Balm for the stressed-out corporate employee

Note to self:“It’s not stress that burdens us. It’s our reaction to it that does. So I’ll always stay positive, calm and breathe easy while putting my best at work.”

An employee working in a large corporate had pinned this message on his soft-board. A wellness trainer hired by his organisation happened to walk by his cubicle and, intrigued, asked him why he had displayed the memo so prominently in his workplace. His answer was interesting. He said that his life was one of coming a full circle and a story of transformation. The trainer became very interested and finding a cosy corner in the office and over steaming coffee, he asked the employee to tell him more.


Yes, the employee said. This silent killer had entered into his life, slowly, without warning, and then had crept in gradually, every day, until it had engulfed him completely. He had become a victim of stress. But what caused this in the first place?

The employee said that in his early days when he had just joined office, he felt energised to come to work every morning. He was happy to learn the finer aspects of his profession, found bonhomie among his colleagues and his manager was empathetic.

However, over time, the tide turned. Meetings that had been organised for 15 minutes stretched into a couple of hours of sitting in a tight damp environment, causing a domino effect on his schedule in terms of a pile-up of work. A minor disagreement with a senior colleague led to an ongoing skirmish with negative stray comments about his behaviour and attitude regularly being passed by the senior. Soon also, other work started pouring in and deadlines started looming large. More work. Shorter deadlines. Combine the two: More stress.

What had become episodic had turned into chronic stress.

The employee said that he started going home late – sometimes putting in as much as 12-14 hours in office every day. He started neglecting his family and had become extremely short-tempered. He did not have time for anything but work. And slept – anxiously though – for as little as 5-6 hours at night. He was multi-tasking in ever-tighter schedules, suffering from competing priorities and getting loaded with unrealistic timelines. On top of that, his manager was always on the lookout for shouting at him on the slightest of pretexts – in front of others, sometimes even his juniors. Also, he also constantly worried that his phone might ring or ping with an urgent message – or a reprimand – from his manager.

Even at home, his face was either glowing in the light of his computer or he was staring into his phone, as if a message would come anytime. He was constantly on tenterhooks, nervous and anxious and always felt drained-out. Moreover, his health was also deteriorating as he had put on weight and suffered from a headache all the time. Unknowingly, he felt, he had become a victim of the dreaded six-letter word – STRESS.

One night, with his body becoming severely dehydrated, he had to be rushed to the hospital for saline. Plus, he had developed some unexplained rashes on his feet that had to be treated upon with urgency. The next day, the doctors visited him in his room and told him that his health was in poor shape and he should use this visit as a learning to get back in shape. They told him that health was precious and should be protected at all costs. With this sermon, it was as if he had got a new lease of life. That is when he decided he would whole-heartedly embrace something that he promised would become the core mantra of his life.


And, of course, pursue a life that is enriching and wholesome mentally, physically and spiritually. It was as if a new day had dawned for him and he began by soul-searching and asking some simple questions: What is a healthy job? What is work-related stress? What are stress-related hazards at work? And how can I control my response to stress?

It was here that the trainer told him that he had always told his audience that a healthy job is one where the pressures on employees are appropriate in relation to their abilities and resources, to the amount of control they have over their work and to the support they receive from people who matter to them. He said that he always explained that health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a positive state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. A healthy work environment is one in which the staff have made health and health promotion a priority and a part of their working lives.

Exactly, said the employee and one of the first things he did when he was out of the hospital was that he promised he would change his lifestyle and his workplace habits and responses to control stress and regain his health. So here’s what he did:

I promised to start my day right
Earlier, I used to wake up in the nick of time, gulp down my breakfast, combat morning traffic and reach office just in the nick of time.

Today, I wake up early, spend an hour in the park running, exercising and meditating, have a nutritious breakfast (rather than just coffee that I had earlier!) and cycle to office, dodging traffic effortlessly and welcoming a healthy practice to reach to work. I was surprised by how much less reactive I was to stress when I started-off my day with good nutrition, exercises, proper planning and a positive attitude.

I’m clear on requirements and expectations out of me

Earlier, I realised that one of the factors that contributed to burnout was unclear requirements. With not knowing exactly what was expected out of me or when the requirements kept changing with little notice, I found myself to be much more stressed than necessary.

Today, I’m much more clear of my key performance areas and my work profile. When I found myself falling into the trap of never knowing if what I was doing was enough I had an open and honest discussion with my manager on expectations out of me and the strategies for meeting them. This has been a great stress-reliever for me.

I stay away from conflict

Earlier, interpersonal conflicts took a toll on my physical and emotional health and because conflict among co-workers was so difficult to escape, I inadvertently found myself trapped more often than not in gossip, small-talk and back-biting.

Today, I’ve considered it to be the best possible idea to avoid conflict as much as possible. That means I don’t gossip, don’t share too many of my personal opinions about things that are not typically work-related and try to steer clear of small talk that earlier used to drag on for hours on end. This does not mean that I work in a silo. No, I participate in discussions and office humour, but my co-workers know that I have drawn a line and they have come to respect it.

I stay focused and organised
Earlier, distractions used to have a vicious impact on my day, burdening me with work that I could have easily completed had I refused to get distracted.

Today, I plan ahead to stay organised which has come to greatly decrease my stress at work. Being organised with my time means less rushing in the morning to avoid being late and rushing to get out at the end of the day. Keeping myself organised means I avoid the negative effects of clutter and today, I have come to respect the clock and work efficiency.

I have become more conscious of comfort at work
Earlier, I used to spend hours sitting on a creaky uncomfortable chair with my workplace bang in the middle of the office – and chaos.

Today, I have come to notice that the chair, my sitting posture and the location of my cubicle were ergonomically strenuous which led to a lot of physical discomfort. So now I’ve avoided low-grade frustration by changing my chair into a much more comfortable one, altering my sitting posture (for tips on how you should sit right, refer to the box below) and relocating my place into a quiet and soothing area on the floor.

Here’s how you can sit right in office:

Push your hips as far back as they can go in the chair.
Adjust the seat height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips.
Adjust the back of the chair to a 100°-110° reclined angle. Make sure your upper and lower back are supported. Use inflatable cushions or small pillows if necessary.

If you have an active back mechanism on your chair, use it to make frequent position changes depending on your comfort.
Adjust the armrests of your chair so that your shoulders are relaxed.

Multitasking? What’s that?

Earlier, ‘multitasking’, a fancy buzzword in corporate circles, was heralded as a wonderful way to maximise one’s time and get more things done in a day. I did the same. However, this myth was busted when I started realising that when I had a phone in my ear and was making calculations at the same time, my speed, accuracy and sanity toppled over.

Today, I’ve replaced multitasking with ‘single-tasking’ with 100 per cent concentration. This has not only enabled me to finish my work early but also with accuracy and efficiency. And I only pick up calls that are urgent when I’m doing something important, sending a polite message to the caller that I’ll get back to them later. What single-tasking has done is that it has enabled me to shrink my to-do lists and get back home on time!

Finally, the employee said that making these practices a part of his every day corporate life have helped him transform into someone who is a participative, energetic, healthy and focused worker.

So dear reader, is this a part of your story too? Can you relate to it in any way? Tell us, even as we hope that this article helps you transform your life too!

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


The importance of including organic food in your daily diet

A number of our readers would have heard about organic food but might not be exactly aware as to what it is. In a simple definition, organic foods are those that have been grown or farmed without the use of artificial chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, insecticides), hormones, antibiotics or even genetically modified organisms (GMO). In short, organic foods are derived from the ‘organic’ way by which they are produced.

In order to be labelled ‘organic’, a food product must be free of artificial food additives, which includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colouring and flavouring agents and monosodium glutamate (MSG).Organic crops are grown using natural fertilizers like manure and other such substances to improve plant growth. Animals raised organically are also not injected with antibiotics or hormones. The most commonly produced organic foods include fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. However today, there is also the advent of other processed organic products, such as cookies and breakfast cereals.

