The majority of visitors start their trips to the Kingdom of Thailand by arriving first in Bangkok, which boasts over 40 golf courses. However Thailand itself has become a leading international golf destination, with over 270 city, seaside, mountain and country courses on offer.
Destination diversity, cost and the vast choice of golf courses located throughout the country are key factors attracting the large numbers of visitors coming to play golf in Thailand. Expats working in the main cities are also spoilt for choice, and also love to play at the seaside and country courses.
From the beach resorts in the south such as Phuket, to the mountainous surroundings in the north, or the Royal city of Hua Hin to the bustling cities of Bangkok and Pattaya, there are golf courses to suit every preference. If you like nightlife then head for Phuket and Pattaya, or if you prefer a quieter and more peaceful time, check out the courses in Hua Hin, Chiang Mai or even Kao Yai.
With modern facilities, internationally designed golf courses, and an excellent infrastructure, the availability of golf has developed significantly in Thailand. This has been evidenced by the World Golf Travel Agents Association recently awarding Thailand the âBest up and coming destinationâ for golf vacations.
Thailand has hosted a number world class golf tournaments, attracting such players as Tiger Woods, Yani Tseng, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Michelle Wei, Bubba Watson, Na Yeon Choi, Lee Westwood, John Daly and Colin Montgomerie.
All the leading designers have added their own style as well, and you can enjoy playing on courses designed by Nicklaus, Player, Faldo, Dye, Trent Jones plus numerous up and coming course architects.
Following a brief slow down after the economic crisis in 1997, the development of new championship standard golf courses in Thailand continues at a phenomenal rate.
About 90% of the courses are open to the public and welcome overseas players. Green fees average around EUROS 60- 100 depending on weekday or weekend rates. All courses will provide a Thai caddie (mostly females from the local community) which is compulsory, but also very helpful when reading the greens. You pay the club around EUROS 8 as a caddie fee and then at the end of the round it is customary to give them a tip of around EUROS 13. As it can get quite warm, it is advisable to also book a golf cart that can be an additional EURO 15.
In Bangkok the land is fairly flat, so many of the courses include lakes, tropical plants and shrubs to add to the golfing experience, and most will take around a 60 minute taxi ride to reach. Some such as Thai Country Club are member-only courses so you will need to find a member or a top travel agent to arrange tee time. Definitely worth adding to your list of interesting courses around the city would be Lam Luk Ka which has 36 holes meandering through some beautiful countryside. Also check out the new Riverdale Golf Club which is one of the few Bangkok courses with elevated tees.
Most of you will have heard of the courses on Phuket Island which has eight top courses, including the famous Blue Canyon where Tiger played or the new kid on the block, Red Mountain which has been built around a disused Tin Mine. Both are expensive but well worth the money!
Sticking to island golf, perhaps one of the most photographed courses here is Santiburi, an 18 hole championship course on the island of Koh Samui. Santiburi is very hilly with a few blind fairways and tricky greens to challenge any golfer, but a lot of fun too.
In Pattaya 90 minutesâ drive South East of Bangkok there are 23 courses offering all styles of challenges. You can try your luck at the Siam Plantation or the Siam Country Club both who host the Thailand LPGA every February or check out the 27 Nicklaus designed holes at Laem Chabang.
The Royal Seaside town of Hua Hin is a two and a half hour drive south west of Bangkok and here they have the oldest course in Thailand, The Royal Hua Hin Golf Cub designed in the early 20th century by Scots who were building the railways. More recently Banyan and Black Mountain Golf Clubs have opened offering perhaps some of the best holes in Thailand.
If you prefer a slightly cooler round of golf the temperatures are slightly lower in the more mountainous regions of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai Highlands and Alpine Chiang Mai are two spectacular courses well worth adding to the list.
Finally an up and coming golf destination is Khao Yai and its National Park, a roughly 3 hour drive north east of Bangkok. Here you have genuine country courses, sometimes with single tracks wandering around some amazing countryside. Kiri Maya, another Jack Nicklaus 18 holes or the newer Mountain Creek Golf Resort one of the last 27 holes designed by the late Seve Ballesteros would be worth adding to your bucket list of must play golf courses. Both by the way have superb villas on site for rent.
Wherever you go, you will certainly enjoy a wonderful golfing experience in theâ land of smilesâ.