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Cambodia Destination Report - Tee off in the 11th Century


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Cambodia Destination Report - Tee off in the 11th Century

 

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Only an hour's flight from Bangkok, both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh offer a very unusual golf vacation. Currently there are only around seven golf courses in the country, dwarfed by its neighbour Thailand that has over 260 courses.

 

Cambodia however is recovering from the terrible Pol Pot regime of the 70's, and although you cannot forget the horrors of this period, there is definitely a new Cambodia arising, partly helped by the number of tourists pouring into this relatively small country.

 

With the famous Angkor Wat temples, the largest religious monuments in the world, many are heading to the city of Siem Reap first to take in these incredible relics.

 

That said, this small city actually boasts three very good courses, so it is also an ideal golf destination too. 

 

Perhaps the number one course in the country is Sir Nick Faldo's Angkor Golf Club a superb and well maintained 18 hole challenge.

 

Although relatively flat, Faldo has made great use of some subtle elevations and includes some large bunkers, tall palm trees and water hazards to add to the fun. 

 

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Sir Nick Faldo's Angkor Golf Club

 

Once the home of several Asian Tour events, the nearby Phokeethra Golf Club, owned by the Sofitel group, features historical relics including a Roluh bridge dating back to the 11th century Kymer Empire.

 

Their sweeping fairways and generous undulating greens have recently been upgraded, and this country layout is dominated with an impressive 90 metre snake like bunker on their finishing hole.

 

Making up the Siem Reap golf experience is the US$150 million Siem Reap Booyoung Country Club, the largest golf complex in the area and only 6 kms from the city. The course has several creeks meandering across several holes and some feature split fairways making for some risk and reward options.

 

Capital golf

 

Either take the plane, bus or the waterways and head down to the capital Phnom Penh, and here you can enjoy four courses with the top two being the Jack Nicklaus designed Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club and the IMG managed Garden City Golf Club.

 

Smart money says the best is perhaps the Garden City track which opened in April 2013, and was designed by Major General Weerayudth Phetbuasak, who also created Suwan and Sea Pine in Thailand. Featureless rice paddies have been transformed into a course with many moguls, mounds and manmade hazards.

 

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Phokeethra Golf Club

 

Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club is located 20 minutes from town and has immaculate fairways, and manicured undulating greens. Nicklaus has made some significant earth moving and mounding are featured around the greens and as the course is relatively exposed especially late in the day, it can play havoc with your scorecard.

 

New kid on the block is Nick Faldo’s latest venture near the centre of town called Vattanac. Two 18 hole courses, the word of mouth is good, so I am sure someone will post a review soon.

 

Check out the Cambodia golf course directory

 

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Editor’s note: We stayed at the new Sun and Moon hotel, a four-star boutique hotel with five-star facilities.

 

Great chic rooms, free steam and sauna on the spa level and a great infinity pool on the roof top with amazing lights and bar at night. The hotel is walking distance to all the bars and riverside restaurants, including Oscars Bistro by the same owners of the popular Bangkok watering hole.

 

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We did take in the prison known as S21 where 20,000 Cambodians were tortured and died. Many also visit the Killing Fields a grim reminder that only 40 years ago over a third of the population lost their lives. It is very moving but we all agreed we needed to experience the place.

 

Another reason to visit this region is to take a boat trip on the massive Mekong river at sunset to see some of the well-known gypsies living on their small boats.

 

In our case we ended our river trip with a cool Singapore sling at the Elephant bar at Raffles Hotel Yes, we all got truly raffled!!!

 

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Definitely worth returning and the good news is most restaurants and bars are around 20% cheaper than in Thailand.

 

For assistance with booking a golf vacation check out https://www.golfasian.com who now have their own office in Cambodia and can book your golf or the whole trip.

 

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