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|Black Mountain Golf Club is one of the striking new clubs to come to Hua Hin, a seaside town home of the king of Thailand. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
Thailand is Asia's most popular golf destination for its great value, royal hospitality and exciting cultural attractions and nightlife.
Golf in Thailand is well developed and abundant, with more than 300 golf courses in the country, and many of them of high, international standard, in many cases as good if not better than clubs in the west, including top conditions to service and clubhouse facilities.
Thailand is an awkwardly shaped country and can be difficult getting around in some points, so don't expect to see everything on a single golf vacation. Between Phuket and Bangkok, for instance, it's about a 10-12-hour drive, so it's usually best to fly between the two. But there are a handful of golf-rich regions worth visiting.
Bangkok is the epicenter of Thailand, a sprawling city of 10 million residents and, unfortunately, 3.5 million cars. It makes getting around a bit of a nightmare at times, but many of the country's great sights are here, too, from the King's River to palaces and, of course, its nightlife at Red Light Districts such as Soi Cowboy.
Getting to the 60 golf courses isn't always easy here due to the sprawl and traffic, but since you're likely flying into Bangkok for your holiday, it makes sense to spend a few days on either end of the trip and play convenient courses such as Muang Kaew or Thai Country Club.
Southwest of Bangkok by about two hours around the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya is a popular and lively beach city with lots of after hours action on Walking Street, from bars to shopping, and there is a high amount of golf courses in the area, all about a two-hour drive east of Bangkok.
The golf is gently mountainous at clubs such as Siam Country Club's Old and Plantation courses, which host an LPGA event each winter and is relatively inexpensive compared to Bangkok and Phuket.
About a three-hour's drive south of Bangkok, Hua Hin is home to the King's palace of Thailand and also Thailand's first golf club, Royal Hua Hin Golf Club. There are fewer courses around Hua Hin compared to Pattaya in this more-relaxed beach city, but their quality is very good, including the new Black Mountain and Banyan Golf Club.
The large island of Phuket is one of Thailand's most exotic destinations with white-sand beaches on the Andaman Sea and densely forested, tropical mountains on the coast, though it's also become the most upscale of all the regions in Thailand with resorts such as the Anantara Phuket and golf clubs such as 36-hole Blue Canyon Country Club.
Some of the not-so-obvious Thai golf destinations include one of the newest, the relaxing beach town of Koh Samui, which didn't get its first golf course until 2003, Santiburi Samui.
To the north, the Chiang Mai Highlands offer a scenic, mountainous and traditional Thai holiday full of culture, temples and crafts. The region is also rife with top golf courses, more so than Chiang Rai, about 100 kilometers north, which has a handful of its own.
You can get more information on golf in Thailand by visiting TravelGolf.com's frequently asked questions on golf travel in Thailand, TourismThailand.org, GolfAsian.com, or GolfinaKingdom.com.
February 12, 2010
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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