Category: Travel

Why Indochina Should Be Your Next Golfing Destination

Why Indochina Should Be Your Next Golfing Destination

When thinking of Indochina, it is easy to conjure up thoughts of peaceful relaxation, Buddhist Monks, iconic temples and a deep-rooted history that awakens the soul and takes you back in time. It is true that one can find all of this in the various countries that make up Indochina: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, but did you know that it is also a great golfing destination for a perfect getaway.

These very things that make Indochina unique add to your golfing holiday and this magical land will awaken and heighten your senses in every way. The sights and sounds away from the golf will make the trip even more intriguing and memorable, giving you an abundance of stories to share with those who have not had the pleasure of exploring this enchanting part of the world. Truth be told, there is so much to see and do that you will be taking more shots with your camera then your golf clubs as you soak up all the atmosphere that surrounds you.

Stacked Rice Paddy fields dot the landscape

The landscape is awe inspiring

No matter what destination you choose (and even better if you combine more than one) the landscape will leave you breathless as you travel to and from the golf courses.  Sweeping views across mountains and valleys with different shades of green from the rice fields dot the skyline.  Iconic limestone cliffs that seem to be rising out of the ocean will leave you mesmerized and sunsets that cast almost every hue of red and orange leave you breathless.

Each country will have its uniqueness in topography and scenery and needs to be seen to believe. Try to play a few golf courses spread out away from one another or even better, try to hop on a train and explore the wonderful country side between different destinations. Even a little long-distance travel won’t seem nearly as time consuming as you will be admiring the vistas during the journey.

Vibrant colours and mouthwatering flavours of Indochina delicacies

The delectable and delicious cuisines

There is nothing that will prepare you for the wonderful flavours and smells of the Indochina foods that seem to be everywhere. From five-star dining to upbeat street vendors, the sights and smells will have your taste buds craving to try dish after dish. The combination of fresh ingredients, herbs, spices and curries will produce wonderful smells that beckon you from all directions.

These countries are well known for their beautiful combinations of flavours and cooking techniques and have Chef’s from all over the world reproducing some signature dishes back home, but now you have the chance to taste the authentic delicacies that will have you craving more. Yes, be prepared to put on a couple pounds, as not only is the food enticing, but the prices are so affordable you will find yourself ordering a second or third dish while washing it down with the local beverages of choice.

If you are the brave at heart, you can also try some barbequed crickets, spiders and scorpions and decide for yourself if everything really does taste like chicken.

A Rock Buddha Head carving in Cambodia

History and Culture

These lands date back to the times of Dynasties and Kingdoms with relics and artifacts prevalent everywhere your adventure leads you.  The deep-history and culture is part of the lure and wonderment that makes up the spiritual energy that seems to emit itself as you explore and discover.

You will be feel like an archaeologist as you lose yourself in  Angkor Wat, Cambodia as the nature has harmoniously grown and slowly encompassed the ruins and artifacts. Maybe you will find yourself enjoying the panoramic views as you visit the Big Buddha in Phuket, Thailand, admiring one of the iconic water temples in Bali, Indonesia, drifting high above in hot air balloon over the Bagan temples of Myanmar or entranced by the beauty of the Crystal Mosque at nighttime in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Wherever you choose to explore, the history and culture of these iconic lands will bring back a sense of what was and all that will be.

White sands and emerald waters await you

Picture perfect beaches

Nothing feels better after a long day on the links as slipping into that cool emerald salt water and drifting away with the waves as you relax and lazily watch the clouds float by.  The beaches of Vietnam and Thailand will have you forgetting any of your poor shots and remind you why Indochina is now your favourite getaway.

With the palm trees swaying in the wind and affordable beverages at bamboo shacks with views that leave you in amazement, will have you relaxing into a state of bliss.
There are a variety of snorkeling and dive excursions which will allow you to have a day off from golf or at least a complete afternoon in order to witness the abundance of underwater life around limestone pillars or to explore the many grottos and caves that seem out of this world. With many small enchanting islands off the coast, you also may find yourself taking a sail or longtail boat ride and losing yourself in an atmosphere that reminds you of Robinson Crusoe or scenes from many movies that have captured these breathtaking vistas on film.

Gorgeous views and comfort of your hotel or resort

Five-star living at a fraction of the price

The price of accommodation is incredible compared to resorts, villas or hotels back home.  These home away from homes give you all the modern comforts you could want and friendly staff who always seem to exceed your expectations and are eager to make your stay the most enjoyable.  Imagine renting your own villa with ocean sweeping views, a bamboo constructed bungalow in the midst of rice fields or a five-star resort amongst all the nightlife activities.  The possibilities are endless allowing something for every budget and desire.

Depending on your holiday, you may find yourself sleeping one night to the sound of ocean waves gently lapping up to the shore, another night listening to the monkey’s leap from tree to tree, and a third to the music vibrating from the nightlife waiting just outside your door. There is a wide range of experiences in all the destinations and a multitude of accommodations to match any of your needs.

Smiling and helpful caddies

The every so helpful and smiling caddies

Sadly, caddies have become a thing of the past, unless visiting a very exclusive private club whose gates are closed to much of the golfing public or 5-star resorts that many cannot afford to play.

Fortunately for you and your escape to Indochina, all the courses will have caddies, and not just any caddies but attractive young ladies whose smile alone will have you playing better.  Yes, the caddies are definitely an added plus to any holiday and their warm heartedness and playful demeanor will have you smiling with them regardless of your play. But don’t let their charm fool you, all the caddies have been professionally trained and will give you expert knowledge on how to play the course and are able to read the greens as if they are simple children’s books.

Yes, you will enjoy the caddy experience so much that you will seek out the management of your home club and explain to him why you should have the same program.

Phoenix Golf Club, Vietnam

Incredible Golf Courses

Now let’s face it, the make and break of any try golf escape are the courses that you will be playing and Indochina has some of the best layouts, conditioning and designs to be found anywhere.  Whether enjoying mountain views of Chiang Mai Highlands, ocean vistas from New Kuta Golf Club, admiring the Palace of the Golden Horses from the Mines Resort and Golf Club, or the iconic limestone cliffs of the Phoenix Golf Club, you will have no shortage in world-class golf.

