Pattaya’s revolutionary medical city moving ahead slowly

Dozens of trucks are still clearing a huge area of former woodland at Mabprachan Lake in East Pattaya.

The 566 rai (one million square meters) former woodland area, now being excavated by Mabprachan Lake, is set to become a futuristic medical valley rather than a mere hospital. Part of the Eastern Economic Corridor initiative, Thammasat University has signed the deal with local and foreign investors to build an entirely new concept in medical hubs quite unlike any other development in Thailand or south east Asia.

The huge zone will include a hospital, clinic and residential areas for staff and patients as well as promoting the latest smart technology to link all record keeping, screening tools, radiography information and laboratory research. There will also be a recreation park with international golf courses and development of premier housing estates by the private sector. As Thailand’s population ages quickly whilst the birth rate continues to decline, the main purpose is to cater for affluent Thai and foreign nationals, especially seniors.

When completed, Medical City’s resources will be far in advance of any current treatment facilities in Thailand.

An EEC spokesperson said the location was chosen because of proximity to major airports, including U-tapao, two deep water ports, a projected fast rail network and proximity to the bustling city of Pattaya. The EEC has already transformed parts of Thailand’s eastern seaboard with ring roads, motorways, beach reclamations and harbor reconstructions and which some call neo or new Pattaya. The investments, already worth billions of dollars, are designed to make the whole region a premier import-export hub for international trade.

As regards foreigners, Thai authorities are encouraging the settlement of rich retirees and professional executives and scientists with 5-20 year visas, tax breaks and freedom from some immigration hurdles. New medical visas are now available for foreigners requesting general checkups, dental care, hip replacements, laser eye surgery, transplants and heart surgery. The health ministry believes that the two million such cases a year before the pandemic can easily be doubled within the next five years.

The original opening of the first phase of the full-blown medical city was scheduled for late 2024. This would include a 300 beds hospital, later to be expanded to 600. No official announcement has been made, but the opening phase according to on-the-ground contractors will now be 2025. This is because of the need to clear and prepare the entire area for hi-tech buildings and solicit extra funding from investors. The EEC policy statement says it is committed to world class medical facilities, cutting-edge technology and innovative scientific research.