Khao Yai is one of the most magnificent places in the whole of Thailand and deserves much more attention than it receives when people consider a golf holiday in the country.
It’s easy to be drawn to the popular places such as Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabbi and Pattaya. Yes, these are all considered must visit destinations, especially for a golf holiday but nothing quite compares to the splendour of Khao Yai.
If you search for Khao Yai online you will find Khao Yai National Park makes up many of the search results and this is what the area has been called for many years. Khao Yai National Park is the second largest national park in Thailand and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
It is in the western part of the Sankamphaeng Mountain range, with thick jungle covering the mountainous slopes and several scenic waterfalls. The park contains four different provinces including Nakhon Rachasima (Korat), Nakhon Nayok, Sara Buri and Prachin Buri.
How to get to Khao Yai
To reach Khao Yai from outside of Thailand you must first fly to Bangkok, which has excellent airport links across the world. Whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere you will be able to find plenty of flights from major cities, with one stop being the maximum required to reach the capital of Thailand.
Once in Bangkok you must take ground transport to Khao Yai which take around 3 hours to complete. However, it is an easy drive and you can hire a vehicle yourself, take a taxi or use the public transport system. If you are travelling with your own golf clubs you may want to use one of the first two options.
Weather in Khao Yai
When planning a trip to play golf in Khao Yai you must also consider the climate.
The climate in Khao Yai is like other areas of Thailand in that it can be split into three distinct seasons. The best season for playing golf in Khao Yai is between November and February which is the cool, dry season. Day time temperatures tend to be in the low 20’s and you may even require a jumper in the evenings.
Due to the location of Khao Yai, with the elevation reaching up to 1,350 metres you will find the temperatures to be cooler than other parts of Thailand, so keep this in mind when packing your luggage.
March to April is the hot season and while other parts of Thailand will be roasting in the heat, Khao Yai remains quite pleasant thanks to the elevation, making this time of the year another good period for playing golf. The rainy season falls between May and October but with so many other months of the year to enjoy golf in Khao Yai, it’s easy to plan around these few months.
On to the golf courses in Khao Yai and you are spoilt for choice with a great selection from which to build your holiday.
Perhaps the best place to start is the Khao Yai Golf Club, which occupies an envious location in two valleys just outside the national park. You are greeted with stunning views on this golf course, over the hills and into the distance from almost every position on the course.
The par-72 18-hole course has been designed by Jack Nicklaus and measures just over 7,000 yards from the back tees. The course is challenging for beginner players but more experienced golfers will find plenty of opportunities to score low if playing well. The pick of the holes is the combination between 10 and 11, which play into one of the valleys and features the traditional Nicklaus bunkering on both the fairways and around the greens.
The facilities at Khao Yai Golf Club are basic but this should not deter you from making the trip to play the course. The views are tremendous and if you can check the weather in advance, try for a good clear day because it will make a big difference to the enjoyment of your round.
Continuing with the Jack Nicklaus theme and another of the legendary golfer’s courses can be found at Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa. No trip to play golf in Khao Yai would be complete without playing what is considered by many as being the best quality course in Khao Yai.
Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa is one of the most natural courses in Thailand and offers splendid views of the Khao Yai National Park. The course has been described by the Nicklaus design group as being in their top three Asian designs, which is some praise but when you step onto the course yourself, you quickly understand their claims.
The views of the jungle and tree lined hills is something you will not experience in other areas of Thailand and with generous fairways throughout, you will thoroughly enjoy playing this course. The quality of the course and the surroundings combine to make Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa 18 holes of golf you will not forget in a hurry.
Look out for the wetland areas which cut across some of the fairways and protect several greens. Small lakes and lily ponds add to this to produce delightful yet dangerous hazards around the course.
The par-4 16th is the signature hole and regarded as one of the best created by Nicklaus. The fairway doglegs from left to right past a big tree and down to a green well protected by water. There are five sets of tees so players of all abilities can enjoy the course and with the way it winds its way through the hills, you can play a full 18 holes and not see another group.
The facilities at Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa match the course and you can stay at the 5-star resort featuring tented villas, personal butler service and luxurious spa. Coupled with the location by the National Park, Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa is difficult to beat and should be high on your list of Khao Yai golf courses.
From one legendary golfer to another and you cannot visit Khao Yai without playing the only golf course in Thailand designed by Seve Ballesteros.