Many courses are designed by the best in the business such as Nicklaus, Player, Norman, Trent Jones, Schmidt-Curley and more choices of award winning golf that rivals anywhere you could visit.

Yes, Indochina has everything to offer you for the perfect getaway on and off the course. If you haven’t considered golfing here before, now is your time to discover one of the best destinations for a truly unforgettable vacation.

With so many choices to consider when planning, be sure to use a booking company such as Golfasian to help you and your group with any details ensuring you will get the most out of your Golf Holiday in Asia.

There’s A Giant In Bangkok

There’s A Giant In Bangkok

Choosing the right hotel is always a trying task, and with the enormous number of promotions, deals and programs out there, it can be downright overwhelming. It doesn’t help that these days most hotels have Websites full of tantalizing photos and slick promotional information that make you believe you’ll be bathed in luxury as soon as you step foot into the lobby. How can you tell if a hotel will live up to its own hype and, more importantly, if it’s the right hotel for you and your party? Difficult indeed.
Marriott DeluxeLarge, giant hotels, were plentiful in Bangkok, or so it seemed. The first time I ever stayed there, more than two decades ago, I stayed in the Silom area in the biggest hotel I’d ever seen, let alone been in. Th
ere aren’t actually too many of them around anymore, what with the large number of “Boutique” hotels coming up. Not that there’s anything wrong with these, quite the contrary. However a few years ago, there was an impressive, old hotel called the Imperial Queens park, located along Sukhumvit Road in downtown Bangkok, surrounded by several of the city’s most vibrant shopping, business and entertainment districts. That iconic hotel has now been completely renovated, into the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, which boasts 1,360 rooms and suites. The rooms are all practically brand new, it’s only just opened, and it still has that new smell. The breakfast is most probably the best choice I’ve seen in town, offering everything you could possible need in the morning to get you fired up for the days activities. This hotel really gives you a feeling of space. There are five restaurants to choose from at the moment, with another one on the roof opening very soon. Its modern design, intuitive technology and authentic experiences are aligned to challenge the status quo and address the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s discerning travelers. Close proximity to Phrom Phong’s BTS Skytrain Station really helps, as well as the EM District, a new shopping district, being just around the corner. If you are traveling with non-golfers, they will be set.

 

Marriott Coffee ShopWe are more than happy to help and guide you through the process; we know the hotels very well in Bangkok, and can help  all in your party make the most of their trip.

 

How about combining this hotel in a golf package. It’s popular with a lot of golf travellers.  So, why not enjoy this beautiful hotel in the heart of Bangkok. Golfasian can take care of everything. For a full and comprehensive quote, or just for some advice, please don’t hesitate to email info@golfasian.com

Your Views on Golf in Hua Hin

Your Views on Golf in Hua Hin

Hi, my name is Craig Philpott. I am from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. I travelled to Hua Hin with 4 mates from Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane.  I have played golf for approximately 30 years. My handicap is 4 at the moment. I am a member of Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane. Nudgee is a members’ course but open to guests as well.

This was my first time to Thailand. We selected Hua Hin so we could watch a member of our club, Scott Hend, play in the Thailand Classic, which he duly won so we now have to return next year! Three of the members on the trip have known Scott for quite a few years so this was a cause for much celebration.

My first impression of Thailand was “how good is this”. We were picked up by Golfasian at Bangkok airport and transported straight to our hotel at Hua Hin in a very comfortable vehicle. Check-in was swift and I was in my room within 10 minutes of arrival. Next morning we enjoyed a very good breakfast before heading to the front of the hotel ready for golf. The Golfasian driver was waiting for us and we were on our way. We played Sea Pines first and I would recommend this course to anyone. It’s a very good course with great views out to sea on the first, second and the last few holes. Played Banyan and it was everything I had been told it would be. A course with everything, tight holes, wide open holes, trouble for the unwary but playable for all; also in very, very good condition. Springfield Royal was next. Due to the drought it was very dry, which meant not only were the fairways firm (although well grassed) but the large dams were dry. Tee blocks, fairways and greens were in remarkable condition considering the lack of rain the course has received over the past 2 years. I would love to play this course again once the rains return and replenish the water holes. Majestic was next and it also was quite dry once off the fairways. Very playable for all standards and an enjoyable course. Again, would like to play this course after rain as it would be a great test. The staff have done a great job to have it in the condition it was in. Black Mountain was the last course we planned and it was in absolutely great condition 4 days after the Thailand Classic. Not sure what I can say about this course apart from it was a privilege to play such a wonderful layout. Playing from the 7000 yard tees I somehow eagled the 18th, driver, 3 wood and a 3 metre downhill putt. Black Mountain rates in the top 6 courses I have played, sitting alongside the Palmer course in Hawaii, Cottesloe in Perth Western Australia, Royal Adelaide, Troon North in Scottsdale Arizona & Torrey Pines South course.

We liked everything about the trip. Caddies were great; all very pleasant and very informative. It didn’t take long for them to work out our strengths and weaknesses. The price may be leaning towards the top of the scale but when everything is as well organised as this trip was it was well worth the money. Condition of the courses was fantastic when all is considered. Favourite course was Black Mountain but the others were very enjoyable. There were many favourite holes but due to my eagle the 18th at Black Mountain is at the top. The 14th & 15th at Springfield Royal would be great holes when the dam is full; what an awesome sight from the tee blocks. The 3rd & 18th at Banyan were great, 1st, 2nd, 16th, 17th & 18th at Sea Pines – fantastic. Majestic also had some great holes but I can’t remember which numbers. Weather was beautiful…couldn’t ask for better. One player had 38 stableford points one day which was the best in the group. My best was 34 at Sea Pines, maybe I was enjoying the courses too much to concentrate. The best day was the Thursday at Black Mountain. Everything about this day will be remembered for a very long time.

After golf we did a little bit of site seeing but mostly visited restaurants and bars, checked out the markets and did some forward planning for our return which will be asap. Everyone we encountered was smiling and happy. Fantastic local people who were only too willing to chat and give us ideas on what to do.

I’ve already recommended Golfasian to others and will continue to do so for anyone who wants a fantastic golf holiday in Asia. A huge thank you to Ian Morgan and his team in Hua Hin for a job well done.

