A Bucket List Destination – GOLF & MORE
So many reasons here are just a few from recent first-hand experiences. Currently it is one of the safest places in the world.
When we could travel, not all that long ago, four North American Golf Media guys, two from the USA and two, including me, from Canada were invited on a two week adventure in Amazing Thailand. Golf there was a plenty, but there was so much more.
Starting with your arrival which, if coming from North America, will likely be into Bangkok. It won’t take long before you understand why Bangkok is the #1 most visited city in the world.
Our journey, although compact geographically, took us to four major centers conveniently all within a few hours of Bangkok, and, with the services of Asia’s #1 golf tour operator Golfasian, it was smooth and slick.
With that, and keeping in mind the current pandemic situation that we are facing worldwide, perhaps one of the things that you should be thinking of for when we can travel – is safety. Thailand is very proud of the COVID protocols and the cooperation shown by its residents to control the virus. That has not gone unnoticed. Recently World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “Thailand is an excellent example that, with a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, comprehensive approach, this virus can be contained — even without a vaccine.”
Many are feeling that things are getting closer to normal everyday.
Recently announced, “The Amazing Thailand Plus” program, an initiative of the Tourism Authority of Thailand along with Thai Airways International and the Thai Hotels Association, will allow foreign visitors to enter Thailand. There is a mandatory 14-day quarantine period but the added value and benefits in the over 400 packages available might just be worth it! For more information on that program visit:
TAT partners Thai tourism industry to launch ‘Amazing Thailand Plus’ Offers – TAT Newsroom
Without further ado, why we loved our Thailand Golf Experience:
1. Destination Diversity: It is more than just golf! Be it world famous beaches, mountainous golf courses, exotic culinary delights, exotic night life or history and culture, Thailand touches all the bases. We did it all.
2. Bang for Your Buck: Tell me if you know of a place where you can get a T-Bone Steak full dinner with a side of prawns the size of your hand for $13; A 90 minute Thai massage for $20; very knowledgeable caddy for $10 or a tuk tuk (form of taxi that virtually nothing to compare to in America).
3. Great Weather: Over the two weeks we had rain twice, and both times overnight! November to February is most ideal for golfers, plenty of sunshine with coolest temperatures in the 80 – 90 range. There is a rainy season as Thailand is a tropical country – best check before you book.
4. Thai Massage: It started here and nobody does it better. If you have never had one you don’t know what you are missing. Take it from someone who has one monthly (from a Thai Osteopath), even here in America. Working you from head to toe, a therapist utilizes deep pressure point techniques while assisting you in a series of yoga like stretches and contortions. Even you will be able to make a full turn on your next golf swing.
5. Food: Be it Thai food or International Cuisine you will find it all. But when in Thailand you would be remiss if you did not indulge in the flavours of the land. If you like it hot, you are in the right place. Just a warning – don’t jump into the heat all at once. This is one time where sticking your toe in the water could be a good thing. If one word could describe the tastes of Thailand – FLAVORGAZAMS! …and take a Thai Cooking Class. We did!
6. Night Life Beyond Compare: Dining and drinks usually kick off most nightlife scenarios. On this trip Bangkok by Rooftop highlighted a series of evening adventures. With Thai and International Cuisine to suite any pallet it was only the beginning. You have no doubt heard about the infamous Red-Light District which garners a great deal of attention, Vegas on steroids or the Asian version of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
7. The People: Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and it is that for a reason. They may be the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world. We don’t make much of an effort to learn the Thai language or about the culture but they certainly go out of their way to learn ours.
There is a reason as to why Golf has yet to be mention, but we are getting there! There is just too much, might say that we are saving the best for last.
8. Getting There / One Stop Shopping: One company stands out above the rest, Golfasian has been a leader in booking golf into all of Asia, and here too is an example of starting in Thailand. Golfasian will take the guesswork out of your Thai experience. From the moment you arrive everything that you need can be taken care of. Even finding that cooking class. Safety Note below. ** Should you care to utilize the services of a Canadian or US based golf tour operator a number are listed below.
9. The Caddie Experience: Yup, this too started here! Female caddies are the norm, and again, nobody does it better. Do not underestimate the knowledge of these young ladies. They have been well trained and love what they do for a living. Professional and friendly and it won’t be more than three holes in before they know how far you hit every club in your bag. It is an experience like no other, about $10 – $15 is the standard fee. Please tip generously – they deserve it!