The bottom line

Evidence suggests that organic foods offer many health benefits. For example, several lab studies found that their higher antioxidant content helped protect cells from damage. Animal studies showed that organic diets may benefit human reproduction and the immune system. Besides, observational studies in humans have linked organic foods to lower the risk of allergies and eczema. In short, organic foods ensure that we are not eating a steady diet of pesticides and preservatives, which can have a long-term negative impact on our health.

Detailed health benefits of organic food

In the very way in which organic foods are produced/farmed, there is evidence that foods grown organically may be more nutritious. So here are some points on organic foods that empower human health.

Organic foods contain less chemicals with more bacteria-resistance

Because organic foods avoid artificial chemicals, evidence suggests that consuming these can reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One study found that levels of cadmium, an extremely toxic metal, were 48 per cent lower in organic produce. In addition, pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in non-organic crops.

Though cadmium and pesticide residue levels in conventionally-grown produce were still well below safety limits, experts caution that cadmium can accumulate over time in the body, causing potential harm. Also, since organic farming does not use antibiotics in animals, these products generally contain lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Inference: Organic foods can reduce exposure to toxins, pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Organic foods contain more nutrients

Several studies have revealed that organic foods generally contain higher levels of antioxidants and certain micronutrients, such as vitamin-C, zinc and iron. Also, antioxidant levels can be up to 69 per cent higher in these foods.

One study also found that organically-grown berries and corn contained 58 per cent more antioxidants and up to 52 per cent higher levels of vitamin-C. What’s more, one study reported that replacing regular fruit, vegetables and cereals with organic versions could enrich the diet with extra antioxidants, which is comparable to eating 1-2 extra helpings of fruit and vegetables daily. Besides, organic plants produce more of their own protective compounds, which explains the higher levels of antioxidants in these plants, thereby obviating the need of chemical pesticides use on them.

Inference: Organically-grown crops have more antioxidants and vitamins that are good for health.

Organic dairy and meat carry a more favourable fatty acid profile

Organic milk and dairy products can contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly higher amounts of iron, vitamin-E and some carotenoids. Moreover, a review found that organic meat contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly lower levels of saturated fats than conventional meat. A higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart diseases.

Inference: Organic dairy and meat can prevent the occurrence of heart ailments.

Organic foods have lower nitrate levels

As revealed by studies, organically-grown crops have as much as 30 per cent lower nitrate levels. High nitrate levels are not only linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer but also to a condition called methemoglobinemia, a disease that impacts the body’s ability to carry oxygen.

Inference: Organically-grown crops can reduce the risk of lifestyle ailments like cancer.

Did you know?

Organic farming is good for the environment too as it tends to improve soil quality, helps in ground water conservation and contributes to reduce pollution.

How to identify organic foods

Go to any modern-day supermarket and you’ll find racks dedicated to organic foods. Pick up a pack and see if it has been labelled ‘Certified Organic’, or see if it has an appropriate equivalent seal, which means that it meets stringent requirements in terms of how it’s produced and processed. These include:

No processing with industrial solvents or irradiation

No synthetic pesticides

No chemical fertilizers


No hormones or preventive antibiotics

Year-round grazing access for livestock, also fed a non-GMO diet

Organic whole foods are among the healthiest one can buy because they nourish our cells without dousing them in energy-lowering chemicals. However, one should keep in mind that the organic restrictions around pesticides and fertilizers don’t mean that farmers don’t use them at all. They do and it is just that the products have to be derived from natural sources and approved by certifying agencies. Hence, the takeaway is that even if your produce is organic, you still need to give it a thorough washing and cleaning before consumption.

Key take-home message

Organic foods can contain more antioxidants and nutrients than regular food, providing straightaway health benefits. Consuming organic food may also reduce exposure to artificial chemicals, hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So go ahead, include organic foods into your daily diet. Because watching what you eat ought to also include knowing what you eat ate!

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


Pedal your way to good health

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, says an ancient Chinese proverb. Cyclists and believers have a more refreshing take as they believe that the journey to good health begins with a single pedal.

If one considers the immense benefits of cycling, one will become a believer and take up cycling sooner rather than later. And this post intends to turn readers into believers through describing 10 reasons why cycling is great for the health of an individual – and the planet too. So here goes…

Reason 1: Cycling enhances mental wellness

It is a fact that cycling makes one happy. If you are someone who resists from taking up a sport, you would agree that you feel more and more lethargic as your day progresses. In fact, this has now been proven with a study by the YMCA demonstrating that people who have a physically active lifestyle have a wellbeing score that is as much as 32 per cent higher than inactive individuals.

Exercising, especially cycling, can boost one’s mood as the activity not only helps in the release of adrenalin and endorphins but also leads to improved confidence that comes from achieving new goals – for instance, cycling a kilometre in under a minute.

Importantly, cycling combines physical exercise with being outdoors, leading to newer explorations and ideas. Riding solo, one can also get enough time to process a problem or a concern, or one can also ride with a group that widens one’s social circle and, in turn, helps build a support system.

Reason 2: Cycling ensures weight loss

Most health and metabolism indicators point to the fact that weight loss is equated to calorie burn. In this realm, cycling helps burn calories: between 400 to 1000 an hour, depending on intensity and rider weight.

Cycling will help you burn calories and, along with eating right and getting proper hours of rest, it will help you lose weight. When you are cycling you are carrying your own weight and not relying on an external weight. Hence, the lighter you become, the faster you’d be able to cycle, creating a virtuous cycle for you: becoming fitter – riding faster – becoming fitter.

Reason 3: Cycling builds muscle

Can you feel the wind in your face while cycling fast enough? Well, the resistance element of the wind while cycling means that it doesn’t just burn fat, it also builds muscle – particularly around the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories, even when sedentary.

It would be ideal if you combine freehand exercise with cycling. Say, you can cycle up to the park, complete your round of stretching and warm-up exercises and again hit the streets on the cycle as you pedal back home.

Reason 4: Cycling ensures better lung health

This point may appear contradictory. However, a recent study suggests that people who ride a bike are actually exposed to fewer dangerous fumes than those who travel by car.

Research by the ‘Healthy Air’ campaign in London saw air pollution detectors fitted to a driver, a bus user, a pedestrian and a cyclist using a busy route through central London. The results indicated that the driver experienced five times higher pollution levels than the cyclist, as well as three and a half more than the walker and two and a half times more than the bus user. Result: The cyclist won.

However, with the growing menace of air pollution in fast-growing cities like Dhaka, it is advisable that riders wear a mask to protect themselves from the particulate matter in vehicular fumes, dust particles, etc. Else, one can go for early morning or late evening rides when the traffic is generally low and the roads are mostly clear.

Reason 5: Cycling cuts heart disease and cancer risk

In addition to burning calories, cycling also raises your heart rate and gets the blood pumping around your body, thereby limiting the chance of your being overweight. As a result, cycling is widely considered to be an essential form of exercise for being healthy and cut the risks of developing major illnesses, such as heart diseases and cancer, and also for substantially lowering risks of other adverse health outcomes.

Lifestyle ailments like heart attacks and cancer are rampant across demographics, especially in fast-developing nations, and cycling is an important tool by which one can minimise their chances of contracting these damaging health conditions.

Reason 6: Cycling exerts low impact

It is a no-brainer that cycling is a low impact form of exercise. However, one can argue that running is also low-impact and hence can be preferable. By no means are we suggesting one over the other, but one must consider the fact that running is weight-bearing and therefore injury rates are higher. Cycling, by contrast, is not weight-bearing.

However, the lack of weight-bearing also means that cycling does not do much to augment bone density and hence it would be good to include strength training into your daily exercise regimen.

Reason 7: Cycling helps one sleep better

It probably isn’t rocket science to understand that tiring yourself out on the bike will improve your sleep. Researchers at a US university studied men and women aged 20-85 years over a period of 35 years and found that a drop in fitness of 2 per cent for men and 4 per cent for women resulted in sleep problems. In the medical world, it is widely believed that the steepest decline in cardiorespiratory fitness happens between ages of 40 and 60 years. This is also when problems of sleep duration and quality are elevated.

