Combine Medical Tourism with Asia Tours

People & Culture

Female doctor with medical tourism concept

Medical tourism offers a great chance to see a country while opting for an elective procedure overseas. To define medical tourism in simple terms, it is a way of receiving elective medical treatment abroad. This is commonly done on Asia tours, usually because it’s either less expensive than procedures at home or there’s a lesser waiting period to receive treatment, or both.  

Asia offers many possibilities for elective medical procedures. Medical tourism most often involves surgeries (cosmetic or clinical) but it can also include psychiatry or alternative medicine. It is a fact that elective medical treatment in North America can be expensive or involve long waiting times. If you think this reason to travel is not that common, there were over 11 million people from the US alone who travelled overseas in 2016 for elective medical treatment. In Asia, there are 6 countries that are not only popular but have the facilities to provide medical treatment of a very acceptable standard. I am not specifically recommending any one of these but pointing out that they do offer a high standard of medical assistance. It is always a good idea to thoroughly research any facility in any country before taking the plunge.

Air travelling for health concept

I want to give an example of a situation that I was close to which made me feel that medical tourism is a very viable alternative to being treated at home. I have a personal friend who is an avid runner and who, after completing a marathon one time, developed a severe pain in her hip. After many visits to doctors and specialists, the verdict was that to eliminate the problem, she needed to have a hip replacement. After checking the time it was going to take to be eligible for a replacement in Canada, she then started to research possibilities in Asia.  She finally decided on a hospital in India where the surgeon was a specialist in hip replacements. The price was reasonable and within her budget, so she proceeded to make arrangements to head there as quickly as possible. As she was going to a destination she had never been to before, she invited her husband to join her. When she returned, not only did she have a very successful hip replacement but she had a very enjoyable trip to India which will stay in her memory forever. Oh, and by the way, she is back running and cycling as if she had never had a problem in the first place.

Let’s take a look at these 6 countries you can enjoy on Asia tours.

India

I mentioned India already. It is one of the major players in this field. Many of the healthcare services have cutting-edge technology, and the price is usually right at anywhere from 60 per cent cheaper than in the US. Some private hospitals in India now provide health care packages for foreign patients that include meeting you at the airport and personal attention with consultations. India is reputed to be a good place to avoid any waiting time as surgery is done quickly once the diagnosis is confirmed. Some of the major centres are New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), and Chennai (formerly Madras). And think of the exciting places one can visit on a trip to India such as Agra with the Taj Mahal, Delhi with its Red Fort and bazaars, Jaipur with its palaces and temples, Cochin with the backwaters of Kerala, and Chennai and Goa with their fabulous beaches.

Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
World famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Malaysia

Malaysia won the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for “Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the Year” in 2015 and 2016 and has a good reputation for quality hospitals, some even have their own indoor pools! Again, savings are at least 60% cheaper than in the US. At both Penang and Kuala Lumpur airports, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council provides lounge and concierge services to medical tourists when they arrive in Malaysia. Due to the excellent and efficient services, waiting times to see a specialist are almost negligible. A Malaysia vacation can include Penang with its colonial history and excellent beaches, the Genting and Cameron Highlands with their cool climate, lush scenery, exotic flora and in the case of the Cameron Highlands, a butterfly farm and a tea plantation, Malacca with its Portuguese and Chinese influences, and the resort of Langkawi which offers some of the best beaches in Asia. You can add a visit to Malaysian Borneo and visit Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in south-east Asia, glow worm caves in Batu, and stay in a headhunter’s village close to Kuching.

Kuala Lumpur skyline with Petronas Towers, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur skyline with Petronas Towers, Malaysia

Thailand

Thailand is well known for having the highest number of internationally accredited hospitals in south-east Asia. According to my research, the Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok provides healthcare services to more than 400,000 medical tourists annually. There are over 1000 hospitals in Thailand, of which over 470 have private facilities. Prices are at least 50% less than in the US. You can enjoy daily Thai massages and other types of therapies. As for a Thailand vacation, the opportunities are limitless. Bangkok alone can keep you occupied for days with its splendid temples and canal and river boat trips. Chiang Mai, in the north of the country, is the gateway to lush tropical and mountain scenery as well as elephant camps and hill tribe villages. The south of Thailand offers an exceptional array of fabulous beach resorts such as Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui.

Wat Arun Temple at sunset in Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Arun Temple at sunset in Bangkok, Thailand

Singapore

Singapore, being one of the most developed countries in the world, is considered number one by the World Health Organization’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries. It is not as reasonable as some of the other countries mentioned here but there is still a considerable saving. Many doctors here have been trained internationally and patients can be assured of first-class treatment. On a trip to Singapore, you can experience three very different and distinct ethnic influences in the architecture, the culture, and the cuisine. This destination consists of a mixture of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures – a veritable melting pot. Plus, Singapore is conveniently situated to allow visits to many other south-east Asian countries.

Skyline at the Marina during twilight, Singapore
Skyline at the Marina during twilight, Singapore

Taiwan

Taiwan has experienced an expansion in medical tourism in recent years. It is well advanced in the treatment of cardiac diseases and orthopaedic conditions. Taiwan is known for the first kidney transplant in Asia. The National Taiwan University Hospital, where the procedure was performed, provides affordable and high-quality treatment for medical tourists. Savings in Taiwan for treatment can be as much as 55% cheaper than in the US. There are nine hospitals in Taiwan alone which have Joint Commission International Hospital Accreditation. Because of Taiwan’s advanced medical technology, 14 Taiwanese hospitals are included in the world’s top 200 hospitals list. A trip to Taiwan on Asia tours naturally has to include the bustling and exciting city of Taipei, where the highlight will probably be the renowned National Museum which houses a large number of ancient artifacts brought from China when the two countries separated in the mid-1900s. For scenery, you can visit Taroko Gorge, a 19 kilometre/11 mile long canyon, as well as scenic Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan.

National Theater and Guanghua Ponds, Taipei, Taiwan
National Theater and Guanghua Ponds, Taipei, Taiwan

South Korea

There is no doubt South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world so patients travelling here will receive healthcare services with cutting-edge technology from well-trained staff. The Wooridul Spine Hospital in Seoul performs over 20,000 procedures annually. This hospital provides luxurious accommodation with spacious rooms, a personal computer, and two beds in case a travel companion comes along with the patient. Again, costs are much lower than in the US. A trip to South Korea should include Seoul, the capital, where you can climb (or take the cable car) to the top of a small mountain right in the heart of the city and enjoy fantastic views, shop in the many excellent street markets, and explore old imperial palaces. You can also head to Gyeongju, known as a museum without walls as it was the residence of the Silla rulers for more than 1000 years, with a number of remains and archaeological sites dating back to that period. Or perhaps combine a beach holiday with mountain scenery on Jeju Island.

Gyeongbokgung Palace in spring, Seoul, South Korea
Gyeongbokgung Palace in spring, Seoul, South Korea

In closing, before travelling on Asia tours, it is recommended to do research, not on just the medical facilities but also check on exact costs. Many hospitals actually provide a price list something like a menu. I also suggest checking out the following excellent site for assurance and accreditations.

www.patientsbeyondborders.com

Good health!