Worry-Free At The Golf Tee: Enriching A Well Protected Golf Lifestyle With Travel Insurance

Worry-Free At The Golf Tee: Enriching A Well Protected Golf Lifestyle With Travel Insurance

The popularity of golf has skyrocketed across the world with several unexpected countries emerging as world-class golfing hubs. While the sport was previously confined to the shores of Europe and North America, the modern game has taken a turn towards the Orient with Asia emerging as a key travel scene for golf lovers. Paying tribute to the budding attractiveness of this sport in the region, unbeatable golf courses have rapidly sprung to life across Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and many other parts of the Asian sub-continent.

But every time golfers step on to the golf course, they have potential liabilities –– whether as players or spectators. That’s why Golfasian has created a comprehensive golf travel insurance package designed to meet your every travel need.

Remove Your Handicap By Choosing Golf Travel Insurance

Golfing liabilities can arise from practically anywhere –– whether you’re practicing, playing, driving buggies or simply attending tournaments as a spectator. To protect yourself from harmful risks and losses, you’ll naturally want to equip yourself with proper on-course and off-course protection.

With this in mind, Golfasian and Pacific Cross insurance have come together to offer an exclusive and all-inclusive insurance scheme for all golf enthusiasts looking to indulge in the lure of the game and the exquisiteness of the region. The next time you book a golf holiday, you may want to consider golf travel insurance, giving you access to the widest travel coverage at highly competitive premium rates.

Minimize Your Liability With Comprehensive Golf Travel Benefits

Golfasian provides a unique golf travel insurance package for golfers traveling to different parts of the Asian continent. Some of the highlights of Golfasian’s travel insurance include:

  • Up To US$ 75,000 Worth Of Medical Treatment: Medical treatment includes fees for surgery, ambulance, medicines, tests, hospitalization and follow-up care.
  • Up To US$ 65,000 Worth Of Personal Accident Insurance: This covers permanent disability or accidental death (inclusive of sight and limb loss). The maximum coverage will double when an insured person travels on public transport as a fare-paying passenger.
  • Baggage Damage/Loss Up To US$ 800 And Baggage Delay Up To US$ 125: Any damage or loss of baggage that results from theft, burglaries, accidents or mishandling will be covered up to US$ 800 with a limit of US$ 250 per baggage item. Any baggage delay of at least 12 hours will be covered up to US$ 65 per item for purchasing emergency items like clothing and toiletries.
  • Golfing Equipment Loss/Damage Up To US$ 2000: Any damage or loss to the golfing equipment of an insured person –– either in transit or at an accepted golf club will be covered up to US$ 2000 with a limit of US$250 per article.
  • Loss Of Travel Documents Up To US$ 1500: Any loss of travel documents will be reimbursed up to US$ 1500 to cover the cost of replacing air tickets, travel expenses, passports and accommodation. The travel documents may be lost because of accidents or burglaries.
  • Up to US$ 300 for Hole-In-One: If an insured person is able to score a Hole-In-One at an accepted golf club, then an allowance of up to US$ 300 is payable, if the person is able to submit a signed certificate from the golf club.

Avail Of The Most Enticing Golf Holidays From Golfasian

Whether you’re looking to take advantage of Thailand golf holidays, Malaysia golf holidays or Vietnam golf holidays, Golfasian has a bevy of enticing packages designed to meet your every travel need –– enabling you to relish in the spectacular backdrop of the Asian region by combining it with your favorite sport. And to help you transform into a smarter golf traveler, Golfasian empowers you with a well-thought-out travel insurance package, designed to make your golf holiday as stress-free as possible.

Surprising Chiang Mai

Surprising Chiang Mai

Having reviewed the superb Chiang Mai Highlands golf course recently, I just got back from another short trip to Chiang Mai, this time with visitors doing the tourist “bit”. Courtesy of blogs like this, for those of you who are novices to Thailand in respect of golf I’m guessing the destinations most familiar to you will be Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin (less so) for something that combines golf and other holiday-typical activities, in their case the beach.

Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka
Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka

Chiang Mai turns out to be a bit of a dark horse (although no beach which will become obvious when you look at the map), offering superb golf (see Chiang Mai golf) plus plenty of things to enjoy when away from the links. Chiang Mai is my second favourite city in Thailand, just slightly behind Bangkok which I have grown to love. One of the reasons is that unlike Bangkok which tends to be hot all year round, Chiang Mai has a genuine “winter” period (end November until start April) when the temperatures can fall to the sublime mid twenties and prompt the actual wearing of a sweater (I only have one…threw all the others away). But that’s just the icing on the cake. Rather than go into great detail, which you will be better served by reading the Lonely Planet guide, I’ll provide an overview and give you just a taste.

The city is relatively compact and much more residential in feel which makes exploring on foot easy and fun. Whilst it has modern shopping, high rise hotels and commercial areas there are also myriad back streets with markets, small craft and coffee shops plus what seems like hundreds of small hotels and guest houses that cater for visitors, particularly those backpacking in Asia. In those back streets you may come across a beautiful temple or ancient monument which appears unexpectedly.  As you’d expect in Thailand, you are never far from “street food”which in this part of the world is subtly different (try the local speciality, Khao Soi, which is a delicious noodle curry with just a hint of Indian spices), but in recent years, because of the influx of foreign visitors and residents from the four corners of the world, there are all manner of restaurants and cuisines available…I particularly like The Swan, a Burmese restaurant in the centre of the tourist area.

Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon

Chiang Mai is surrounded by beautiful countryside, predominantly forest-covered hills and mountainous areas (on a small scale admittedly but spectacular nonetheless) including Doi Inthanon Thailand’s highest point. This terrain provides the wonderful backdrop to many of the area’s golf courses making them so different from others elsewhere in Thailand. Because the local area is largely rural the roads are quiet and in excellent condition because they don’t get so much heavy traffic and exploring in a car is actually pleasant and stress free.

What of the golf itself? In Highlands, Alpine and the recently refurbished Gassan Legacy you have 3 of the finest courses in the country, all of which provide challenging yet rewarding experiences in gorgeous surroundings. There are others, of course, over a dozen and don’t forget the superb Robert Trent Jones Santiburi near Chiang Rai, only a couple of hours away.  So there you have it…surprising Chiang Mai, give it a try you’ll be delighted you did.

