Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4.5, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Tuktuks, Temple, Monks and Markets

Kevin Landwer-Johan

Tuktuks, temples, monks and markets are all great to photograph when you come to Chiang Mai. But there are other fabulous photo opportunities to discover in Thailand’s ‘Rose of the North’.

Often I encourage people not to be travel snapshooters. Don’t rely on your subject to make a strong photo. Take your time, think about lighting, background, timing and composing an interesting image.

Tuktuks, Temple, Monks and Markets​. Tuktuks Close Up © Kevin Landwer-Johan
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f5, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Sure, when you visit Chiang Mai, you have to get a photo of a tuk-tuk, because they are an iconic part of the city’s character. So why not hire one to transport you to some photogenic locations? You can then use as backdrops for your tuk-tuk photos.

The Heart of the Old City

Start at Wat Chedi Luang in the heart of the old city. Get your driver to park in front of the main temple building for a photo. Then head behind the temple to photograph the tuktuk in front of the chedi as well. Doing this you are creating more interesting photos of both tuk-tuk and temple.

Wat Sisuphan, Chiang Mai, Thailand © Kevin Landwer-Johan
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 1600

Wat Sisuphan is another of my favorite temples to photograph in Chiang Mai. It’s especially interesting at night when they have the ordination hall lit up. Saturday evening is your best bet to see the lights. They scroll through many different colors making the building look almost surreal.

Another superb night photo opportunity is the historic Iron Bridge. This is also wonderfully lit up every night. Standing at the east end of the bridge looking back towards the large restaurant is a good angle. The reflection of the lights in the Ping River is fabulous.

The northeast corner of the moat with the old city wall is another place to get a real classic Chiang Mai photo. Again, it’s great at dusk and also worth taking a look at in the day time. Position yourself right and you can line up a composition to include part of the old wall, the moat and one of the fountains. You’ll see the mountain in the background.

Tips For Travel Photography etiquette in Thailand. Buddhist Monks Receive Offerings
Camera: Nikon D200, Lens: 300mm, Settings: f4.5, 1/160 sec, ISO 125

Are You An Early Riser?

If you are an early riser one of the best places to photographs monks is on Huey Keow Road about 200 meters past the zoo. Each morning at dawn many monks walk down from Wat Si Soda to receive alms from the faithful. The most important thing photographing monks (or any people) is to be respectful. Please do not interrupt or disturb them in any way.

After this, you can head over to the Warorot Market for another classic Chiang Mai photo – the samlor riders. A samlor is a tricycle taxi. They are a fading part of Chiang Mai’s culture because young men are not taking up this occupation. The hardworking gentlemen are always ready with a smile and often don’t mind posing for a few photos. I always like to tip them well!

Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f1.4, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400

Right there on the opposite corner, you’ll find a mass of color at the flower market. Be careful as you go not to step back into the traffic while you get lost in the beauty of the blooms. Get in tight and focus as close as you can to capture the color and texture of the bouquets.

Of course, there are many more places around the city to get great photos. These ones I find to be some of the most stimulating environments to document the look and feel of Chiang Mai. If you want to learn how to best capture these memories of your visit book a photo workshop. This is a sure way to gain some new skills and creative insights.

Take your time to learn more. Our Chiang Mai Photo Workshops are a great way to see some of the more interesting out of the way places. Learn to photograph them and also be ready and knowledgeable to photograph the real character of all the places you travel.

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Futher Reading

If you’re heading to Chiang Mai take a look at my blog post How to Choose the Best Photography Workshop.

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