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Countries that are Considered Top Medical Tourism Destinations in the World

30 April 2013

People today, mostly the uninsured, are travelling overseas for all sorts of medical treatments ranging from cardiac to cosmetic surgeries. Patients in western countries like the US are unable to bear the high cost of procedures and are looking at less expensive healthcare providers in regions like Asia and Latin America. This trend has been on for many years now, and with the continuing cost rise back home, even insurers are contemplating provision of coverage to their customers in overseas hospitals. Countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia are turning out to be some of the most popular destinations for overseas treatment in the world.

With international accreditation and high quality of treatment at low costs, insurance companies are even considering adding hospitals in Asian countries to their list of covered healthcare facilities. For now, mostly tourists looking for less expensive treatment alternatives and at the same time a pleasure trip are targeting these countries. Given below are a few countries that are considered top medical destinations in the world and the attributes that make them so attractive to medical tourists.


Top-class hospitals, experienced physicians, latest technology and significantly low costs of treatment compared to the West have made Thailand one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world. The country also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and a lot of entertainment avenues, which make it a preferred destination among medical tourists. These aspects have attracted nearly 2 million medical tourists from around the world to Thailand in the year 2012, which is expected to go up even further this year.

The medical tourism industry of Thailand is growing at a rate of over 16% per year and the industry is expected to make about 100 billion baht by 2015. Thailand has always been a popular destination for tourists from around the world due to the country’s attentive and graceful service. When you consider this, it is not hard to imagine why this country is fast proving to be the medical tourism hub of Asia.


India has always been a country with abundance of skilled nurses and doctors. The recent economic boom in the country has given rise to several world-class hospitals throughout the country. Many physicians that practice in these facilities are actually the ones who have gained extensive experience in the US and European countries. The standard of medical treatment in these hospitals is no less than that of any Western hospital. When you consider these aspects and the fact that you can get any medical treatment at a fraction of the cost when compared to the West, it is no surprise that India attracts scores of medical tourists from around the world.

Apart from Western medicine, India is also famous for Ayurveda and Yoga, which have been a part of the country’s culture for centuries. These traditional treatments promote mental wellbeing along with physical wellness. So, India becomes the obvious choice when it comes to alternative treatments for people around the world. Also, this ancient country has a lot to offer in the form of sightseeing and exploration for medical tourists.


Singapore is an island country that is comprised of 63 small islands. The country is heavily urbanized with some best healthcare facilities in the world. It is considered a preferred destination for medical travelers from countries like the UK and the US. Singapore welcomes its Western medical tourists to a familiar environment where the streets and healthcare facilities are extremely ordered and clean. The country has a well-integrated healthcare system, which connects international hospitals to its local medical facilities.

The country’s Changi Airport is well connected to over 220 destinations around the world making medical travel to Singapore very convenient. Even though the treatment in this country is considered more expensive than other Asian countries, it is still about the half of what you pay in countries like the US or UK.


Malaysia has entered the medical tourism industry a little late following countries like Singapore and Thailand but most consider it the “best kept secret of medical tourism” so far. The government of Malaysia is highly encouraging of medical tourism and is actively fueling the growth of this industry. The government has set up Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) to specifically cater to the needs of medical tourists. Of the 253 hospitals in the country, 72 are registered with MHTC in order to efficiently handle international patients.

Even though Malaysia sees sizeable numbers of medical tourists from the West, majority of the medical tourists it services are from neighboring Asian countries. It sees great proportions of people coming from Indonesia and Japan. Bangladesh and Myanmar are also considered important sources of medical tourists.

The country has healthcare providers such as National Heart Institute and Gleneagles that have achieved international accreditation through JCI showing that the facilities are at par with western medical treatment standards. The fact that Malaysia has long remained a popular tourist destination is also a factor in making it one of the top countries in medical tourism.

South Korea

Although not as popular as Malaysia and Singapore when it comes to tourism, South Korea does provide a lush landscape for exploration. People with a sense of adventure find this country very attractive. Now, with the government spending generously in promoting medical tourism to the West, the country is slowly emerging as a top destination for medical tourism. The government of South Korea is also spending huge sums on improving the medical infrastructure and providing training to medical professionals.

With about 97% of the country’s population covered by insurance, the country already has a well-established healthcare network. South Korea is coming up with healthcare facilities to specifically cater to international medical tourists. And the cost most often is even less than what a patient would spend in Latin American countries.

Other destinations

Countries like Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Hungary are also fast catching up with the medical tourism boom today. The fact that these countries also share the same attributes like that of Asian countries such as low costs and superb locales is making them preferred medical tourism destinations. With all these countries striving to establish uniform global standards for medical care, it would not be wrong to say that soon healthcare around the globe would be both affordable and high-quality.

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