For information on Chiang Mai Golf Packages go to www.golfasian.com/golf-holidays/thailand/chiang-mai/ or contact info@golfasian.com

 

 

Golfing on the Enchanting Island of Phuket

Golfing on the Enchanting Island of Phuket

When you contemplate booking your next golf holiday, the superior courses of Thailand are beckoning to you to come experience some of the best golfing in Asia. Thailand, known as the Land of Smiles, features excellent golf courses dotting the kingdom, and none of them is more in demand than those of Phuket. Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is easy to get to and a proven destination point for tourists of all stripes. For golfers in particular, Phuket’s array of amenities makes traveling to the island a no brainer when scheduling your perfect, getaway golf holiday.

Top Golf Courses of Phuket, Thailand

Variety is the spice of life, and Phuket provides plenty of spice when it comes to selecting where you want to tee up for a great round of golf. The island hosts more than a half a dozen superior courses with challenges and beautiful vistas built into the design concepts of each course. If you are coming to Thailand in search of great links and superior golfing conditions, you will find both at any of Phuket’s top professional courses.

Red Mountain Golf Club

The crème-de-la-crème of Phuket golf courses, Red Mountain Golf Club provides the ultimate golfing experience for experts and novices alike. Built on the site of an abandoned tin mine, the 18-holes of Red Mountain Golf Club meanders across multiple elevations dominated by dense jungle terrain on the one hand, and towering cliffs of soft red rock of the former mining operation while providing some of the most challenging holes on the island. As the highest course on Phuket Island, you will be afforded incredible views regardless of which hole you playing. Additionally, this award-winning course is centrally located just minutes from famous beaches like Patong and Karon, so this provides a prime opportunity for the non-golfing members of your family to enjoy their vacation while you explore every inch of this awesome golf course.

Blue Canyon Country Club

Blue Canyon Country Club, located just minutes away from Phuket International Airport, provides the closest links for new arrivals, and the club is strategically placed to take advantage of the many amenities along the island’s west coast. Blue Canyon offers two distinct golfing experiences: The Canyons and The Lakes. The Canyons, set in a natural environment that features 80 bunkers and ten holes where water plays a challenging role, is a championship-grade course with greens that run both fast and true. By comparison, The Lakes course navigates around three dozen bunkers and 17 holes that are impacted by the water hazards that lend the course its name.

The Incredible Caddies of Phuket

In the world of golf tourism, the Kingdom of Thailand has a secret weapon at its disposal that places it far above its competition, its cadre of highly qualified caddies. Rooted in the kindness of the Thai people, Thailand’s caddies are not only extensively trained in the fine art of golf, but they also deliver a fun experience for the more than 600,000 golf tourists expected to travel to Thailand this year. Friendliness is a way of life in Thailand, and guests are made to feel as if they are members of the family immediately upon disembarking from the plane.

Destinations For A Thailand Golf Package

Destinations For A Thailand Golf Package

Santiburi Chiang RaiMany golfers ask me what is the best destination for golf in Thailand. My answer is always ‘it depends”.

For those who like a sunny beach destination, then the best golf in Thailand is either Phuket or Hua Hin. On the other hand, Thailand golfers looking for more authenticity and value-for-money would like golfing in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai the best.

Next up are golfers in Thailand who are here for only a short break and want  a taste of Thailand’s best shopping. In this case, Bangkok has by far the best golf in Thailand with over 60 courses to choose from all located 30-60 minutes from the city center and many local markets where everything under the sun is on offer at reasonable prices. For the best golf and partying, golf in Pattaya is the choice. The resort’s nightlife is infamous and there are over 20 Pattaya golf courses to select from.

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Golf In Bangkok

Golf In Bangkok

Bangkok Golf Bangkok is an enchanting city with rich golf, culture and attractions. It is known as an international golf destination for its diversity of 60 golf courses, year-round golfing weather, delicious food, numerous attractions, and most of all friendly people. Bangkok was voted “World’s Best City” by Travel +Leisure magazine in 2010. The championship golf courses and vibrant streets of Bangkok never stop to amaze vising golfers.

Courses such as Thai Country Club, where Tiger Woods cruised to a 10 shot victory in the 1997 Asian Honda Classic and Alpine Golf Club where again Tiger Woods won at the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic exemplify some of Bangkok’s best golf. Nowadays, there is Royal Gems Golf City where golfers can experience August National by day and Bangkok by night.

Not only are the famous golf courses available for visitor play, but also some of the lesser known golf courses are truly gems in their own right. Thana City is Thailand’s only Greg Norman design and is located only 20 minutes from downtown Bangkok. Muang Kaew is similarly located and is one of the best maintained Bangkok golf courses.

Bangkok offers a truly unique golfing experience in its own chaos that defines the city where anything is possible. A place where golfers from the east meets golfers from west, where flat courses configured from rice paddies meet hilly layout designed by the world’s greatest golf architects, where high-rise buildings meets enticing temples and where street markets meets high-end retail shops. There is a Bangkok golf holiday for everyone.

It’s Not Only Thailand Golf

It’s Not Only Thailand Golf


 
Golf for many of us is a very serious addiction. We have to have our regular fix!

Come rain or shine, family vacations, or business meetings, we all make all the excuses needed to arrange that very crucial meeting which just happens to clash with golf. That is our ‘speak’ for sod it I am going to play golf anyway.

Here golfing in Thailand, a lot of business is conducted on the golf course. Golfers in Thailand often travel with their so-called business associates and in some companies; it is seen as an asset if you play golf.

There are amateur tournaments, club tournaments, Pro Ams, weekday shotguns, and social expat clubs, all where you can join do some serious networking. In fact, I am running a couple of events myself. They are the 2011 Phuket Amateur Week, 1st Team Amateur Championship, and the 2011 Chiang Mai Amateur Week. All three are good examples of how you can make your Thailand golf tour around a  competitive golf events and ‘legitimize’ your Thailand golf holiday to the missus at the same time.

