LOCATED OFF THE EASTERN coast of mainland China, Taiwan’s popularity as a medical tourism destination has, until recently, been limited to demographics from within Asia. That’s rapidly changing: Thanks to a combination of high value and low cost, this island destination shows up with increasing frequency on the radar of medical tourists from Western countries including the United States.
Taiwan offers a combination of sophisticated medical facilities and well- trained doctors (many English speakers) plus state-of-the-art medical equipment and procedures. According to the U.S. State Department, a large proportion of the country’s well-trained physicians studied in the United States. As a bonus, preparing for travel isn’t as arduous as it is for some destinations, as U.S. citizens can stay for up to 90 consecutive days visa-free.
The Joint Commission International-accredited Kaohsiung Medical University Chung Ho Memorial Hospital in Sanmin District, Kaohsiung City, earns recognition for innovative modern procedures such as high-intensity-focused ultrasound uterine fibroid treatment; FOOM, or frontalis-orbicularis oculi muscle eye flap surgery; and Asia’s first Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science-confirmed upper arm allotransplantation.
A number of Taiwanese hospitals also offer bespoke services customized to the needs of international medical tourists. Additionally, travelers can benefit from significant cost savings on common popular procedures such as coronary artery bypass grafts, hip replacement, cosmetic surgery, in-vitro fertilization and gastric bypass. In the dental arena, skilled dentists and surgeons offer regular treatments such as fillings, root canals and implants for a fraction of the cost of the same treatments in the United States.
Planning for treatments abroad should, of course, include downtime after arrival and adequate recovery time post-procedure. As an attractive bonus, Taiwan’s tropical setting includes more than 150 natural hot springs spread across the country, many with accessible mud baths and thermal waters for soaking. This makes it an excellent location for healthy relaxation pursuits leading up to a medical treatment or during the recovery period. In and around the capital city of Taipei, thermal springs include Wulai Hot Springs and the world- renowned Beitou Hot Springs. At Wulai, soaking areas along the banks of the Nanshi River allow for bathing beneath the sky; at Beitou, sulfur waters from a long-ago volcano provide a soothing respite.
As I arrived at the Air Canada check-in counter, the helpful staff directed me to the security checkpoint. Once through the line, and a bit strapped for time, I walked quickly to my gate, where an extremely kind concierge service member greeted me. She asked how my trip was and said she had been watching for me so she could assist me with boarding early to ensure a calm and easy departure. She assisted me earlier that week when I processed through security from Toronto to London, so it was nice closing my trip with a friendly face. She escorted me onto the plane and to my seat in the beautiful Signature Class cabin of the Boeing 787-8, introducing me to the flight attendant who would be directing cabin staff during my flight. I thanked the concierge for her hospitality throughout my journey.
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