DISABLED TOURISTS & DISABILITY IN CAMBODIA
Disabled tourists are slowly starting to explore Cambodia.
Cambodia as a tourism destination is relatively new and outside of the 2 main cities – Phnom Penh and Siem Reap not fully developed. The problem, with such holiday destination, is that there are fewer facilities for disable tourists and people with less mobility. If you are traveling to countries like Cambodia, it might not be always easy.
Here are a few tips for you to make your trip easier, and not let your disability come in the way of having a fabulous time.
1. CHOOSE LOCATION WITH CARE
Phnom Penh has a range of international hotels with modern facilities for tourists on any budget. There are also cultural hotspot – Angor Wat that can give you a true taste of the culture of the region.
There are tour operators and guides who specially cater to disabled clients. They will be able to guide you to not only the best places to visit but will also take care of all your accessibility needs.
It is important that you check the infrastructure available and whether you will find the stay and local travel comfortable. There are many factors affecting a holiday and some of the tourist locations may not meet the standards of cleanliness, comfort, accessibility and convenience that the Western world is accustomed to.
2. CHECK WITH OTHERS
The best thing that you can do to gain firsthand knowledge of a tourist destination is to speak to people who have been there before or expats living in Cambodia. Try to speak to others at travellers forums and facebook groups to better understand what difficulties and troubles, you might potentially experience.
Remember, disability is a complex issue and what one person can easily do, other might find it difficult, so try to reach out to people with similar conditions – there are plenty of specialised tourists forums.
For local knowledge Cambodian expat facebook groups are a great place to start – in general people are friendly and happy to help those seeking information about potential travel to Cambodia.
3. CHOOSE YOUR HOTEL WELL
Often the quality of your hotel accommodation will determine how enjoyable your holiday is. Make sure you check the reviews and rating of hotels before you make bookings.
Many hotels advertise their accessibility but keep in mind that accessibility is not yet standardized in the hospitality industry, and there are no minimum requirements or facilities that ‘accessible’ hotels need to offer mandatorily. Since the standards and facilities vary, make sure that the hotel you book meets your criteria and needs.
Experts say that it is necessary that you keep an accessibility checklist handy and check with the hotel directly as to the facilities they offer. ‘Wheelchair friendly’ hotels may not have designated disabled parking areas or step-free access. They may not have provision of wide-entry doorways in rooms and suites to facilitate wheelchair movement. So ensure that you are aware of the boxes you need to tick in the hotel accessibility checklist before swiping your card.
While making your hotel bookings ensure that you have a credit card guarantee for an accessible room. You should not book with a hotel that is not able to provide you with a fool-proof guarantee on an accessible room on arrival.
4. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD INSURANCE
Medical environment in Asian countries will be very different from what you are used to at home. Medications will have different brand names or will be hard to find altogether. Be familiar with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) guidelines.
Ensure that you carry adequate supplies and never run short. Always carry a medical letter with you that details your disability, impairment or health condition, medications required, possible complications and emergency aid to be administered.
Some medicines may contain ingredients that are deemed illegal in Asian countries. Check with your medical practitioner whether you can opt for suitable replacements. The embassy in the foreign country you are visiting will also be able to provide you with helpful information.
And remember to have a full medical insurance!