It is in looking for causes behind the link that scientists have come to suggest that it could be a reduction in anxiety, brought about by exercise (cycling!), that elevates the ability to sleep. Exercise also protects against weight gain with age, yet another cause of sleep dysfunction.

Reason 8: Cycling helps boost brain power

Exercise has been often linked to brain health and to the reduction of cognitive changes that can leave us vulnerable to dementia later in life.

A study found that during exercise, a cyclist’s blood flow to the brain and other specific areas rises dramatically, vis-à-vis a state in which one is inactive. Improved blood flow is good because the red blood cells deliver oxygen to the vital parts of our body.

Reason 9: Cycling helps in everyday activities

A Harvard Medical School research has concluded that the benefits of cycling carry right over to help maintain balance and in walking, standing and stair-climbing. Cycling has also found to heal backaches and also their occurrence. So if you are recuperating from a backache, upon consultation with your doctor, you can take up cycling for quicker healing while also regaining your stance and posture.

Reason 10: Cycling saves money and time

In addition to your physical health, cycling can be good for your financial health too. Consider the expenses one needs to put up with when buying a car. One, the capital cost; two, the cost of fuel and the driver; three, the cost of insurance; four, the cost of maintenance; five, the cost of parking, which can be substantial when calculated over a period of time.

Now let’s tally the expenses on cycling. A cycle costs an insignificant amount; fuel is free; there are no driver expenses; there’s no insurance cost; maintenance expenses are negligible; parking is free. Moreover, while riding a cycle, one can easily navigate and filter the traffic, rather than remaining gridlocked in a snarl in a car and waiting for hours on end to reach home. Since time is money, saving time is money too.

In summation, the health benefits of cycling include muscle toning, improved cardiovascular health and better blood circulation. It is one of the simplest forms of working-out and is a physical activity that is required by the human body.

So get on your cycle today and pedal your way to good health. And yes, do wear a helmet and proper elbow/knee guards on your journey. Here’s wishing you hundreds of miles of good luck!

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


Ill-effects of plastic on human health

A doctor’s narration of an incident of a patient with symptoms of lung and stomach infection, frequent stomach ache, loose motion and distension underwent every possible investigation. Finally, it was discovered that he had stomach cancer, the cause of which was the presence of excess bisphenol in his blood stream. Unfortunately, by the time it was detected, is was too late.

How is this connected to plastic, you may ask? Well, research suggests that all plastics leach chemicals if they are scratched or heated. At certain exposure levels, of some chemicals in plastic products, such as bisphenol, can cause cancer. The link is hence clear: Plastic chemicals can cause cancer.

This post describes the detrimental impact of plastic on human health and underscores precautions that may help readers protect their health against the adverse effects of plastic.

The utility of plastic requires a hard rethink

Unwittingly, we come into contact with plastic almost every day. We drink water out of plastic bottles, use plastic straws to consume beverages, use plastic containers and cutlery to eat food and use plastic cups to drink tea/coffee. The point is that plastics last for up to 400 years because it is non-biodegradable. When exposed to the sun and with the temperatures hitting peaks in the summers, the chemical cocktail comprising plastic micro-granules starts shedding toxins into the water within minutes of exposure, making human ingestion of plastics a reality.

In the plastics lifecycle chain, let’s start with its negative impact of its manufacture. Toxic chemicals released during the manufacturing process have a severe negative environmental impact. A whole host of carcinogenic, neurotoxic and hormone-disruptive chemicals are standard waste products of plastic production and it finds its way into our ecology inevitably. Some of the more familiar compounds include vinyl chloride, dioxins, benzene and bisphenol-A.

In first phase, though most plastics are benign, many release toxic gases in their formulation. In the final phase, the disposal of plastics has a high ecological impact with their resistance to decomposition – a great liability. This problem is compounded by the fact that only a tiny amount of the total plastics production is recycled. The rest is either dumped into landfills or despatched to incinerators where its toxic compounds are spewed in the surrounding ecosystem. Effectively, with the disposal thus, the harmful impact of plastic is amplified as it bio-accumulates in large concentrations up the food chain and right into our diets. The harmful chemicals released are known to cause such severe health problems as cancer, endometriosis, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects, child developmental disorders, reproductive damage, immune damage, asthma and multiple organ damage.

Human consumption of plastic

It has been found that mismanaged waste is particularly challenging in fast-growing countries, such as India, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh, is leading to severe levels of plastic pollution.

Recently, things have come to such that the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Toxic plastics, health-bisphenol-A(BPA) along with phthalates, are used in many everyday resources, including plastic bottles and food packaging materials. Their constant contact allows residues of plastic to become ubiquitous in our bodies. Moreover, the route to ingestion of plastic in humans is also through the consumption of contaminated fish and other marine mammals, as these aquatic creatures consume polystyrene components as they sink lower into the oceans.

Plastic alternatives

The use of plastic bags is considered as one of the greatest health and civic issues that humans are facing today. Cities such as China have banned the use of plastic. Bangladesh and India have banned the use and sale of polythene bags that have thickness of less than 50 microns. Moreover, there is a rising global voice against the use of plastic straws that are produced in the billions the world over.

One of the most effective and obvious ways to reduce the impact of plastics and its derivatives, including plastic bags, is to progressively stop its use. While one recognises the need for plastic products, we must select plastic alternatives, examples of which include using paper/cloth bags and paper straws, etc. These products have the benefits of being non-petroleum in feedstock and, most importantly, are biodegradable.

Common precautions against plastic

We should choose plastic bottles carefully. Pick up such a bottle and turn it upside down. On its base you will find a recycling code that looks like a triangular arrow around a number. Avoid the numbers 3, 6 and 7. Plastics, especially with the number 7, contain BPA.

One should also not microwave food or drinks that are stored in plastic containers even if they carry the tag of being ‘microwave-safe’. Heat can breakdown plastics and release chemical additives into the food and beverages stored in the containers. Moreover, microwaves heat unevenly, creating hot spots where the plastic is more likely to breakdown. Also, for protecting oneself from plastic contamination, it is best not to have a diet that consists mainly of fish since most of it is probably contaminated.

Some of the other ways by which one can circumvent the use of plastic include:

    • Avoiding plastic bags (including for snacks and food storage)
    • Avoiding disposable straws (reusable straws made from stainless steel or bamboo are widely available)
    • Choosing a jute or cotton (cloth) bag for carrying purposes
    • Choosing glass containers for storage
    • Choosing a non-plastic toothbrush made from bamboo or flax
    • Avoiding disposable plastic bottles by using one’s own reusable bottle instead

Besides, one of the most effective and conscious things we could do to protect our fragile ecosystem is to be responsible for our trash. The average person disposes half a pound of plastic waste every day. Besides, governmental regulation also needs to be more structured and clear to alter plastic use/consumption habits.

Tip: Studies have found that gooseberry/amla has shown to be effective in preventing and lessening the toxic effects of chemicals in the body and represent effective detox preparations. Also, regular sweating and exercising helps one get rid of harmful chemicals and minerals from the body.

So go ahead, create a plastic-free life for yourselves and others around you.

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:

Travel Worry Free

Even though a vast number of people believe that the costs of travelling uninsured can be high, yet few cover their risks by taking a travel insurance policy. As psychologists point out, this dichotomy mostly exists because of the thought: “It’ll never happen to me.”

However, the truth is that an accident abroad can not only have an unsettling impact on the individual’s physical health, it can significantly impair his/her financial wellbeing too. The reasons for travelling uninsured can be many – from a tight budget to unawareness of the potential costs involved in unforeseen events to the classical thought of “What can happen to me? I’ll be safe.”

This post then is an elucidation of the benefits of travelling insured and the potential costs that can easily be avoided and the risks mitigated if you have travel insurance. Yes, the peace of #TravellingWorryFree!

