*Pierre Cronje, a Marketing Executive based in Cape Town Head Office, shares his experience of Thailand. With STA Travel, START THE ADVENTURE. #WeKnowBecauseWeGo

  1. Big Buddha

The Big Buddha, in Phuket, is one of Thailand’s most iconic and important cultural landmarks. This massive statue can be found on top of the Nakkerd Hills. It is easy to reach via a 6km long winding road that turns off from Phuket’s main highway.

It stands at an impressive 45m high and is made from a mix of concrete and white marble tiles. The incredible size and ascetics of this statue allows for striking photo opportunities. Some of the best images can be taken at the top of the long stairway that leads up towards the statue with the Big Buddha in the background.

Pro Tips:

  • Take a polarized filter for your camera. The light and reflection can be very bright!
  • Make sure to take a wide-angle lens for your camera, the statue is HUGE, and it can be hard to fit it all in the frame when you are at the top of the stairs.
  • Women need to wear a sarong when going to the statue.
  • Men, no sleeveless shirts.

2. Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town is well known for the it’s colourful, century-old Sino-Portuguese townhouses, which is still very well-preserved. Main street Thalang Road has stores selling artisanal ice cream, fabrics, souvenirs and street food! The colorful houses allow for great colour blocking photo opportunities, especially when there are not too many cars around.

Pro Tips:

  • Get there early before the streets become too crowded with people and cars!

3. James Bond Island

Initially featured in the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun” Khao Phing Kan (better known as James Bond Island) has been famous ever since. Even though you can’t go onto the physical James Bond island, your ferry will drop you on the island next to it and this allows you to get amazing images with the famous landmark in the background. Make sure to take the earliest ferry you can find since this is a big tourist destination and it attracts big crowds.

Pro Tips:

  • Don’t just stay at the general viewpoint. This area can be very crowded since everyone wants to snap a pic! Instead, climb up the stairs to get uninterrupted views of the iconic island!

4. Hong Island

Hong Island is known for three things: hidden lagoons, white sand beaches, and views that will take your breath away. A popular day-trip destination from Phuket or from Krabi, this island has long been a favourite among travelers!

Hong Island is technically four separate islands grouped into one. Each with its own charm and beauty. If you do a daytrip to Hong Island, you will stop at all 4 these locations. All 4 stops offer amazing photo opportunities and if you own a GoPro, be sure to take it along!

Pro Tips:

  • Make sure your battery is fully charged. This place is out of this world and you won’t be able to stop taking photos!
  • Take swim clothes and a towel since you simply must take a dip in the water.
  • Ask your transfer if they have snorkeling equipment since this is a great place to see some of the amazing ocean life Thailand has to offer.
  • Take waterproof sunscreen! Since you will be in and out of the water constantly.

5. China Town (Bangkok)

The best way to describe Bangkok China Town is “Organized Chaos”. There is a constant high energy vibe in the streets and the sights, sounds and smells of China Town will light up all your senses! For anyone visiting Bangkok, a stop in China Town is a must! It’s a photographer’s dream. With neon lights and billboards filling the streets, exotic street food stalls everywhere, tuk-tuk’s racing by and a few stunning temples in the area.

Pro Tips:

  • Find a gap in the road when all the cars stop at the red traffic light and snap a pic or two! But you will have to hurry!
  • Take a tripod to capture some epic night time photos or videos.

6. Freedom beach (Phuket)

Freedom beach is one of the many hidden gems Thailand has to offer and can be found on the west coast of Phuket. The reason for it being relatively untouched and in pristine condition is because it is quite a mission to get there. It is surrounded by hills covered in tropical jungle and it can take +-30min to react the beach but it’s 100% worth it! The trail will bring you to a 300m long strip of white sand and a jungle backdrop that will leave you in awe.

Pro Tips:

  • Take a lot of water for the hike. And a snack or 2! There are very few vendors to buy food and drinks from.
  • Go early morning to potentially have the beach to yourself!

7. Wat Pho (Bangkok)

One of the most famous temples in Bangkok is Wat Pho. It’s famous for its 46 meters long reclining Buddha. Many people seem to forget to explore the rest of the temple complex, which is maybe even more impressive! The hundreds of smaller statues and temples along with its intricate design and details creates some exceptional Instagram opportunities!

Pro Tips:

  • Remember to cover yourself and dress appropriately when entering the temple.
  • Respect the temples and statues and do not climb on them for photos.
  • It’s the one place where taking photos in the middle of the day is great because early morning and late afternoon there is a few tricky shadows that is created by all the temples and statues.

8. Phi Phi viewpoint

If you are heading to do a Phi Phi Island tour or planning to spend a few nights on the island, one thing is for sure and that is to take a hike up towards the Phi Phi viewpoints. There are three viewpoints on the island which are all at different heights and offering different views of the island.  It’s the absolute best way to see the sandbar beach which connects to the two rock formations which make up Koh Phi Phi.

Pro Tips:

  • The first viewpoint is a bit of a tourist trap. Push on further to viewpoint number 2 or 3 for amazing, uninterrupted views.
  • Beware, there are some entrance fees to be paid along the way.
  • Wear comfortable/active clothes
  • Take plenty of water!

By Pierre Cronje

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