Till 2020, there are about 80 golf courses in operation throughout the nation, and at least a third are of international five-star standard, attached to luxury resorts. The total number of golf courses is expected to increase to 200 by 2025, with at least 300,000 players including Vietnamese, foreign expats, and travelers.
Golf in Vietnam continues to grow at a rapid pace – in 2019, Forbes magazine estimated that it is the fastest-growing golf market in the world. New courses are being regularly built by world-famous designers. The climate of the country is perfect for year-round games, and the landscape is stunning enough on its own that designers need to merely collaborate with nature to produce stunning vistas.
Every month of the year offers a perfect golf holiday somewhere in the country.
Vietnam is a long and thin country, a 3,260-kilometer coastline and diverse terrain with 3/4 being hilly. The mountainous north, the thickly-jungled central highlands, and the tropical south offer topographical variety for golf courses and a 12-month playing season.
November to April are the perfect months for playing in the north, when the weather is dry and cool. Head to central Vietnam, where the weather is cool and dry from February to May. Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of Southern parts in Vietnam, where the weather remains stable, it’s a perfect destination to have year-round games. Head up into the highlands like Dalat for cool mist and mountain breezes.
The temperature is consistently warm year-round in the tropical south. The wet season is May through November, but typically this means a few hours of cooling heavy rain that quickly dissipates into blue skies.
There are courses scattered through every region of Vietnam.
Some of the best are on the coast, in cities like Danang. Hoiana Shores, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., features undulating dunes much like a links golf course, but with ocean views that seem to melt into the sand. Danang Golf Club and Montgomerie Links are two other worthy courses in this coastal city.
Source: Montgomerie Links Golf Club
The Dalat Palace Golf Club in the highlands of Central Vietnam is the only course in Asia built with bent grass greens, fairways, and tee boxes. This particular grass – perfect for golf courses due to its density and ability to be closely mowed – grows best in cooler weather, and no other destination in Vietnam offers quite such a hospitable environment.
Perhaps the biggest part of what makes Vietnam’s golf tourism industry internationally competitive is the presence of world-famous golf course architects. Greg Norman has designed numerous award-winning courses throughout the country – the aforementioned Danang Golf Club is one of these.
Source: Greg Norman Golf Course Design
The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip might be considered Norman’s Vietnamese masterpiece. In a tiny fishing village called Ho Tram, about an hour and a half southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, this course has been voted the “World’s Best New Golf Course” at the World Golf Awards.
The Bluffs is designed on a coastal plateau, with holes routed through sand dunes up to 50 meters tall. The layout undulates through elevation changes, with spectacular views across the East Sea from almost every hole. The Bluffs is attached to a luxury resort and leisure complex called The Grand Ho Tram, which features a casino and a beachside restaurant.
Also designed by Greg Norman is the KN Golf Links course in Nha Trang. This too makes use of the natural undulations of sand dunes. Every tee allows for sweeping views of the hole as well as the surrounding landscape. The course is beautifully designed and maintained, with grassy fairways smoothly harmonizing with bunkers and sandy wastes.
Hanoi offers one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the nation. Designed by Peter Rousseau, the 18-hole par 72 Van Tri course integrates water at most holes as well as complex dog-leg designs for challenges. Exclusivity guarantees low foot traffic, so the course is always in immaculate condition.
Just 45 kilometers away from Hanoi’s city center, the Sky Lake Resort and Golf Club has been awarded as the best championship course in Vietnam and the fifth best in the country. The club features two courses designed by a Korean architect, Ahn Moon Hwan. The Lake Course is long and exceptionally challenging, while the beginner-accessible Sky Course runs through pristine forest. The 36-hole resort is mountainous with spectacular viewpoints of an enormous natural lake, perfect for whole families to enjoy a holiday.
Source: SkyLake Resort & Golf Club
It isn’t only locals and tourists that recognize Vietnam as a brilliant golf destination. Vietnam has repeatedly won international awards for its excellence in golf tourism.
The 9th annual World Golf Awards took place on November 15, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, where Vietnam took the title as “Asia’s Best Golf Destination” for the sixth consecutive year. This win is remarkable next to competitors like Thailand, which has long been recognized as a superb golf tourism destination; Japan, with its more than 2,000 spectacular and elite courses; and Korea, where golf is so wildly popular that courses are built next to each other to handle the sheer volume of players.
Not only has Vietnam claimed the title for the region for six years running, but it’s also been named the World’s Best Golf Destination in both 2019 and 2021. These two recognitions are a high honor from the World Golf Awards, which celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism as part of the World Travel Awards.
The victory is a real testament to Vietnam’s momentum in the industry, and a sure marker of the growth that’s still to come.