Travelling uninsured can put you back by several hundreds of dollars

Let us first take you through the concept of travel insurance. Travel is filled with unpredictability and travel insurance can, in simple terms, can make your travel worry-free. If you look from a traveller’s point of view, when someone is travelling abroad unpredictable things beyond his/her control and can happen:

  • His/her trip can get cancelled and he/she might not even start his/her journey
  • When he/she has boarded the flight, his/her baggage can get lost – his/her hand baggage can get lost or his/her checked-in baggage can get delayed
  • Once he/she has reached destination, his/her passport can get lost
  • He/she can be robbed in that country leading to a loss of his/her assets
  • His/her currency or forex and travel card can get lost
  • His/her health can deteriorate or the person may be involved in a tragic event like an accident

The solution that helps mitigate these uncertainties is a travel insurance policy, which can cover trip delays, baggage loss, baggage delays, passport loss, thefts and accidents and other health issues, etc., which can be settled by the policy issuer either through a reimbursement or through cash less hospitalisation. In effect, travel insurance comprehensively covers all the risks which one can think of.

Let us now focus our attention to the three broad cases that a traveller can be exposed to.

  • The best case scenario:

He/she having a travel insurance and returning back home safe and sound.

  • The other case scenario:

He/she having travel insurance and getting his expenses covered for a sudden and unpredictable event.

  • The worst case scenario:

He/she not having a travel insurance and a disaster striking him or his family.

If you ask any traveller who has had the misfortune of undergoing the last case scenario, they will invariably tell you that they have now become the ambassadors of travel insurance. Why? Because the costs of travelling uninsured are prohibitively high, especially during medical emergencies.

One traveller had to pay £20,000 (equivalent to about Tk 2.2 million) to cover the cost of treatment for a heart infection and/or haemorrhage in a hospital in the UK. Costs included treatment at two hospitals and an air ambulance service. In many countries, medical treatment for visitors can be incredibly expensive; daily hospitalisation costs in Southeast Asia regularly exceed $800. Moreover, if you have to stay in a hospital for treatment for 24-hours, the average cost can be:

  • Argentina $429
  • South Africa $665
  • France $853
  • New Zealand $979
  • Australia $1,472
  • USA $4,287

Source: International Federation of Health Plans

In the realm of a travel insurance policy covering health insurance, it is important to note that while the policyholder is travelling abroad, his/her policy will comprehensively cover not only hospitalisation but also OPD treatment. Hence, for an affordable amount (premium), one can get enough cover to then not have to bear the bulk of the regular healthcare expenses.

The benefits of travel insurance

By taking out a travel insurance policy, you are essentially covering yourself against travel risks, including unexpected medical costs abroad.

Considering that the cost of a small medical emergency abroad could deplete one’s entire holiday budget, it offers one peace-of-mind. Moreover, travel insurance also provides a level of protection against currency fluctuations as, although one’s policy is paid for in local currency, claims are incurred in foreign currencies.

Specifically, a comprehensive travel insurance policy offers the following benefits by providing for:

  • Emergency medical cover
  • Losses incurred due to unforeseen cancellation or having to cut one’s trip short
  • Death and disability cover
  • Personal liability cover
  • Luggage cover
  • Various other inconvenience benefits like costs incurred when being forced to extend stay due to adverse weather

Extensive research suggests that the most common occurrence is a health issue faced while travelling abroad. In this context, a travel medical insurance can help minimise healthcare-related financial risks. Typically, travel medical insurance includes:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Expenses for prescription drugs, medical costs and hospitalisation
  • Surgery charges
  • Medical care in case of accidents
  • Additional coverage, including emergency evacuation, repatriation in case of illness, accident or death, etc.

Tip: Before purchasing a travel health insurance policy for your upcoming travel, ensure that it covers international medical emergency costs, list of network hospitals, toll-free numbers and emergency contact guidance.

A growing number of people, including Bangladeshis, are seeking medical care outside the borders in countries like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and India, among others. In most cases, the traveller has pre-paid their medical treatment. However, if they experience medical complications or have to cancel their trip, a medical tourism insurance coverage can help them recover their costs and avoid unexpected high medical expenses. So the benefits of this kind of insurance include:

  • Protection against high costs due to medical complications beyond the scope of the pre-paid medical treatment
  • Protection of finances in the event of the trip getting cancelled in terms of flight and lodging costs
  • Evacuation coverage in case one has to be evacuated to another medical facility

As a product, travel insurance is characterised by flexibility with the idea of facilitating travellers when they most need it. Hence, travel insurance for a trip abroad can be availed by mostly anyone and for a trip that is as short as 1-4 days. Moreover, comprehensive and flexible travel insurance plans can also be bought online, especially facilitating last-minute purchases.

Tip: Read the small print in the policy to be a smart and more aware global traveller.

At GD Assist, we believe that there is nothing worse than sending a client off for a holiday or for medical tourism purposes only to have them call back about lost luggage or being stuck at an airport. It’s an unfortunate mishap and out of one’s control and hence we advise travellers to take precautions by enabling them to make an informed decision regarding travel insurance. In our longstanding experience, we have come to believe that it is one of those things that few travellers consider and then regret not taking when it’s too late.

So, travel medical insurance is an important travel necessity. We offer many affordable travel and medical insurance plans that you can also buy online to secure your trip and travel worry-free. For any queries, we welcome you to get in touch with us.

Call GD Assist today and get going…

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


Renowned Global Healthcare Tourism Destinations

The global healthcare tourism market is steadily maturing, reflected in the growing number of patients travelling overseas for medical treatment. Credible industry reports estimate that the global medical tourism market was worth about US$20 billion in 2016 and is projected to record a sharp compounded annual growth rate of 18.8 per cent to reach a size of over US$ 47 billion by 2021. Some of the principal reasons that have boosted the growth of the global healthcare tourism industry include lower costs than what is available in the travellers’ country of origin and better treatment quality with quicker recuperation.

So if you are a patient who is looking for high-standard treatment abroad or have somebody at home who requires quick medical attention, we present below a list of the top medical tourism destinations of the world with an explanation of why they are considered to be the best in the field.

India: At the cutting-edge of healthcare technology

Why India? India is one of the key players in the global medical tourism industry, providing patients with healthcare services that are driven by modern technology and efficient care. Besides, many hospitals in India are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) and Joint Commission International (JCI). Additionally, in India, there is close to zero waiting time as scheduling surgery or other interventions can be achieved quickly upon diagnosis confirmation. Among the various healthcare solutions, India is known for cardiovascular and orthopaedic interventions that can be provided at high-quality and affordable rates.

Key patient benefits? It is estimated that availing healthcare facilities in India saves patients between 65 per cent to 90 per cent of costs compared to the cost of similar services in the US. This fact has evolved India into one the most visited nations for healthcare.

Surplus patient offerings? Patients visit India not only for the quality and affordability of healthcare services but also for its tourism. The country offers several sightseeing and vacationing options that can vastly aid patient recuperation.

Malaysia: An award-winning medical tourism model

Why Malaysia? Malaysia has scooped up the number one spot in the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for ‘Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the year’ consecutively in 2015 and 2016. The nation ranks among the best providers of healthcare in all of Southeast Asia.

Key patient benefits? Health travellers who visit Malaysia have the potential to save 65 per cent to 80 per cent on medical costs compared to the cost in the US or the EU. Moreover, Malaysia offers excellent patient comfort with five-star hospital rooms that look more like hotel suites. Additionally, at both Penang and Kuala Lumpur international airports, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), the apex industry body for the sector, provides lounge and concierge services to medical tourists to ensure comfort the moment they arrive in Malaysia. This also goes a long way in building patient trust.

Surplus patient offerings? Malaysia’s emphasis on holistic patient care and wellbeing is reflected in the fact that some of the renowned healthcare destinations in the country offer, for example, indoor pools for hydrotherapy.

