Australian businessman John Lyndon Gibson and his friends bought a five-day tour of golf courses in the south of Vietnam to play and relax.
Vietnam Golf and Country Club in HCM City’s Thu Duc District was the first stop for the nine-member group before heading to Bo Chang Golf Resort in Dong Nai Province and Phan Thiet City’s Ocean Dunes course.
For Gibson, Ocean Dunes was particularly memorable.
According to the Vietnam Golf Association, the country has around 15 international standard golf courses, but has only recently begun promoting them as travel destinations.
Nguyen Cong Khanh, a tour guide from HCM City , said he had taken only three golf tours with foreign tourists.
“Most foreigners book their golf tour packages near beaches where they can both play golf and relax on sunny and pristine seaside resorts,” Khanh said. “In my experience, Ocean Dunes is the best site for golfers because it’s very close to long white sand beaches and is sunny all year round.”
The golf club is 180km northeast of HCM City . Its 6,746 yard course, designed by professional golfer Nick Faldo, is a great resort for families with its streams, sand-dunes and tropical trees.
“The course sits beside the beach and the mountains, and is near the most beautiful Mui Ne Beach, creating options for tourists aside from playing golf,” said Ngo Thu Huong, a club sales representative.
“The golf course also has a four-star Novotel hotel, where tourists can rest after a challenging 18 holes. Typically, visitors take a two-day trip to the course, where they play golf on the first day and spend the second day touring Phan Thiet City,” she said.
Nguyen Hung, a tour manager for Luxury Travel, which offers two-day tours for 320 USD per person, said the company has been providing golf tours since 2006.
“Golf tours are very popular in Thailand and other countries, however, it’s still a new service in Vietnam . Many foreign golfers really want to test their skills while exploring the country, so most travel agencies have added the service in the past 10 years to lure visitors,” Hung said.
Dong Thao, a member of Ocean Dunes Golf Club, said the ninth hole, a par-3, was selected as one of the 500 best holes in the world by Golf magazine ( USA ) in 2009.
“The course hosts around 80 visitors each day in the summer. Visitors can pay 20 USD to tour the course in golf carts, but golfers have to pay 70 USD for one round of play,” Thao said.
She also said families can book tours that offer other activities, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, trekking, canoeing and windsurfing in Mui Ne and rural areas. Visitors can also fish at the Ke Ga Lighthouse, which was constructed by the French in 1899, or visit the ancient Cham Towers .
Nguyen Dang Khanh and his family spent four days at Ocean Dunes last year and said he loved going to the beach each afternoon after a round of golf in the morning.
“I was fascinated by the ninth hole and the beautiful view of the course, as well as the accommodations,” Khanh said. “The fairway is lined with big pine trees, while the green sits near the beach. You can hear the waves all the time and the wind blows smoothly.” ./.