The 10 best countries for medical tourism and overseas healthcare

Written by Andrew Henderson

Like anything else we discuss on this site, the best countries for medical tourism — or anything else — are often those you would have never thought of. Emerging countries have built great healthcare infrastructure while minimizing costs, allowing them to deliver care for as little as five to ten cents on the dollar in some cases.

This goes hand-in-hand with all our founding philosophies at Nomad Capitalist. As you grow your lifestyle and business abroad, health becomes an ever-increasing priority and being able to access quality care wherever you find yourself is extremely important.

That means finding destinations that offer the standards of excellence you expect and that potentially can save you huge hassles and medical bills.

Medical tourism is on the rise and dozens of countries around the world, from Asia and South America to Eastern Europe, are getting in on the act. Agencies are being set up to promote less expensive health care costs to potential foreign visitors from developed countries where health care costs are through the roof.

Procedures that cost into the six figures in the US or the UK cost as little as four figures in these countries.

All the while, the best hospitals in these medical tourist hot spots have highly-trained, English-speaking doctors, just like you’d find at home – and sometimes better than you would find at home, as healthcare costs and challenges continue to rise in high-tax Western countries.

So, where are the best countries to get that expensive surgery, the routine checkout, or the plastic surgery makeover? To be honest, there are so many potential countries that it was hard to narrow it down to just ten. In no specific order, let’s find out which ones made the cut…

10. Brazil


When you’re looking for a fantastic plastic surgeon, Brazil is the place to go. Not only are the professionals good in what they do, but their services are much cheaper too.

Brazil is the world capital for plastic surgery medical tourism, owing to the country’s image-conscious culture. While Mexico is the best known country in the Americas for foreigners seeking care, Brazil stands out as one of the most advanced places in the region.

Looking good and feeling sexy is important in Brazil — almost to an extreme — so it’s no wonder the country is home to more cosmetic surgeons than anywhere else on earth.

In Brazil, plastic surgery is done in a hospital, not in an office, and doctors are highly trained in such procedures. Up until recently, medical tourism in Brazil was largely relegated to elective procedures.

However, the country has the first JCI-accredited hospital in the world outside of the United States — Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paolo — and now has more than 40 JCI-accredited hospitals.

Brazil has the least efficient medical system on this list, although it is nearly tied with the United States in that regard. Costs for plastic surgery can be as much as 60% less than in Western countries, and surgeons can handle just about any procedure you can dream up. There are even veterinarians offering cosmetic surgeries on pets!

Brazil is home to perhaps the world’s most renowned plastic surgeon, Ivo Pitanguy, and prices for top doctors can be as high as those in the US, so make sure to shop the lesser-known clinics if you want to save money. However, Brazil’s beauty consciousness surely can’t hurt anyone looking to save money on a nip and tuck.

9. Mexico


Dental services are very affordable in Mexico, which is why so many Americans come here to make sure their smile is flawless.

Mexico’s proximity to the United States and extensive crossover in medical training means standards for care are often equivalent to what you would expect “back home” and with far less expense. All major cities in Mexico will have good quality-hospitals.

One area of focus for Mexico is also dentistry — for example, the numerous dental practices that line the US-Mexico border and receive countless patients per year coming from the States to Mexico for those procedures.

Expats may choose to have private insurance, otherwise much of the health care services in Mexico are government run and may incur small fees.

All the technologies, prescriptions, and operations you would expect to be available in the United States are available in Mexico at a fraction of the cost. 

8. Panama


Panama is a good choice for medical tourists since its hospitals are highly recommended, they accept private travel insurance and the country is a great place to visit in general.

Panama is not only a top location for retirement or second citizenship, but also for medical tourism. Its private hospitals also offer excellent medical care that may partner with major hospitals in North America that you may be familiar with already.

International travelers can get plans that may include coverage not only in Panama but elsewhere and for a reasonable monthly rate.

The medical staff is largely English-speaking and Panama is a well-connected and well-developed country in the region. Panama is one of the freest economies in the world and almost any nationality can visit Panama 180 days visa-free.

Panama offers significant savings on procedures such as dental implants that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the US.

7. Costa Rica


Whether it’s general healthcare you’re after or you need to get your dental health in check, going to Costa Rica to do that is one of the best things you can do.