Thailand: Internationally-accredited healthcare infrastructure

Why Thailand? Thailand is globally renowned for its unique hospitality and also the fact that the country has been able to create a brand that is firmly rooted on tourism. Hence, Thailand is most suitable for patients preferring cutting-edge healthcare access plus an option to holiday in a country that is renowned for its exotic beaches and other locales. Having said that, the magnet that has the strongest pull for international patients is that Thailand has the largest number of internationally-accredited hospitals in Southeast Asia.

Key patient benefits? Medical services in Thailand saves a patient 50 per cent to 75 per cent on medical expenses they would have incurred for similar services in the developed world. Moreover, Thailand also offers patients time-tested treatment solutions like Thai massage and other forms of deep relaxation therapies that aid in their healing and recuperation.

Surplus patient offerings? Thailand is the most reputed for dispensing advanced dentistry services as well as cosmetic and dermatological procedures. Moreover, large and prominent hospitals in Thailand are well-versed with outstation patient requirements, reflected in the fact that one of them provides advanced healthcare services to over 4 lac medical tourists annually.

Singapore: Sophisticated solutions in healthcare

Why Singapore? Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world, maintaining the top-spot in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries. Excellent medical services, state-of-the-art facilities, well-trained specialists and an emphasis on comprehensive patient care has turned Singapore into a much sought-after worldwide healthcare location

Key patient benefits? Seeking healthcare in Singapore saves a patient 25 per cent to 40 per cent of what they would have spent on the same services in the US. As the medical tourism market becomes more competitive and with countries like Singapore continually investing in its healthcare infrastructure and resources, it is likely to remain at the top as a key player in the industry of medical travel.

Surplus patient offerings? Singapore also boasts of a sophisticated tourism industry with a number of must-visit places like the Sentosa Islands and the Universal Studios. Besides, the country is also a shopping magnet with a variety of innovative lifestyle, home décor, cosmetics and tech products available at reasonable prices.

Taiwan: Emerging medical destination

Why Taiwan? Interestingly, Taiwan has experienced gradual expansion in medical tourism in the recent years. With advances in the treatment of cardiac diseases and orthopaedic and neurological conditions, Taiwan is widely expected to emerge as a preferred destination in these medical fields.

Key patient benefits? Taiwan initiated the first kidney transplant and the first-ever paediatric liver transplant in Asia. As such, it has an established medical practice. Moreover, patients can expect savings of 40 per cent to 55 per cent in healthcare costs as compared to the cost of similar services in the more advanced countries.

Surplus patient offerings? Taiwan offers patients comfortable accommodation options with spacious rooms and also well-trained and empathetic English-speaking staff.

In 2017, more than 12 million travellers packed their bags, booked flights and headed-off to destinations around the globe to undergo medical procedures and recovering by the poolside or on the beach as well as to discover other cultures and cuisines. Additionally, many of the global medical tourism destinations offer more than simply healthcare; they bundle the experience with other succours like tourism opportunities and spa-like amenities.

So if you’re someone who’s thinking of overseas travel for healthcare, do get in touch with GD Assist. As one of the most renowned medical tourism facilitators in Bangladesh, GD Assist will help you identify the ideal country matching your medical needs and budget, in addition to short-listing the right hospital, booking accommodation as well as doctor appointments. GD Assist can also take care of all your visa and logistical requirements.

So get in touch with GD Assist today and get going…

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:



Affordable Euro Trip

Many of us have a Euro trip on our bucket list. However, because of the prohibitive expenses involved, we put the trip off for the next year. Sadly however, the next year seldom comes. Worry not!

We have illustrated here 20 tips on how you can make your dream Euro trip affordable while realising all your expectations out of the tour. What’s more, we are also giving 18 directives on ensuring that your trip is smooth while avoiding some common mistakes. What’s with the numbers 20 and 18, you might ask? Well, these are strategic because we really want the year 2018 to be the one when you finally embark on your Euro trip!

20 tips to save money

  1. Low-cost accommodation

The biggest secret in travel today is luxury hostels. These are hostels where the focus is on creating guest experiences and they are definitely cheaper than star hotels.

  1. Co-shared living spaces

You must check Airbnb when visiting Europe. It has a fantastic range of places to stay and offers great value. What’s more, if you’re new to Airbnb, on first-time sign up, you may get discounts too.

  1. Rail travel

If you’re travelling from London to Paris, Eurolines offers rates as little as £15 one-way. You can hop over to Eurostar to checkout their brand new SNAP fares where you can get cheap fares for advance bookings.

4. Hop-on hop-off bus services

Flixbus’ Interflix Euro bus pass  is probably the best deal in bus travel. Besides having good frequency on all key routes, the buses also offer free Wi-Fi and generous luggage allowances.

  1. Book in advance

Save queuing time for major European attractions by booking your activities in advance. Doing so also opens up the chance for you to get an instant online discount, which can be substantial savings if you are travelling in a group.

  1. Free walking tours

Several European destinations offer free walking tours. These are comprehensive, entertaining and relaxing and a good way to explore offbeat places.

  1. Time your trip

Don’t travel to Europe in the summers if you can avoid it. It is best to look at off-season instead. For instance, during winters, hotels can be discounted by upto 40 per cent so you can get a great deal.

  1. First things first

When first arriving in a new city in Europe, ensure that you stop by the tourism bureau for discounts, free maps and cost-free events. Plus, their information/advice will be trustworthy.

  1. All-exclusive pass

Quite a few European destinations offer an all-inclusive pass that gets you access to museums and also public transportation. If you are planning to pack in a number of visitor attractions, this pass can save you a lot of money.

  1. Feet on street

Walk as much as you can. This way, you’ll be able to remain fit, stand a chance to be greeted by something most unexpected and also spend quality time with your loved ones. Walking is free too!

11. Do as the locals do 

Join locals in restaurants and eateries during happy hours. You can also check out local sports matches which are often free or cheap.

  1. Save on roaming bills

Roaming charges and accessing the internet abroad is still prohibitively expensive and hence it is best to get yourself a local internet data-only SIM. Or you can buy a mobile Wi-Fi device that is relatively cheap too.

  1. Chug along

For pocket-friendly travel, you can try trains, especially the regional and local ones, that can be very cheap, especially in countries like Poland and Hungary. You can especially consider making longer connections by overnight train that can save you accommodation costs too.

  1. Pedal power

If you can, you must travel by a cycle. Travelling thus not only saves you money, it’s great for your health too. Plus, cyclists can match with gracious locals who are willing to accommodate them. The emphasis is on the exchange of experiences and cultures rather than of money.

  1. Fly with a low-cost airline

Thanks to the low-cost airline revolution, travelling across Europe is a lot cheaper. Even with hidden extras like paying for checking-in your luggage, prices are reasonable, especially over longer distances.

  1. Be money-wise

It is expensive to withdraw money abroad from an ATM. Not only will you get a poor exchange rate, you will also be charged a withdrawal fee. Hence, travellers’ cheque/card is the most optimum and secure way of carrying money.

  1. Avoid buying currency at the airport

If you can, you should avoid buying currency at the airport. It will be needlessly expensive. Hence, it is best to not put off your forex till the last minute.

  1. Stay off-centre

In almost every major European city you can get significantly cheaper prices if you are willing to stay off the city’s centre. In addition to the peace and quiet, you can also get a chance to explore offbeat areas.

  1. Restrict restaurant meals 

Limit eating-out to once a day even as you should visit a gourmet restaurant for lunch when many restaurants offer great value in set menus and business lunches. In addition, food stalls around European cities are common and they are a great way to save money too.

  1. Shop locally

If you are shopping for articles/souvenirs to take back home, you should try the local supermarket or visit farmer’s markets and watch what the locals are buying to get the best deals.

18 ways to avoid common pitfalls

  1. Ensure passport validity

A valid passport is a prerequisite for travel to Europe. Moreover, travellers who have a valid passport should check the expiry date before they purchase any flight tickets as some countries can deny entry if your passport expires within 6-months of when you arrive.

