Snaking down from the Chinese border to the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam covers a huge array of bases: reflected in the variety of its top golf courses, ranging from tropical beauties to some of the closest equivalents in the Far East.
WHEN TO GO
The best times to visit Vietnam are spring (February to April) and autumn (August to October). The temperatures are more moderate and rainfall is lighter. In spring, March and April have the lowest rainfall across all destinations and temperatures are pleasant, though still cool in the far north.
WHERE TO STAY AND PLAY
A notable playing highlight in central Vietnam is Laguna Lang Co, designed by British golf legend Nick Faldo. Threading between trees, over rice paddies and streams, through rock features and alongside the pounding surf, the course is tricky to categorise. Highlights include the 9th - a par-4 played alongside the beach. Equally stunning is the short 5th, played from an elevated tee to a green surrounded by rock features.
Further south down Vietnam’s golden coastline lies another of the country’s signature courses: The Bluffs at Ho Tram. Routed over and around towering seaside sand dunes less than two hours southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip - designed by Greg Norman - is one of the few championship-calibre links courses with significant elevation changes, making for a golf experience that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is a challenge to tame.
While the highest point of the rugged, windswept property is 50 metres above sea level, on the 15th green, one of the most spectacular spots comes earlier in the round, on the 4th hole. From there, players are presented with a 360-degree view of the course, of the surrounding national forest that’s a haven for wildlife, of the expansive shoreline and of The Grand Ho Tram, which opened in July 2013 as Vietnam’s first international luxury casino resort.
Another Norman course that is already causing a stir is the freshly opened KN Golf Links Cam Ranh, where the Great White Shark has carved out a masterpiece on a chunk of prime oceanfront land dominated by spectacular sand dunes and gently curving coastline.
There is a myriad of other choice layouts in the nation. These include the Greg Norman track at the BRG Danang Golf Resort, a beautifully sculpted layout built on sandy-loam soil, which winds its way through rugged dunes and funnels of pine trees.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT GOLFING
The 1000-year old capital Hanoi and its southern equivalent Ho Chi Minh City are two of Asia’s most charismatic cities, with an amazing blend of culture, history and cuisine.
Yet while the big cities are undoubtedly thrilling, central Vietnam boasts some of the country’s most user-friendly attractions. Its biggest hitter is the UNESCO-listed ancient port of Hoi An, which is the best-preserved town in the country.
Both Hoi An and Danang enjoy a prime location near the pristine sands of China Beach, which stretches between the two towns. Further north is the imperial capital of Hue, which is home to historic palaces and some of the best cuisine in Vietnam.