Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand but is very relaxed in comparison to other major cities in Thailand, such as Bangkok. Here you will see other tourists but the pace of life is much different to the capital city and that of the major beach resorts.
You will find the ancient city is now surrounded by a more modern development, providing a nice contrast and the choice of activities in Chiang Mai is endless.
However, the city is surrounded by lush countryside and if you travel in a straight line in any direction from the city, you will find yourself among rainforests, waterfalls and charming villages.
Dotted around the Chiang Mai countryside you will also find several world class golf courses just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. So, how will you find the right balance between golf and the other delights Chiang Mai has to offer when booking your golf package in this exciting region of Thailand?
Geography and Travel
Chiang Mai is regarded as the main hub of northern Thailand and is the capital city of the province which shares the same name. The population of the city is over 170,000 but if you include the wider metropolitan area the total populate rises to more than 1 million people.
Surrounded by mountains and countryside, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s fifth largest city and was once the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. There are more than 30 temples inside the walls of the old city and being in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, it was once only reached via river or an elephant trek.
These days, it is much easier to reach Chiang Mai and Chiang Mai International Airport accepts both regional and domestic flights. Therefore, it is possible to catch a direct flight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and Thai Airways operate flights hourly during peak times.
It’s also possible to reach Chiang Mai via other cities in Thailand and Asia, including Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.
The airport is just 3 kilometres away from the city, so it is easy to pick up a taxi and make the 10-minute journey to your accommodation.
You can get around Chiang Mai using the bus system and the best buses to take for visitors are B1 and B2, which are white buses and link the main areas of interest. To see the old city, you can rent a bicycle as the traffic is quieter than elsewhere and the roads flat throughout.
If you want to get to a golf course, you should book a taxi through your hotel.
Where to Stay
You will find much of the accommodation in Chiang Mai to be cheap, even by Thai standards but that does not mean there are not many great places to stay in and around the city.
However, much of the best accommodation is located outside the main city and takes the form of resorts, such as the Four Seasons Resort. This is in the countryside, with working paddy fields and water buffalo adding the to feel of the rural retreat.
Other high-end accommodation includes Baan Orapin, which is a restored old Thai house and the Ban Sabai Village Resort and Spa, which is a small boutique resort offering four room categories including a villa.
You will not find many of the major chain hotels in Chiang Mai and this adds to the charm of the place. While there will not be many hotel names you recognise, there are plenty from which to choose and you can enjoy small boutique style accommodation or larger, international standard hotels.
Weather and Best Time to Travel
While the main seasons remain the same in Chiang Mai as they do for much of Thailand, the weather tends to be cooler due to the northern location and elevation of the city and surrounding area.
However, the weather remains warm throughout the year and gets especially hot between February and June. Daily highs can easily reach the mid-30’s and precipitation increases towards then end of this period but can be very refreshing, especially if you are on the golf course.
Between June and mid-October Chiang Mai enters the ‘wet season’ and this brings cooler weather than the hot season but more rain. This is still a good time to play golf in Chiang Mai as the occasional downpour helps to keep things cool and they often do not last very long.
However, the best time of year to travel to Chiang Mai to play golf is between mid-October and mid-February. While the temperature remains warm, it is cooler than other times of year and the chance of rain is minimal. This makes the period between November and February a great time to play golf in Chiang Mai.
Things to Do Away from the Golf Course
Although it may be difficult to tear yourself away from the golf courses, Chiang Mai has a lot to offer its visitors away from the fairways.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most spiritually significant places in the whole of Thailand, dating back close to 700 years. Not only will you find the visually impressive temple here but you can also enjoy the surrounding mountains, jungle and waterfalls.
If you would like to enjoy some close wildlife encounters in a safe environment, you should take the Chiang Mai Night Safari. Featuring three animal zones, you can see Bengal tigers, pumas, lions, hyenas, vultures and bears to name but a few. There is also the opportunity to feed the animals yourself.
For those who enjoy taking in the clear mountain air, a trip up Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand at 2,500 metres is a must visit when staying in Chiang Mai. This is an area of both natural beauty and historical significance and the views are simply breath-taking.