  1. Organise your travel documents

Assemble all your travel documents properly, including bank statements that will need to be authenticated by your bank. You might be denied visas if you do not submit all the documents as required or if your documentation is incomplete.

  1. Apply for visas well in advance

It is important that you apply for your Schengen visa (for travel through Europe) well in time. While the application procedure takes 4-6 weeks, there is an element of unpredictability and hence proper planning is vital.

  1. Be certain of your trip dates

It is important to decide what time of the year you want to travel to Europe. You can start by planning your itinerary around dates and events. Weather is a major aspect that you should consider while planning.

  1. Start refining your list

Once you’ve done your research, it is crucial that you narrow down your ideal Europe trip list. Countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic feature some of the best experiences while being considerably cheaper than most countries in Western Europe.

  1. Carry valid licences

This would be especially relevant for those planning on renting a car while in Europe as a valid driver’s license is mandatory.

  1. Pack right

Temperatures in Europe can vary drastically and hence it is important to pack accordingly. It is also a good idea to carry an umbrella in your backpack at all times.

  1. Slow down

Remember that by trying to see everything, a lot of travellers fail to enjoy anything. Hence, ensure that you give yourself enough time to relax and avoid burnout.

  1. Be aware of travel time

Remember to account for travel time between European cities. Think about how much you’re actually going to want to see or do in a new city after travelling all day/night between destinations on your trip itinerary.

  1. Research flights to Europe

Plan for your flight and decide whether you want standard round-trip flights or one-way flights, which are usually more expensive.

  1. Map your route

Once you’ve decided on the destinations, you can determine the best route for your itinerary. Look at a map of Europe to avoid backtracking – it wastes both time and money.

  1. Always keep time in hand

If you plan everything down to the minute, even a slight delay could wreak havoc on your schedule. So it’s best to keep some time in hand.

  1. Use translation services

Rely on technology for translation services as you really do not want to face the challenge of getting lost in a region where they don’t speak your language.

  1. Pack light

If you pack heavy, you could end up paying the airline for oversized carriage. You also run the risk of having to lug your bag/s during the journey, which can be tiresome.

  1. Stay pocket-light

Never carry too much cash that runs the risk of getting lost/stolen. A preloaded multi-cash currency cardis by far one of the cheapest and easiest ways to handle money when travelling in Europe.

  1. Travel with some cash

Though staying pocket-light is good, do carry a reasonable amount of cash. A lot of cafes, restaurants, local markets, etc. do not accept plastic cards.

  1. Check the calendar

If you travel around certain dates to certain cities, you might find everything closed, which could be quite a damper to your plans. Hence, reconfirm the dates, especially if you have limited time per destination.

  1. Carry solid footwear

Though most European cities are pedestrian-friendly, it is always a great idea to wrap your feet around good footwear, especially if you are planning to walk a lot.

Europe is full of amazing places and experiences that you could travel for years and still feel like you’ve missed something essential. GD Assist, an experienced travel and tourism player, can meet all your Euro tour needs to provide you with curated experiences that you’re sure to cherish for a lifetime!

Let 2018 be the year when you ticked Euro off your visit list and at GD Assist, we’ll help you to do just that!

So, call GD Assist today.

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


Avoid these common slip-ups in visa application

Habib-ul Bashar was excited as his visa for visiting India was successfully granted. After all, he diligently completed the paperwork and provided all the supporting documents to the visa officer. He felt happy that he could now proceed for seeking treatment for persistent pain in his lower back. Alas! The immigration officer at the airport disallowed embarkation as Habib’s passport had less than six months of validity. Likewise, Nikhat Parveen had underestimated the time by which she thought she would get her visas. Her visas came exactly two days after the date of her flight booking. Not only she missed going on her chosen date but also lost a lot of money in ticket forfeiture/cancellation. Besides, she had to spend extra in purchasing eleventh-hour flight fares because the journey was important for her.

There are many people like Habib-ul Bashar and Nikhat Parveen whose visa applications are either outright rejected or they are disallowed to board their flights at the last-minute or they are unaware of the visa process, as a result of which their visa application is not considered. Indeed, a large number of Bangladeshis have to suffer because of some common and entirely avoidable mistakes in their visa applications. Though such submissions can be a daunting and overwhelming task for many applicants, we present below some common mistakes that many people make in their visa applications and the accompanying remedy.

  1. Not checking passport validity

A valid passport and visa are prerequisites for travelling abroad, including to India. The passport must be valid for 6 months beyond stay in India and have at least two-three blank pages available for visa stamps. Besides, there are many types of visas and each visa type has its own eligibility criteria. Many applicants fail to check and confirm their eligibility for the specific visa they are applying for. As such, the processing of their application is delayed or their application is rejected. Specifically, for a medical visit, a medical visa is given to those seeking medical treatment in reputed/recognised specialised hospitals/treatment centres in the country of their choice.

Thuscheck your passport thoroughly before applying for visa. If your passport is due to expire soon, please apply for a new one. The important thing to remember here is to plan in advance and work accordingly. 

  1. Not sending the required supporting documents

Many applicants think submission of visa application form alone is enough to get the visa. The fact is that this is just a single part of the full visa application process. You must submit all the required supporting documents asked for. For instance, it is a common mistake that applicants make when they forget that their bank statements require bank seals for authentication. Hence, not doing so can delay your visa or lead to rejection of your application.

So, read the visa application procedure carefully and make a list of all the supporting documents that are asked for. Moreover, it is always a good idea to carry an extra photocopy of important supporting documents to avoid any last-minute hassles.

  1. Not being truthful or not providing complete application information

Many applicants are not fully truthful or provide incomplete information in their visa petitions. This often leads to denial of visa or delay in processing the application. Being untruthful may also lead to legal action.

Hence, you must be sure to provide true, factually correct and complete information in your visa entreaty. It is also best to be fully transparent with adequate disclosures, if any, and not withhold any information.

  1. Not starting the application process early

This is a common pitfall and is characterised by many applicants who submit their visa petitions at the last moment. In the hurry to submit their applications quickly, many end up making mistakes in their paperwork and also forget to send the supporting documents, which lead to rejection.

Therefore, it is essential that you be proactive and start the process as early as possible. As a thumb rule, you should commence your visa application process anywhere between 4-6 months ahead of your planned dates.

  1. Not checking your photographs

Photographs for visa applications need to adhere to the defined specifications. If you do not check the photo specifications closely, the officer may find that as a relevant ground to reject your visa application. Today, many consulates require that one uses photographs that have been taken in the past 3 months and have never been used for a visa application before.

Consequently, check the photo specifications and communicate the same to the studio where you’re getting your shots done. In a number of cases, the studio is also aware of the specific photo requirements for visa applications. Do remember the exact photo frame size asked for, the background specifications (ideally a plain white or light-coloured background), the full front view of the head, face directly facing the camera with a neutral expression, etc.

  1. Not carrying the appropriate fee

Consulates for different countries have their own methods of payments. Hence, it is essential to ensure that one knows the method and the exact amount of the applicable fee. One does not want to run short on the applicable fee and create an awkward situation where the visa is not granted.

Accordingly, you must refer to an appropriate source for detailed information on the exact visa issuance fee and the accepted method of payment.

Besides the above, some countries might also require applications to appear for their visa interview. It is important to note that a successful interview can have a greater positive impact in the visa-granting decision. So, one must be prepared well for such interviews through doing prior research and also preparing for commonly asked questions and their appropriate answers.

Also, here are some more tips on ensuring a smooth and conflict-free interaction with the immigration officer at the airport.

  • Firstly, never make any arguments with the officer. Always be polite and courteous.
  • Secondly, be ready with the information asked for and be truthful. Some of the common questions include, “What is the purpose of your visit?” or “What is your profession?” or “For how many days will you be staying in the country?” Always be prepared with the answers.
  • Thirdly, don’t talk too much. Only speak/respond when asked for an answer.
  • Fourthly, always be confident with positive body language. Do not be nervous.
  • Fifthly, a number of countries require immigration forms to be filled at the destination country’s airport and submitted to the immigration officer. Always write clearly and truthfully. As an essential tip, do keep in handy your destination address and local phone number/local contact’s phone number that is required to be filled in the immigration form.

