so, it becomes packed at peak hours, making it challenging to get on and off. However, the driver stands in the boarding area to ensure everyone has entered/exited before closing the doors.
The metro was the most accessible way to get around Bangkok by public transportation before the BTS swooped in and added elevators. It’s still an option for wheelchair users, as all metro stations in Bangkok are wheelchair accessible.
However, like the BTS Skytrain, the metro gets crowded at peak hours. The doors also tend to shut quickly after they open, making it more challenging for wheelchair users to get on and off a metro car, especially when it’s crowded.
An annoying aspect of Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain and metro system is that they’re not seamlessly connected at overlapping stations.
So, if you need to transfer from the metro to the BTS, you’ll need to exit the metro station and head to the nearby BTS station, purchasing a new ticket in the process.
Exploring the Chao Phraya River by boat is a fun activity to do in and of itself. It’s also a way to arrive at some of the popular tourist attractions I’ll be talking about shortly, including The Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho.
Chao Phraya Express is a company that offers an accessible space on their boats. They have assistants on the ground and on the boats that can assist you.
A wide ramp leads onto the boat. From my experience getting on and off at different docks, some of these ramps are more accessible than others, with some having raised narrow slabs, presumably for traction.
For this reason, it’ll likely be easier for wheelchair users to stay on the boat from start to finish as a sightseeing ride rather than disembarking at the many stops.
Accessible Restrooms in Bangkok
You’ll have better access to accessible public restrooms in Bangkok than in many other cities in Southeast Asia.
Malls are an excellent go-to for accessible bathrooms. And given that Bangkok has so many malls, there should be one within a fairly close distance pretty much anywhere you are.
Aside from malls, some other places where you’ll encounter accessible restrooms in Bangkok include:
- The Grand Palace (at the entrance before the payment area)
- The underground tunnels near The Grand Palace
- Benchakitti Park (a person manages the bathroom entrance)
- Mahanakhon Tower (first floor only)
Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Bangkok
Now, let’s explore the many places you’ll be able to visit as a wheelchair user in Bangkok.
1. Gawk at the Grand Palace
If you only have time to visit one attraction in Bangkok, most people would agree that The Grand Palace deserves the spotlight.
You can arrive at the Grand Palace either by car or by ferry. The place grounds are accessible with the help of ramps. However, the main temple and other smaller temples on the premises have stairs.
Some of the ramps are a bit steep, so manual wheelchair users might need a push.
Please note that you must keep your shoulders and legs covered to enter The Grand Palace. The same rule applies to the other temples on this list.
2. Wat Arun
Wat Arun is a favorite temple for people to visit at sunrise and sunset, although I was impressed by my daytime visit. The full name of this temple is Wat Arun Ratchawararam, and its early 19th-century spire is a sight to see.
You’ll have a wide, flat space to explore the grounds of Wat Arun as a wheelchair user. From my experience, it wasn’t as crowded as The Grand Palace. However, that could be because I visited at noon, and the palace tends to draw more visitors in the early morning and evening.
There are steps up a portion of the spire if you’re traveling with companions that want to go up them.
I also recommend wandering around the path outside of the main temple area. The path is wide, fewer tourists venture there, and you’ll get some great views of the temple from a different perspective.
3. Wat Pho
Wat Pho is located near The Grand Palace, so it’s a great way to check two Bangkok bucket items off your list on the same day.
As with The Grand Palace, Wat Pho is well-connected with ramps throughout much of the property.
Unfortunately, there aren’t ramps to the main temple, meaning you’d need assistance going up the steep steps to see Wat Pho’s famous Reclining Buddha.
4. Mahanakhon Lookout Tower
Bangkok has many buildings that offer beautiful views over the city, but few are as well-known as the Mahanakhon Tower. It’s located in Bangkok’s upscale business district and opened in 2016.
The SkyWalk is the touristy portion of the Mahanakhon Tower. Most of the SkyWalk is accessible, including the 74th, 75th, and outdoor cafe area on the 78th floor. You can also dine at the Mahanakhon Bangkok Sky Bar restaurant, which is an additional experience to the Sky Bar.
Unfortunately, the glass tray and the highest part of the outdoor 360-degree deck aren’t accessible.
It’s also worth mentioning that the only accessible restroom at the SkyWalk is on the tower’s ground floor. Although there’s a restroom on the 74th floor, it isn’t accessible.
5. Explore Day and Night Markets
There’s no shortage of markets in Bangkok. While night markets are abundant and typically the most well-known since cooler temperatures make them more comfortable for exploring, there are also some great daytime markets.
