From gleaming white sand beaches to spectacular cultural monuments and historical treasures, Thailand has it all when it comes to impressive scenes. We explore some of the country’s best destinations for amateur photographers, in Phuket, Koh Samui and Bangkok
"Whether you’re capturing Phang Nga Bay from a lofty viewpoint like this one or from a boat, the array of photo opportunities in this region of Thailand is stunning"
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an amateur photographer who’s simply keen to snap some impressive holiday shots, Thailand provides a plethora of opportunities for glorious photographs. The Kingdom is rich with spectacular natural scenes and striking cultural monuments, offering plenty of scope for those that want to sharpen their camera skills whilst on vacation.
A well-balanced holiday album will take in an array of views and moods, so if you want your Thailand photos to showcase a riveting range of panoramas, it’s worth doing your homework first to discover the top spots for photographs in the places you plan to visit. Here’s a small selection of locations across Phuket, Phang Nga, Koh Samui and Bangkok to get you started.
Gem of the Andaman
"Phuket’s Windmill Viewpoint provides a sublime, romantic spot to snap a few shots"
For those keen to create a photo album that encapsulates some of Phuket’s traditional character and history, Phuket Old Town is the place to go. Many of the buildings here date back to the island’s tin mining era in the mid-19th century, when an array of charming and colourful shop houses were constructed. The Sino-Portuguese architecture retains its adorable vintage feel, and will provide an interesting contrast to the traditional Thai architecture that appears throughout your holiday photos.
In terms of loft viewpoints, Promthep Cape is without doubt Phuket’s most famous spot – particularly at sunset. However, if the popularity of this destination puts you off, the island’s Windmill Viewpoint – just around the corner from Promthep Cape – also serves up some spectacular vistas. Looking out over Ya Nui and Nai Harn Beaches and towards the ocean, your photographs will be punctuated by boats and yachts, with your camera directed straight towards the sunset.
Treasures of the east
"The best time to photograph Koh Samui's spectacular Na Muang waterfalls is just before lunchtime"
Situated to the east of mainland Thailand, Koh Samui offers up just as many magnificent photo opportunities as its Andaman cousin. Of course, a white sand beach fringed by turquoise seas and swaying palms form the quintessential topical scene – and you’ll find no shortage of such destinations in Samui. Stretching along the western coast of the island, Laem Yai beach is one of the best places for sunset photography. Thanks to its position on the less developed side of the island, you can also expect it to be less crowded – perfect for framing up your classic seaside photographs.
For more natural treasures away from the coast, Koh Samui’s lush emerald jungle provides plenty of opportunities for keen photographers. Situated on the southern side of the island between Nathon and Hua Thanon, the Na Muang waterfalls have become something of a mecca for those keen to capture the unique beauty of Samui’s interior. A short trek through the forest is all it takes to reach these charming cascades of water – but ensure you’re kitted out with the right footwear before heading up there. The best time to photograph these falls is just before lunch, when the sun is high in the sky and the light filters directly down onto the torrents.
Of course, you couldn’t visit Samui without photographing its most famous religious monument – the Big Buddha. Positioned in the north-eastern corner of the island, this gleaming shrine is situated within the grounds of Wat Phra Yai. It has become one of the most iconic symbols of Koh Samui since it was built in 1972. As the Buddha faces east, it is best photographed early in the morning when it’s naturally illuminated by the rising sun.
"Soaring over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, Bhumibol Bridge has become a modern emblem for the city"
The energetic scenes of urban flux are not something you’ll be able to capture in islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, but if you’re a keen photographer, your portfolio of Thailand snaps shouldn’t be without this intriguing addition. Bangkok is a photographer’s playground, home to a buzzing labyrinth of streets packed with striking architecture. Chinatown is a great place to go if you want to capture the constant movement of the city, plus the dense cluster of colours and scenes. The area is rich with illuminated shop signs and vividly-coloured displays – the top of Yaowarat Road is an especially good position.
Wat Arun – also known as the Temple of Dawn – is probably the most photographed destination in the whole of Bangkok. In the morning, the iconic Khmer-style temple is bathed in glorious golden light, while at sunset the peachy-pink hues of the sky form a gorgeous backdrop. The temple itself is positioned on the Thonburi side of the river, however, the best photographs are usually captured from the other side of the water where you have enough space to take in the full context of the scene.
For a contemporary complement to this traditional temple head ten minutes up river to Bhumibol Bridge, which also goes by the moniker ‘Mega Bridge’ thanks to its impressive stature. Shooting over the Chao Phraya River, the bridge provides an eye-catching example of Thailand’s modern architecture, while the two golden pylons that hold it up are a definite nod to the Kingdom’s traditional style.
CLOSER LOOK: The golden hour
Soaring over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, Bhumibol Bridge has become a modern emblem for the city
Sometimes referred to as ‘Magic Hour’, the earliest and latter part of a day is the best time for capturing photographs in terms of light quality. One hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset, a soft golden light softens your subjects and creates a glorious warming effect throughout your photographs. Essentially, the sun’s rays have to travel further through the earth’s atmosphere at this time of the day, which results in the light having a softer quality. Shadows are longer too, resulting in greater depth and a more dynamic effect. If you’re heading out on a photography mission whilst on holiday in Thailand, bear the golden hour in mind if you’re keen to capture some unforgettable photos.
TOP TIPS BOX
1. If you’re shooting landscape shots, use a wide angle lens to capture the full impact of the size of the area you’re looking at.
2. Place your subject carefully to avoid the background cluttering the image and distracting the viewer’s attention.
3.Silhouette photographs add real wow factor to your holiday album. Whether your subject is a person or the sharp silhouette of a palm tree, place it in the foreground of your image.