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Traveling to Heal: Beyond Hospitals and Medicine

Medical tourism has become a popular reason to travel. People mainly travel for their health needs. Choosing which country to go to depends on two things — the medical professionals’ level of expertise in the country and the ease of arranging medical procedures for international patients.

Even within the U.S.A., patients sometimes travel to a different state to ensure they get the best treatment they need. They could go to Indiana all the way from Georgia to visit an MGD treatment center or to Minnesota from New York to consult an ENT specialist.

But medical tourism has also evolved to include non-conventional medical treatments. Health encompasses the world of medicines and pharmaceutical products and general wellness and feeling of well-being. Here are some countries popular for their traditions of healing.

1. Thailand

Thailand is already known in medical tourism for its sex-change surgeries. But other than this, they have the famous Thai massage that relaxes the clients and at the same time boosts the body’s energy level. Bangkok and nearby areas are visited for its centuries-old temples. Buddhism’s teachings contribute a lot to the lifestyle of its urban and rural areas, creating an atmosphere of religiosity and inner peace.

The north of Thailand is not only famous for elephants, tigers, and handicrafts but also its rich culture of the indigenous communities near the border of Myanmar. They have healing practices linked to their natural surroundings, their traditions and cultures embodying their lives in harmony with their environment.

Chiang Mai, a city in the north, has become a tourist hub because of its craft markets that are cheaper than Bangkok prices. With this, the nearby communities are opening up to the influx of tourists, offering spiritual retreats away from technology and urban entrapment.

2. Japan

Japan is among the top countries in terms of technology and pharmaceutical development. However, it is also rich in traditional ways of healing. Even as its citizens could be assured of excellent treatment facilities in their country, their culture still emphasizes preventive health practices.

The Japanese onsen is not only relaxing. Its effect is similar to saunas, the heat promoting good circulation of blood and toxins from the body. Thermal springs are also usually vents of nearby volcanoes, so they have sulfur content medicinal to some skin diseases.

Japan is also famous for spiritual healing. A number of their temples accept transient lodgers who could join the monks in their daily meditations.

Although Japan is still among the countries that refuse to use English in most of its official transactions, their systems’ efficiency allows tourists to go from one place to another conveniently. From the bustling Tokyo to the more laid back Yamanashi prefecture, non-Japanese-speaking visitors could enjoy whatever healing or medicinal services they need to access in this country.

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3. Guatemala

Guatemala is famous for its indigenous cultural heritage. Not part of the large pre-colonial empires in Latin America, the indigenous communities flourished independently and uniquely. As such, the Mayan communities, the collective term used to refer to the indigenous communities not part of the Inca or Aztec civilizations, passed on numerous traditions to modern-day Guatemala.

Tourists who visit Guatemala flock to its colonial center, Antigua, but they also go there for Tikal, an ancient burial ground. Its mystic bodies of water are also visited for peace of mind and spiritual vitality. For the tourists more interested in the mystical and divine, they schedule their visits to experience Mayan healing ceremonies.

4. India

Although there are many yoga centers from Bali, Indonesia to New York, U.S.A., Mysore, India is still a dream destination for many yogis, especially those who are practicing ashtanga yoga. The specific Mysore ashtanga yoga is part of the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga tradition where the asanas, or the poses, flow into each other faster than in other yoga practices where poses are held longer.

Besides yoga practitioners, India is also a bucket list destination for followers of spiritual leaders like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living. Ravi Shankar taught the Sudarshan Kriya, which harmonizes the mind, body, and emotions.

Healing has become a holistic process. It is no longer confined to medical and pharmaceutical procedures. As people became more aware of the links between mental wellness and physical health, so have people become more proactive in balancing their lives. Although the concept of spiritual healing is not as embraced as mental healing, people are already trying to evolve beyond materialism and getting rid of physical baggage.

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