Costa Rica, like Panama and Mexico, also is one of the most developed and expat-friendly countries in the region. The nation is one of the safest and most popular destinations for retirement, uses the US dollar, and likewise offers excellent choices for medical tourists.

Most people choose to make the most of both the government and private options in this country to access the healthcare they need. Costs for major operations or doctor visits are often a quarter of the price they would be in the US. Costa Rica is also one of the best countries for having a territorial tax system.

Around 40,000 people visited Costa Rica last year solely for medical tourism, and 15,000 of them for dental care. The dental tourism niche is booming in Costa Rica, where you can expect to pay around USD 4,000 for a  tooth-replacement procedure that would cost you minimum USD 10.000  in the US or Canada. Even with plane tickets and accommodation, it is still a bargain.

6. Czech Republic


If you’re looking for a medical tourism haven in Europe, then the Czech Republic, especially Prag, should be your destination.

The Czech Republic is an excellent option for healthcare in the European Union and in a part of Europe that offers many of the highly-developed European services one would expect but at a better value than its counterparts in the Western part of the continent.

Prague is considered a haven for retirees and entrepreneurs alike. The Czech Republic is known for being sought out for services like teeth whitening, cosmetic surgeries, and others.

You can save up to sixty percent compared to the UK  on cosmetic surgeries: a breast enlargement with silicon implants costs £2,120 including one to two nights in a clinic in Prague, and nose reshaping costs £1,610 including one night in the clinic.

Prague is one of our best-value European cities for living and in general, the Czech Republic is one of our low-tax European bases to focus on. Whether you are visiting only for medical reasons or would want to seek out opportunities in the Czech Republic from a business and lifestyle standpoint, this country is worth considering.

5. Turkey


As we’re going further east, we can’t but mention Turkey and their eye health care and how it flourishes with each passing year. Here, practiced professionals paired with affordable prices speak for themselves.

Turkey, a country at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, has a growing medical tourism sector that also is worth looking at. World-class health treatment centers, as well as spas, dentist, cosmetic surgeons, and much more, are found in Turkey.

Turkey is also known for eye health specialists where the most expensive ocular procedure will cost you USD 5000. As this country grows economically and focuses on its relationship to the EU, pay close attention to how the medical tourism industry will grow.

We discussed Turkish citizenship by investment as an interesting option, particularly for investors from the Middle East and elsewhere who want a middle ground and base in the region that is increasingly pro-business and offers great connectivity to the rest of the world through Istanbul.

4. India


Maybe you’re new to medical tourism and the fact that India is one of the top destinations for serious surgical procedures, but now you know.

Yes, really. India has become a top health tourism destination for high-end surgeries at inexpensive prices. India specializes in inexpensive bypass surgeries and other high-end medical procedures for medical tourists.

One of the top ten medical tourism hospitals is in India. Stories of Westerners traveling to India and saving 75% over home country costs for large procedures — travel costs included — are not uncommon.

India is anticipated to have a $2 billion industry serving the overseas patient, thanks to well over 100,000 patients who visit each year. The Indian government is easing restrictions on citizens of many countries, making it easier for them to travel to India, visa-free and with fewer restrictions (US citizens do need a visa to enter India, which costs $67 plus any agency service fees).

India is widely known for its advanced medical services and equipment. Doctors tend to be highly trained, due to large medical tourism cities like Chennai and Noida having foreign patients fill half their hospital beds.

Also, the language barrier is lower for English speakers, and Indian hospitals are bringing in translators for non-English speaking foreigners.

Health care costs in India can run as low as ten cents on the dollar compared to the US or the UK. Popular treatments include bone-marrow transplants, eye surgery and hip grafting and replacement.

India is also a top destination for cardiac bypass surgery at facilities like the Asian Heart Institute; the procedure can cost less than $10,000 as compared to more than $100,000 in the West.

3. Thailand


Many expats will agree that Thailand is one of the best places to live in if you’re a nomad, and one of the main reasons for it is the high-quality health services they provide.

Thailand has long been one of the best medical tourism destinations in the world, with low health care costs and excellent service for expats. So much so that medical tourism is growing by 16% a year. Bangkok is home to Bumrungrad Hospital, where I myself went for a total health check-up after losing a bit of weight, and paid very, very little.