The Asian Tour and One Asia visit Thailand several times a year along with the LPGA. In fact the next event is the Thailand Open at Bangkok’s Suwan Country Club in August. These events are good for Thailand golf visitors to play in the pro-am and rub shoulders with some of the world’s best golfers.

It’s amazing how many slots on the tournament’s Pro Am’s are not taken up by the main sponsors. Case in point, last year’s European Seniors Open at Royal Gems did not have enough amateurs to fill its field. Moreover, 2 years back I managed to get slots for 12 Phuket golf visitors at the Thailand Open at Laguna Phuket Golf Club and this was undoubtedly the highlight of their Thailand golf holiday.  Pro Ams are an experience golfers in Thailand are unlikely to forget.

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The Future Of Thailand Golf

The Future Of Thailand Golf

Thailand Resort The future is looking bright for Thailand golf with investment again seeing a surge with one new golf course estimated to be opened every 3 months or so for the next two years. Thailand’s visiting golfers are also on the rise and the ‘Tourism Authority of Thailand’ recognizes the positive effects of Thailand golfing tourism on the country’s economy which is why it heavily supported inbound golf tourism since its landmark success with the first ‘Visit Thailand’ campaign back in 1987. Today over 500,000 golfers visit Thailand each year and this number just keeps going up.

Many of Thailand’s courses have been designed by internationally recognized golf course builders & architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones Jr. The landscape is indeed varied, offering courses carved out of the jungle, atop of mountain retreats and bordering onto some of the world’s whitest sand beaches. An apt case study is the picturesque Laguna Phuket Golf Club, which was awarded this year an IGOLF ‘Laureate Course Status’ by the International Golf and Life Foundation (IGOLF) for its commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Laguna is a shining example, having been rehabilitated from a barren tin mine. It now plays home to a variety of wildlife, including kingfisher birds, fishing eagles and white egrets.

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Best Place For A Relaxed Thailand Golf Retreat

Best Place For A Relaxed Thailand Golf Retreat

Mae Salong Chiang Rai is away from the crowds and still offers a great golf holiday.  Thailand’s northern most city of significance, Chiang Rai may not have a quantity of golf courses but with Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club it certainly has quality.  And with conditions at Waterford Valley Golf Club having improved in recent years there are now two courses well worth checking out.  A variety of cultural attractions in the area also add appeal with the Golden Triangle, the Queen Mother’s Botanical Gardens, a mountain-top Chinatown, opium museum, and long tail boat upriver excursions.

The Chiang Rai Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Santiburi Country Club is laid out over vast fields with excellent placement of holes and an abundance of water hazards and bunkers. The golf course is widely regarded as one of the best conceived and maintained golf courses in Asia. Golfers living in Thailand will tell you that Santiburi in Chiang Mai is one of their favorite golf courses in Thailand, and this is no small compliment! Santiburi Country Club was the first Chiang Rai golf course.

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Thailand’s Ryder Cup Once Again

Thailand’s Ryder Cup Once Again

Amata Spring CC Asian and European Golf Teams will be able to boast their own royal connections when Europe and Asia do battle in the fourth Royal Trophy this weekend January 8-10 at Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok.

Asia's bid to defend the trophy donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand, will be spearheaded by Ryo Ishikawa, also know to his army of fans as 'The Bashful Prince'.

The European challenge will be led by Colin Montgomerie, who was installed as a Member of the British Empire and awarded the even more prestigious Order of the British Empire.

While Ishikawa's royal link is an affectionate one, born out admiration for the way he handles himself on and off the golf course, Montgomerie is justifiably proud that his talents have been officially recognized by Britain's royal family.

Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Asian Team Captain 'Joe' Ozaki was happy to pinpoint Ishikawa as the man to inspire his team when he made his debut in the 2009 Royal Trophy. As the Asian team's highest ranked golfer and a hugely charismatic figure, the 18 year old Japanese star is certain to take on the role of their talisman again this time.

The Royal Trophy sponsors include Heineken, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), PTT, Sports Authority of Thailand and Siam Commercial Bank. The Championship is also supported by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Chonburi Provincial Government.  Anyone in the country on a Thailand golf tour should not miss the event, which is free to the public.

See everyone on Sunday at the event!

Honda LPGA Thailand Ladies Golf Event Comes Back To Pattaya

Honda LPGA Thailand Ladies Golf Event Comes Back To Pattaya

Honda LPGA
The Honda LPGA golf tournament will return to Pattaya on February 26. After a 1 year absence, the event will be held once again at Siam Country Club. However, this time the golf tournament will be held on the more challenging Siam Country Club, Plantation Course instead of the 2007 tournament site, the Siam Country Club Old Course. The new venue should make for some great golf, even if the scores are on the high side.

Two young pro golfers from Thailand, Thidapa Suwannapura, and 13 year old Moreeya Jutanukarn have been invited to play among sixty of the world’s top women players over the four-day, 72-hole stroke play with no cut in the field.

Some of the best players gracing the tournament are recent winner of the Women’s Australian Open Golf championship, Laura Davies; golf babe Natalie Gulbis; and Asian golfing stars Mika Miyazato and Shiho Oyama.

The very prestigious golf event, scheduled from 26 February to 1 March 2009, is also expected to make headlines as Rolex Rankings’ world number one Lorena Ochoa of Mexico and world number three Paula Creamer from the USA, two superstars in women’s golf are participating.

The tournament offers a prize purse of US$1.45 million, which makes it the wealthiest professional golf event in Thailand in 2009.

If you are interested in visiting Pattaya on a golf holiday and/or attending the event, please drop me a line at my Thailand Golf Vacation company and I will put something together for you. We have some great deals at other area top courses like Laem Chabang and St. Andrews Hill as well as a golf special at the Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa.

Golf Travel History

Golf Travel History

Golf_travel_shipWe all need to get away occasionally and escape the routine of our jobs to find a few days to golf away from the town or city we call our home. Since the early 1800s international tourism has grown from humble beginnings to a multi-billion dollar industry that spans the globe. Even the Romans needed a break and the first documented examples of holidays show wealthy families getting away to coastal villages and towns such as Baiae; albeit with no mention of any golf being on offer.

In the 17th century it became common practice among aristocrats for their children to embark upon a ‘grand tour’ of Europe to gain experience and achieve maturity. Again, it seems unlikely that golf clubs were included in the vast quantities of baggage they carried with them.

