In addition to the excellent choice of golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, you will find plenty to do away from the fairway
If you are unfamiliar with Vietnamese history you will probably have heard of Ho Chi Minh City but perhaps under its former name of Saigon. Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, the city was officially renamed as Ho Chi Minh.
However, both locals and tourists still refer to it as Saigon, especially the central part of the city where most people tend to visit. Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital city of South Vietnam, which was also known as the Republic of Vietnam before the country was reunited under Communist rule.
Today, Vietnam enjoys a booming economy and has become more prosperous than ever before. A stock exchange opened in 2000 and the tourism industry has become a huge provider of income and jobs to the Vietnamese people. This has led to the steady increase in top quality golf courses around the country and Ho Chi Minh is home to some of the finest.
In addition to the excellent choice of golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, you will find plenty to do away from the fairway. There are many historical and religious sites to explore and cultural shows to enjoy. The local markets offer traditional arts and crafts and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Ho Chi Minh offers Vietnam’s largest choice of local and international cuisine, so you can guarantee there is something for everyone to enjoy following a round of golf.
The airport, called Tan Son Nhat, is the busiest in Vietnam and provides a convenient way to enter the country. Therefore, wherever you are travelling from to play golf in Ho Chi Minh, you will have no problem reaching the city.
When planning a trip to play the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, you must be aware of the climate. The city has a tropical climate, with the year divided into two distinct seasons. The rainy season tends to begin in May and ends in October, whereas the dry season lasts from December to April. There is little variation in temperature throughout the year, with the average sitting at a very nice 28 degrees Celsius. On average, Ho Chi Minh enjoys between 2,400 to 2,700 hours of sunshine per year, making it a great place to play golf.
If you would like to have the best chance of playing the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh during dry weather, February would be the best month to visit, as this has the lowest average rainfall. To avoid any chance of a washout, do not visit Ho Chi Minh in September, as this tends to be the wettest month for the region.
With that in mind, where should you begin your Ho Chi Minh golfing experience?
Vietnam Golf and Country Club
Vietnam Golf and Country Club is ranked by many as being one of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh
The short distance from the city makes it a top choice for those staying there and it’s possible to play in either the morning or afternoon. However, with two championship courses to choose from, you may want to make more than one trip to Vietnam Golf and Country Club.
The layout and design of both golf courses is very natural and gives the feeling the golf course has been part of the land for hundreds of years. The West Course, which played host to the Vietnam Open in 1995 and 1997, has tree lined fairways and quick, flat greens. Thanks to the oil palm trees which surround the course, tee shots can be a challenge to the narrow landing areas on the fairway. Look out for lone trees in the centre of several fairways as you will be surprised how many people end up with an awkward shot thinking there was no way they would be unlucky enough to see their ball sit close to the trunk. Playing to just over 7,000 yards, the West Course provides a real test from the back tees.
The East Course, which was designed by Lee Trevino is shorter in length and offers more generous fairways than the West Course. However, the greens are both faster and more undulating plus there are more water hazards and sand traps to negotiate. Good approach shots, leaving straight putts is the key to a low score on the East Course because the greens can be difficult to read.
Having completed a round of golf at Vietnam Golf and Country Club, take your pick from the two clubhouse restaurants or head to the dry and wet saunas to relax. Vietnam Golf and Country is home to two of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh and makes for a great day of golf if you are staying in the city centre.
Song Be Golf Resort
If you are looking for a real challenge, this is one of the most difficult golf courses in the whole of Vietnam
The first international championship golf course in the country, Song Be Golf Resort is also one of the best. The golf course was created in 1994 from the natural landscape of coconut palms and fruit orchards. Just a year later it became the first golf course in Vietnam to be officially rated in accordance with the USGA/SGA requirements. So, when playing a round of golf at Song Be Golf Resort you are sampling a slice of Vietnamese golfing history.
Song Be translates as ‘little river’ so it will come as no surprise to find 10 lakes throughout the golf course, with water coming into play on almost half of the 18 holes. The 10th hole is a real beauty and if you get nervous when playing around water you will need to take a deep breath before teeing up and aiming your shot for the fairway, which is situated between two lakes. With undulating greens and mature trees lining the fairways throughout the course, you must be accurate off the tee to avoid a difficult second shot.
Song Be Golf Resort is one of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, especially if you like to walk during your round. Walking is welcome and caddies will happily join you as you stroll around the 18 holes. Being just over 20 kilometres from the city centre, Song Be Golf Resort is perfect for an enjoyable day of golf.
Taekwang Jeongsan Country Club
The course is heavily bunkered and the front nine holes play alongside the river with great views
One of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh is located on its own island and the experience of playing this course is a must for any visitor to this area of Vietnam. Taekwang Jeongsan Country Club requires you to travel out of the city and take a ferry across the Saigon River. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the golf course from the centre of Ho Chi Minh but you can also take a speed boat from the pier in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh, which significantly reduces the travel time.
The course was designed by Ron Fream’s Golfplan company and stretches to 7,500 yards from the back tees but offers plenty of choices further forward for those who find that distance a little daunting. The 18 holes are fairly flat throughout but offer plenty of interesting challenges. The course is heavily bunkered and the front nine holes play along a river, with lovely views to enjoy on the right side of the course.