The hospital was largely modeled after the Mayo Clinic, and their electronic medical record service impressed Microsoft so much they bought the whole thing.

While I’m not a fan of Thailand in general, there is no denying that their medical system is prized for offering a wide range of surgeries and other procedures at cheap prices.

One of my expat friends said he’d get “any surgery” in Thailand due to the high quality of care. Many doctors in Thailand have been trained in Western countries or Singapore and speak excellent English; nurses tend to speak English relatively well, also.

Ever since the crash of the baht in the nineties, Thailand used its currency crisis to attract medical tourists from around Asia, mainly for cosmetic surgeries.

Today, Thailand is a haven for inexpensive plastic surgery, but also non-elective procedures. A facelift that might cost $15,000 in The Land of the Free would cost $2,500-3,000 in Thailand.

Meanwhile, bypass surgery could cost around $25,000, an 80% discount over US prices. Experts recommend sticking to Bangkok rather than the coastal resort towns for access to the best doctors and care.

2. Singapore


Singapore has the sixth best health care system in the world, which in itself speaks volumes. World-renowned cancer treatment specialists can be found here, and it’s still much cheaper than in the UK or the US.

Singapore, while expensive, has one of the most sophisticated hospital systems in the world. Singapore’s status as one of the world’s freest economies, as well as a highly developed nation, has made it a medical tourism hub for both Asians and Westerners for years.

Cancer treatment is a top speciality there. Gleneagles Hospital was ranked among the top ten hospitals around the globe by a health travel group, but many other hospitals offer excellent care as well.

The World Health Organization ranks Singapore as the best health care system in Asia, and sixth in the world. And while socialists claim that Singapore’s efficient, rather socialist health care model is a model for the rest of the world, personal responsibility is a key driver that keeps health care costs here reasonably low.

You will pay more in Singapore than in places like Thailand, but the quality of life in Singapore is second to none. One US-based grocery chain had a policy of paying the entire hospital bill, including travel costs for two, for employees who got hip and knee replacements in Singapore.

Life expectancy in Singapore is several years longer than that of the UK. And, by many standards, the city-state has the world’s lowest infant mortality rate.

If you’re looking for the most developed country for less expensive surgery, Singapore might be for you. However, there are stories of excessive costs which, together with rising health care standards in other countries, are causing medical tourism to shift to other parts of Asia.

1. Malaysia


Malaysia has the best of both worlds – strong infrastructure, top-notch services and affordable prices all at the same time. No wonder it’s number one on our list.

Malaysia sees well over half a million medical tourists — most from around Asia — each year due to the country’s developed infrastructure and low costs. Malaysia has built medical facilities that rival Singapore at much lower price points.

The country has set up agencies to attract hundreds of thousands of medical tourists for procedures for anything from burns to heart conditions.

The general consensus is that, as Singapore gets more expensive, Kuala Lumpur is picking up the slack with facilities that are just as good. English is more widely spoken in Malaysia than in Thailand, and infrastructure is better than countries like India.

Like other countries in Asia, Malaysia saw medical tourism as a way to diversify its economy during the Asian financial crisis. Prince Court Medical Center, where I easily saved $2,000 when I got sick in Kuala Lumpur, was ranked the number one hospital for “patients without borders” by the Medical Travel Quality Alliance.

Malaysian hospitals offer services such as in vitro fertilization at around one-fifth the price of Western facilities, as well as offering sophisticated treatment for burn victims. Malaysian hospitals also offer total physicals that would cost several thousand dollars in the US, including blood work, for a few hundred dollars.


If you are looking for top quality healthcare without wasted money and headache, these countries offer you a start. Apart from this list, other countries are joining in to grab their share of foreign patients, as well.

Jordan has seen millions of patients cross into its borders and has received a top-five ranking for medical tourism from the World Bank, while Colombia is fast rising as a medical tourism hub. Would you go overseas for inexpensive health care? Share your comments below.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Sep 15, 2020 at 9:11AM

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  1. Julie Munro

    Best medical destinations and best hospitals for medical tourists don’t necessarily equate. Just because Thailand and India both have two hospitals on the 2013 Top 10 World’s Best Hospitals For Medical Tourists list from the Medical Travel Quality Alliance, consumers should not expect that Thailand and India are the best countries for medical travel. Nor Malaysia. Getting the best outcomes depends more on (a) selecting the right doctors and (b) trusting in a “Medical Travel Certified” medical tourism company with professional care management services at the destination. Make sure it charges for its services (and gives you a detailed bill) – if it’s “free” … you’ll get what you paid for.

