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Top 10 most photogenic wonders in Thailand
All across the country, Thailand offers stunning scenery and varied landscapes. From the mountainous northern region, with rolling hills and tea plantations, to the long sandy beaches of southern Thailand, and crystal blue waters of tropical islands - Thailand is a photographers dream. While you can find beautiful vistas all over, here are the top 10 photogenic wonders in Thailand. Follow this guide and your holiday snaps will be worthy of a National Geographic magazine.
There is no shortage of temples in Thailand. Each district in a town will have a temple where locals go to pay respects to Buddha daily, and each temple will have been built completely with local donations. Every temple in Thailand is different, with each one having unique architecture, individual stupas and prayer halls, each housing an image of Buddha. There are usually trees within the temple grounds, leading to some beautiful gold and green photos. Tourists are welcome to visit them all, but the general rules of covering shoulders and knees do apply. Taking shoes off when entering the prayer hall is important, and it is recommended to ask before taking a picture of a monk or person praying.
Get the shot: Wat Arun, Bangkok. The temple was named after the Indian God of dawn, Aruna, and sits on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. One of the most famous temples in Thailand, the temple of dawn is actually better visited around sunset. It is best to visit in the late afternoon for taking photos of the temple grounds, and then crossing the river to see the temple at sunset from afar, when the temple is lit up in a golden hue.
Unique to Bangkok, and amazingly organised in its chaos, the floating markets are a wonderful day trip for visitors. Packed with friendly faces, colourful vegetables and unusual fruit, photographers will find countless snapshots of daily life on the river. The most famous market is Damnoen Saduak which is still used as a market for locals. A lesser known, but even more interesting floating market is Bang Nam Phueng. It is in a pocket of green space within Bangkok and is a real Thai market with mostly Thai tourists. While these two are open on weekdays, the weekend markets are also popular and draw crowds of Thai tourists as well as foreigners. Only open on weekends, Amphawa floating market is incredibly photogenic, but 90 km from Bangkok and very crowded in the late afternoon. Taling Chan Floating Market is another weekend market, very close to the city and less busy so good for taking authentic photos.
Get the shot: Damnoen Saduak floating market, Bangkok. Damnoen Saduak is the prettiest of all the markets and offers the best pictures, thanks to the amount of boats on the canal and colourful produce they carry. Since the walkways are slightly raised, and there are few bridges over the water, it is easy to get the famous shots of elderly Thai ladies effortlessly maneuvering along the busy canal. The market is open 7am until 11am daily but it’s best to arrive early and take your time to find the perfect picture.
It’s hard to imagine that 50 years ago Bangkok had no skyscrapers. Today the capital rivals other Asian cities in towering hotels, financial buildings and condominium blocks. Despite most people flying over the city by plane, to fully understand Bangkok you need to get up high. There are many hotels offering infinity pools overlooking the skyline and hip rooftop bars to watch the sunset over this impressive city. Most hotels around Sukumvit road will offers great views of high rises intertwined with the green spaces of Lumpini park, while hotels closer to the river will let you see the golden temples on the riverside. Watch out for the MahaNakhon building in Silom area - completed in 2016 it is currently Bangkok’s tallest building.
Get the shot: The Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel was made famous by the film “Hangover part 2”. Head there a little before sunset to capture the city from above during the daytime, then grab a cocktail and watch the city lights turn on. It isn’t easy to capture the city at night, so sunset is a good time to take some pictures if your camera isn’t suited to night time photography.
Thai’s are experts at crafting houses from bamboo and you can find floating houses near any body of water in Thailand. Most lakes in the national parks have floating hotels made from bamboo and wood, and if you get the chance, then staying in one of these floating rooms is a unique experience for nature lovers. Imagine having breakfast on a platform over a lake - this is definite ‘selfie’ territory, and the perfect chance to make your friends and family jealous.
Get the shot: A large national park in Surat Thani province, Khao Sok offers beautiful scenery and untouched jungle. With a large lake at its heart, Khao Sok is perfect for wildlife and nature photographers, as well as those looking to get off the beaten track. Since most people visiting Surat Thani head straight to the beaches, you might end up getting the lake, and a boat, to yourself for the ideal photo.
Uninterrupted sea views
The luxury resorts in Thailand are some of the most magnificent properties in the world, with swimming pools to match. Most 5-star hotels have either rooftop or infinity pools, allowing for uninterrupted sea views and amazing photos. Koh Samui is probably the best island for luxury, with almost every high end hotel offering stunning sea vistas from their balconies. Six Senses Samui, located on the north east coast of Koh Samui, blesses travellers with a stunning infinity pool with jaw-dropping vistas of the ocean.
Get the shot: Nothing captures romantic getaway or relaxing retreat like an infinity pool picture. Head to the edge of the swimming pool and gaze out over the ocean. You will need someone else to take the photo, but the hotel staff are usually happy to help capture this perfect picture. If you can photograph sunset at the same time, then this might be the winning photo from your Thailand trip.
