People, Travel

Top Spots for Medical Tourism

Top Spots for  Medical TourismTop Spots for  Medical Tourism

Want it modified, enhanced, drilled out, implanted or just plain alleviated? As this excerpt from Lonely Planet’s 1,000 Ultimate Experiences says, whatever the medical need, there’s a place for you.


We’re not implying anything, but plastic surgery in Tehran is indeed big business these days. Nose jobs have become quite customary among Iranian people, both women and men.

Iranian plastic surgeons do lifts, chin implants, tummy tucks and almost everything else that’s done in the West, but for less. Make sure you check the latest visa rules.


Eye surgery is just one of the advanced treatments offered in India, where top doctors commandeer the latest technologies and speak faultless English.

The Aravind eye-care system, centered in Madurai, with hospitals around India, is a remarkable program originally designed to minimize unnecessary blindness; in addition to foreigners, it has helped over 2.4 million poor Indians to see in the past 30 years.

Aravind’s eye hospitals treat everything from glaucoma to cataracts and even eye replacement. Patients relax in private suites costing US$20 per day.


Experiencing acupuncture in its home setting just feels fine, especially when you get the balms, oils and smelly unguents of traditional Chinese medicine.

Since 1975, Beijing has been home to the International Acupuncture Training Centre, a university for foreign doctors who want to have a jab at it.

If you want to be the prickee rather than the pricker, you can book yourself a treatment at Dongzhimen Hospital among many treatment centers.

Along with this ancient Chinese wisdom, the People’s Republic is pioneering stem cell treatments, offering patients with the gravest conditions a chance to try new treatments.


North Americans and others head to Colombia for complex treatments performed by crack doctors at bargain rates.

Cities such as Bogota, Colombia’s capital, offer a wide variety of medical treatments and operations.

Specialties in Colombia include joint surgeries, and getting a hip replaced or ‘resurfaced’ costs one-fifth of the cost in US hospitals, while the prosthetics used are of high international quality.

Colombia is also often visited for procedures that range from dentistry and cosmetic surgery to open-heart surgery.

 Nuuk, Greenland

If you happen to be in Greenland and, say, a polar bear bites your arm off, don’t just leave it there!

Dronning Ingrids Hospital, in the southwestern capital of Nuuk , is the main hospital on this frigid maritime landmass, and is specially distinguished for performing special operations requiring very low temperatures (such as reattaching severed limbs).

You’ll quickly feel good as new when recovering on this sparsely populated island stuck unpromisingly between Canada and Iceland. The air is clean and invigorating, and the seafood is excellent.


If you arrive on a Communist-run island and have your passport and money confiscated by the authorities, one might say it just comes with the territory – or, you might actually be at Cuba’s addiction rehabilitation clinics, where it’s often standard procedure.

Frequented by ordinary folks and famous figures like soccer star Diego Maradona, Cuba’s rehab villas are renowned for their professional service and effectiveness – along with a price half of that in the US.

If you want to follow in Maradona’s footsteps you can book a stint of private rehab through an operator such as Grupo Cubanacan.

 Skopje, Macedonia

For a decade, UN and NATO employees in the Balkans, as well as expats, have hit the Macedonian capital for affordable, high-quality dental work.

Macedonian dentists are generally well trained, and many speak English. Some even have webcams, so you can get the added excitement of watching your mouth being drilled too!

Everything from check-ups and fillings to implant work and cosmetic dentistry is available, and at prices significantly less than in Western Europe or North America.

Skopje is conveniently situated en route for travelers passing through southeastern Europe, and offers a mix of history and nightlife.


Mix procedures with pleasures in Malaysia, another leading destination for medical travelers. Places like the beach resort town of Penang, on the country’s northwestern coast, are popular.

It’s good that a recuperative beach vacation is included, since doctors warn that long plane journeys after surgery can cause thrombosis.

The dynamic capital, Kuala Lumpur, home to the Petronas Towers is where more complex procedures (such as brain surgery for epilepsy) are performed.