Thursday, May 8, 2008

Playing Golf in Thailand: Expert Questions and Answers.

Without doubt Thailand is becoming one of the fastest growing golf destinations for visiting tourists throughout the world.
In order to assist you in planning your Thailand golf holiday, I have detailed below the most frequently asked questions.
When is the best time to visit?
Without doubt, the best time of year for golf is from November - February/March. This is the 'cool' season, although is also the peak season for visiting tourists. As such, be prepared for busy golf courses and try to plan your holiday well in advance.

What about the rest of the year?
You can play golf throughout the year in Thailand outside the cool season, and the weather is a mixture of very hot days, to very wet days. However, do not let this put you off as there are a number of great advantages. You can get some great deals on hotel prices and the courses are much quieter to play.
April is still a 'dry' month, with the rainy season not really starting until May. However, April & May are without doubt the hottest months of the year. June - August is not quite as hot, although you tend to get daily downpours. Again, do not let this put you off as they are normally short lived, and the courses dry out very quickly. September and October, the weather tends to be similar to that of the summer months although things tend to be drier and the weather becomes more predictable as the year wears on.
Where is the best place to play?
This depends very much what you are looking for. Bangkok has a huge number of courses, infrastructure that you would expect from any major capital and the city is very lively, providing a great experience for everyone.
The coastal resort of Hua Hin and the northern cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are a bit quieter, and very popular with couples looking for golf, relaxation, and a sampling of true Thai culture.
Pattaya is without doubt the entertainment city in Thailand, and not for the shy and retiring type, although it also boasts a large number of excellent courses.
Phuket, the famous tropical island, offers a combination of great golf and stunning beaches, and there is also now a championship course on Koh Samui, another tropical island.
North of Bangkok, lies the famous Khao Yai National Park, and there are a number of excellent courses now open in this region, which boasts spectacular scenery and views.
Finally, the area of Kanchanaburi, and the famous River Kwai, also has a number of fine courses, historical sights, and can be a great alternative to the other popular tourist destinations.
What are the courses like?
The majority of golf courses in Thailand are nothing short of first class. With many being designed by famous golf professionals such as Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo, together with top golf course architects such as Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones, you will be amazed with the quality.
What about the caddies?
Caddies are compulsory on a Thai golf course and are a fantastic experience. Included in your green fee, they cost around 250 baht (approximately 7 US dollars) a round, which has to be the best value for money in the world. In most cases they will carry your clubs on 'caddy car' (trolley), should you wish to walk, although they will also ride with you in a cart if you prefer. Please note it is compulsory at only a few Thailand golf courses to use a cart. Your caddie will be allocated upon arrival, and will look after your clubs until you and are of particular assistance for easy golf in Thailand. Always helpful with a smiling face, your caddie is another part of the unique Thailand golf experience. They mark and clean your ball, give guidance on the line of putts, and try to keep you cool when things get a bit hot during your round.
What is there to do outside golf?
You will certainly never be short of things to do outside golf. As a leading tourist destination Thailand has a number of alternative attractions and exciting opportunities to combine golf & travel, and its tourist magnetism remains unrivalled in any other part of the world.
From the many temples and night markets, to the state of the art shopping malls, from stunning beaches, to the stunning waterfalls and scenery, there is something for everyone.
The culture and customs in Thailand also provide a fascinating insight to this wonderful country leaving you completely amazed.
Thailand also hosts some the best Spa facilities in the world, allowing you to relax and enjoy the rejuvenating treatments, and unbelievably friendly service that goes with it all.
I recommend all golfers allocate some time after their rounds for, at least, a one hour foot massage. This treatment is available throughout the country at clean specialized shops located almost on every street corner in the tourist areas. For around 200 baht (approximately 5 US dollars) is an experience not be missed. For the golfer who has walked his 18 holes, this papering of his feet and legs only goes to further the pleasure of the total golfing experience only available in Thailand.
What about transportation and getting around?
Your package booked with most tour operators will provide transportation from the airport to your hotel, and return transfers to the golf course each day. You can reserve this private transportation in the evenings although there is no shortage of local transportation.
Taxi's are very cheap, and in abundance. Also, you have the famous 'Tuk Tuk's', a smaller open air version of a taxi that will transport you around town at very little cost.

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