Finally, and for those who like to shop, you should visit Bo Sang Village. Here you can find handmade umbrellas and parasols, each made of Sa Paper and coming in various designs and sizes ranging from small cocktail umbrellas to large patio table umbrellas. Shopping here is an experience not to be missed.
Top Golf Courses
Chiang Mai now boasts over 10 golf courses and several of them ranked up there with the very best Thailand has to offer. Therefore, it is not always easy to know where to start when creating a Chiang Mai golf package but arguably the best place to begin is Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort.
The experience of playing at this golf courses starts with the journey, as you travel to the highlands through stunning rural landscape including rice fields and mountains.
The journey from the centre of town takes only 30 minutes and once at Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort, you are met with lovely views, crisp fresh air and a cool climate. These conditions, in addition to the fertile soil produce a fantastic 27-hole golf course.
Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort
Having opened in 2005, Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort was immediately recognised as one of the top golfing experiences in Asia, winning many top awards. The course is fun and challenging for players of all abilities thanks to the choice of 5 different tee boxes and the fairways and greens remain in great condition all year round.
Many of the greens slope from front to back and while they remain consistent, you must think about your approach shots to leave the best chance of making putts. Getting up and down plays a significant role at Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort and players with a creative approach to their play will enjoy this aspect of the golf course.
Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort is considered a must-play when visiting this region of Thailand.
Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club
From the highlands to the lowlands and if you want to test yourself on one of the longest golf courses in Chiang Mai, you must add Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club to your golf holiday.
This golf course was designed by Denis Griffiths and is located just 20 minutes away from the city. If you enjoy playing long golf courses, this is the one for you as playing from the back tees makes this course 7,200 yards long.
In addition to the length of the course, the hazards also play a significant role and well-placed bunkers in addition to water which comes into play regularly, combine to make Summit Green Valley a great challenge for good golfers.
Look out for tee shots over water and approach shots to greens protected by water. The par-4 9th hole also has an elevated island green where accuracy is a must to avoid a watery end.
Thanks to its location, Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club is a popular choice for those coming from or going to the airport and makes a lovely addition to the start or end of your Chiang Mai golf package.
Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai
If you would like to follow in the footsteps of some of the top local golfers in Chiang Mai, head to Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai, which has played host to the Asian Tour when staging the Chiang Mai Classic.
This golf course takes up an envious position between the mountain ranges of the of the San Kamphaeng natural forests. Thanks to its location, you can enjoy the natural surroundings which include forests, hills and water, the latter of which is one of the many hazards on the course.
Originally an 18-hole golf course, a further 9 holes were added in 2016 and this gives Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai three distinct sets of 9 holes for visitors to enjoy. The Paddy Zone is home to many rice fields, the Pine Tree Zone is a parkland style layout and the Wetland Zone plays through marshland.
The pick of the holes includes the 4th hole on the A Course, which is not only one of the longest holes on the course at 652 yards but one of the longest in Thailand. Also on the A Course, look out for the island fairway on the 9th hole. It looks stunning but can be deadly so don’t spend too much time taking photos and try and concentrate on the shot if you can.
As the name suggests, Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai is also home to a 4-star resort boasting a full range of facilities, so you could stay for a couple of days and see more of the local area and play all 27 holes of the golf course.
Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai is one of the top golfing experiences in Chiang Mai and competes with both Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club and Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort for the title of best golf course in Chiang Mai.
However, the choice of golf courses in Chiang Mai does not end there and you have many others from which to choose during your golf break.
Chiang Mai Inthanon Golf and Natural Resort offer unparalleled views of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s tallest mountain and water comes into play on 12 of the 18 holes making it a great test of golf. Close to the Khuntan National Park you have Gassan Khuntan Golf and Resort which is considered one of Thailand’s most beautiful golf courses. The expansive landscape and natural scenery will have you searching for the camera but the course offers many challenges, so you cannot afford to be too distracted if you want a low score.
Other great golf courses in the Chiang Mai region of Thailand include Gassan Legacy Golf Club, Gassan Panorama Golf Club, Gold Canyon Golf Club, Hariphunchai Golf Club, Mae Jo Golf Club, North Hill Chiang Mai Golf and Royal Chiang Mai Golf Resort.
So, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to building a Chiang Mai golf package and you sure to thoroughly enjoy playing golf in this stunning area of Thailand.