It is always important to trust an expert for your visa requirements. They are often the ones who are the bridge that help you in your application process, which could make a difference in being granted the visa smoothly and seamlessly. With years of rich experience in the travel and tourism industry, GD Assist’s dedicated travel desk can be your friend and guide in helping you with your visa and ticketing solutions.

So, call GD Assist today.

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


Travel for happiness during Eid

After a month of fasting, prayers and penance during Ramadan, what do you most look forward to? Relaxing along the pristine white beaches and lush natural beauty while scuba-diving and bringing the adventurist out of you? Engaging in some fun and entertaining activities in a tiny island nation that nevertheless packs a punch? Or touring a country that offers a plethora of cultural sights and sounds for tourists, including one of the seven wonders of the world?

As thousands of Bangladeshis catch flights to travel for happiness during Eid, here are some of the destinations that could make perfect itineraries as you pack-up, unwind and fly-off…

Thailand: Where the world holidays

Thailand isn’t referred to as a global holiday destination for nothing. The country offers almost everything in terms of what a tourist desires. So here’s what an itinerary could look like as you celebrate and make merry during Eid.

You could take a flight to Bangkok and catch an onward connection straight to Phuket with the intent of coming back to the capital and spending a few days on the last leg of your trip. Phuket is relatively more under-explored than its more popular cousin, Pattaya and offers the flexibility to tourists to make their day action-packed or one filled with rest and relaxation. Phuket is 1.5 hours of flying distance from Bangkok and flights are available at regular intervals.

In Phuket, one must visit Phang Nga Bay for an unforgettable experience. A distinctive feature of the bay is the sheer limestone cliffs that jut vertically out of the emerald green waters. These islands are home to sheltered fauna that are possible to observe on certain tours. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are two of the most famous spots in this bay. Patong is the most popular and happening area among tourists visiting Phuket and is replete with a number of hospitality, dining and shopping options and is, of course, home to a large number of spas and massage parlours.

The allure of the beaches in Phuket is hard to resist. With more than 30 to choose from, the island offers a lot of variety in terms of beaches that are sheltered and secluded coves to those that comprise long and lively shores. Most of the best beaches in Phuket are along the west coast and offer picturesque sunsets along with their soft white sands and clear blue seas with cool and inviting waters.

A visit to Phuket remains incomplete without a tour to Phi Phi Island, Thailand’s star island. Phi Phi’s beauty, when approached by boat, rises from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to beach-fronted jungles. On Phi Phi, there are some popular outfits that offer guests a professional scuba-diving experience to explore the rich biodiversity of the oceans.

Once back in Bangkok, get ready to be dazed by the sheer energy buzzing through the city. To get a pulse of this vibrant metropolis, you could head to the Chatuchak Market, which is one the largest markets in the world with over 8,000 stalls covering an expansive 27 acres. Open every Saturday and Sunday, you can locate almost everything you could ever imagine and that too at bargain prices. For the high-end shoppers who want their fix of global brands, there’s no better place to shop that Siam Paragon. With over 250 shops, this market will keep the well-heeled on their heels for hours on end!

For those who wish to laze around and soak in the sun, at over 500,000 sq. m, the Lumpini Park provides relief from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. It is not unusual to see the older Thai generation practicing Thai Chi or a romantic couple relaxing by the side of the lake. During the weekends, the park is full of people taking part in all sorts of activities.

Finally, to round-off your trip, visit Bangkok’s Chinatown. Packed full of street stalls and restaurants, the choice of places to eat are endless and nowhere else in Bangkok you will be able to get to sample different varieties of Chinese food.

Bangkok is about 2.5 hours of flying time from Dhaka and convenient flights are available from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Flights are also available from the Shah Amanat International Airport, Chittagong. The Baht is the currency of Thailand. Make sure you apply for a Thai visa at least 3-4 weeks in advance before your trip.

Singapore: Small is ‘big’

Quick, which is one of the three city-states in the world? Ok, let’s try another one. Though this place is dubbed as the ‘Lion City’, there are no lions here. If you have got the answers (well, even if you haven’t), welcome to Singapore!

You can start your trip to Singapore by visiting the ‘State of Fun’, Sentosa, which is guaranteed to be a huge playground for the whole family. Begin with a visit to 1 Universal Studios. The movie-themed entertainment park is filled with thrilling rides based on blockbuster movies. You can also wander around the seven different zones and get a family portrait taken with some familiar film characters.

Next, you can pop by the 6 Singapore Flyer to enjoy 360-degree views of the city skyline from 165-m above the ground. The sight of the Lion City in the morning is stunning from this giant ferris wheel. Thereafter, you can make your way across the bay to the Marina Bay Sands for its large number of celebrity restaurants.

If you are travelling with kids, you should definitely visit the three wildlife parks, the River Safari, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

Start your day at the River Safari. This is the region’s first river-themed zoo with creatures like manatees and jaguar. Of course, a must-see is the giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia. You must also try the Amazon River Quest, a breezy 10-minute boat ride where you’ll see animals like the Brazilian tapir and the giant anteater. Thereafter, you can move over to the nearby Singapore Zoo for more fun. An award-winning 28-hectare park, the zoo is divided into 11 zones. Enter the Fragile Forest for an intriguing rainforest experience, roam the Primate Kingdom, or pay a visit to the Land Down Under in the Australian Zone. At the Night Safari, the world’s first, you can spot nocturnal animals like wallabies and spotted hyenas.

Your visit to Singapore will be incomplete without shopping! So set the ball in motion by taking an excursion to Orchard Road, Singapore’s most famous shopping district. From international fashion brands at 17 Robinsons and local labels at Tangs to value shopping at 19Scape, one can find everything here. If you love a good deal, hit other areas like 20 Bugis and Haji Lane. Finally, you can wrap up your trip with a visit to the sprawling duty-free shopping area at Changi Airport. You can pick last-minute stuff for yourself or souvenirs for family and friends back home.

Singapore is about 4 hours of flying time from Dhaka and convenient flights are available from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The Singapore Dollar is the currency of Singapore. Make sure you apply for a visa at least 3-4 weeks in advance before your trip.

India: The cultural melting pot

India is famous for Bangladeshi tourists and what better reason to visit the immediate neighbour, that too during the Eid festivities!

Though India is a large and diverse country with many avenues and options for tourists, among the popular itineraries is the ‘golden triangle’ tour. You can start your trip from Delhi and visit historical monuments like the Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate and Parliament House. In the evening, you can attend the light-and-sound show at the Red Fort, another important Mughal monument. While in Delhi, you can sample some mouth-watering kebabs and Mughlai dishes in Matia Mahal bazaar or visit Karim’s restaurant in the Chandni Chowk area. The chefs of Karim’s are descendants of those who manned the kitchens of the greats Mughals.

After absorbing the sights and sounds of Delhi, you must ready yourself to get into the pages of history by visiting the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Agra is a racy 200-km from Delhi via the Yamuna Expressway. En-route to Agra, you can visit Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra. Once in Agra, get ready to be amazed. You might have seen the Taj Mahal countless number of times in magazines but there’s nothing that will prepare you when you make eye contact with this magnificent marble mausoleum. For those interested in history, you must hire an ASI-certified guide (Archaeological Society of India) who will reveal nuggets of interesting information as you walk through the complex. While in Agra, you can visit the Agra Fort which was designed as a military base by Akbar.

