Image copyright Getty Images Image caption This volcanic crater is home to nine holes of golf
Less than 400km (250 miles) from the cosmopolitan beauty of Singapore, the lush greens of Muay Thai golf are cultivated on a spectacular volcanic site – home to nine holes of fairway, greens and tees.
A winter wind from the northern coast of Vietnam combines with an unfavourable volcanic background to drive the air higher and redder than a canvas-covered canvas.
Much of the driving range lies inside the area’s solitary, 217-metre (749ft) lava field. The one thing that keeps the landscape open is the coming and going of the slopes’ rotations, which lead to the summer landscape evolving in ways that are unique to the island, says Mr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Ha.
A variety of playable surfaces are provided: six tees, six greens, six driving and putting greens and nine holes of golf.
“Golf is a game of integrity,” says Mr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Ha. “Good communication is very important in a game like this. Golf does not bring a lot of wealth from Singapore, but its impact will be life-changing for the young generation in that country.”
Trey Hewitson from Asian Week Travels points out that Muay Thai in northern Vietnam’s Ha Giang province is a genre of martial arts based on hand-to-hand combat.
“Golf in the jungle may be a rural product, but I must stress that Muay Thai is a fairly genteel sport here,” he adds.
Trey Hewitson’s trip offers the following courses, the oldest of which opened in 1938 and was entirely self-supporting before it was acquired by a British group in 1972.
Ha Giang The Montluis Golf Course
Muo Suip-Hri Chuen
Mao’s Monastery – 1968, west of Ha Giang
Lou Chuen The Course
Story of golf prize in 1930
About 25m tons of clay were laid to create a huge volcanic crater as part of the 11-hole Montluis Course. But environmental damage is a daily consequence, says Nguyen Tien Dinh, formerly the Hien Dan Gac Man director of Ha Giang forest.
“The layers are destroyed. The eruptions in many places have cut soil so well that weeds have been able to colonise. These weed seeds are infectious which can be harmful to the ecosystem.”
For a more technical or patient golfing experience on the slopes of the volcano, Mr Tien Dinh recommends the National Mount Resort Hotel.
A massive development is being planned around the resort for tennis, cycling, walk-about adventure and airboat trips.
Whether golfers intend to take this off-road, it’s best to start early. At Muo Suip-Hri Chuen in Ha Giang, members are accredited on site to take them up in a skiff. To make the downhill journey along the L-shaped lava rock, go directly to the tennis or walking trails first.
“You’re looking at a yellow plateau,” says Nigel Lewis, visiting golf course director. “That’s really going to be a thing of beauty. That jungle slop is just its own moulting monster.
“You’re not in a jungle. You’re in a fantastic place.”