Best city for medical tourism: Bangkok or Singapore

Recent years have seen the rise of so-called medical tourism. In Southeast Asia, the most popular destinations are Singapore and Bangkok. As I have received medical treatment in both Singapore and Thailand, I thought it was time to comment on this trend.

The time I was treated in Singapore qualified as a genuine "emergency." I had picked up an eye-infection while surfing in Bali. The local Indonesian optometrists were not equipped to treat my condition, lacking the expertise of the physician I found in Singapore.

The physician I saw at a private hospital in Singapore cured me of a serious eye infection had caused loss of vision. Another thing that impressed me was the swiftness with which Singapore hospital completed the blood-work. Results took only an hour or so, not days. My impression was that Singapore is a place where you can find connect with world-class medical expertise at affordable prices. Although -- after multiple visits an a number of tests -- the bill came to a few hundred dollars, it was money well-spent.

Bangkok, Thailand
I have visited numerous doctors at a private hospital in Bangkok for routine heath complaints. On the whole, my experience has been positive. The treatment offered was always affordable and the staff was invariably attentive. Most often I have visited Samitivej Hospital in Sukhumvit district of Bangkok. It's a short taxi ride from the Emporium shopping complex which is at Phrom Phong Station on the skytrain (BTS). You feel like you are visiting a four star hotel, not a hospital. You can also get dental work done at the hospital (always say no to amalgam).

Another, seemingly more popular private hospital in Bangkok is Bumrungrad Hospital. I have been there also. I got x-rayed for a persistant cough. Again, the bill didn't break the bank. And I did not have to wait long to see a physician. The waiting room -- I might add -- felt like the lobby of the UN building in New York. People from all over the world come to this hospital.

In general, Bangkok is a less expensive option than Singapore. Based on my experience, I would be inclined to turn to Singapore for more challenging health problems. But in terms of facilities and the quality of care, Thailand is impressive these days.

Getting a good doctor anywhere in the world can be a matter of hit and miss. Wherever you are in the world, it pays to do your homework. In the meantime, jot your life strong and healthy!

For more background on the medical tourism trend, click here. To read a medical tourism horror-story, see here. Here is a list of Bangkok hospitals with addresses and contact info. Photo: by Knox, shows Bumrungrad hospital lobby.

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