Have you ever golfed with a caddie? If not, you are in for a real treat golfing in Vietnam. I often try to explain about this with golf buddies and everyone agrees, golfing with a caddie in Vietnam adds another dimension to of golf and is a must experience for all Vietnam golf visitors.
The Vietnam caddies will be of the unique experiences of your golf holiday. However, be forewarned you may like having a caddie in Vietnam, but it won’t be until you return home that you really miss the Vietnamese caddies! Read more
Vietnam now has 35 golf courses in every corner of the country from north to south. Several of the Vietnam golf courses like Danang Golf Club, Montgomerie Links Vietnam, and Laguna Lang Co Golf Club are world-class standard. However, only a few locals and foreigners know this. The sport’s penetration among locals is a paltry 0.01% (10,000 golfers out of a population of 90,000,000) and foreign golf tourists number less than 30,000 per year. Why is this so? Read more
Vietnam is a country that is full of history, but it is only recently that Vietnam golf holidays have been added the country’s rich stories. Its long history includes revolutions, wars, and unpredictable economies. However, since 1997 foreign tourists have been able to travel freely in the country and golf course development and golf tourism has been on a steady rise. This year Vietnam will host over 7 Million visitors, of which some 50,000 golf holidaymakers in the know will experience Asia’s fastest growing golf destination. It seemed entirely fitting, therefore, for me to detail my own adventure covering some 30 golf courses and more than 1,000 kilometers. Read more
The capital of Vietnam is a contradictory city where ancient culture meets modern golf in Hanoi. To the new visitor Hanoi appears very chaotic. The streets are packed with bicycles, trishaws, motorcycles, cars and pedestrians. The one tip I give golfers is walk slowly and steady when crossing the streets and everything will be fine.
Beyond the crowdedness Hanoi maintains planned order. The main tourist area is the historic old quarter where golfers can find many shops built from well-preserved architecture of old times selling Vietnamese handicrafts and delicacies. The most interesting sites are the Temple of Literature, the Ethnology Museum and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex. Read more
Here are three tips to make your golfing holiday in Danang more enjoyable:
1. Money Changing: US Dollars used to be widely accepted and the preferred currency of choice for a Danang golf vacation. However, over the past 2 years this has all changed. Nowadays the Vietnamese Dong is used everywhere. The rates are controlled by the Vietnam Central Bank, so changing money at an official money changer will get you the best rates. There are two exchange kiosks at the Danang Airport and the rates are competitive. Read more
Here a few ttips to make any golf holiday in Danang more enjoyable:
1. Changing money: There are many banks and exchange booths around Danang. Previous to 2012 it was prudent to shop around for the best exchange rates. However, now that the Vietnam government has all but eliminated the black market, exchange rates are almost identical at every outlet. I use one of the 2 money exchange services at the Danang airport. Show your passport and present your foreign currency and you will be a Vietnamese Dong (VND) millionaire in seconds. The current exchange rate is VND 20,000 to US$1. Make sure you have new bills from your home country as anything soiled or old will be rejected. Read more
Recently I heard from an Australian on one of our Vietnam golf tours about the large cobra he saw when golfing at Vietnam Country Club. Previously, I knew that many soldiers had suffered from snake bites while in Vietnam. However in the 50 years since, I had thought that snakes were all but eradicated. In fact, I have had only two snake encounters while golfing in Vietnam.
A few years ago golfing at Long Thanh my slice on the short par-4 17th of the landed near edge of the lake. When I went to check my lie, I saw a large snake basking in the sun next to my ball. Nevertheless, my Vietnamese caddie wooed the snake away and I was able to hit normally. Another time there a small garter snake off the fairway at Van Tri Golf Club in Hanoi. This time it was the snake who was more scared than I and he slithered away after hearing me approach.
Anyway, I thought I would do some research and, to my surprise, I discovered that over 3,000 people are bitten by snakes in Vietnam each year, though there are not many deaths. Venomous snakes in Vietnam include pit vipers, cobras and kraits.
Although all snakes seem terrifying, the reality of the situation is that the rare snake on a Vietnam golf course would only attack if provoked. Of course, if you accidentally stepped on one this might be taken as an act of aggression. Therefore, watch where you step and you will be fine. Also, did you know that many bites are what are known as dry bites, which means that the snake does not inject any venom? Most snake bite victims suffer more from shock than poison.
Therefore, there is no real need to be worried about snakes when you are golfing in Vietnam, just show respect and use caution.
Golfing in Vietnam is different from golf in Europe and the USA and what to bring with you to the Vietnam golf courses is more than the obvious. Other than your clubs I suggest every Vietnam golfer be sure of the five following points before heading to the golf course.