It wasn’t until 1841 that the seeds of today’s package holiday empire were sown. Thomas Cook organized the first package tour in July 1841, even if it was a fairly understated affair. He joined forces with a rail company to charge one shilling each (about ten cents US) to a group of 570 temperance workers traveling from Leicester to Loughborough for a rally.

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A Tale Of 2 Bangkok Thailand Airports

A Tale Of 2 Bangkok Thailand Airports

Suvarnabhumi_airport_thailand
If it is a little while since your last Thailand golf tour, or if your on a golfing holiday in Thailand for the first time, you will need to be aware that Bangkok now has two airports, Suvarnabhumi (pronounced su-wan-na-poom), and Don Muang. All international airlines fly in and out of Suvarnabhumi, while domestic flights are operated at both airports. Domestic flights with 3 digit flight numbers and the airport code BKK operate at Suvarnabhumi, while those with 4 digit flight numbers and the airport code DMK operate to/from Don Muang.

For those golfers who have been used to arriving in from overseas at Don Muang, you will be pleasantly surprised at the ultra-modern Suvarnabhumi, especially if you fly in at night when the airport buildings are spectacularly floodlit. Not that the new airport has been without teething problems. After numerous delays, the airport opened for all commercial flights September 2006. The airport, 25 km east of Bangkok, is the main hub for all international airlines.

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Christmas Presents For Thailand Golfers

Christmas Presents For Thailand Golfers

Golf_club_coolerWith the Festive Season approaching at breakneck speed, like me, you may be in a state of panic as to what presents to buy. Here are six ideas for your Thailand golfing loved one:

1. For his/her next golfing holiday in Thailand, a new travel golf bag will be well received. One of the best I have seen recently is the OGIO Mammoth (US$330.00). This sturdy golf travel bag stands upright and glides effortlessly in transit thanks to four sturdy, swiveling wheels. The OGIO Mammoth has a wide mouth opening that unzips the full length of the bag. Once inserted, your golf bag stays securely in place.. There is a shoe pocket,  carry handle, hat pocket, plus four exterior pockets for rain gear or other last minute check-in items.

2. Very handy when you are golfing in Thailand on a hot day is the Golf Club Kooler Klub (US$49.99), the best way to discreetly carry beverages with you on the Thailand golf course. This high-tech cooler club holds 48oz of hold or cold beverages (enough to satisfy a thirsty foursome). It looks like an ordinary golf club, however just a few taps on the dispenser is all it takes it fill your glass or flask. The shaft of this Golf Club Kooler Klub fits easily into your bag takes ice cubes, carbonated beverages, or alcohol. Just do not tell the club officials, as outside drinks are frowned upon at most Thailand golf courses.

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Thailand Professional Golf Update

Thailand Professional Golf Update

Fortis_thailand_golfCongratulations to the Thailand team that won the Fortis International Challenge at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, Malaysia two weeks ago. Thai hotshots Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng put on an outstanding exhibition of golf with a final round eight-under-par 64 to win this prestigious event. Thailand had a great start to the tournament by firing an 11-under-par 61 for the joint first round lead.

The pair then produced a battling two-under-par 70 to take a one-stroke halfway lead, and carded a bogey-free 63 in the third round, thanks to a sparkling performance from Prayad who sank eight birdies. They finished the qualifying event for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup with a staggering 30-under-par 258 aggregate, three shots in the lead.

Prayad Marksaeng, born January 1966 in Hua Hin is one of Asia’s finest players. He was a member of Thailand’s winning golf team at the 1987 South East Asian Games and turned professional in 1991. He has been a member of the Asian Tour since it began in its modern form in 1995. He has won five events on the tour and was one of the first ten men to reach a million U.S. dollars in career earnings on it.

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Eagle Par Birdie Welcome From Thailand

Eagle Par Birdie Welcome From Thailand

Canada_golf_geese_2To start the week off on a high note I thought I would let you know about the great golf site which I came across the other day. Eagle Par Birdie is a multi-media blog site devoted to amateur golfers. It’s written by Chris Henry, a veteran Canadian broadcast journalist and golf writer with more than 30 years experience covering international news and sports.

Eagle Par Birdie touches all the bases for the amateur player: equipment news, instruction advice, tour news, course reviews, golf travel destinations  and golf interviews. In the future you may even see some posts on Thailand golf! The audio interviews can be listened to right at your computer by simply clicking the hot link indicated in the body of the text.

In keeping with the openness of this Thailand golf golf blog,the Eagle Par Birdie blog also welcomes feedback, so you can post your comments at will.

Phuket, Hua Hin, and Chiang Mai Golf Societies

Phuket, Hua Hin, and Chiang Mai Golf Societies

Phuket_expat_golf_societyHere is the continuation of my posts about Thailand golf societies, which can be an excellent choice for frequent Thailand golf travelers.

Golf societies also thrive in Phuket and Hua Hin. The Phuket Expat Golf Society (PEGS) was established some 12 years ago and has grown to a membership of over 500 golf enthusiasts from many parts of the world and different walks of life.  There is a  program of regular tournaments on golf courses on and around Phuket whilst periodic challenges with other societies take place in various parts of Thailand, notably the Pattaya Sports Club and the Hua Hin Golf Society. Golf tourists are not allowed to join , but Phuket golf visitors are invited to participate in all of the PEGS competitions – go to the Island Lager Bar, Soi Lion, Patong Beach and make enquiries.

The Mulligan Golf Society was founded in Phuket in 1999. It is the brain child of two of the most colourful characters on the island, Bepy Graziani di Ceneda, owner of Toto’s bar and Restaurant & Peter Tkac, whose calling cards describe him as a “Free Lance Human Being”. After four years playing a weekly 9-hole competition at The Laguna Golf Club, the Mulligan Golf Society now hosts an 18-hole competition every Tuesday at the Blue Canyon Lakes Course. No membership is required, just walk into the pro shop, and they will take care of you. After golf, a party and prize-giving is normally held at one of three establishments at the entrance to the Laguna Resort (Toto’s Italian Restaurant & Piano Bar, Toto’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar, or JJ’S Irish Pub). You can’t help liking the Mulligan Golf Society’s events in Phuket with its cheerful adaptation to the island’s relaxed lifestyle.

