On 12 August 2014 we bade farewell to Melbourne's miserable winter weather, and flew into Hanoi via Ho Chi Minh City.
Hanoi greeted us with temperatures in the 30's and some patchy rain. But it didn't matter as we only needed to settle into our delightful hotel- The Silk Path- right in the heart of the action- and ready ourselves for the action ahead. We were tired, but excited at the same time.
Then after an early breakfast we were in the bus and on our way to Halong Bay.
Our luxury junk was very comfortable, and with 20 in our group we comprised most of the passengers on the trip.
Halong Bay is one of the natural wonders of the world , and when the blue sky broke through on our second day, it was hard to think of a more beautiful place anywhere in the world to be...
We explored a unique fishing village living on the water, and some spectacular caves, but it was the overall beauty of Halong Bay that will stay with us forever...
On our way back to Hanoi we stopped halfway for a prearranged game of golf at Chi Linh Star GC. Reputed to be the best course in North Vietnam, and the host of professional tournaments, Chi Linh Star comprises 3 loops of nine holes. Each nine uses the natural terrain and there is plenty of water hazards, bunkering, jungle, and some elevation change as well to keep one honest. The course was pretty and well maintained, and a good warm up for our golfing endeavours.
After a few quick drinks it was back to Hanoi for dinner, and some well earned sleep back at Silk Path Hotel.
On our final day at Hanoi we started with a half day tour of the city but our timing was unfortunate and some of the main attractions were closed...
Nevertheless we moved on, boarding an afternoon flight to Danang and then transferring by bus an hour north to Laguna Lang Co.
Laguna Lang Co is sited right on the beach, and the golf course moves through rice paddies, jungle, and along the beach. The resort has 2 wonderful hotels with five more planned. We stayed at Angsana which was very nice, and had the upmarket Banyan Tree complex next door.
On our first day at Lang Co we headed off for a half day tour of historic Hue with the main stopping points being The Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh ( The Ladyman King ), and The Citadel
Both were impressive.
We had some fun at The Citadel when Dave Doo Dah decided to ascend the royal throne, and dressed accordingly he soon attracted a harem. It made for some good photos and a few laughs as well- we were a happy team as we headed back to Lang Co for some down time on the beachfront.
The next day at Lang Co we turned up with our game faces on to tackle the new Faldo course in serious competition. It was damn hot, and a bit of a change from wintry Melbourne, but hey what can you do?
We soldiered on!
I am not a great fan of Faldo designs- I believe his designs are overly penal, and not strategic enough- nevertheless Laguna Lang Co is a spectacular and unique course, and one I would be pleased to play again.
Another of the delights of Lang Co is the variety of dining options available, and being our last night there, we organised for the group to dine at the very upper class Saffron restaurant at Banyan Tree. Ideally sited on the hill overlooking the beach, Saffron was a nice way to while away the hours for such a refined group as ours...
In the morning we were off again, transferring to Danang where we played golf at The Montgomerie Links. Designed of course by Colin Montgomerie and set in undulating sandy terrain right by China Beach, Montgomerie Links was the best new course in Asia on debut a few years back, and remains top ten in Asia. This was a real golf course, and being serious golfers the group tore the course apart.... well sort of!
All agreed it was a lovely course, and after drinks we headed to our home for the next few days- the absolutely stunning Fusion Maia resort.
Having done our research in 2012, I knew what to expect, but I still couldn't help smiling when I saw our rooms. Each room had all facilities including hot tub, shower etc, and looked on to its own private courtyard and private pool. With warm weather we were all in the pools in no time...
Our stay at Fusion also included 2 spa treatments a day, so time had to be made for massages and pedicures etc.
The following day we managed to squeeze in a half day tour of historic Hoi An, with plenty of shopping, and still be back for those treatments
Decision making was really difficult- private pool or massage or drinks with mates by the big pool, or on glorious China Beach- there were so many options!
Many of us vowed to go back to Fusion Maia!
Our last day at Danang was spent playing golf again- this time at Danang GC designed by Greg Norman. It shares a border with Montgomerie Links and in my opinion is a better course with the green complexes and strategic bunkering reminscent of Melbourne's sandbelt.
I think Danang GC is the best course in Vietnam!
And then we were off again, catching a plane into Cambodia, and heading to our accommodation at Prince D'Angkor hotel.
Whilst in Siem Reap we played golf twice- initially at the very lengthy Siem Reap Booyung CC, and then the Angkor Golf Resort.
Both courses were in reasonably good shape and fun to play, but neither will make the world top 100 courses.
But the real reason we headed to Cambodia was to see Anglor Wat and the other temples. One of the man made wonders of the world Angkor Wat was a must do experience. The cameras worked overtime
We also visited Angkor Thom, and finally Ta Prohm- site of the Tomb Raiders movies- this proved a particular favourite for the group.
On our last day most of us visited Tonle Sap- the largest fresh water lake in Asia, where we visited a floating village.
What an incredible place!
And that was that!
Vietnam and Cambodia is now a wonderful memory...
My highlights were:
- Halong Bay on the junk overnight
- King Dave DooDah and concubines at The Citadel in Hue
- Golf at Danang GC
- the whole experience at Fusion Maia
- The temples at Angkor Wat & particularly The Tomb Raider temples
The Travelling Golfer can tailor a golf tour to Vietnam & Cambodia to suit your group. For a suggested itinerary see Great Golf Destinations: Vietnam
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