Taekwang Jeongsan Country Club features a typical out and back layout but with sand and water coming into play, good shot selection is vital for a low score. The Paspalum grassed fairways, greens, and tees mean you can guarantee good playing conditions and favourable ball lies at Taekwang Jeongsan Country Club, which is ranked as one of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh.
Long Thanh Golf Club
The club boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Ronald Fream
As with many of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, you do not have travel far outside the city and the same applies to Long Thanh Golf Club and Residential Estate. This golf club is located just 30 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City and boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Ronald Fream.
Situated on hilly terrain, the views back towards the city are fantastic and many people choose to play this course over the more famous Vietnam Golf and Country Club. The Hill Course features rolling fairway and large undulating greens, all of which are framed by palm oil trees. The 13th hole is one every golfer remembers as it offers a choice of two greens, the furthest of which has an out of bounds area at the back and the closest is protected at the front by water, so make your choice wisely.
The Lake Course is home to many water hazards and high lipped bunkers. These come into play on almost every hole so accuracy is paramount because anything which fails to find the fairway is going to result in either a difficult escape shot or a watery end. Fortunately, the rough is usually cut short on this course, so you will not have any problem hitting balls which just escape the fairway. The Lake Course is also flatter than the Hill Course, so if you do not enjoy playing on undulating terrain, the Lake Course would be the better choice for you.
The clubhouse at Long Thanh Golf Club and Residential Estate is exceptional and the locker and changing rooms are some of the most luxurious of any golf course in the Ho Chi Minh region. The restaurant offers both Vietnamese and Western food, with seats indoor and out and you can rely on Long Thanh Golf Club and Residential Estate to provide one of the best golfing experiences in Ho Chi Minh.
Vung Tau Paradise Golf Resort
The first golf course in Vietnam to be located next to the sea and offer a links style challenge
If you are happy to travel a long distance for your golf and would like to experience a round on one of Vietnam’s least played golf courses, you should head to Vung Tau Paradise Golf Resort.
When established in 1992, this was the first golf course in Vietnam to be located next to the sea and offer a links style challenge. Being situated close to the shoreline, there are tremendous views of the ocean and beaches on many of the holes and the sea breezes help to keep the course cool. You will notice water plays a large role on this golf course and comes into play on 14 of the 18 holes, with bunkers also featuring throughout.
Despite being a three-hour drive from the centre of the city, Vung Tau Paradise Golf Resort is one of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, particularly if you like a peaceful round of golf next to the sea. The restaurant offers plenty of Vietnamese seafood but the local accommodation is not to the same standard as Ho Chi Minh and you are advised to make the journey back to the city for a good quality hotel or apartment.
The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip
A links-style Greg Norman masterpiece along the coast about 90 minutes from the city
If you would like to test yourself on a links style course while staying in Ho Chi Minh but do want to travel a long way, you should make the shorter trip to The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip. This course is located on the southern Vietnamese coastline and is 80 kilometres away from the city.
Designed by Greg Norman, The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip sits on a coastal plateau featuring significant elevation changes throughout the par-71, 18-hole layout. Huge sand dunes provide the 50 metre changes in height across the course and be prepared for the coastal winds, which add to the challenge of this links course. The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip offers some excellent views of the surrounding forest, wildlife, Vietnam coast and the golf course itself, especially from the signature 4th hole and the 15th green.
The expansive clubhouse offers a range of dining options, a PGA golf academy, driving range and over 3,000 square metres of practice facilities. If you enjoy having a good warm-up before your round, you will find The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip very much to your liking and it’s one of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh when it comes to off-course facilities.
Bo Chang Dong Nai Golf Resort
This parkland course offers some of the best scenery in southern Vietnam
For an excellent golfing day and one of the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, you must make the 90-minute trip to Bo Chang Dong Nai Golf Resort. The parkland course offers some of the best scenery in southern Vietnam and can found in a large wooded area, on the banks of Cloudy River Lake.
This 27-hole course was established in 1997 and is both unique and attractive in its design. Being located at the bottom of a valley, the weather conditions remain good throughout the year. The first five holes plus seven of the back nine feature water and the third hole plays to a stunning island green, with great scenery and plentiful wildlife adding to the experience.
Both the 10th and 11th holes offer choices, with a lay-up shot in front of the water or a risky shot over the water, towards the green. The 15th hole, which is a dogleg par-4, also has a green which is well guarded by water at the front, so the major challenge facing you at Bo Chang Dong Nai Golf Resort is keeping your ball dry.
In addition to the golf, Bo Chang Dong Nai Golf Resort offers several restaurants and other activities including fishing, horseback riding and a children’s play area. These combine with the magnificent golf course to make Bo Chang Dong Nai Golf Resort one of the top choices when staying in Ho Chi Minh.
When choosing the best golf courses in Ho Chi Minh, we recommended you seriously consider all the courses highlighted above. That’s not to say these are the only courses available to you in this region of Vietnam, as you could easily add both Tan Son Nhat Golf Course, which is located close to Tan Son Nhat Airport and Twin Doves Golf Club, which is an exclusive member only golf course.
However, when creating a Ho Chi Minh golfing itinerary, you will want to include as many of the golf courses above as time allows. You could easily split your time between staying in the city centre and at one of the golf resorts, to maximise your golfing experience.