Examination of Far East Countries in 'Health Tourism'

Wellnes Tourism

Read Time: 9 min 56 sec

Translation by OCAKKUCUK, Abdullah


While the pandemic crisis is going on all over the world, it is frequently talked about the inevitable transition of humanity to the new world order. This new order will affect all areas of our lives and adapting to it will be the new struggle of humanity. Along with everything that changes and needs to change, our desires and habits to discover will also change. This situation provides opportunities for various studies, researches, and applications about the place of the tourism sector in the new order, but especially some areas that come to the fore. In parallel with the health crisis, the concepts of a healthy life and sustainable life gain importance and it is expected that the trend towards health tourism will increase. At this point, we go to one of the most important regions, the Far East, of the world in both medical and traditional medicine and we evaluate some countries in terms of health tourism, and we are looking for answers to some questions with you.

- Why is the Far East preferred when it comes to health tourism?

- What countries in that region help us in which areas?

Let's start!


The World Tourism Organization defines health tourism as ''The type of tourism which is expected to contribute to physical, mental, or spiritual well-being while regaining or maintaining an individual’s health'' (UNWTO 2018).

Health tourism;

• Thermal health tourism

• Medical tourism

• Elderly tourism (3rd Age tourism)

• Contains the concept of disabled tourism

In health tourism, apart from the treatment of diseases, services are provided to keep people mentally and physically mental and stable. We will have a separate detailed article for this.


In this context, the first country that we’ll be examining will be Japan:

(Sergio Quatraro, Flickr)

When examined in terms of medical tourism;

• Japan is one of the countries that use technology effectively in medical tourism and surgical interventions and has the latest technological facilities.

• It is the world leader, especially in minimally invasive surgery.

• They have an indisputable advantage in oncological treatments, especially in gastrointestinal cancers. In addition, it is the only country where proton / heavy ion radiotherapy, which is a very important treatment option for surgically located early tumors, is applied successfully.

• It is the world leader in endoscopy, both in healthcare delivery and technology. 70% of the endoscopy devices used in the world are Japanese products.

• Highly trained, talented staff and quality health services at low prices are among the important reasons why it is preferred.

Traditional medicine;

• Shiatsu; is a word that means finger pressure. It is a very effective massage method that is used for the treatment of the body's lower back, neck, back pain and hernia, muscle contractions, relaxation, and all kinds of internal organ diseases (except cancer).

• Reiki; is a word that means universal life energy. It is a kind of meditation that concerns the mind and spirit, believed to evoke one's own healing abilities.


Our second stop is Thailand. Even though what comes to our minds when we first think of Thailand are its gorgeous beaches, we should know that it is one of the leading countries of the Far East in health tourism. 

(Kamalaya Koh Samui, Thailand; www.kamalaya.com)

Let's have a look at Thailand's Medical Tourism activities;

• It has the most successful dental centers in the world.

• Although it hosts a very large number of health tourism patients from many countries, there is no waiting time for treatment.

• The English level of healthcare professionals and staff is high and can speak fluently. They completed their education in developed countries such as the USA and the UK.

• They specialize in organ transplantation, orthopedics, dental, cosmetic surgery, spine surgery, cardiology treatment, and surgery.

• It has Bumrungrad Hospital, which has become a legend for the health tourism industry.

• Translators are provided to patients.

• It provides its medical treatments with its low cost and advanced tourism infrastructure.

Traditional medicine;

• Therapeutic massage, aromatherapy (herbal medicine) has developed.



The third country we’ll be checking out will be Singapore;

(Tatler Asia's Travel Editor-At-Large Jeremy Jauncey Shares His Favourite Wellness Retreats Around The World, Singapore Tatler)

Medical tourism activities;

• Services are provided in many fields such as; orthopedic surgery, cardiac surgery, cancer, oncology, neurology, cosmetic surgery, dental services, stomach operations, eye, pediatrics, stem cells, and so on.

• In addition to appropriate treatment options, they have a qualified, fluent medical staff.

• There are pretty strict laws and regulations when it comes to the cleaning services therefore; it increases the quality of health facilities and services.

• Having a worldwide airport helps to travel easily to the destination. It is a small island so it provides fast and easy transportation.

• Integration of tourism and hospital chains causes Singapore to be preferred.

Traditional medicine;

• Especially traditional Chinese medicine has affected the region. Researchers have found that 88% of traditional medicine methods are the same as China.

• The foundations of traditional Chinese medicine go back to the 8th century. Especially acupuncture is the most common traditional treatment system used in the world.

(Getty Image)


As we mentioned above, in order to be a health tourist, you do not need to travel for medical treatment. Sometimes just living in a metropolis or working in a corporate company may be enough for this. In this article, three countries which are known as the leading health tourism countries of the Far East are examined in medical health tourism, together with traditional and complementary medicine treatment methods. For those who know that they are health tourists and those who just learn that they are health tourists, in this series; we aim to introduce various destinations to you by making use of academic and industry resources.

See you at our next virtual Health Tourism trip.


Annex 1 

In health tourism, besides treating their illnesses, services are provided to keep people mentally and physically mental and stable. People participate in rehabilitation activities in order to minimize the physical, emotional, psychological, and even spiritual effects of life that we encounter in daily life and to make them feel good. We aim to turn our readers who participate in tourism activities into the appropriate product or service by considering the problems that exist in their lives.

      Table 1. Trends in Life Style and Related Health Tourism Service / Products

Lifestyle Trend or Problem          Related Health Tourism Service / Product

Lack of Exercise

Fitness and Gymnastics Halls in Healthcare Hotels and SPAs

Obesity / Unhealthy Nutrition

Detox Clinics or SPAs; Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw or Organic Foods; Slow Food Destinations

Excessive Technology Use

Digital Detox, Retreatment; To make reservations to Tourism Enterprises which provides Limited TV, Wifi Access, etc.

Need for Sleep / Insufficient Sleep Quality

Sleep therapy clinics in SPAs; wellness hotels with sufficient features to promote sleep (eg special pillows, aromatherapy oils)

Occupational / Work-Based Stress

Rehabilitation for occupational diseases; incentive SPA visits

Discomfort from the appearance of the body

Psychological counseling; Beauty treatments in SPA 'facility, cosmetic surgery in a medical tourism hospital or clinic

Increased Interest in Complementary and Alternative Treatment Methods

Complementary and alternative treatment methods in SPAs; healing energy

Limited Contact with Nature / Unsustainable Life

SPA companies with eco-therapy; Green SPAs, Eco-Villages

Need for Slowdown / Awareness

Staying in small villages or in islands; holistic rehabilitations (eg meditation, yoga)

Need for Spiritual Activities

Spiritual rehabilitation; to stay in places of worship, pilgrimage

      (Source: Smith, 2016)


Arslan, M., Şahne, B. S., & Şar, S. (2016). Dünya’daki Geleneksel Tedavi Sistemlerinden Örnekler: Genel Bir Bakış. Mersin Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi Lokman Hekim Tıp Tarihi ve Folklorik Tıp Dergisi, 6(3), 100-105.

Lim, M. K., Sadarangani, P., Chan, H. L., & Heng, J. Y. (2005). Complementary and alternative medicine use in multiracial Singapore. Complementary therapies in medicine, 13(1), 16-24.

Smith, M. K., & Puczkó, L. (Eds.). (2016). The Routledge handbook of health tourism. Taylor & Francis.


Internet Sources






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