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Bangkok Golf Societies

Bangkok Golf Societies

Bangkok_wonderers_golf_society_1 For those of you who are frequent golf travelers to Thailand, you might want to consider joining one of the local golf societies. Not only is it a good way to meet and socialize with like minded gofers in Thailand, it also can be a significant savings on green fees. Most Thai golf clubs are non-profit organizations and receive substantial group green fee discounts from the Thailand golf courses here.

As might be expected, Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, boasts the highest number of golfing societies of the country’s main golfing locations. There is even a Societies Golf League, founded in 1995. Participating clubs and societies have included Thunderbirds (now O’Reillys), the British Club, the Bangkok Wanderers, The Golfers Cocktail Lounge, The Japanese Society, the Lighthouse Golf Group, the British Embassy Golfing Society (now The Londoners), the American Embassy Golfing Society, Delaneys, Dynasty, Larry’s Dive, Soi Dogs, Bourbon Street Gators, R.S. Scandinavians, Gee Gee’s, Doug’s Hoodlums, Dunlop Duffers, the Bangkok Irish and an additional club from the British Club, the BC Lords.

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Phuket Golf Road Show

Phuket Golf Road Show

Phuket_golf_packageAre you planning a Phuket golf holiday and do you live in one of the following countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Korea, Hong Kong, UK, Sweden, Russia or India? If so, read on!

Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit announced recently that to promote Phuket to foreign tourist markets the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will be going on a 14-country road show. If you can attend this, you will have every opportunity to find out all about accommodation in Phuket, things to do and see, and of course, golfing on Phuket’s six fine golf courses, Blue Canyon Country Club, Phuket Country Club, Loch Palm Golf Club, Laguna Phuket Golf Club, Thai Muang Beach Golf and Marina, and Mission Hills Country Club. It is possible that representatives from these clubs will be on hand to provide any information you need.

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Johnnie Walker Classic 2007, A Great Phuket Golf Tournament

Johnnie Walker Classic 2007, A Great Phuket Golf Tournament

Johnnie_walker_2007_phuket_thailand Those of you who were in Thailand last week and were lucky enough to be able to get to the Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket for the Johnnie Walker Classic would have enjoyed a fantastic tournament. The final day in particular lived up to all expectations as a new star was born when South African Anton Haig won his first European PGA Tour event in a dramatic playoff.

Twenty-year-old Haig joined the likes of Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo to become a Johnnie Walker Champion. Haig’s sudden-death playoff victory over Oliver Wilson and Richard Sterne was spectacular as he birdied the 18th hole in regular play and followed up with a birdie in the playoff to take away the US$404,993 first prize. Sterne and Wilson tied the playoff hole as well, each earning US$213,688.

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A Winter Golf Thought

A Winter Golf Thought

Driving_range_new_york_usa When was the last time you picked up your golf clubs?

The winter has finally hit the USA and Europe and the short cold days means that golf is, at best, difficult. More likely, even for the die hard golfers, playing has become a difficult experience, practicing is out of the questions, and instead of being in the trunk of your car, your golf clubs reside in some closet at home. Late March and longer days will be evident;  warmer weather cannot come quick enough!

What is going to happen in April?

You are going to get all excited when you get an hour’s more sleep because you know that the spring is on the way. You dust off the clubs and make sure the grooves are all cleaned up (probably the only time in the year that you perform this task). You make it to the golf club and spend the next 2 weeks to a month trying to get your game back. Isn’t it amazing how bad your putting and short game can be after a winter layoff?

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6 Best Phuket Golf Vacation Activities

6 Best Phuket Golf Vacation Activities

Phuket_country_club_par_4 Here are my six suggestions to insure complete Phuket golf vacation satisfaction:

1. Golf: Well what else would be number one?

The magnificent seven! There are no less than 7 (or 8 depending on how you count) golf courses in (or near) Phuket. They are, in specific order of my personal preference;

  1. Blue Canyon Country Club Canyon Course (18): expensive, nevertheless a famous must play.
  2. Loch Palm Golf Club Old Course (18) and New Course (9): new course maybe the best in Phuket as of February 2007, one of only 3 courses with golf buggies.
  3. Blue canyon Country club Lakes Course (18): now even better after the 2006 renovations.
  4. Phuket Country Club Old Course (18) and Country Club Course (9): both courses are great, probably most under-rated of all Phuket courses.
  5. Thai Muang Golf and Marina (18): takes 1.5 hours to reach but worth it, spectacular golf adjacent to the Andaman Sea.
  6. Laguna Phuket Golf Club (18): balanced resort course with mostly average golf.
  7. Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort (18): fairways unplayable, avoid for a while.
           

Although all the courses deserve more of their own mention, Blue Canyon Country Club Canyon Course is by far the most famous being the site where the site of the 1998 Johnny Walker Classic — won by Tiger Woods who came from a last round 9 stroke deficit to beat Ernie Els in a sudden death playoff, one of the most spectacular finishes in golf ever. Blue Canyon will again host the Jonnie Walkker Classic, from March 1-4, 2007

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Rent Or Bring Your Own Golf Clubs To Thailand?

Rent Or Bring Your Own Golf Clubs To Thailand?

Thailand_golf_club_rentalsMost Thailand golf courses and Thailand golf travel agents offer rental golf sets and there is quite a difference in quality.  At all but the best courses, like Thai Country Cub or Blue Canyon, the available golf clubs are generic brand clubs. The same is true for the Thailand golf agents. If you are booking a Thailand golf vacation through a golf tour operator, many of them carry their own rentals.

However, being in the business I can tell you without exception and contrary to what may be advertised, the branded rental clubs from agents are 100% fakes! While not disastrous, you should nevertheless be aware of the situation. These clubs usually look new and very good. The irons are practically indistinguishable from the real clubs, but you will probably notice a difference in performance, especially with the woods.
 
Thailand golf course club rental fees range between 600 and 1,000 baht a set a round. If you are planning on playing multiple rounds in Thailand and are on a tight budget, it may make financial sense to bring your own clubs. For left-handed golfers the choices are limited, and calling ahead to make sure the course has left handed rental sets available is a good idea. Some Thailand golf courses require a deposit or passport for renting clubs and few will reserve clubs in advance. So again, it’s a good idea just to check on the day of play if there are any tournaments or large groups that may have taken all the rental clubs.