10. Golf-Golf-Golf: I have been fortunate enough to visit Thailand on three other occasions visiting other regions but coming nowhere close to touching the 260 courses in Thailand…
…MORE – Golf-Golf-Golf: Hua Hin is a must stop for the Bucket List golfer, home to two of the best. Black Mountain Golf Club has been listed on the Top 100 in the World by Golf Digest (59); Best New course in Thailand in 2008, #1 Course in Thailand by Golf Digest in 2016 and to top it off IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) 2020 Golf Experience of the Year for Thailand. A great layout and meticulously maintained, it is WOW factor to the nines. Rock walls and waterfalls enhance the elevation changes and lily ponds, captivate your attention throughout the round. Hop on our cart and enjoy the sites and sounds as much as we did.
Banyan Golf Club is another “Best in Asia” multi-award winning course in Hua Hin, that also has the Order of Zenith, which is the highest and most prestigious golf award in Asia Pacific by Asian Golf in 2018. This tropical layout has two distinct nines with the front meandering through the lower and flatter terrain while the back nine takes you up and down the mountainside offering up a view of the Gulf of Siam on the signature 15th with all day panoramic views of the Myanmar Mountains in the distance.
In and around Bangkok we were treated to a couple of very unique tracks including Royal Gems Golf City Dream Arena, created by the master of replica golf courses Ron Garl. Step on to the first tee and you are transported onto some of the best golf holes in the world. From TPC Sawgrass to Bethpage Black and the Road Hole at St Andrews to a back nine that includes Amen Corner… for that matter the entire back nine replicates Augusta National. The course has only been open for a couple of years and is in great shape and will only get better with age! That was fun!
Nikanti Golf Club: the very first hole gives you an indication of the style and quality of golf that you are in for. A tough par five with an intimidating yet exciting shot into the green no matter where you are. The only one of its kind in Thailand with three sets of 6 holes and an equal number of par 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s. A five-star experience from start to finish and I would highly recommend that you take advantage of the exceptional dining experience as it is included in your green fee!
The Town of Kanchanaburi, 128kms to the west of Bangkok is home to one of the most infamous bridges in time! The Bridge over the River Kwai.
The name, Grand Prix Golf Club says it all, or does it?! As you drive in past automobiles and Formula 1 sponsor signs, if you asked anyone you will learn that all 18 holes have been sponsored by leading automobile companies with signage delicately placed throughout. The high standards of F1 have been implemented in the look and maintenance of the course. Perched high above the course, from the clubhouse and first tee you have a bird’s eye view of the course with panoramic views of the nearby Burmese Mountains.
A truly unique experience for anyone from North America. Monkeys there are a-plenty! At Royal Ratchaburi Golf Club, as we stood on the first tee of the course, we must have seen a couple of hundred traverse the fairway, all going in the same direction – Monkey’s on a mission. You’ve got to keep an eye on your ball and other things when they are around. They are very inquisitive. Once they grab something you are not likely to get it back!
The course itself is carved from a lush jungle setting (1994), flanked by both the Ratchaburi and Burmese Mountains and is relatively flat, fairways and greens are rolling and greens are undulating. You would expect nothing less, but nothing too crazy.
As you can see Amazing Thailand should be on your bucket list for any number of reasons.
For more information on Amazing Thailand in general: www.thailandinsider.com
Golfasian, a specialist golf tour inbound operator based in Thailand, they organized our trip and knows the destination inside and out. https://www.golfasian.com
If you are looking at making arrangements through a US or Canadian based tour operator, consider reaching out to one of the members of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) that promote and sell golf packages in Thailand such as:
** Safety Note – Golfasian, has been SHA (Safety & Health Administration) accredited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in September 2020. As Thailand is slowly preparing to re-open its borders for international golf travelers, an initiative by the Tourism Authority of Thailand has provided a selected number of tour operators and DMCs who underwent stringent safety & health checks with the SHA accreditation. The stringent measures include frequent deep cleaning of Golfasian vans before each service, drivers wearing masks and frequent washing of hands. All customers will be provided with masks and free hand sanitizer upon arrival. Temperature checks before entering the vans and before golf and sightseeing activities are now standard. They are also making use of QR codes for digital in-van golf guide brochures and provide touchless payment. Drivers and the operations team are well trained on standardized safely protocols required by the government’s strict guidelines.