Thailand has 5 main golf destinations, two are cities (Bangkok and Chiang Mai) and three are beach resorts (Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket).
Bangkok is home to over 10 million residents. However, it’s safe to say that Bangkok has the most golf courses of any destination in Thailand. There are 60 golf courses located within 1 hour from the center of Bangkok; of which 20 or so are well-suited for visitor play. Bangkok also has world-class hotels, the best restaurants in Thailand, and a wide range of cultural attractions, shopping and nightlife. The downside is that travel time getting to and from the golf courses can be a bit longer than other destinations due to city traffic. I often recommend a few days in Bangkok at the beginning and/or end of any Thailand golf trip and also recommend weekday golf if possible (when the courses are less crowded and green fees are lower).
Hua Hin is a smaller seaside resort popular with overseas golf visitors and weekend expatriates from Bangkok. It is located on the Gulf of Thailand about 3 hours from Bangkok Airport by highway. There are eight golf courses in the area, of which two (Banyan and Black Mountain) are world-class. Hua Hin is a quiet and relaxed beach resort, though doesn’t offer a lot in the way of cultural attractions and the beaches are not as nice as Phuket. The nightlife in Hua Hin is much more subdued than other areas which can be a plus or minus depending on your point of view.
Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard has over 20 golf courses and offers good value, as prices for golf, hotels, dining and nightlife are generally less than other areas. Siam Country Club’s Old and Plantation Courses are considered the best Pattaya golf courses as both have hosted US LPGA events. Together with the other Eastern Seaboard golf courses the area has arguably the widest range of appeal to both visiting and expatriate golfers. Pattaya is also conveniently located and is less than two hours from the Bangkok Airport. The downside for some is that the beaches are not as clean as other areas, the nightlife caters mostly to single male travelers and there are only a few interesting nearby sights to visit.
Phuket is a beautiful tropical island with excellent beaches, countless options for hotels, dining and nightlife, and sports seven golf courses. Blue Canyon made Thailand famous on international the golf scene in 1997 when the first Johnnie Walker event was staged and won by no other than Tiger Woods. More recently, Red Mountain has emerged as the most spectacular course on Phuket, if not all Thailand. The downside is that Phuket is the most expensive area for golf and golf holidays, particularly during high season from November through April. That being said, the cost of a Phuket golf holiday is still very reasonable compared to other high quality international golf destinations. Phuket has some nice shows, cultural attractions, and loads of non-golf. Phuket is a one hour flight from Bangkok and with over 25 flights a day is very easy to reach.
Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, presents a very different environment. The culture and atmosphere here is more relaxed and peaceful. There are numerous universities in the area, and despite having a population of over 1 million it feels much smaller. Chiang Mai has some of the best cultural attractions for tours (ancient temples, elephant camps, mountain trips, tribal villages), and also 8 golf courses. Chiang Mai Highlands is constantly ranked the best course in Northern Thailand and Alpine Chiang Mai is a close second. Further, Chiang Mai is the least expensive Thailand golf destination, which makes it ideal for large groups and those looking to stretch their golfing dollars. Are you ready to experience golf in Thailand but still can’t decide on one golf destination? Then try a mufti-destination golf tour like the Best of Thailand Golf Expedition.