Making Thailand a bucket-list destination for discerning North American golfers is the aim of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Five specialist North American golf tour operators recently visited Thailand, most for the first time, while four golf travel writers visited last month to experience a circuit designed specifically for North American golfers.
Lert Narongchaisakun, Senior Marketing Officer of the TAT Los Angeles office, said: “Over one million American and approximately 300,000 Canadian tourists visited Thailand last year, but so far we have only scratched the surface when it comes to long haul golf vacations from North America.
“Thailand is long established as the leading golf destination for both Asian and European golf travellers, and we are sure that Thailand can become a bucket-list destination for discerning American golfers.”
On return from his first inspection visit to Thailand, Bill Curtin of Distincte.com, an American golf tour operator and PGA member, said: “From the big city energy of Bangkok to the charm of both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, this has been the most fascinating experience of my life! The wonderful people of Thailand may be what I’ll remember most about my first trip to Asia. The accommodations were terrific and all of the golf courses we played exceeded my expectations in both beauty and conditioning.”
Yash Paul Soni of Florida-based Par Excellence Golf added: “Thailand is definitely one of the best destinations on the planet for golf, very affordable with fantastic hotels, amazing places to visit and great golf courses where everyone is looked after by a smiling Thai caddie. There are no direct flights to Bangkok, but the experience is definitely worth the journey.”
Bangkok, the ‘City of Angels’, can be reached by connecting flights in under 18 hours from Vancouver, 19 hours from Los Angeles and 20 hours from New York and Toronto, with return flights usually one or two hours shorter in duration.
There is great golf in and around Bangkok itself, but within just a couple of hours’ drive of the city are four completely different golf experiences:
- Golf in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, accessible from Bangkok by road (90 minutes north) or by an unforgettable river journey.
- Golf in the tropical surrounds of the riverside town of Kanchanaburi, renowned for its World War II heritage ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ and the precipitous ‘Death Railway’ (two hours west).
- Golf in the hills leading down to the tranquil beach resort town and award-winning golf destination of Hua Hin (three hours southwest).
- Golf in the liveliest and largest golf destination in Asia, the resort city of Pattaya (two hours southeast or a ferry ride from Hua Hin).
Additionally, an hour’s flight to the north lies the old city of Chiang Mai, a cultural and historic hub with great golf. Meanwhile, an hour’s flight south will take you to the idyllic tropical island golf destinations of Phuket and Koh Samui.
Guy Trompeter, Golf Division Director of Denver-based MBA Global Excursions, said: “We have been selling golf trips to Thailand for about 10 years now, primarily to the heart of Thailand around Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya and the islands. However, following this inspection visit we will definitely be promoting Chiang Mai as another option. Thailand offers so many amazing golfing possibilities and I believe it qualifies as a bucket-list destination.”