1. Proper lightweight golf attire and socks. Everyone golfing in Vietnam should be aware of the warm tropical conditions. Therefore, to stay cool I wear a modern quick-dry collared golf shirt, knee length short pants, and no-show socks. Vietnam golf courses are more relaxed than those in other parts of the world, but the usual standards of dress still apply. Jeans and tee shirts are not allowed. Everything else is OK.
2. Shoes should be comfortable with soft spikes. Don’t buy and bring new golf shoes as the worst thing that can happen is for you to develop blisters while on the golf courses of Vietnam.
3. The sun can be deceptively strong. Bring and apply liberally a good sunscreen, wear a hat to limit the sun’s exposure on your head, carry a golf umbrella to ward off both sun, and bring a dry towel to wipe away any perspiration from your hands and face.
4. It is a good idea to bring and spray around your ankles and wrists with a mosquito repellent. Malaria poses no threat on Vietnam golf courses, but if you intend traveling outside the main centers or in the jungle make sure you are adequately protected. My favorite repellant is a natural liquid made from lemon grass oil. It smells good and works well too.
5. A good attitude, although strictly speaking not a material possession, it might just be the most important thing to bring along with you to golf in Vietnam golf. Remembering that you are on vacation to have fun will ensure that your Vietnam golf holiday will be one of, if not the most, memorable golf trip of your lifetime!
If you have any additional suggestions on essentials to bring with you while golfing in Vietnam, please do post a comment here or drop me an email at my Vietnam golf holiday company.
Vietnam is fast becoming one of the leading Asian golf destinations. There are now over 25 courses with new one’s opening on a regular basis. However, golf in Vietnam can be different to how golf is played elsewhere. Certain aspects of golf etiquette are unique and characteristic of a country that has special culture and customs.
Vietnam style is more relaxed when organizing things, and although this brings great joy to Vietnamese golfers it can also lead to great frustration for Vietnam golf holidaymakers. When in doubt, a simple smile and show of courtesy goes a long way to resolving any issues.
When playing golf in Vietnam remember you are a visitor and should give way to the local golfers. Golf is still a new sport here and Vietnam golfers are not so familiar with the etiquette that we have been taught. For example, I had never come across playing in a 5 ball before golfing in Asia. Vietnamese locals sometimes take 2 caddies each (one for the umbrella and one for the clubs) meaning there can as many as 15 people walking up every hole. This is quite a sight in fact.
Oftentimes, Vietnam golfers will not let other golfers play through as they are not so familiar with this golf concept. However, if they are playing slow a polite request may solve the problem. Getting frustrated and hitting balls into the group in front is certainly not the thing to do.
Caddies are a unique feature of Vietnam golf. They are predominantly female and perform many tasks in very tiring conditions. To get a great service always be courteous to a Vietnam caddy. Tips are greatly appreciated by the caddies with $15 US or more recommend for good service.
Call holes at par 3’s are also interesting. After all balls are on the green, caddies will mark each ball, then golfers stand aside and let the group behind play their tee shots. Afterwards the group on the green will putt-out. This is meant to speed up play, but it does not always work. Nevertheless, it is a local rule on many Vietnam golf courses and should be followed.
Refreshment kiosks that are located every 3 or 4 holes are a great Vietnam golf concept. However, do not fall behind the group in front when stopping for a drink or the groups behind may complain.
Being familiar with these quarks of golf in Vietnam and showing on course courtesy and politeness will go a long way to ensure success of all Vietnam golf holidays.
Here are 5 reasons why Vietnam is a world-class golf holiday destination.
- The courses: With many courses having been developed by leading golf architects of the world such as Greg Norman (Danang Golf Club), Nick Faldo (Ocean Dunes Golf Club & Laguna Lang Co Golf Club), Ron Fream (Long Thanh Golf Club & Sea Links Golf Club), and Peter Rousseau (Van Tri Golf Club & Twin Doves Golf Club) quality golfing is never far away.
- The locations: Vietnam is a beautiful and fascinating country that offers a variety of different golf destinations. The cities of Hanoi and Saigon are bustling centers of commerce, industry, and colonial history. The costal resorts of Danang, Hoi An, and Nha Trang have some of the best beaches in the world. The fresh mountains of Dalat have excellent year-round golf on offer at a perfect 20 degrees centigrade temperature.
- The history and culture: Only the past 50 years or so of Vietnamese history is familiar to most travelers. Moreover, Vietnamese culture is for the most part still mysterious and unknown. However, today more and more people are traveling to golf in Vietnam. Getting to know Vietnam’s history and Vietnamese culture is interesting and fascinating. Historically, fist recorded evidence dates back to 200 B.C. and is rich and varied ever since. Vietnamese culture is one of the most exotic and complex in the world. It is hard to find such an authentic and interesting place for golf travel anywhere!
