MANILA, Philippines — Malaysia, with its rich culture and iconic architectural marvels like the Petronas Towers and Merdeka 118, has long been a tourist favorite. Yet, beyond these towering landmarks lies a Malaysia that offers much more than meets the eye.
Amidst the bustling urban landscape, the Southeast Asian country has been emerging as a hotspot for healthcare services and educational opportunities, drawing visitors from around the world.
With its close proximity to the Philippines, just a four-hour flight from Manila, Malaysia becomes an even more attractive and convenient option for Filipinos in search of top-notch healthcare and educational opportunities abroad.
In a recent trip hosted by Tourism Malaysia, Philstar.com had the opportunity to visit and witness Malaysia’s high-caliber hospitals and educational institutions, gaining firsthand insight into the country's growing appeal in these sectors.
The Malaysian brand of healthcare
Travelers from abroad come to Malaysia for medical treatments for good reason. Its globally recognized medical tourism industry is renowned for its world-class facilities, internationally trained health professionals and cost-effective healthcare services.
The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), an agency under the country’s health ministry that aims to boost medical tourism, has noted a recovery to pre-pandemic level with 850,000 healthcare travelers recorded in 2022.
MHTC currently has 97 Member Facilities accredited by international bodies, committed to delivering high-quality healthcare services, especially in the areas of cardiology, fertility, cancer care, premium wellness screenings and dental treatments.
Seamless experience for medical travelers
But as one may ask, how do I get to enjoy Malaysia if all that I get to experience are hospitals?
This is where Malaysia's holistic approach to medical tourism truly shines. With a commitment to delivering peace of mind and a seamless end-to-end experience, the country ensures that medical tourists have ample opportunities to explore the country’s wonders and urban landscapes.
Upon arrival at the airport, a dedicated immigration lane for medical tourists streamlines the entry process, ensuring a hassle-free arrival.
At Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) 1, KLIA 2 and Penang International Airport, a warm and welcoming Meet and Greet Service awaits medical tourists. Here, they receive personalized assistance, making their journey to world-class healthcare facilities as smooth as possible.
Sunway Medical Center (SMC) in Sunway City, KL, for example, stands as Malaysia's largest quaternary and regional tertiary care private hospital, welcoming over 60,000 international patients from 170 countries.
Located within an integrated township, SMC boasts proximity to various amenities, including Sunway Lagoon theme park, Sunway Hotels & Resorts, Sunway Pyramid shopping mall and Sunway University, making it an attractive option for foreign tourists seeking a rewarding Malaysian experience.
Likewise, Pantai Hospital in KL is also conveniently situated near local attractions, and offers state-of-the-art technologies and one-stop centers, eliminating the need for patients to navigate multiple departments.
They also simplify travel arrangements for medical tourists, including airport transfers and comprehensive three-day, two-night medical travel packages. With a dedicated International Patient Centre, Pantai Hospital assists patients with quotations, billing and language translation.
As one of the top medical tourism, Malaysia has a plethora of options for healthcare travelers, allowing tourists to tailor their medical experience to their preferences and needs. Also, minimal wait times allow for efficient scheduling, leaving ample room to explore Malaysia's beauty, either through guided tours or at their own pace.
A prime destination for education
Besides healthcare, Malaysia is emerging as a preferred destination for international students, including Filipinos, seeking quality education.
With more than 160 private higher education institutions and 20 public universities, Malaysia offers a wealth of opportunities for students looking to pursue academic studies abroad or advance their education through postgraduate programs.
Per the latest data from the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), international student applications received from Southeast Asian countries are rising, from 7,706 in 2020 to 2021, to 8,788 in 2022 to June 2023.
Popular study programs among Filipino students, EMGS said, are Mobility and Exchange programs, Business and Administration, Health, as well as Journalism and Information programs.