Mountain Creek Golf Resort and Residence is a 27-hole golf course located past the Khao Yai National Park (if travelling from Bangkok) and is split into three nine-hole loops of excellent yet challenging golf. The three nine-hole loops are named Highlands, Creek and Valley and live up to the expectations created by their names.
You need to be on your game to score low at Mountain Creek Golf Resort thanks to the strategically placed hazards and dense jungle which frames many of the holes. If you stray too far away from the centre of the fairway you can find yourself in a lot of trouble so accuracy off the tee is very important.
The greens are very undulating and if you find yourself around the edge of the green, shots can be very difficult so even if you are not close to the pin, aiming for the fat part of the green is often a good idea. With a range of holes from short par 4’s to long par 5’s you must be prepared to use every club in your bag during a round at Mountain Creek Golf Resort.
With a club shop, practice areas and large clubhouse in addition to the small resort, Mountain Creek Golf Resort and Residence is the number one choice of many locals and visitors in Khao Yai.
If you really want to challenge yourself when playing golf in Khao Yai, you must visit Toscana Valley Country Club.
This 18-hole golf course plays to 7,007 yards and occupies a great location within the Khao Yai National Park. The course is situated in a deep valley within the park boundaries and other than palm trees, it resembles the Tuscany region of Italy, hence the name of the course.
The golf course was originally designed by American Bob McFarland but has received significant modification from local architects to produce one of the most demanding yet fun 18 holes of golf in Thailand. Boasting quick and steep fairway drop offs, deep bunkers and raised greens on each hole, you cannot afford to switch off during a round of golf at Toscana Valley Country Club.
The greens have severe contours and wherever the pin is positioned, putting is tough and you will find large breaks between your ball and the hole unless you are close to the pin. Many of the par 4 holes feature water carries of over 200 yards and you must be strong mentally to accept the challenge and play your shots.
Perhaps the best example of what you will face on this golf course comes on the par 4 12th hole which has elevated multi-tiered tee boxes overlooking a fairway and water, which is protecting the green. There is a danger of hitting through the fairway into the water but you cannot rest easy when making your approach shot to the green as it is sloping heavily from back to front and there is a bunker at the rear waiting to collect anything which is over-hit.
The course at Toscana Valley Country Club is very testing but combined with the spectacular scenery you cannot fail to have a great day of golf. Head to the Tuscan themed clubhouse after your round and try the Italian restaurant for some traditional Tuscan food.
During your stay in Khao Yai you will want to play each of the above golf courses, probably more than once but there are several others which are also vying for your attention.
You can try the Bonanza Country Club which the creator is rumoured to have named after his favourite television show. This is a long course playing over 7,480 yards and features several large reservoirs at the north end of the 18 holes. This is a wide-open golf course, with limited amounts of trees and very few bunkers in comparison to most other courses in Thailand.
Bonanza Golf Lodge is a great place to stay but be prepared with a sweater for the evenings and early mornings because the elevation level can make it colder at these times.
The closest Khao Yai golf course to Bangkok is the Sir James Course at the Forest Hills Country Club. Just a 90-minute drive from the Thai Capital, this course is a lovely parkland layout and with flower arrangements, water falls, lakes and creeks is very picturesque. There is enough water, bunkering and elevation changes to keep players honest but the Sir James Course at the Forest Hills Country Club is probably one of the easier going golf courses in Khao Yai.
Other golf courses you can add your itinerary in Khao Yai include Korat Country Club Golf and Resort, which is an inland course surrounded by mature woodland and Rancho Charnvee Country Club, which is regarded as an excellent resort course in the in the Khao Yai National Park area.
Not forgetting the Panorama Golf and Country Club and Royal Hills Golf Resort and Spa, which demand your consideration when planning a golf holiday in Khao Yai.
However, you are sure to enjoy a challenging and breath-taking holiday playing golf Khao Yai, whichever of the courses you decide to play. Aside from the top-quality golf courses, you have tremendous facilities, 5-star accommodation and surrounding nature you will not find anywhere else in the world.
You are guaranteed to have a great time playing golf in Khao Yai.
Book Tee Times in Khao Yai
You are unlikely to find crowds on any of the courses which is one of the joys of playing golf in Khao Yai so securing a tee time is not a problem.