Cities Hua Hin, Bangkok and Pattaya present three very different Thailand golf vacations
HUA HIN, THAILAND – After a busy week of golf in Thailand, it’s time to make the journey back home to Texas.
Our group visited three very different cities while here that all offer varying speeds of life and golf styles, one of which would probably suit your golf group the best.
Bangkok, of course, is massive. It reminds me of Houston in a way, because the city just keeps going on and on and on with tall buildings scattered all over with no rhyme or reason, and the traffic is brutal. The golf is more of a compliment to the many cultural and city attractions, but there are the most golf courses here of any Thai city, over 60. Thai Country Club, with its countless palm trees, scores of water hazards and manmade humps lining the fairway resemble something you might find in south Florida.
Pattaya is a smaller beachside city known for its nightlife and famous Walking Street, which is the wildest street scene I’ve ever seen, and that includes Bangkok’s Soi Cowboy red light district. The golf outside of town offers a slower pace on rolling hillsides void of much development. There’s a lot of golf here too, about 30 of high standard including Siam Country Club’s Old and Plantation courses.
Seaside Hua Hin to the south of Bangkok is a little mountainous as well, somewhat similar to Pattaya but it’s a sleepier beach town without the many “attractions” of Pattaya (after all, the King’s palace is here). It’s been one of the most popular golf spots for years and some new clubs have come online in the last three years that have made it even better. The new Banyan Golf Club wins my personal award for best course of the trip. It was built by a local Thai firm (no big-name architects) and is the most natural and exotic-looking of what we played.
That’s a broad overview of these three regions, so you’ll want to consult a tour operator (GolfAsian.com spearheaded this particular trip) to decide which is right for you and how much travel we want to do.
The constants of the trip no matter which course or city we were at: Each golf club’s clubhouse facilities are first class and will in all likelihood put your home country club’s facilities to shame. Each course was beautifully conditioned as well. Fast TifEagle bermuda greens around 9-10 on the stimp and wonderful fairway lies (usually paspalum). The caddies are vigilant at filling in divots, even in the rough.
Another constant is the food. I can’t say I had a bad or even mediocre meal in Thailand (which couldn’t be said for my Malaysia golf trip, which was more hit-and-miss). Our meals ranged from dinner cruises to clubhouse lunches to informal, roadside fishing parks and street food, and nothing disappointed. Breakfast buffets are as good as I’ve seen anywhere, especially at the Marriott Bangkok on the King’s River which is the most elaborate spread I can recall in my many travels.
I’m leaving out the golf courses of the northern highlands as well as Phuket. Phuket is considered one of Thailand’s most popular spots, but it’s a little too far a drive down south from the area we were. I’m told it’s more mountainous there than anything we’ve seen here, and a little pricier to boot.
Thailand is a very developed golf destination where any budget can be treated like a king and one worth traveling across oceans to visit. I’ve got lots to say, from the towns to the golf courses to proper caddie etiquette, so stay tuned in the next couple weeks for plenty more once I shake the inevitable jetlag.
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