- The caddies: A unique and truly memorable part of golf in Vietnam. All females, they provide excellent day service at $15 US Dollars a round. Greeting you upon arrival at the clubhouse, Vietnam caddies take care of everything before teeing off, during the round, and after finishing 18 holes. With a constant smiling face, they give yardages to the green, mark and clean golf balls, advise of the breaks on the green, keep their golfers cool during the round, and always provide great enjoyment.
- The food: Like with any other cuisine, Vietnamese food is influenced by its geography and history. Vietnamese food has retained its distinct identity, despite influences from Chinese and other Asian cuisine. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. As such, Vietnamese food is often ranked as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Where else can a golfer travel to and eat as much as he/she wants without worries of putting on extra pounds/kilos? That is except for the beer!
There are endless other reasons to golf in Vietnam and I could go on, but that will spoil all the additional surprises in store when you golf this fascinating country.
I introduced the Vietnam golf caddie system in a previous post. Here is some more useful information and frequently asked questions regarding golfing in Vietnam with a caddie.
Treat your caddie with respect and she will appreciate your politeness. For example it is common to offer your caddie a beverage when you stop at a drink kiosk.
Find out the going rate for tipping from a local Vietnam golf travel agent. I recommend $15 USD as a minimum tip and $20 USD if your caddie has performed well. Just remember, her tip is the majority of what she earns for spending 4-5 hours with you.
Vietnam people are gentle and prefer bigheartedness over seriousness. You and your caddie will enjoy your round more if you are smiling and joking. On the other hand she will be scared of you if you use foul language when you hit a poor shot.
Now I know that most Vietnam golf holidaymakers would never use bad language on the golf course, but please do consider the sensitivities of the caddies and the other golfers too when you feel like venting your frustration. Apart from anything else, it is probably not going to improve your golf in Vietnam, but rather it may turn a few enjoyable hours into a miserable time for all.
Many local Vietnam golfers hire two caddies. The first one for the normal caddie duties and the second one carries an umbrella for shade, a seat to relax on between shots, and cold towels to wipe away any sweat. A good friend of mine living in Saigon always takes the same two Vietnam caddies at Vietnam Golf & Country Club. As he is getting up there in age he finds himself not so supple. Nowadays he also hires the young daughter of his regular caddie, to put the tee peg in the ground for him and get his ball out of the hole after he putts out! With three caddies in their colorful uniforms and Vietnamese farmer hats, his foursome turns into a parade of 20 plying the fairways and greens. Enjoy your golfing in Vietnam!
Playing golf with a Vietnamese caddie adds a whole new dimension to the game of golf and is an experience to remember for all Vietnam golf holidaymakers.
For anyone who has golfed in Thailand, then the famous Thai caddies would have been without doubt one of the best parts of your Thailand golf holiday. Golf in Vietnam is not much different. Caddies are compulsory on all Vietnam golf courses and are normally included in the cost of your green fee. At a price of around 15 US dollars a round, the caddie fee is higher than Thailand, but still a bargain.
In the main Vietnam golf locations the caddies will all be female and 20 to 30 years of age. Extremely helpful and with a great sense of pride, they generally come from poorer rural backgrounds and really appreciate the opportunity to be of service to you. At some remote courses you might find a male caddie mixed in and some of the females might be slightly older, but nevertheless, they still will provide excellent service.
If you did not book a specific caddie in advance, then your caddie will be assigned as you arrive at the course based on a number rotation system. She will attend to and look after your clubs until you are ready to play. At most courses, you have the option to use an electric golf cart or walk. If you choose to ride, then your caddie will drive your cart for you. If you choose to walk, then your caddie will use a pull trolley to walk the course with you.
You can even request two caddies if you want extra service. If so, let the starter know of your preference. One caddie will be assigned to take care of your clubs, whilst the other caddie will keep an umbrella over you to provide shade, and a cool towel to wipe away any sweat from your brow. I see many wealthier Vietnamese local golfers going the two caddie route and the service is there for you too should you want to try it.
Enjoy your round and I am sure you will remember the unique and wonderful experience of Vietnam golf with a caddie.
The main cities of Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) both boast no less than 4 golf courses each. However, land prices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City make it impractical to build golf resort style hotels. Therefore, a modern business hotel or renovated colonial style accommodation is the best choice for those traveling to Hanoi or Saigon for golf.