Of the markets I visited, the Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market was among the most accessible.
The Phueng Floating Market sits on an island framed by the Chao Phraya River. What I appreciate about this market is its wide aisles in most areas, low tables, and local vibe—you won’t encounter many tourists there, helping to reduce the number of crowds.
Nevertheless, like all markets in Bangkok, visiting at the earlier end of when they open will reduce the amount of people traffic you encounter.
Admittedly, the Chatuchak Market is Bangkok’s most popular—and largest—market. I was disappointed by its poor accessibility, though.
Many areas of the Chatuchak Market don’t have drop-down curbs. They also keep the internal roads that lead through the market open, constricting pedestrians to narrower and often inaccessible areas.
That said, since the Chatuchak Market has thousands of stalls, portions of it are more accessible than others.
So, if you’d like to visit this market, I recommend arranging a private tour with a local who can take you to its accessible sections.
6. Look for Monitor Lizards at Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park is a great place to spend some time when you want to escape city life without leaving Bangkok’s borders.
The park is centered around an artificial lake, where people can rent swan paddle boats (not accessible). Sidewalks weave around the grounds, offering views of Bangkok’s skyline. If it’s dry enough, you could also roll into the grass—the lawn was firm during my visit.
A benefit of getting close to the water is to look for monitor lizards. These massive reptiles are common sightings in the areas of Bangkok that have preserved a bit of nature.
The Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market is another place where you might be able to spot monitor lizards.
7. Benchakitti Park
Bechakitti Park has a more modern feel than Lumpini.
Although Benchakitti offers good accessibility once you arrive at the main track around the lake, the only accessible entrance I saw during my visit was at the very start of the track by the entrance gate.
That said, a lot of construction was going on. So hopefully, they’ll add more accessible entrances around the track.
Benchakitti Park also has some sidewalks that wind slightly uphill in shaded areas.
But the lake is the main attraction, which offers little shade. So, I recommend visiting this park early morning or evening (and I’ll take my own advice next time!).
8. Take a Peek at Chinatown
Chinatown is an activity on almost any “things to do in Bangkok” list. Personally, I think Bangkok offers other interesting attractions that are worth making a priority.
But a trip to Chinatown makes sense if you have many days in the city.
You’ll have to arrive at Chinatown via taxi, as the sidewalks near the closest metro station are horrendous. Ask the taxi to let you off at the pedestrian street, a short but bustling area with vendors selling all types of Chinese food, sweets, and souvenirs.
I also recommend having your taxi driver take you around the other streets in Chinatown for sightseeing from the road. The sidewalks aren’t suitable for wheelchair users (when sidewalks are even an option), though.
9. Khao San Road
If you want to visit Bangkok to get your party on, make a beeline to Khao San Road. This road also goes by the name “backpacker’s street,” as it tends to attract a younger, stay-up-all-night crowd.
Admittedly, you’ll have an easier time as a wheelchair user exploring Khao San Road by day, minus the heat. Many restaurants, street food stalls, and shops are open during the day, but the crowds don’t appear in droves until after dark.
You’ll have many accessible restaurant options along Khao San Road, and it’s a flat, paved street.
10. Dine on Bugs
Vegetarians and vegans, move on to number eleven. But if you’re an adventurous soul who’d like to say they truly tried Thai cuisine, you’ll have your pick of bugs to try at street stalls in Bangkok.
To be fair, bugs aren’t the only items you can try in Bangkok.
You’ll also encounter scorpions on sticks, frog legs, and horseshoe crabs, among others.
11. Mall Hop
I’m not typically the type that would say malls are a must-see when traveling. But Bangkok’s malls will make your jaw drop—and your checking account balance may soon follow.
When you’re exploring downtown Bangkok, upscale shopping malls rival 7-Elevens for prime street corner locations. They’re massive, flashy, and packed with people moving in and out of their doors, purchases in hand.
Although I’m not a big shopper, I enjoyed spending a bit of time in some of Bangkok’s malls to people-watch. You can count on pretty much any modern-looking mall offering excellent wheelchair accessibility.
Ready to Visit Bangkok?
In my opinion, Bangkok is very much worth the visit. And although there’s plenty of room for growth in making its public areas more accessible, Bangkok is much more accessible than many other parts of Southeast Asia (I’m looking at you, Vietnam and Indonesia).
If you have questions about traveling to Bangkok as a wheelchair user, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.
I’d also love to hear back from you after your trip. How was your experience in Bangkok? What recommendations do you have for wheelchair users wanting to travel there?