Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin
The Chiang Mai Golf Festival is an
At the very heart of South East Asia, Thailand is an independent kingdom which combines 20th-century sophistication with an ancient culture that has evolved over the past 700 years.
Covering just over 500,000 sq km, Thailand is bordered by Malaysia to the south, Myanmar to the west, Laos to the north and Cambodia to the east. It's unique amongst South East Asian nations, in that it has never been occupied by a foreign colonial power. Largely as a result, it has maintained a cohesive sense of national identity and traditional culture.
With over five million annual visitors, the kingdom is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. It has an enormous amount to offer all manner of visitors, from ancient temples to rainforests and remote islands with palm-fringed beaches and, of course, fabulous golf courses meticulously laid out in glorious surroundings, many of them designed by international golfing legends, making Thailand one of the most popular golfing destinations in the World.
Tourism is an important part of the kingdom’s service economy. The country’s rapid development in recent years has brought with it all the usual problems, such as infrastructure bottlenecks, environmental degradation and increased social pressures.
Despite a spectacular economic growth, the majority of the population still earns its living from small-scale farming. Rice is the country’s main crop and Thailand is the world’s biggest exporter of rice.
The population of Thailand is around 60 million, with approximately 11 million people living in the capital city, Bangkok. This massive, vibrant, traffic-bound city dominates the country’s central region and functions as the cultural, religious, economic and political centre of the country.
Thailand is divided into four distinct regions: the north, the vast northeast plateau, the central plains, and the narrow Isthmus of Kra to the south, stretching down to the border with Malaysia.
Once covered in teakwood forests, the mountainous northern region appeals to the adventurous traveller, with one of the main attractions being the prospect of trekking through remote – and not so remote – villages inhabited by a diversity of tribal peoples. The main focal point for the region is the growing centre of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s ‘second’ city.
The two northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are rich in history and culture and are home to a number of ethnic hill tribes that, to this day, proudly wear traditional costumes and communicate in their own language and dialect.
The two main cities of Chiang Rai, and the country’s second largest city Chiang Mai, both date back to the mid 13th Century. Chiang Mai, located 700 kilometres from Bangkok, is often dubbed ‘The rose of the north’ and is steeped in examples of its historic past. Many ancient temples remain, as does the square-shaped moat that once surrounded the original city.
Further north, Chiang Rai province acts as a gateway to the infamous 'Golden Triangle' where the three countries of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar converge alongside the banks of the Mekong River. The hilly terrain here experiences a somewhat cooler climate than that elsewhere resulting in it being an important agricultural centre successfully cultivating a selection of market produce.