Golfers in Hanoi generally stay in either the Old City area or near Westlake, with multiple international standard hotels in both locations. The Vietnam capital has a unique culture of its own. There are 5 courses open to visitors and driving time ranges from around 45 minutes to Van Tri Golf Club to around 2 hours to Chi Linh Star Golf & Country Club. Scenery ranges from an island setting at Kings Island Golf Club to spectacular limestone cliffs that surround the Phoenix Golf & Country Club.
Most foreigners who book Saigon golf packages stay in District One which is the physical and cultural center of Ho Chi Minh City. Here the visiting golfer will find parks, restaurants, pubs, department stores, the Saigon riverfront and much more. While Vietnam is not really a nightlife destination, the entertainment scene is more vibrant in Saigon than anywhere else in the country and thirsty visitors will have no difficulty finding a place to imbibe. Saigon has 5 golf courses open to visitors of which the best is Long Thanh Golf & Residential Estate.
In between the North and the South, mountaintop Dalat makes for very nice stopover thanks to its near perfect year round temperatures, its scenic beauty and the Dalat Palace Golf Club. The all bent grass golf course located at 1500 meters above sea level is the oldest Vietnam golf course and one of my favorites. Dating back to the 1920s the Dalat golf course has hosted numerous celebrities and dignitaries including Billy Casper and Bo Dai, Vietnam’s last emperor.
Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Dalat are all interconnected via multiple daily flights on the national carrier, Vietnam Airlines.
Vietnam golf tourism has grown rapidly over the last three years. The country cut off western golf travelers as recently as 15 years ago has now boasts 20 international standard golf courses from North to South. Though in many ways Vietnam is still learning the golf travel business and its golf infrastructure is not nearly as developed as places such as Thailand. Nevertheless, Vietnam is fascinating for adventurous golf travelers with an open mind, cultural curiosity, and lots of patience.
Many golf holidaymakers like to situate themselves at a golf resort in one location, play lots of golf on three or more nearby courses and spend their evenings at nearby nightlife venues within walking distance of the hotel where they can wine, dine and/or party the night away. There is nothing wrong with this, though you won’t find it in Vietnam.
In Vietnam the golf courses are still rather few and far between. In fact there is not a single golf resort in the country that has more than 2 courses within a one hour drive. So to play a variety of quality courses you need to do some travel. However that is not all bad. Vietnam offers a wide variety of natural beauty and cultural diversity that you miss if only staying in one location.
Golf resorts and hotels can be found at the beach destinations Danang, Phan Thiet, and Nha Trang, all three of which offer 2 international standard courses along with unspoiled beaches and a thriving town nearby. Of the three Danang is the best offering the closest thing to links golf to be found not only in Vietnam, but anywhere in SE Asia. Both Montgomerie Links Vietnam and Danang Golf Club courses are built on seaside sand based soil with turf that allows for a wide variety of shots like chip-and-runs and Texas wedges. The sometimes strong winds coming off the South China Sea further contribute to the links atmosphere. Danang is also blessed with the nearby UNESCO heritage town of Hoi An, which affords many Vietnam golfers the opportunity to unwind after their rounds at any number of reasonably priced pubs and restaurants. Phan Thiet and Nha Trang also boast 2 golf courses and are even more off the beaten track for those golfing in Vietnam.
Golf in Vietnam is changing rapidly, growing and flourishing. After being virtually non existent for nearly 20 years (from 1975 to 1994) the country now boasts twenty top-quality courses with facilities to match. Today’s Vietnam golf scene is where Thailand’s golf scene was about 25 years ago: ready to take-off when it comes to unique golf holidays where you experience a vastly different culture.
Golfers can also choose tour packages from golf tour operators like Golfasian, Golforient, or Vietnam Golf Vacations. Recently Golfasian announced its new package: The Vietnam Golf Trail is a golf adventure across Vietnam, covering the top Vietnam golf destinations, as well as main cultural and historical sights and attractions.
Golfers on the Vietnam Golf Trail will start in the northern Vietnam capital of Hanoi and make their way south, stopping for golf and exploration in Halong Bay, Danang, Hoi An, Dalat, and Phan Thiet, before finishing in Ho Chi Minh City, the economic capital of the country and home to the widest selection of golf courses in Vietnam.
All of Vietnam’s top golf courses from north to south are included on the golf trail package. Those golf travelers who want to re-trace the steps of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, made famous during the American-Vietnam War, will take great pleasure during the stops at the famous battlefields and war sights at “China Beach,” Danang, Dalat, and Chu Chi. Others who want to learn first hand about Vietnamese civilization will be fascinated by village life that will be seen during stops in and around Hanoi, Hoi An, and Saigon.
There are so many good reasons to sample the wonders that Vietnam has to offer: from the breathtaking scenery to the excellent value of golf on non-crowded golf courses, Vietnam really is one of the undiscovered jewels of world golf.