Head back in time and capture images of history in Kanchanaburi province. The town is famous for the bridge over the River Kwai, which is a famous photo to take here, but there is also a lot of sobering history in this area. From the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum, the famous river and the Hellfire Pass, Kanchanaburi is a full day trip of historical photos.
Get the shot: If you have the time then take a trip along the infamous Death Railway. The journey starts by crossing the River Kwai and then heads up through jungle to the Hellfire Pass. The train is slow enough to take good photographs from inside and some of the windows can be opened completely. Try to get a window seat on the left hand side of the train for some impressive river views.
As well as some of the most beautiful beaches in southeast Asia, Thailand boasts some impressive and lush jungles. Luckily because Thailand accommodates for tourism, there are lots of chances for tourist to explore these dense jungles within a day. Khao Yai National Park can be reached in a little over an hour from Bangkok, Doi Pui National Park is right on Chiang Mai’s doorstep, and Phuket has Sirinat National Park on the island. If you are not an avid hiker, then Phuket’s Keemala hotel allows guests to experience luxury with a backdrop of rainforest without ever leaving the hotel.
Get the shot: Most of Northern Thailand is covered with jungle and so it is easy to explore, especially from Chiang Mai which sits in the valley of a forested mountain. In most hotels across Thailand you can arrange day trips along easy hiking routes, with most offering chances to view the national park from the highest peak.
Rice fields and tea plantations
Throughout northern Thailand you can glimpse various agricultural landscapes. In Chiang Rai province there are layered tea plantations and coffee plants lining the mountainous roads. Once a year Mae Hong Son province is brightened up with sunflowers and in almost every direction out of Chiang Mai city you can discover Royal Agricultural Projects founded by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Doi Ang Khang and Doi Inthanon are two popular and easy royal projects to visit, and the journey to each also offers stunning jungle scenery.
Get the shot: Late in rainy season is the best time to visit the northern regions of Thailand. From July - September everything's in bloom; the forests are a deep green and the air fresh. While you have to put up with daily monsoon rains, usually the rain lasts only an hour or two and instead you are rewarded in the mornings with mist dancing over the lush, green mountains.
The famous movie featuring Leonardo Dicaprio sent a wave of travellers searching for their own dream paradise in Thailand. With two long coastlines and countless islands to visit, you are guaranteed to find a deserted beach somewhere in Thailand. The beach was mostly filmed on Phi Phi island in the Andaman Sea, a small neighbour of Phuket island. The Andaman area has some beautiful scenery, including karst peaks rising from the ocean around Krabi province, and some active diving spots near southern Koh Lipe island. Both Railay bay and Phi Phi island have some impressive beaches with beautiful surrounding scenery for great beach photos.
Get the shot: Longtail boats in the Andaman Sea...Arguably one of the most famous images of Thailand, no photo tour would be complete without this iconic image. The enclave of Andaman sea between Phuket and Krabi is where most of these boats moor, waiting to take travellers out snorkelling to uninhabited islands. Head to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Lee island for the ultimate ‘beach’ shot.
Elephants in their natural surroundings
Elephants are the national animal of Thailand and loved by locals and tourists alike. One of the most memorable things to do in Thailand is meet an elephant, and photographing one up close and personal is unforgettable. Traditionally elephants were captured in the wild and used in the logging industry. While there may be no wild elephants left in Thailand, or in southeast Asia, there are an increasing amount of sanctuaries caring for these majestic beasts. It hurts elephants to carry humans on their backs, and so the quickest way to tell if a elephant camp looks after their animals is whether they offer riding or not. Two wonderful elephant havens are the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, and Elephant’s World in Kanchanaburi. Both of these shelters offer able forest area for the gentle giants to explore, as well as a river area to bathe and cool down in. Visitors can play, bathe, feed and photograph the elephants as much as they’d like, but don’t allow riding.
Get the shot: Photographing an elephant in the wild is sadly near impossible these days, but in many sanctuaries capturing an elephant in nature and at play can lead to some delightful pictures. Elephant Hills camp in Khao Sok National Park offers one and two day stays in their luxury camp with lots of time to get up close with the elephant residents. To get natural looking photos it's wise to spend the day with the elephants, observing their movements and activities, and if you go near the river with them then a waterproof lens is recommended - elephants love to spray visitors with water!
No matter where your holiday takes you, Thailand has the perfect scenery for photographers; beautiful landscapes, wild adventures and unique images to be captured for a lifetime of memories.
Discover the best of vibrant Thailand with these recommended holiday experiences
Northern Highlights of Thailand Small Group Tour (10 nights)
Elephant Hills Experience & Thai Beach Hideaways (10 nights)
Chiang Mai, Krabi & Bangkok Multi-Centre (10 nights)
137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
Anantara Golden Triangle Resort, Chiang Rai
Rayavadee Private Villas, Krabi