The next day after a night’s stay in Agra, you can make your way to Jaipur, about 250-km away, via the imposing monument of Fatehpur Sikri. In Jaipur, or the pink city, you should visit the Jantar Mantar, Hawa-Mahal, City Palace and the bazaars of Jaipur for some excellent shopping. You can also make a visit to the old Rajput capital, the Amber Fort, with an ASI-certified guide, taking an elephant ride to the ramparts of the fort. You can spend your day exploring the vast complex. Towards the evening, you can catch up with shopping and sightseeing while ending your day with dinner at Chokhi Dhani, an open-air ethnic restaurant with folk dancers and authentic Rajasthani cuisine. If you are not ‘time-pressed’, you can extend your stay in Rajasthan by taking a trip to the wildlife sanctuaries at Sariska or Ranthambore.

Delhi is about 2.5 hours of flying time from Dhaka and a direct flight is available from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The Indian Rupee is the currency of India. Make sure you apply for an Indian visa at least 4-5 weeks in advance before your trip.

So if you want to plan your trip and travel for happiness during Eid, give a call to GD Assist. The company’s full-fledged travel concierge services will not only help you pick the right destination but will also match your budget with the large number of packages on offer.

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email:


Halal Treatment in Malaysia

Thanks to strong cultural affinity, Muslim tourists have long chosen Malaysia, its pristine beaches, broad sidewalks and vast malls as a holiday destination. However today, this Southeast Asian country, where Muslims make up about 60 per cent of the population, is gaining recognition in yet another field in sustaining its ‘visitor dividend’.

The country is taking giant strides in coming into the radar of overseas patients on the basis of four pillars: lower costs, shorter recovery time and high quality healthcare. However, what is the fourth?
Halal medical treatment solutions!

What exactly is halal?

According to, halal is an Arabic word that broadly translates to ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’.

In reference to food, it is the dietary standards, as prescribed in the Qur’an (the Muslim scripture). The opposite of halal is haram, which means ‘unlawful’ or ‘prohibited’. Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. These terms are commonly used in relation to food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients, etc.

In general, all foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram): alcoholic drinks and intoxicants, non-halal animal fat, enzymes (expect microbial enzymes), gelatine (fish gelatine is halal) and pork, bacon/ham (and anything from pigs), etc. Importantly, the preparation of fish or seafood or any meat products, etc., should not include alcohol (i.e. batter or wine, or anything considered haram).

Islam is not only a religion but a way of life with protocols, rules and manners governing every facet of life. In this context, halal is a guided approach that could enable anyone, including non-Muslims, to live a life based on time-tested codes and rules.

Malaysia: At the forefront of the halal revolution 
Malaysia is strategically pursuing a larger share of the Muslim market through providing halal treatment solutions, which exclude products forbidden under Islamic law, such as those derived from pork.

Malaysian hospitals are gaining ground in implementing Shariah-compliant medical tourism that has been designed to provide Muslim patients and their families not only with halal foods and facilities such as prayer rooms, but comprehensive medical treatment solutions that abides by Islamic law and care and accommodations that uphold Muslim values.

Though Islam permits the consumption of non-halal ingredients in matters of life and death, in the true spirit of providing halal treatment, hospital pharmacies in Malaysia inform patients of products that are gelatin- and porcine-free. This includes offering the drug Dhamotil as a halal option for diarrhoea, instead of the commonly used Imodium.Hospitals are also using sutures manufactured by a local firm made from lambs slaughtered under Islamic law.

It is no surprise then that Malaysia’s concerted efforts in adhering to the tenets of the halal framework were recognised when the country ranked as the top destination in the world within the Muslim tourism market, when it received the prestigious ‘IMTJ Medical Travel Destination of the Year Award’ for 2015, awarded by GMTI.

Furthermore, GMTIestimates that by 2020, there will be 150 million Muslim travellers spending USD 200 billion. In 2014, research indicated that 108 million Muslim travellers spent close to USD 145 billion. It is no surprise then that the Muslim tourism market is currently considered to be the fastest-growing in the world and Malaysia is at the forefront of capturing a larger slice of this emerging market.

Malaysia: Advanced halal for responsible healing 

Malaysia is relentlessly driving the halal revolution and is more firmly positioning itself in responsible healing.

Consider the fact that work is underway in the country to produce the world’s first halal vaccines for meningitis and hepatitis. The target would be Muslim pilgrims going for Hajj in Saudi Arabia, which requires visitors to be vaccinated for meningitis.

Moreover, Malaysia recently developed globally-recognised guidelines for the development of pharmaceuticals that are not prohibited by Islamic law and that meet the most demanding quality standards. These guidelines are known as the MS 2424. The Malaysian Department of Standards, in collaboration with the Technical Committee of Halal Food and Islamic Consumer Goods, developed the MS 2424 to provide guidelines for the development and handling of halal pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies that want to manufacturer halal-certified pharmaceuticals must follow the guidelines set out by the MS 2424.
Today, Malaysia has created an attractive halal-friendly environment for Muslim medical tourists by implementing strict standards to reassure that halal-certified pharmaceuticals and foods are of the highest qualityand by collaborating with agencies and companies across various industries to assure that the needs and standards of Muslims medical tourists are satisfied.

Malaysia: Fostering a rigorous halal ecosystem for patient assurance

Malaysia is the only country in the world where the halal industry development agenda is backed by the government, which translates into the existence of a unique ecosystem that allows synergy between the private and public sectors. This ecosystem works in perfect unison with the private players focusing on production, manufacturing and serviceswhile the public agenciescoordinating the industry’s progress by providing certification and training. This collaboration is unique to anywhere in the world, fortifying the confidence of Muslim patients in seeking halal medical options in the country.

The Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC), the Islamic Tourism Center (ITC) and the Malaysian Department of Standards, through their well-orchestrated efforts, are ensuring an ecosystem where halal is looked at comprehensively and holistically. For instance, while HDC is responsible for coordinating the developments of the halal industry throughout Malaysia through setting standards, conducting audits and providing certifications, in order for food manufacturers and kitchens to become halal-certified, they must successfully pass an audit that confirms that they are abiding by specific guidelines, as ratified by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia. Furthermore, ITC caters to the needs of Muslim tourists by facilitating access to halal directoriesand Muslim-friendly hotels and travel agencies.

Malaysia has 13 halal standards, which not only certify food items as well as food premises, but also cosmetics, personal care, pharmaceutical products and logistics.

Apart from the food and pharmaceutical industries, the Malaysian halal industry players have also been actively producing halal vaccines, nutraceutical products (dietary supplements and medicinal food ingredients) as well as devices that are used during medical operations.

These sectors have seen various new products and developments.As for the nutraceutical sector, there are a number of emerging big companies that produces halal supplements.

Today, anchored on the halal approach to medical treatment, Malaysia’s healthcare system has gone beyond just meeting Islamic or Shariah requirements but also the hygiene and safety aspects which have been an integral part of the country’s medical standards. This has made Malaysia an attractive medical magnet for non-Muslim medical tourists too.

Halal is here to stay

Halal is associated with ethical consumerism, which signifies high-quality, safe and ethical products. Halal is gaining currency, principally driven by two key trends that include the following:

  • Rise in Muslim consumer spending

Muslim consumer spending in 2014 was USD1.8 trillion and this is expected to surge to USD2.6 trillion in 2020.

  • Growth in the worldwide Muslim population

The worldwide Muslim population grew at 2x the rate of the global population, i.e. the world’s population is projected to grow 35 per cent in the coming decades but the Muslim base is expected to grow by a sharper 73 per cent – from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2050. Concurrently, by 2050, Muslims are expected to make up about 30 per cent of the world’s population.

Based on these statistics, it is evident that the global halal sector will be the fastest growing consumer segment in the world. And with an eye on the future, Malaysia, with the most developed Islamic ecosystem, is further fortifying its strengths in halal and emerging as the medical market of choice for anyone looking at holistic, low-cost, safe and hygienic treatment.

GD Assist, as a reputed healthcare tourism management company in Bangladesh, possesses an unparalleled hospital network association and database of hospitals and medical professionals, thereby offering patients a wide range of affordable, high-impact and halal medical solutions in Malaysia.

So call GD Assist today for booking an appointment.

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