    • Marcio Andrade

      Colombia needs to be on that list. Excellent Doctors of all kinds at really cheap prices.

      • Rajesh Kumar K

        in terms of doctors india wins have too much qualified and highly expertise

  2. Brad Arnold

    Yes, but more important augmentation will be available overseas before in the US. So will the physical therapy necessary to use it.

  3. Kevin McGivern

    This week a man in Manhattan received a surprise bill of $117,000 from an assistant surgeon he didn’t even know.
    Another compelling example of why it is worth it to explore your medical options outside of the USA.
    Our extensive experience has been in Thailand.
    Home to many excellent private hospitals that are considered in network locations by insurance providers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.
    Your coverage will be treated the same as if your went to a local in network provider.
    Thailand is one of the most popular medical destinations in the world and one of the best as well.
    No billing surprises here!!!!
    Don’t risk possible medical sticker shock here in the U.S.
    Do some research.
    We offer free, information, advice and guidance concerning Thailand as a medical destination.
    We are professionals with expertise and we offer our services free of charge.
    Find us here:

    • jackie gaye

      please contact me interested in surgery in thailand cosmetic

    • Harry Mann

      Yeah, they refer to it as “drive by doctoring”. It basically sounds like a procedure in which the patient´s bill is excessively padded. From what I understand, a slew of physicians can step into a patient´s room, one after another, throughout the day, walk up to the bedside chart, pretent to take a glance at it, while asking the patient how they are feeling, and, ka-ching! They have just given you a bill-able experience! They might as well pick your pockets, or steal your car, and rob your bank account, it amounts to the same thing, a license to steal.

    • Kevin McGivern

      Thank you for your comment.
      You are correct, likely a case of drive by doctoring.
      I fear it will be a very long time before the USA adapts a universal health care system similar what most other developed countries have in place.

  4. Aljosha Novakovic

    Good article! I’m a bit surprised Brazil is the only LatAm one on the list. Countries like Chile and Colombia don’t have prices as affordable as Thailand or Malaysia but they have top quality care, still with BIG savings compared to the states. Here you can actually browse and interact with a lot of the private physicians:

  5. MedVoyagers

    What about the emerging countries ? My personal Top 5: Turkey, Chile, Colombia, South Korea and UAE

    • Rajesh Kumar K

      korea and Uae is expensive.. and korea is far for so many countries

    • Harry Mann

      I read an account by a tourist in Guatemala, he wrote about the fantastic medical care he received, after being rushed to a hospital, having x-rays, having a really nice hospital room, being treated so princely by such a kind and friendly staff of nurses and doctors, and the bill for two days stay was only $1,400! Of course, it was all completely unnecessary, as the guy had a simple case of diahrrea…

  6. Derrek

    Would about good countries to move for a stable job in the medical field? I’m a little unhappy with USA.

  7. jennpnc

    Why isn’t korea on the list?

    • Rajesh Kumar K

      it will be in top 10 not in 5.. these countries receives more then 100000 patients.

    • Jack Fecalman

      Good question, Jennpnc. I would think people may be a bit frightened of being anywhere near N.Korea. One mad man that wants to blow something up can ruin your whole day.

  8. k6110

    Medical tourism is a new and upcoming form of business and
    when you are thinking go getting surgeries abroad it is definitely important to
    conduct your research on doctors and companies that are credible like for
    example a company I know of is http://www.shinonglobal.comi highly suggest
    checking their work out and contacting them.

  9. Andy

    Absolutely, India is the best place for medical tourism. And doctors there are extremely talented and very kind.

  10. Rajesh Kumar K


  11. Veronica

    Before doing a research, I asked myself a simple question : Am I afraid to drink a tap water there? That’s why I was trying to find clinic within European countries. Finally I chose Czech republic. I was there once and liked it there. Plus I found good clinic – Forme clinic. I underwent two plastic surgeries there and I’m already preparing for next one. Their prices are unbeatable and their care was flawless.