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Thailand Golf Pigs

Thailand Golf Pigs

Thailand_golf_chinese_new_yearNo, I do not think Thailand golfers are “pigs”, read on:

A popular time to be in Thailand for a golfing holiday is in February, which often coincides with Chinese or Lunar New Year. This year is the Year of the Pig and the start of the New Year falls on February 18.

The first-time Thailand golf visitor may register a bit of confusion as to why the timing of some important Buddhist and traditional holidays seems to float across the calendar rather than occurring on fixed days each year as is customary in the West. The answer is such holidays are scheduled according to the ancient Thai lunar calendar, rather than the western Gregorian calendar which has been official in Thailand for many years.

However, the traditional lunar calendar is very much in use for determining Thai holidays. Rural Thais still mostly count the date according to the phases of the moon, and Thai calendars commonly show both the western date together with the Thai lunar date. Astrologers also use lunar calendars to fix auspicious days for weddings, journeys, new houses, and similar important occasions.

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My Winter Golf Life Over 20 Years

My Winter Golf Life Over 20 Years

San_jose_municipal_golf_course_1The other day I was thinking about my Thailand golf life today and that of 20 years ago. Boy how time flies (but that is the subject of another post entirely)!

February 3, 1987 San Jose, California

It’s 7.30am on a Sunday morning. I jump out of bed looking forward to my regular Sunday Stableford match with friends at San Jose Municipal Golf Course. Opening the curtains to check the weather, I find an overcast sky with a smattering of rain, a howling wind and the temperature somewhere around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing put my golf off back then and even my dog thinks I am crazy to go outside!

Arriving at my golf club some 30 minutes later, I struggle to get my clubs out of the trunk of my car, get my umbrella out over my head, and haul my clubs on my back all the way from the parking lot to the club house, all the while expecting my umbrella to turn inside out from the wind. Eventually, I make it to the self-service coffee stand at the snack bar in a semi-bedraggled state. Meeting my friends, I put on every item of clothing stored in my golf bag and including turtle neck shirt, sweater, and wind breaker before moving out again to the first tee.

Some 4 and a half hours later I arrive back after 18 holes of so-called golf. Four red noses head for the 19th hole to try and get some warmth back into our bones and count up my earnings from the days match. (OK, that part is not so bad!)

Welcome to winter golfing in the USA and now fast forward 20 years!

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Thailand Golf Course Locations & Travel Times

Thailand Golf Course Locations & Travel Times

Golf_mapOne of the best things in Thailand is the plethora of golf courses all within around 1 hour or less from each of 9 major city centers.

However, unless you know the exact location and best time to travel to each course, you could be in for some surprises as much of the course directions are in Thai only and oftentimes the “experienced” taxi and limousine drivers do not know the way.

Bangkok’s infamous traffic is one of the few things that can ruin a good round of golf. Most of Bangkok’s 60 courses can be reached within an hour, if you leave at the right time, and know the best way to go. Leaving at the right time is not so important if you are staying at a hotel close to an expressway, but this is not always possible especially if you are selective in your accommodation.

Leaving after 7:30 AM and you may spend a very long time just getting onto an expressway, which is necessary for almost every course in Bangkok.  If you choose a reliable and experienced golf tour operator their drivers should know the quickest ways to and from the course, which should save you time and frustration.

Many of the courses located in Bangna Trat, including Summit Windmill Golf Club, Subhapruek Golf Club, and Green Valley Country Club are near (within 40 minutes) of the new Suvarnabhumi Airport. Bangkok’s two leading golf courses, Thai Country Club and Alpine Golf and Sports Club, are both around an hour from the city center.

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Golfing in Chiang Mai During Special Festivals of Northern Thailand

Golfing in Chiang Mai During Special Festivals of Northern Thailand

Chiang_mai_golf_course Chiang Mai is now one of the best cities to visit in Thailand for both golf and culture. There are now over 9 championship courses in the area to ensure balanced golf variety, scenic beauty, and challenge. In addition, the Northern Lanna, people of Chiang Mai  love celebrations and holidays and Chiang Mai has more occasions to celebrate than all other destinations.

If you are quick, you can catch the International Horticulture Exposition. This is scheduled from November 2006 through January 2007 at the Royal Agricultural Research Center, Chiang Mai. The expo, also known as Royal Flora: Ratchaphruek 2006, will celebrate His Majesty the King’s Diamond Jubilee of His Accession to the Throne and His Majesty’s 80th Birthday anniversary in 2007. The exhibition is divided into 14 weeks with different themes.

There is great golfing in Chiang Mai, some notable courses being Chiang Mai Green Valley Country ClubChiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa, Chiang Mai Lamphun Golf Club, Gassan Khutan Golf and Resort, Gassan Lake City Golf and Resort, Mae Joe Golf Club, and Royal Chiang Mai Golf Resort, and the newest course just opened this month, Gassan Marina Golf and Resort.

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Thailand Golf Tips Or Giving Tips in Thailand? (Part 2 of 2)

Thailand Golf Tips Or Giving Tips in Thailand? (Part 2 of 2)

Thailand_tips Thailand golf is what you are all here for and in today’s continuation post I will cover common tipping practices on the golf course, in bars, and while traveling on the road here.

On the golf course, tips are one of the main ways the caddie generates their income. Although you pay a caddie fee in the cost of your green fee, only a portion of this goes to the caddie so the emphasis is then on them receiving good tips. At my golf travel company a 300 baht minimum is suggested to all Thailand golf holidaymakers. Although you can consider paying more, 500 to 1000 baht, if you have a particularly excellent caddie that helps you shoot under your handicap or you feel overly generous. Certainly any caddie that gets a 500 baht or more tip, will be the pride of her group for the evening.

As for the bars tipping again is expected, although certainly not compulsory. Although the girls employed in many of these establishments will very tactfully try to ensure you buy as many drinks as possible, a small tip at the end is expected. A guideline here would be to leave around 50-100 baht ($1.25 to $2.50 US), especially if you are satisfied with services received.

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